Having a truck driver schedule means that you will be away from home more often than not if you take certain types of trucking jobs. For instance, over the road trucking jobs will keep you out on the road for days, and possibly weeks, at a time. However, regional trucking jobs can often have you back home every night or so.
As you start planning your truck driver schedule, you have to consider your family commitments and other obligations to your loved ones. By thinking ahead a bit, you’ll be able to make ends meet while being there — physically and emotionally — to support your family.
Scheduling Tips for Truckers in Traditional Families
If you are a trucker with a spouse and kids, then you know all too well about the struggles of raising a family while on the road. Yet this structure can be maintained if you start to think about family time in a different way.
By laying out a clear division of responsibilities and planning in advance how you will connect with your family members, you can overcome the problems associated with the family life of a truck driver. Here are some tips to get you started.
Choose Assignments with Predictable Schedules
Truck drivers have several options in terms of job assignments. You can choose dedicated trucking routes that involve driving the same route for the same company, week after week. This typically involves drop-and-hook loads with dry van trucks, which is also easier in terms of physical labor for truckers. You are often paid straight pay, or a set amount each week since you drive a set route.
For your family, the benefit of a dedicated driving job is that you get a predictable truck driver schedule. Chances are, you will be home most nights. This allows you to have regular home time and to be around the house to help with mealtime and homework.
A similar approach is to opt for a local or regional run. Local and regional loads are most common with the food service, mail, and moving industries. Examples include delivering food to grocery stores or transporting furniture and appliances for department stores. In the world of trucking, these less strenuous jobs allow truck drivers to be home most nights and weekends.
Work as an Owner Operator
Becoming an owner operator — owning your own truck and subcontracting to carriers — gives you another level of flexibility. While many choose to become owner operators so they can pick up over the road trucking jobs and make the most money possible, that’s not all there is to it.
As an owner operator, you have the ability to balance your truck driver schedule. For instance, you could work OTR jobs some of the time and dedicated, local, or regional jobs at different points during the year. That way you could stay home when you are needed while taking over-the-road jobs in order to boost your income at other times.
Practical Suggestions for All Drivers
If you are in a situation where you have to work a certain type of trucking job or you have to be on the road a lot of the time in order to make money to support your family, you aren’t alone. There are thousands of truck drivers in the same situation.
Fortunately, when it comes to balancing family time with a truck driver schedule, there are always things you can do regardless of the type of driving job you have or whether or not you are an owner operator. For example:
- You and your spouse can establish a strict division of labor in which your spouse is a homemaker while you are the breadwinner. As the homemaker, your spouse would be in charge of child rearing, while you would be in charge of financial matters.
- Close family members or willing friends may be able to help support your family with childcare or finances. For example, you might allow some family members to move in with you to babysit your children while your spouse works and you are over the road with trucking. Or, you might be able to trade services, such as lawn care or laundry, with friends in exchange for additional income that you can use to offset living expenses while you take a dedicated, local, or regional job.
- You can use technology to spend time with your family and stay connected. Apple’s FaceTime, as well as Google Hangouts and Skype, can give you instant video communication with your loved ones for little to no cost. You can also record videos or audio to share with one another, as well as use emails and texting to keep in touch.
Make Your Truck Driver Schedule a Conversation
As a truck driver, you work hard to support your family. Regardless of whether or not you take any of the advice above, make sure to get the rest of your family involved in planning your truck driver schedule. This will ensure that everyone will be on board and that their needs will be met, guaranteeing the best results.