Time off for truckers looks a bit different than it does in most other fields. Whereas an office worker typically gets home every night and gets weekends off, long-haul drivers spend longer stretches of time away from home, then get more days off in between these hauls. This is known as home time, and it’s important to understand how this works so you know what to expect and can plan for your truck driving career.
Home Time vs Paid Time Off
Home time is not the same thing as paid time off. During paid time off, you are still getting compensation. Many trucking companies offer this after you’ve spent some time with the company. By contrast, home time is more like weekends in other professions. It’s unpaid time that you take at somewhat regular intervals.
How Much Home Time Do Truckers Get?
Your home time depends on the type of trucking job you pursue – local, regional, or over-the-road (OTR). Each company within these categories has a different policy, so be sure to read this before you commit to a job and ask questions if you aren’t sure how often you can expect home time.
Local truckers stay within a region close to home, and report to the same location at the start and end of every day. These drivers often have longer daily shifts, but come home every night and get regular days off. These may be every weekend, or sometimes during the middle of the week depending on the job.
Regional truckers travel further from home than local drivers, but not as far as OTR truckers. Their exact home time schedule varies depending on the job. Many are able to get home once a week, typically on the weekend.
OTR drivers spend the longest amount of time on the road, often four to six weeks. Different companies offer different lengths of home time between hauls, usually based on the amount of time spent on the road. For example, a motor carrier may offer one day at home for every week spent on the road.
You’ll likely start as an OTR trucker after school to get experience. However, after spending some time in this niche, you may decide to look for a regional or local job. These are typically more competitive and often pay less, but may be a good fit if home time is a primary concern.
Can You Guarantee Home Time on Certain Days?
Some trucking jobs, such as dedicated freight for one customer, are easier to predict a stable schedule for. These are harder to get as a rookie, but may be possible to move into later in your career. For a standard dry van OTR job, freight can be harder to predict. You can always put in a request with your company to be home at a certain time, but it’s helpful to be prepared for the unexpected in trucking.
Do You Have to Take Home Time at Home?
Despite the name, you don’t necessarily have to return home for your home time. Many motor carriers will allow you to take this time elsewhere. This can be a great way to see more of the country and try something new. Keep in mind that many companies do have additional requirements for this.
What Do You Do With Your Truck During Home Time?
Different motor carriers have different policies for what you need to do with your semi-truck during home time. In most cases, you’ll leave it at a terminal so that it is secure. In some cases, your company may allow you to bobtail, meaning drive without a trailer, home as long as you have a secure and large enough space for it. Just make sure you’re also in line with any local regulations for where to park, that you have enough space to leave safely.
Start Your Trucking Career
At Phoenix Truck Driving Institute, we can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and start your trucking career. We offer job placement assistance for our students and can help you find positions with home time that matches your needs.