A Trucker’s Perspective: 3 Hitches With ‘Getting Away From It All’

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For those who are trapped between constant social obligations at work and home, a trip abroad alone can seem like just the escape that the doctor ordered. For those moments when you’re lounging on the coast watching the sunset without worrying about ringing cell phones or schedules, the trip can certainly be worth it. But what nobody told you about single travel is that there are a few caveats that can make travel extremely difficult. Here are the top three things to remember the next time you want to take a trip abroad to get away for some time alone:

Photo credit: Javier Chauran

1. Fatigue can be killer – literally

Having a co-pilot, whether you’re making a short trip downtown or crossing the entire countryside, can make a huge difference on making sure that you stay safe while driving. Provided your company isn’t a distraction, keeping an extra set of eyes on the road can help tremendously when attempting to keep your guard. This can be difficult enough alone, but traveling in unfamiliar territory for hours on end can wear away quickly at your guard when there isn’t anyone to help keep you on your toes.

When fatigue sets in, you can quickly become the key ingredient in a recipe for disaster. As a lifelong trucker, I’ve had to spend hours taking fatigue-management courses just to make sure that my ability to survive the long hours behind the wheel without dozing off. The most frightening part of this problem? Many fatigued people regularly fall asleep behind the wheel for seconds at a time without realizing it in what is medically referred to as “microsleep,” and your chances to detect threats around your vehicle during these episodes is practically nil.

2. Solitude is a state of mind

Before venturing abroad to see the world alone and gain some perspective, it’s important to remember that finding solitude in your solo adventures is entirely dependent on your ability to “put away” the frustrations and complications of responsibility for some time. If you find yourself unable to put away work when you kick off your shoes at home, it’s pretty likely that you’ll be obsessing over work while on a beach two-thousand miles away. Before taking the huge fiscal plunge in traveling abroad to get away, consider if travel is really the best way to achieve the peace you’re looking for.

I’m all for travel – I love seeing the world, and I get a great sense of satisfaction in being independent on my routes. But I’m all too aware of the woes of a workaholic (especially considering that traveling is my work.) For me, the best way to “get away” is by taking a stay-at-home vacation and finally spending some time with my family. It’s prudent to understand your motivations for travel with a more open-mind, since you might find that being thousands of miles away from it all might actually stress you out more than the day-to-day ever did.

3. There is strength in numbers

Even though I spend the great majority of my days driving alone in my cab, the fact is that I’m constantly talking with people – whether through my antiquated CB radio, my wireless headset with co-workers and management, or with friends and family through video conferencing on my smartphone when I’m parked at a stop. As much as I enjoy the peace and quiet, I spend a lot of my day talking with people and I wouldn’t want it any other way. A desire for some isolation is healthy and normal, but a will to completely sever ties with reality by losing yourself halfway around the world is against human nature.

Instead of discarding the stresses of the responsibilities to those you live with, think about how bringing others along can enhance your relationships and help you work through what produced your desire to escape in the first place. A break from the strains of daily work can put plenty of tension in any relationship, and instead of taking travel as an opportunity to remove others, use it as an opportunity to repair and mend your relationships with others.

Taking a vacation to escape your relationships is only an unhappy patch if you’re having difficulties of that variety. Traveling should be a carefree and relaxing time, but it can have much longer lasting benefits to your social and emotional well-being if you take the time to constructively improve your relationships rather than isolate yourself.

Hank Barton is a second-generation trucker and a first-generation writer. When Hank isn’t waxing philosophical, he writes about good driving practices, the trucker lifestyle and the beauty of the open road.

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