February 24, 2022

How Truckers Strike a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a hot topic these days. For two years now, pandemic safety precautions have forced many industries to embrace hybrid or fully-remote work models. Navigating this new work environment has exposed a crucial need for businesses to respect their employees’ desire for more flexibility in the workplace.

When it comes to workplace flexibility, trucking stands out as one of the most unique in professional industries. As a trucker, your workspace is the open road — but it can take you away from home life for longer periods than a traditional 9–5 gig. What’s more, businesses can only adapt so much to a job primarily tasked with getting freight from point A to point B. This puts much of the responsibility to properly balance home and work life on the drivers themselves.

For those who are new to the trucking industry, it’s not always clear where to begin when trying to find a happy medium between work and home. Here’s a look at some of the things truckers can do now to develop a healthy work-life balance.

How Many Days Will a Trucker Spend on the Road?

The first determining factor for many considering a career in trucking boils down to one question: how many days per month are truckers really on the road? The truth is, it depends. There are many factors determining workload in the industry, and it can be difficult to assess outside of national averages and individual anecdotes.

In the early days of our own podcast, Chris Vernon was the lone driver on the Haulin Assets team. Chris would report his days spent driving on a monthly financial episode (listen to the full monthly financial episodes here), which varied greatly depending on available work and dozens of outside factors. Lower-end months sometimes meant as few as eight full days on the road as obligations to Army National Guard training or rebuilding his truck’s engine paused Chris’ ability to take on jobs. In high-end months, he reached as many as 21 full days on the road and ran 12,000+ total miles.

While the total workload can have a wide range, the good news is that there is an upper limit to the amount of time a trucker can spend on the road. Federally mandated hours of service regulate how many consecutive hours and days a driver can be both on the road and “on duty” (read more on understanding hours of service here).

Young man standing in front of a semi truck.

A Healthy Work-Life Balance Means Taking Care of Yourself (At Home and on the Road)

Being a trucker means taking on a unique set of workplace demands. Taking to the open road frequently for long drives means more time away from home — sometimes days at a time — not to mention challenges in maintaining a healthy physical and mental routine.

Here are a few items both new drivers and the veterans of the road should bear in mind:

Taking care of your body matters. The truck doesn’t move without the driver (well, it shouldn’t anyway). Logging thousands of miles a month behind the wheel can wreak havoc on the joints, neck, and back if you aren’t careful. Staying physically healthy on the road is tough, but being intentional about breaks and getting in walks or mobility work whenever possible goes a long way toward keeping your body healthy and avoiding burnout.

Sleep also matters. This one doesn’t need much elaboration. Just be sure you’re getting a full night’s rest as often as possible. Seriously, your body needs sleep.

Eating whole foods on the road is hard (but not impossible). Truckers need the energy to stay awake, and that means adequate fuel. Unfortunately, most of the time drivers are restricted to whatever they can find at fuel stops, fast food, and the occasional roadside diner. Finding healthy foods that don’t come in a box or a wrapper during breaks from the road is crucial to managing your mood, maintaining energy levels, and improving your long-term health.

Keeping an accurate calendar will ensure you don’t miss major events. As mentioned above, a steady daily routine is a luxury most truckers don’t experience. However, a simple bit of regular planning can help you be home for important family events and avoid double-booking yourself with other work responsibilities.

Maintain a presence in your home and social circles. The world is more interconnected than it’s ever been. While late-night facetime calls aren’t the same as being at home, they can still help maintain a connection with the home until you return. Prioritizing friendships and communicating frequently — especially in regards to when you’ll be home and available — can stave off some of the loneliness truckers sometimes encounter on the road.

Find a favorite podcast. And don’t stop there — listen to your favorite music, discover the treasure trove that is audiobooks, and experience the unique charm of local radio stations. Find things you can enjoy on the road to make the days spent behind the wheel worth looking forward to. Trucking is an important job and it can be an exciting career, but it’s important you pass the time in a way that helps you avoid burnout and keeps you ready for the next job.

A row of semi trucks going down the road.

Is the Trucking Lifestyle Right for Me and My Family?

The answer to this question is different for everyone, and each person’s career path will take them on a different road. Some people might hate the idea of driving for a living. For others, being paid to explore the country is a great way to earn their paycheck. Family dynamics, social obligations, and a variety of work opportunities can also influence whether or not the trucking lifestyle is a good fit.

As you consider this exciting career, keep in mind that trucking is a job in high demand, which means companies are offering good pay and benefits to those who join their ranks. For many, it represents a role that makes a tangible difference in the world around them. Most everyone wants to do work that matters, and seeing fresh produce you once carried across the country sitting on display in a grocery store can be a source of tremendous satisfaction.

If you enjoy working independently, traveling, meeting new people, and seeing new sights, then trucking could be the career for you.

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