Whats The Best Packing List For OTR?

I was thinking, while trucking down Interstate 10 west bound through California, what I bring with me for over the road (OTR) that could help another truck driver or traveler for that matter.  Here’s what I came up with.

After 521 miles of truck driving today.  These are the must have’s to the best packing list for OTR:

  • First Aid Kit; Band-aids, Bayer, Advil or similar, Cold Flu Medications, any extra medications your required to be taking.  Also Hand Sanitizer Solution and or Baby Wipes.
  • Safety Accessories; Reflective Triangles, Reflective Vest, Reflective Clothing, Flares and a Fire Extinguisher.
  • Flashlight, a backup flashlight with a few extra batteries for both if in case are different types.
  • Map and or a GPS


  • Backup power storage bank for recharging cell phones, laptops. Used as an emergency charge station for if in case you break down and are unable to recharge your cell phone from your semi truck or vehicle.
  • Extra USB Cord or 2 and a couple of vehicle charger plugins to recharge cell phone and most things with from the cigarette lighter.


  • Tire Thumper of some sort. 
  • A Good pair of work gloves and a extra pair of work gloves.
  • Small handy tool bag or box that is big enough to not get lost yet small enough to fit somewhere convenient.  With a selection of universal multiple use tools inside of it.
  • A Air Line Hose that hooks up to your red glad hands, along with the air line filling attachment attachment tool.


  • Communication Devices like Cell Phone, CB Radio, Noise Canceling Blue Tooth Hands-free Headset with recharging cord.


  • Extra bedding; Blankets, sheets, with extra’s and a pillow or two.
  • Small to Medium sized backpack or bag with all of your toiletries like shampoo, soap, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, shavers, shaving cream, flip flops, a couple of extra towels, and anything else you can think of that is important for you.
  • Extra Cloths from head to toe and double up on the extra socks.


  • Sunglasses and a back up pair of sunglasses.
  • Lots of extra pens
  • note pads

This above list is the vital must haves for any truck driver in any area of the trucking industry for any type of distances being traveled.  These above must haves will help assist you day and night, to be prepared and to be safe.  Continue reading below to see some of the craziest reasons why you would want these items as must haves while trucking.


Storage Ideas For Truckers?

Inside of a semi truck there are sometimes closets, and cabinet areas.  This mostly is dependent on which make and model of semi truck you drive.  Some allow for easier storage of all the packing list items we bring with us.

Some have overhead compartments that are over the driver seat area.  Where as some have a compartment under the bottom side of the bunk bed in the sleeper area.  Some have all of the above areas for storage plus closest’s on either side or both sides of the sleeper.

I normally put my suitcase in the closet, and my back pack of extra cloths and toiletries and stuff in an adjacent closet.  I don’t have the under bunk option on the 2019 Freightliner Cascadia I’m currently driving.

Though I have a bunch of extra storage spaces around the cab and back towards the bunk area.  I put extra trash bags to use for later in one of the smaller storage compartments.  I use my passenger seat as a filing system with a hang over the seat multi pocketed sleeve.

You can also use the extra top bunk if you have one, as an additional storage area.  Just make sure you use the sleeping net belts to secure your items so that nothing falls off or becomes damaged or injures you while driving.

I have a swinging flat screen TV mount, though I don’t bring a TV with me.  I tend to use this instead to drape my jacket, hoodie and or reflective vest over.

There is usually a place for a truck driver to place their mini fridge or cooler as well.  Very near there you will normally find some type of securing straps or something so you don’t have to worry about it taking flight on its own while you are operating the semi truck or your vehicle.

Most of our working accessories, a pair of gloves, a flashlight, small tool bag and medium to larger size tools and such can go in a side box of the semi truck or in a side box of a trailer if you have one.  Some of the emergency required items go into the side compartments as well.  Where they are only accessible from outside of the semi truck.

With the exception of the first-aid kit and possibly depending on the make an model of the semi truck you are driving, your fire extinguisher could be the only other exception.

Things like reflective triangles which are a must have by DOT and FMCSA Rules and Regulations go into the side box on the semi truck.  Some semi trucks have one side compartment on each side of the semi truck.  Normally, I see the manufacturer’s place these items in the driver side compartment.

Though in my own, opinion, they are normally safer if located in the passenger side compartment.  Now the trick here is that you must be able to secure these items from moving around if you place them into the passenger side compartment.  Otherwise, you may get fined depending on who’s doing your inspection that day.

You can also put the air hose that will be used to air up tires from time to time from heat or cold weather into any side compartment.  Though you should put the air pressure gauge somewhere closer, like a side box on the semi truck.

The Extra Flashlight, extra work gloves, these items can be placed where ever is most convenient for you.

Fire extinguisher is another item that is normally found either near the driver seat or in the driver side, side compartment of the semi truck.  This is another required accessory to have.

Items and accessories that I need within a hands reach.  Like my noise canceling blue tooth head set, my cell phone that has my AP for my ELD (Electronical Logging Device),  a CB Radio and Mic, my trucker friendly GPS, are all mounted to the dash in a manner they do not obstruct my views out the windows.

