– Sleeping bag!!! Very important! Don’t bring sheets with you. When you’re in training, chances are you’ll be driving as a team with your trainer. In other words, your trainer drives while you sleep and vice versa. If the truck is moving, you’ll want to sleep on the bottom bunk. Instead of changing sheets all the time which would be a total pain, just grab your sleeping bag and you’re good to go. Then if you have some downtime and you both sleep at the same time, you can just bring your sleeping bag to the top bunk. I personally went to the store and bought two “indoor” type sleeping bags. These roll up very small to save on space. By having two, I don’t have to sleep inside the sleeping bag. I put one down flat on the bed, then use the other to cover myself. You can also zip two together if you prefer. Just make sure if you do this, you grab indoor sleeping bags. The ones you use for camping are too hot, and way too big and bulky.
– Don’t forget your pillow!!
– Small bag for showers. Instead of lugging your big duffel bag around when you want to shower, it’s much easier to have a real small bag just large enough to put your toiletries and single change of clothes in. The bag I use I think is actually a smaller type cooler bag. But it gets the job done.
– Laundry bag. Just a place to put your dirty clothes and lug them around with when you’re doing laundry. If you can find a small bottle of laundry soap, it’s probably not a bad idea to bring that along too if you have the room. Most truck stops sell it, but they charge way too much for it.
– Cell phone and charger. The truck I’m on has a limited number of AC outlets, but if you can get a DC charger for your phone it’s highly recommended. You might also want to get a headset for it. Shifting, driving, and talking all at the same time isn’t a good combo, especially for a student. I won’t get into a debate about whether you should talk and drive or not, but when you’re driving through New Mexico at midnight and you’re the only person on the road, chances are using a headset is going to be ok with your trainer if you need to make or receive a call.
– Laptop. This is very optional, and several people say you should leave your laptop at home as it’s a distraction. But I find email a very good way to communicate “outside the truck.” Having your laptop is pretty useless unless you have internet access. While truck stops do offer WiFi for a fee, I’d highly recommend getting an aircard for your laptop (uses cell phone towers). I personally use a company called Millenicom. They have no contracts and have been absolutely fantastic for me. I’ve been using it for 7 weeks out on the road now. I seem to get service pretty much everywhere, even in the middle of nowhere. The speed of my service does fluctuate a bit, but if I’m near any sort of moderate population, it does a real good job. If you do want to sign up for Millenicom, make sure you do so about a week or so before you leave. That way they can mail you the wireless card in time for you to leave. But also look into most cell phone providers as they generally offer the service as well.