Your exact gear will vary depending on the type or more importantly how you intend to get around.
My current method is in a Big Truck. Most truckers buy their gear from the travel centers (truck stops) along the way, starting out with just their clothing and a shower bag filled with personal hygiene items.
Most of the stuff in the truck stops is not really great, eventually you will upgrade and replace these items with RV grade gear or regular 120V household electric powered items.
Knowing this from driving many years ago I decided to purchase my gear from places like Amazon and Wal-Mart in order to save and get higher quality items.
Fortunately my truck was already equipped with a high quality RV grade 12 volt WAECO brand refrigerator with freezer and a Cobra 1500 watt continuous power inverter.
These are two of the very first big purchases I would make. They are the building blocks to other inexpensive appliances that will save you hundreds each month living on the road. I currently spend about $400 a month on groceries and supplies at Wal-Mart or $200 each visit every 2 weeks.
How the right gear will help you to save money when traveling in a truck or van
I’ll dedicate a whole page to this saving money topic. In short don’t eat in the restaurants. Try to only purchase fuel at the travel centers. Get a rewards card and by all of your fuel at your favorite brand franchise. Use the rewards card points for any non-fuel purchases you make. You get a penny per gallon of fuel. So if you drink coffee you get a refill cup for every 129 gallons of fuel you buy. I run through about 120 gallons a day when running hard. In addition to the points I get free unlimited showers as well. Even if I don’t need a shower I’ll get one just to have access to a nice clean private bathroom once a day.
I use the points to get WIFI in the parking lot when on layovers – which is expensive and should be free yes I am talking to you Pilot Flying J – and coffee refills. With the exception of the occasional McDonald’s double cheese burger or Burger King’s extra long buttery burger these are the only things I purchase at the travel stops.
On the left is picture of the WAECO fridge installed in my truck cabinet with some of my food above.
In addition to the fridge I have a RIVAL 700 watt microwave which rides in the passenger seat right now.
Having the fridge and microwave allows you to have hot foods, make your own coffee. The options become endless if you get a little creative.
I also keep a ton of dry groceries since fridge space if very limited. Instant oatmeal microwaveable soup and chili cans. Fortunately I love sandwiches mostly tuna in pouches or ham with Swiss Cheese. All from Wal-Mart since they allow trucks to park while shopping even of the signs say different.
Some truckers have slow cookers or hot plates. You just have to make sure the wattage is below your power inverter maximum. Add them together if using more than one at a time.
There is a pot for the microwave that turns the microwaves to infra red for cooking and browing meat and bacon which I am looking forward to trying next. I miss my meat on the road.
Navigation Electronics and apps to make life on the road easier
In the beginning you can get by with Google Maps or even Waze traffic app for basic directions from place to place. To save data I choose to get a dedicated Truck Route GPS, the Garmin Dezel 770 LMT. This one has free traffic and weather with the need for WIFI like the Rand McNally units. You can get a refurbished unit on amazon less than the cost of a new one at the travel center.
Trucker Path App for android or iPhone, it’s free. This works great for locating rest areas, travel centers, and scales close to your current location. It overlays icons on the maps app your phone uses. The cat scale locator app is junk, use trucker path instead. Ask me how I learned this lesson the hard way.
WIFI and smart phone data plans. This has been the toughest decision for me. Currently I have two phones the iPhone 6 on Verizon and an LG Stylo on Wal-Mart’s Family Mobile (T-Mobile). Many travelers end up buying and taking over old grandfathered Verizon unlimited data plans being sold on E-Bay and some travel forums. I am too chicken to risk that kind of money on this ($1,000 I hear). Walmart has 10 Gigs of 4G now when your are in a T Mobile friendly area, their map lies by the way. Verizon works everywhere but will cost you $300 per month to buy enough data to last a whole month. I have not tried AT&T or Sprint but expect them to be similarly spotty like T-Mobile is. Truck Stop paid or free WIFI can fill the gaps on layovers if you don’t want to pony up for Verizon.
Bluetooth Headset. You’ll need one of these goofy things to to stay legal in most states if you want to use your phone while driving you are not allowed to hold it in your hand. Generic ones are super cheap on Amazon. The in ear ones were uncomfortable for me, so I ended up getting this one TT-BH02.
What Items Do I need to carry in my O-T-R Truck as a New CDL Truck Driver?
Once you have completed training and have your own solo truck assigned here is what I suggest you buy for your truck to make life on the road easier and more comfortable.
- 1500 watt to 2500 watt power inverter
- Real refrigerator with freezer
- 700 watt to 1000 watt microwave
- Over the ear Bluetooth headset with microphone
- Butt and lower back support for the long hual truck seats can become terribly uncomfortable
- Special Truck Route Specific GPS
- Printer if on paper logs to use with the BigRoad daily logbook replacement app
- High Quality Dash Cam to protect you in case of an accident
Emergency Survival Kit. You need to have lots of extra water, dry food, matches, large candles (for heat and light). You could get stuck for a few days in a blizzard. You don’t want to freeze to death or go hungry. Get a 5 gallon bucket and load it up.