Having some of these holding brackets that have a suction cup on the bottom sticking to your windshield can at times be very dangerous.  Like when it becomes loose and falls.  Not only is your attention to driving broken at this moment.  Also, if it breaks, and a small piece of plastic just happens to poke you in the eye.  How safely can you get to the shoulder to park?

Due to these things, I tend to get some JB Weld (you can find it everywhere even in truck stops), I mix it together, splatter it on the back of what ever I need mounted, then press and hold it for a few moments on the facing towards me side of the dashboard and wa-la. (This is not something you should do while driving. Do it before you go to sleep the previous night instead).

Items like sunglasses, backup sunglasses, reading glasses, and chewing gum are located in my directly over my head compartment.  That is easily within reach so that I don’t have to take my eyes or attention off of driving.  Or next to the driver seat, on the floor of the semi truck.  Like my map, my extra notepad, my clipboard, with a couple of extra pens clipped onto it.


Things OTR Truck Driver’s Need.

In the summer months, its not as big of a reason.  Though in the winter months, when its chilly to very cold outside.  If by chance, your semi truck was to break down, and there was no power, no ability to keep warm from the semi truck’s heater or vehicle your driving.

You will be more than thankful that you have an extra blanket or few.  Even having an electric blanket at this point won’t help you if your awaiting a mechanic on the side of a highway.

The crazy idea behind these is that the extra pillows or sheets can be used to stuff into an area that is pretty breezy.  So by reducing drafts while waiting to be repaired in the cold, helps to keep you warmer for a longer period of time.

Windows in the bunk area tend to be breezy just as side vents can be as well that are located in the bunk area.

Now this goes along with keeping warm.  Having a lighter and a thick short candle.  Now this may sound dangerous and a bit psycho.  Though if you have a candle, that emits heat, and if you can keep it from catching you on fire, then you should be okay.

You could actually use this as a source to keep warm, or at least your hands.  Plus at night, so that you don’t use up the batteries in your flashlight or your cellphone.  The little amount of light that comes off a candle will help you from going crazy when your trying to reach for a lost pen or drink or etc.  Just don’t burn yourself or catch you and your semi truck on fire.


What’s Required In A First Aid Kit For OTR Truck Drivers?

Well, as for a requirement.  This depends on which governing entity we are referring to.  Take OSHA for example, definitely a requirement.  Take DOT and FMCSA, not as of yet if I recall correctly.  However, I could be wrong, after searching to see if any kind of requirement.  The only thing I found was a bit confusing and it referenced the department of labor.

Although a truck driver should have some band-aids, multiple different sizes would be best.  Gauze of various sizes, cleaning agent like soap and cold water, some scissors, band-aid tape and wraps.  The common necessities overall.  You can buy a complete first-aid kit in so many different places that come with most of the things listed.

One day you can crack a knuckle on the inside molding surrounding the fuel tanks.  Another day you could scratch the holy bajazzels out of your arm just by trying to unlock your trailer tandem pins.

Having Bayer, serves multiple purposes actually and the most enormous one is it can help prevent heart attacks. (disclaimer: I am not a doctor).  Since I am not a doctor, you can find confirming information at Web MD to support this statement.  Also, aspirin helps with reducing pain as well.

Since having soap and cool temperature water to help clean out any wounds you may receive from the ever long fight with sliding 5th wheel pins or trailer tandem pins.  Like mentioned in the above, having antibacterial ointments like Neosporin will help you heal the battle wounds from pre trips and post trips.

If you feel like being a true super trucker, and you have urges to grab a bottle of hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to put on any wounds.  Let me advise you that Web MD suggests not doing so because they actually cause more harm than good. Soap and water does the same trick we’ve grown up believing peroxide does, excepts provides you that non itchy extreme burning feeling you may be craving.


Extra’s Inside The Packing List Of A OTR Semi Truck Driver?

Even for a truck driver who drives locally, having an extra small bag or small backpack with extra cloths is a great idea.  This is a great idea to have because, if you break down, and end up in a motel or hotel room.  Then the next day, you don’t have to smell like yesterday.

Since you have this extra bag, even if are a over the road truck driver or regional, or just traveling on vacation.  It can also act as a shower bag.  Storing your toiletries, extra towel, soaps, shampoos and alike items.  When we travel OTR we’re normally going to be traveling for at least a few days or more.

Now that your storing toiletries in your backpack, using it as a backup in case of unforeseen outcomes like breakdowns.  It can also serve as a somewhat stuffed pillow if in case your waiting back at the shop the next day and need to take a power nap.

On a overall basis, this extra backpack or small bag just saved you a bunch of time from having to find these items to bring with.  Saved your energy from having to carry a bunch of stuff in the only 2 hands most of us have.  However, there is 1 major concern to keep in mind at all times when doing this.

Never, keep your toothbrush in the same area compartment as your soaps.  Trust me, after one time of accidentally doing this, my teeth were not only clean, but I could not get the soapy taste out of my mouth for the duration of 2 days. Yuck! (As us truck driver’s say, toothbrush got tossed out the window and replaced!)


