Hi Vicki. Thanks for your response. I will not be driving, that would scare me to death. I guess I’ll share a little about us, then maybe some questions for you. … my husband did construction for many years until the economy went down the tubes and he had to start driving. That was about 5 years ago.
… He does not get home very often at all, and we are frankly tired of being apart. However, I’m not sure we know how to be together anymore. This is going to take a lot of sacrifice and prayer on both our parts! I always said I would never do this, but when I figured out we could be “homeless”, no house payment, and all the other bills that go along with it, it didn’t sound like a bad idea. We have no savings and figure it’s about time we think about that. … I am nervous about the whole thing, but believe it may be the best decision for our future.
I actually didn’t come to the site for money saving tips, but for advice on the logistics of this transition. But, obviously, saving money is our goal so I am so thankful you have taken the time to put this all together.
It looks like we will be giving it a trial run before we take the leap permanently, although I’m not completely convinced that is the right thing to do, we’ll see.
Ok, questions. I read the list of items you take with you. How in the world do you fit it all in? Do you have any organizational tips for someone who is decidedly lacking in this area? I saw the sweater hanger idea, do you have any others?
I am very interested in your meals section. I am concerned about us eating healthy and I know that can be difficult otr. So thank you for putting that together.
I have a thousand questions that run through my mind daily, but I guess that is what concerns me right now, getting organized, I mean.
Again, thank you SO much for being out there!!! I am anxious to peruse every corner of your site!!
Response from Vicki on July 30:
Hello, again, Melissa,
Thanks for writing back. I completely understand about your not wanting to drive a big truck. They can be intimidating. The only things I knew when I started tractor trailer training (at the same time my husband did) was that they were big and had 18 wheels. During training, I learned that one of those ideas was wrong: not all big rigs have 18 wheels. Some have more, some have less.
The one good thing about teaming is that you can make more money more quickly. However, there is at least one severe trade-off. In my opinion, the roads have gotten worse, so the bumping of the trucks is worse, which means that the person in the bunk is getting a really bumpy ride (and maybe not very sound sleep). When we teamed, we stayed tired. Now that I ride with my husband, we sleep in a non-moving truck every night. Most people take that for granted.
Ok, about that packing list… Actually, that’s only a part of what we take in the truck now. It is a tight fit and we have to move things around some. But our system works for us. Each trucker or team or couple/family in a truck must prioritize based on what works for them personally. Consider all of the aspects of your current living situation and then apply that to living in a truck. For example, you will need to determine your own personal hygiene needs. If you use feminine products, you’ll need to take at least a modest supply of those with you on the road (because they aren’t available at many male-oriented truckstops). Non-essential items (lacy clothes, hair curlers, high heeled shoes, etc.) should be carefully considered as those which “don’t make the cut.”
The company truck that Mike drives now actually has cabinets in it that have a pretty good amount of storage room in them. The amount of storage room in your truck — as dictated or allowed by the truck’s configuration — will limit your choices on what to pack. We seriously entertained the idea of putting shelves (like a small, deep book case) in the truck Mike had before this one but never ventured quite that far. We ditched the hanging sweater organizer some time back but invested in a $3 “crate” at Wal-Mart that allows us to double stack clothes in one of the built-in cabinets. When it comes to storing things in the truck, think realistic survival first. For us, cold food storage and a portable toilet were musts. Clothes, food, toiletries, work tools, personal finance items, etc. need to fit in the plan somewhere.
More than perhaps most drivers, we have a fairly good store of food in the truck. Recently, I was entering our receipts in our spreadsheet and found that we’d spent no money out-of-pocket for about 6 days in a row (not counting routine bills that come in electronically). It was so nice being able to eat out of our truck morning, noon, night and snacks without having to settle for the same old restaurant food. We certainly intend to broaden the food and recipes section of our website over time:
About togetherness, I think it is an excellent idea for you and your husband to do a “trial run” on your being with him full-time for a short time (or actually multiple trial runs) to see if you can adjust to being with each other full-time around the clock for weeks on end. When Mike and I attended a safety meeting sponsored by his trucking company back in March, we talked with a family seated at our table. Of course, they had school-aged children, but the wife said that she would never be able to handle being around her husband that much! There are other things to consider giving up, though. If you’re actively engaged in your community, have a strong network of friends whom you see regularly, can’t imagine giving up weekly worship at a local church/synagogue/temple, rely heavily upon growing your own produce, etc., then you may want to think twice about riding full-time OTR.
Things will probably go better for you and your husband if you are of the same spiritual persuasion. Also, you will want to have something to “do” in the truck while you’re traveling so you don’t get bored like reading or crocheting. I don’t recommend anything that requires too much detail (like cross-stitch) since the truck will be moving and bumping along.
BTW, based on our experience, although we have given up renting (or in your case a house payment), we did have to start paying for self-storage. That is cheaper, of course, but it is still an expense. If you have a place to store your things on the property of a relative, you might be able to save even more.
Life on the road can be expensive, which is why we started our site. Some of the things that we have invested in over time have been an up-front cost but have saved us money in the long run. The things that we share did not happen overnight. We have learned much by trial and error.
May I encourage you to start saving at least a little every week? You may want to look at the budgeting section of our website and the pages linked there:
I hope that this gives you a few ideas.
Again, we wish you safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road!