As I’ve posted numerous times, hotshotting is nothing if not unpredictable. If the “ups,” running your tail off doesn’t get you, the “downs,” or slow work periods just might. And the downs happen more often than anyone likes, so it’s critical to have a backup plan and something else to do to take your mind off of the lack of work.
When it’s very busy and you’re out there running from sunup to sundown, it’s pretty important to keep a couple of things in mind… if you don’t take care of you, you will eventually run out of steam. One of the best ways to do this is to keep yourself fed and hydrated, and even if you’re in a big hurry, take advantage of at least a couple of short stops just to get out of the truck and stretch your legs a little.
You can turn yourself into a dull minded drone in a hurry if you just sit behind the wheel driving like there’s no tomorrow. And now that the laws have been adjusted again, starting this June you have to remember to take a half-hour break for every eight hours you drive. So you might as well get into the habit of taking that break now, preferably someplace with a picnic table and some scenery where you can park the truck and just relax. It will do you a world of good.
It helps to do good trip planning, it’s even better if you’re running a known route and already have an idea of where rest areas or trailer-friendly parking lots are located. The less time you have to spend looking for a place to park, the better.
I’m also big on staying in motels and not camping out in the truck. It’s better for your nerves, better for the quality of sleep you’ll get, and safer than trying to sleep on the back seat of that truck. To be your best while driving you need to be properly rested. Nodding off while behind the wheel is not something that anyone should think is normal. It means you haven’t had enough rest, and can cost you (and other unsuspecting drivers near you) a lot of misery if you konk out and crash the truck…
Try to always park your rig where you can see it from your room and whenever possible, park it right under some light. You’ll sleep better if you know your truck isn’t parked in a dark back lot where someone might just decide to tamper with it.
If you’re like me, you probably eat on the run more often than not. I’m not big on sitting alone in restaurants, so it’s usually a quick stop at McDonalds or some other such quick place for any meals. What I do try to do is order stuff that’s not dripping in fat. It’s easy to pack on the weight when you have a sit-down job anyway, so if I have to resort to fast food I order things plain and never order soda. I just stick to coffee and tea.
Very few hotshot trips are stress-free, so it’s important to learn to go with the flow. I always try to give myself an extra hour or two when setting up loads. A little wiggle-room is a good thing when you nearly always run the risk of hitting heavy traffic or other unexpected delays on the road. And if you do get delayed enough to make you late, pick up that phone (after you pull off the road, of course) and call the receiver to let them know your actual ETA. They may not be happy that you’re delayed, but they will appreciate the heads-up on when you expect to get their load delivered.
Now for slow times, the best I can tell you is to keep working contacts for loads and try to work up new customers. If that doesn’t help right away, it’s probably good to have a cheap hobby that helps take your mind off of work for a little while. You can definitely drive yourself nuts worrying over where the next load is coming from, but it’s probably better to try to stay sane enough to be able to take that load when it comes.