Along for the ride

Even with fancy sleepers and huge truck plazas, trucking offers plenty of challenges for a lady who wants to sample life on the road with her driver partner. Knowing a few basics can make a difference.

Respect his turf. Remember, you’re in his domain. “We’re guests sharing space with our loved ones while they’re on the job,” says company driver’s wife Bobbie Kirkland. Resist the urge to rearrange the cab as soon as you climb aboard. Even though I had responsibility for straightening up the sleeper when I drove team with my husband, now I won’t do it without his permission.

Don’t complain. No one enjoys long waits or bad food, but he has to tolerate tough conditions all the time. If you’re not licensed to drive team, staying occupied with reading, writing a journal, needlework or just chatting will help fill the long hours. If being in the truck is part of your summer vacation, relax and enjoy your husband’s company.

Maximize your time. Do what you can to make it seem like a vacation for him, too. Be alert for opportunities to sightsee or visit friends and relatives. Cyndy Freese-Shelton, a trucker’s wife from Washington, recently visited three of her trucking online friends in Georgia, Florida and California when she spent seven weeks in the truck with her husband, Randy. “I had a hard time adjusting to how much things had changed since I quit driving three years ago,” she says, “but being able to talk to Randy about anything, any time was great.”

Oddly enough, it’s often ex-drivers like me and Freese-Shelton who have the hardest time relaxing in the truck. That’s probably because experience has taught us that things can go wrong. As riders, we must learn to sit back without fretting or finding fault and trust our drivers to take care of business. With the right attitude and some creativity, you can turn a potentially trying and boring trip into a joyful time of learning and companionship.

Precious cargo
If you are leased and decide to take children on the road, first check the policies of your carrier to make sure you’re in compliance. Talk with your children about the trip, stressing safety and how special it is to go with Dad. When the truck is moving, keep sleeper restraints or seat belts fastened.

Pack plenty of toys, games and books. Keep in mind that children under 10 may not be mature enough for overnight trips.

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Teach them rules for truck stops:

  • Stick with a parent at all times. If you get separated, go to the fuel desk and wait.
  • Never get out of the truck alone. Keep the doors locked if parents are away.
  • Never go to the bathroom alone.