This article was first posted July 1, 2008.
With diesel fuel over $4.00 per gallon, you're starting to see more and more big RVs parked by the roadside with For Sale signs. The call of the open road doesn't sound as sweet when the cost of a fill up approaches your monthly mortgage payment. However, you can still tour the country and get somebody else to pay the fuel bill. Author Steve Richards suggests becoming a long haul truck driver and taking in the sights at the wheel of a tractor trailer in his book Everything You Will Ever Need To Know To Start Driving A Big Truck Or How I Became A Professional Tourist.
In this well-written and fast-paced book, Richards takes us from his truck driver training school to life on the road after graduation. The book is filled with stories and anecdotes that both amuse and amaze. (For example, what do you do when a drunk driver is going the wrong way in your lane? Pull over into the ditch and risk damage to your truck, or slow down, hold your ground, and let the drunk hit you head-on? The answer may surprise you.)
The author also takes us through the wide variety of trucking jobs available; from sleeping overnight in your truck as you await the opening of a grocery store to off load your shipment of meat, to touring the country with an auto company trade show exhibit and enjoying 4-star accommodations at every stop. There's even a picture of a tornado he encountered in the middle of Kansas.
Richards also covers some of the downside of the trucking industry. New driver turnover is a problem at many firms as recent recruits decide that a week or more on the road at a time is more than they can take. There are also complaints of company recruiters promising more than they deliver. Make sure you get everything in writing before you sign up.
Everything You Will Ever Need To Know To Start Driving A Big Truck Or How I Became A Professional Tourist is an entertaining and informative read. If you've ever wondered about driving a big rig or the trucker's lifestyle, it's well worth a look.
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Resources for further information
Trucking Company Ratings and Reviews -- Excellent source of information on a variety of trucking companies.
Truckers Report -- Company warnings -- a listing of trucking companies with bad reputations.
Schneider National -- AARP endorses Schneider National for age 50+ workers.
Swift Transport - Trucking School scam -- Swift Transport operates the nation's largest trucking truck driving school.
NY Times- Soaring Fuel Prices Take a Toll on Truckers -- an interesting overview of the economics for independent truckers.