Career Change: Retiring to Drive a Truck
Are you considering retirement but know you’re not quite ready to call it quits for good? Are you interested in seeing more of the countryside and think driving a truck is a good way to do it? Or maybe you’re tired of going to an office every day and would like to hit the open road instead.
If you’re worried about being bored in retirement and know you aren’t ready to start drawing on social security yet, your next adventure could be in trucking. And although it’s a great way to keep yourself active and busy, it’s good to know going in that it’s also hard work and long hours.
If you’re considering a second (or third, fourth, fifth) career in trucking, here are some things to consider.
You’re going to need a CDL.
Depending on your current job, you may already have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). If you don’t have one, you’ll need to get one. Laws and fees vary by state, so you’ll need to visit your state’s transportation website for specifics. Here are the basic steps:
- Submit the application and pay the fee to your state.
- Provide proof of residency information.
- Pass a vision test.
- Take a knowledge skills exam to get your Commercial Learner’s Permit.
- Be able to pass a pre-trip inspection.
- Pass the road skills and driving exam.
- Pay any applicable fees and upgrade your license to a CDL.
Think about driving with a partner.
Many couples go into trucking to spend more time with their significant other, and it can be a great way to get paid while traveling the country. In fact, many couples both get their CDLs and take turns driving. The biggest benefit of driving with a partner means one of you can rest while the other drives. It means the wheels are pretty much always moving, and that can lead to maximizing time and making more money.
Having your spouse with you on the road is a great way to transition into the RV-retirement life!
You need to remember to take care of yourself and your health.
Truck drivers spend a lot of time sitting, and that can take a toll on your health. Truckers can also rely too heavily on truck stop and convenience foods which are not always the healthiest. As we age, it’s more important than ever to take care of your health, so take that into consideration and figure out ahead of time how you’re going to take care of yourself while on the road.
It isn’t easy.
Driving a truck is hard work and requires a serious dedication to the job. People are not always nice, there are going to be time constraints, you may suffer boredom from staring at the road so much. You’ll need to be prepared and know how you’re going to handle different sleeping schedules (sleeping during the day, driving at night). It may also be unexpectedly physical; make sure you are physically able to accomplish tasks like tarping, chaining, and overall care of your truck.
Even though it’s hard work, it’s also rewarding. You’ll learn a lot about what actually keeps the country moving (trucks!) while contributing to the backbone of America – and that’s pretty amazing.
You may get lonely and miss your loved ones.
Unless you’re driving with a partner, trucking is a solo activity. While you’re running a lane, your family could be celebrating birthdays, sleeping in a real bed, working in the yard, and watching little ones chase a soccer ball. While there is opportunity to determine your own work schedule, if you are contracted with a company to move freight, that may not be the case. Plus, if you’ve bought a truck, you need to keep it moving to pay for it.
With today’s technology tools (Skype, smartphones, etc.), it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with family and friends while you’re on the road.
You will have fun.
There is the chance to see towns and cities in ways most people don’t get to, but you’ll also get to experience the unique camaraderie that exists between truck drivers. You become part of a select few experiencing the economy in a way not many others ever will. You’ll be able to look back on the memories and realize you learned a lot and wouldn’t change it.
Trucking is a great way to figure out your favorite areas of the country so you know where to return when you have more time to explore.
You’ll never know what to expect.
If you’re just getting your CDL, there is going to be a steep learning curve. However, if you’re not learning, you’re not growing, and most people look back on new experiences with some amount of nostalgia. You’ll be surprised by things like the weather, road construction, and toll booths, but you’ll also be surprised by the kindness of total strangers, the friends you make on the road, and a newfound appreciation for home.
From sunrises to sunsets, life on the road is always a surprise!
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