Road Tested Living

Christmas at the Truck Stop

Christmas at the Truck Stop

Christmas shopping tends to be a stressful time of year for most anyone. It seems like every year people always complain about that one person that is hard to shop for. How they are either fussy, already have everything, or they just have no clue what to get them. Add to the mix if the person you are shopping for is a truck driver. Finding that perfect gift for a driver who spends a great deal of time on the road can be a challenge. Friends often complain they never know if I have an item, or room for it.

Here are a few suggestions that may make shopping a bit easier, as they should be popular with most anyone. Over the next few weeks I will be giving more specific recommendations on many of these gift ideas.

Tablet PC

Tablet PC

Tablet Computer: These portable computers, take up less space than a laptop and offer more functionality than most smartphones. Many can also be used on your cellular plan to allow easier internet access. If you choose one of those plans be sure your data plan is large enough so you do not have overages.

Cellular Accessories: Heavy Duty Charging Cables, High Powered Chargers, Splitters, Bluetooth Headsets, and Speakers. Don’t forget the heavy duty cases such as Otter Box. There are many manufactures that make these devices. Personally I use many of the products from Tough Tested, they seem to be one of the few that hold up to my abuse. I mean use.

Music: If your driver likes music consider a gift certificate to I-Tunes or another similar service. Also consider buying a CD of an artist that works in the trucking industry. Two of my personal favorites, are Tony Justice, and Lindsay Lawler.

Fitness Gear: The options hear are endless. Look for devices that, are portable and do not take up a great deal of storage space. Also devices that can do multiple exercises are great options. Look into things such as the FIT System, jump ropes, dumb bells with adjustable weights, and resistance bands are a few good starting options.

Tom using the Fit System at MATS 2014.

Tom using the Fit System at MATS 2014.

Activity Trackers: This market is simply exploding with choices in a wide range of prices. One thing to remember is that many of these wearable trackers can be triggered by the motion of us going down the road. A friend gave me a Misfit Flash as an early Christmas gift. One thing I noticed early on is that rough roads can trigger it as steps. While it gives me a great idea of what I have done during the day it is NOT perfect. With any of these devices I recommend looking at Amazon.com reviews. While most reviewers are not truck drivers it will give an idea of the ease of use, and basic reliability. After all if people who work in an office are complaining it shows steps when they are not working imagine what it will do if your driving. (Review of the Misfit Shine coming after first of the year)

SmartPhones: There are many options both pre-paid and monthly billing through a major carriers. I will be doing an article on this before Christmas as there are too many issues to discuss here. Short version they offer many options, and tools that can be beneficial to the professional driver.

Extended Battery Packs: These are becoming very affordable, and come in a variety of options. They tend to be universal and can work with a variety of phones, and tablets. Some require that you recharge them from an outlet, others have a built in Solar Panel. This panel is meant to supplement the charge and is not intended to charge a phone from scratch. (review coming soon)

GPS Devices: These devices have come along way in the last 10 years. Features to look for, Larger Screen size the better in my opinion. Lifetime updates for the maps. A nice option are those that offer traffic updates, their may be an extra fee for this. Lastly be sure it is suitable for your application. Don’t get a car GPS because it is cheap, and expect it to give you truck routing. Most manufactures make car, truck, and RV versions. Also remember they are not perfect and can make mistakes so use your best judgment, and do not follow them blindly. (review of Rand McNally TND730 coming soon)

Swiftwick sock display at GATS

Swiftwick sock display at GATS

Socks:  OK this may seem like an odd gift idea.  Yet it has a surprising amount of value and benefit.  Over the last year I have been made aware of the benefit of compression socks for the health of truck drivers.  There are many brands and some work well others not so much.  I have tested the Health+ medical grade compression socks made by SWIFTWICK.  While a bit pricey they hold up well, are wicking, and anti-microbial.  They are also one of the few if not only socks at that price point that are FDA approved.  For my review on the socks click here. These socks are good no just for truck drivers, but for anyone who travels long distances.

Gift Certificates: Certificates to various res-truants can be a nice change of pace. Also stores such as Lowes, Menards, Cabela’s, and many others often carry things that truckers can use. So think outside the box with these. As an example Cabella’s carry a nice selection of work boots. The ones I am currently wearing I bough from Cabela’s over a year ago and I am very happy with their quality.

Membership to Industry Organizations: There are a variety of industry organizations that have value to the professional driver. If they are already a member consider getting them a longer term or lifetime membership if available. Organizations include Women in Trucking, OOIDA, AAofOO, and NATA to name just a few.

Charitable Donation: If you have a person that truly has everything they need and does not want a gift. Consider a donation to their favorite Charity. If your snot sure which charity to use some personal favorites are, Make It Happen USA, St. Christopher’s Fund, Wreaths Across America, and JRBM Fund. (The charities are listed in no particular order, and do not constitute an endorsement.) There are many worthy organizations that can always use your support.

 

Hopefully these suggestions may give you some ideas and make life a bit easier in selecting for that hard to shop for person.

 

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I have been driving in the trucking industry for 9 years working for a major over the road refrigerated carrier. In "previous lives," I have worked as a police dispatcher while in college for Geology and Sociology, spent time in restaurant kitchens, and spent 9 years in retail electronics. Of all my jobs, I enjoy probably enjoy driving the most, with cooking not far behind. During my time as a driver my weight went up and my health went down. In the last few years I have made the decision to start taking back my health. RoadTestedLiving.com chronicles my story, as well as that of other drivers. It will share tips and tricks that, if they work for professional drivers with limited time, space, and equipment, they should be able to work for anyone. It also allows me to share my passion for the trucking industry, and good food with others. Simply put, Road Tested Living is all about Learning to Live Well from Life's Lessons on the Road.

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