Truck driver sitting in cabin giving thumbs-up

Essential Checklist for Truck Drivers: What to Bring on Your First Day

Starting out as a truck driver involves more than just knowing how to drive a truck—it’s about being well-prepared for the journey ahead. On your first day, having the right items with you can significantly impact your experience and comfort on the road.

Keep reading to learn more about what you need to bring with you on your first day.

Same-Day Trips


Music Playlist, Audiobooks, Radio, or Podcasts: No matter your preference, having any of these can help you stay entertained and alert on the road.

Health & Nutrition:

64 oz. Water Bottle: This may seem excessive, but staying hydrated is crucial to staying alert.

Healthy Snacks: Avoid McDonald’s and other fast food places and pack ahead of time. Consider packing on-the-go snacks like granola bars, trail mix, and fruit like apples or bananas.

Thermos: If you like coffee or tea in the morning, bring a thermos to keep it warm.

Safety & Emergency:

First-Aid Kit: Buy a basic First-Aid kit with band-aids, adhesive tape, a tourniquet, gloves, antibiotic ointment, gauze pads, tweezers, and other essential items to cover your basic medical needs in an emergency.

Flashlight With Extra Batteries: This is particularly useful for inspections or emergencies at night and will pack more power than the flashlight on your cell phone.

Reflective Safety Vest: For visibility during roadside stops (only needed in the morning before sunset or at night).

Personal Comfort:

Sunglasses: To protect your eyes and improve visibility.

Comfortable Clothing: Remember—you’re going to be on the road for hours. Bring clothes appropriate for the weather and the drive.

Heated Pad or Seat Cushion: A heated seating pad can add extra comfort in the winter or if you have a sore back.

Fan: Likewise, if it’s too hot in the spring or summer, bring a clip-on fan to keep you cool if the air conditioning isn’t enough.

Navigation & Communication:

GPS or Smartphone With a GPS App: This can help you stay aware of any detours, delays, or accidents on your route.

Phone Charger & Mount: Michigan is a hands-free state. Avoid putting yourself into dangerous situations by mounting your phone for easy visibility and keeping it charged at all times.

Notebook & Pen: For jotting down quick notes or reminders.

Vehicle Maintenance:

Windshield Wiper Fluid: Even if it’s a same-day trip, having extra on hand is always good.

Extra Engine Oil & Coolant: Again, it’s good to have extra if maintenance was missed and you need to top up.

Basic Tool Kit: Includes items like a tire gauge, screwdrivers, and pliers to perform basic repairs.


Entertainment & Comfort:

Audio Entertainment: Preloaded music, audiobooks, podcasts, etc.

Electronic Devices: A laptop, tablet, or e-reader for off-duty entertainment.

Sunglasses: These are a must, no matter how long your trip is.

Seat Cushion: If you’re on the road for a long time, having a seat cushion or heated pad can help reduce back pain and other discomfort.

Comfortable Bedding: A quality sleeping bag or bedroll, pillows, and blankets for your sleeper cab are essential. A good night’s sleep is vital.

Extra Clothing: Pay attention to the weather and bring suitable clothes, including comfortable driving attire and off-duty clothes.

Portable Fan or Extra Set of Blankets: Depending on the season, you may need this for temperature control in the cab, especially if something is wrong with the bunk heater. You can’t keep your truck running all night! Do not purchase any portable heaters for your truck—they’re too dangerous, and the battery-operated ones won’t last long.

Health & Nutrition

Non-Perishable Food: Canned goods, instant rice or pasta, and snacks that last longer are ideal for longer trips. Always try to pack healthy foods, which will make you feel energized for longer. If you do bring perishable food, ensure you have a cooler or that your truck has a refrigerator.

Thermos or Coffee Warmer: If you enjoy coffee or tea in the morning, bring either one of these items to keep them warm.

Portable Cooking Gear: If you don’t have pre-made food, bring a crockpot, compact stove, or microwave. Some trucks have an APU that allows you to use electricity without turning the truck on.

Reusable Water Bottles: Again, bring a 64 oz. bottle, and be sure to refill when you can.

Prescription Medicine or Supplements: If you take any prescribed medicine or supplements that have been pre-approved by your employer, be sure to pack them with you, bringing a few days extra supply in case you drop one or an unexpected delay happens.

Safety & Tools:

First-Aid Kit: Include your personal medications and supplements here, along with band-aids, gauze, ointment, and other basic supplies.

Emergency Roadside Kit: Make or purchase a roadside kit with flares, reflective triangles, and a fire extinguisher.

Reflective Vest: To ensure you can be seen at night.

Basic Tool Kit: This should include anything you need to make minor repairs or adjustments in your truck.

Flashlight & Extra Batteries: To ensure you can see clearly during night checks or when performing repairs at night.

Extra Fuel, Oil, & Windshield Wiper Fluid: Bring a jerry can of fuel in case of emergencies, along with extra oil and windshield wiper fluid.

Documentation & Money

☐ Bring your license, insurance, permits, and any trip-specific paperwork.

☐ Bring cash and a personal debit or credit card for tolls, food, and other unexpected expenses.

Hygiene & Cleaning:

Toiletry Kit: Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo/conditioner, and towels.

Shower Shoes: For use at truck stops.

Hand Sanitizer & Wipes: For quick cleaning needs.

Trash Bags: Bring heavy-duty trash bags.

Toilet Paper: Buy an extra 4-pack roll of toilet paper just in case.

Cleaning Solutions: Bring cleaning solutions for laundry, dish cleaning, and general cleaning.

Communication & Navigation:

Cell Phone, Charger, Mount: It may also be a good idea to bring a hands-free handset. The goal is to keep your phone out of your hands and always charged.

GPS System: Updated for reliable route planning.

Physical Maps: Use maps as backups to digital navigation in areas with poor reception.

Notebook & Pen: This is always handy to keep in your truck to jot down reminders and other important notes.

Remember—long-haul trips can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared for various scenarios. Adjust this list based on your specific needs and trip details.

Stay Prepared With Help From TSI

Are you looking for more resources? Visit our blog for more tips and best practices. We’re here to help you stay safe on the road!