External Battery Pack For Truckers?

These are made for many different people, not just truckers.  Keep in mind a lot of times things are advertised in the world just to gain the attention of that industry.  So how do truck drivers and travelers charge they’re cell phone for example if are having a break down on the side of the road and they’re cell phone’s battery is dead?

By having an external batter pack just for this reason.  It’s also a good idea to have extra cables as well.  Do you notice though, how we usually have one USB cable in our house, then we have another in our automobile, then we have another in our semi truck.  Then we break the one in our semi truck and realize we have no extra ones.

This is why truck drivers should always bring an extra one or two USB cables.  With a cigarette plugin and a regular wall outlet prong USB plugin.  This way, if end up not staying in the truck for the night.  We have the ability to keep our cell phone or laptop or etc charged.

Besides nothing is more aggravating than trying to electrical tape back together a old worn out and damaged USB cable just to hear it prompt the dunt dunt sound a billion times over the course of the next 15 miles of driving, let alone the idea of thinking your going to drive the next 600 or miles hearing the dunt dunt sound.  Maybe it’s just me, but this sound drives me crazy.

Having a backup rechargeable storage bank is a enormous  plus when it comes to being stranded on the side of the road with an inoperable semi truck and a dead battery on your cell phone.  Phone calls need to be made, to get you repaired and back to driving as soon as possible.  Having a dead battery in your cell phone is not going to make this a quick process.


Do Truckers Still Use A CB Radio?

Not having a backup rechargeable storage bank for your cell phone is where having a CB comes into play.  Now compared to 10 years ago, the CB is still an active source of communication, but no where near where it use to be.

Though it could take a dozen or so attempts to get some help through a CB Radio.  Due to this, and being able to help you foresee dangers that could be ahead.  This is why a CB Radio is still a very valuable accessory to any truck driver.  Though, if you don’t have any power in your semi truck, a CB Radio may not power on.

You can also fine tune into different CB Radio channels with some makes and models of CB’s that would actually allow you to possibly talk to police or emergency personnel.


Extra Important Items To Bring With For Traveling OTR?

Other then a sense of humor, I would suggest a good, solid tactical flashlight.  They are usually a little bit heavy, built in a more quality way and are able to withstand more drops and bangs.  Plus, you never know who is watching you walk between trailers at night. Ka-plop, self defense, be safe (disclaimer: I am in no way advising you to go out and injure people for any reason.)

Another item that is of tremendous help to have at most times is…. Can you guess?  Your Driver’s license!  Also if you need your Twic card (For entering and exiting ports), medical exam certification card, passport and important things of this nature.  Be sure to pack them so your not pulled over on the side of the road.  Hoping and trying to explain to the officer of how you must of left it on your kitchen counter.

Depending on which area of the trucking industry your in.  A Hard Hat and possibly even Safety Glasses may be something that you could be required to have.  In addition to these, possibly even steel toed boots or shoes.  Especially if you are being loaded or unloaded on a construction site.  If not required to have, sometimes these items are just good to have just in case.

The best anything that you could bring with you while being a Truck Driver is very simple, and free to come by.  That is your brain.  Now don’t take offense to this.  Most people after they have been let loose to drive a semi truck all by themselves.

After the first 6 months, they tend to start picking up bad driving habits.  After the first year, not only have they picked up bad driving habits, but they have forgotten some good driving habits.

By the time its 3 maybe 5 years later.  They are classifying themselves as a veteran truck driver.  I have been driving various types of semi trucks for nearly 20 years.  My brain still tells me I am a rookie truck driver.  I say this because, I and you do not know every single detail about trucking.

It’s that simple, there is always something to learn.  There is always something each of us truck drivers could improve in one way or another.  Our minds, and our abilities to stand firm with being a safe truck driver is what will set us apart from the others.


Upcoming Trucking Article:

25 Amazing Hack’s For How Truck Drivers Stay Awake

Here’s the first 3 Easy Hack’s to help you stay awake while driving

  1. Have Plenty Of Rest Before Beginning Your Drive
  2. Is It Nap Time? (20 minutes preferred aka power nap)
  3. Start Driving At Sunrise

If you would like to know of more amazing hacks for how truck drivers stay awake just click here.  To view the article that was written all about these crazy tips to staying awake.  Don’t travel anywhere till you’ve checked them out.


Frequently Asked Trucker Question:

Can I Sleep In My Car At A Truck Stop?

Yes you can.  Just make sure you are considerate to others.  This way they too will be considerate to you.  Park away from the front door, but still in a active area so that you are safe.  This way, your not awoken by doors slamming shut on other vehicles.

The area that you park in, make sure its for auto parking with enough lighting for your like and not a parking area for semi trucks, so again, your not awoken by management or etc.  Also, avoid parking in no loitering or no parking areas.  Just check the area for the signage to see.

About Michael : Semi Truck Driver

I have been a semi truck driver for approximately 20 years. Throughout this time I have been taught a lot of different things from a lot of different people through the years. I've also learned a lot of things from my own mistakes. With all of this in mind, allow me to share with you what I have been lucky enough to learn.

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