The holiday season can be a stressful time for truck drivers and their families. Every year, I talk to truckers who are unable to get home time during the holidays.  Many are disappointed because they do not get the load that takes them close to home and have to stay out on the road. This can be frustrating for everyone. And of course, it can be stressful to anticipate family gatherings with relatives you are not close to or visiting with the in-laws. Continue reading to learn some tips for overcoming these issues and how to stay happy and healthy over the holidays.

  • Stay positive. Too many times I talk with truckers who anticipate having a bad holiday months and months before December. They dread what has happened in seasons past and think every holiday will have the same bad outcome.  If you are predicting a bad holiday season, it is more likely your fears will come true.  What you expect to happen is what will happen.  I strongly urge truckers and their families to plan on having a positive holiday season and know each holiday can be better than the last. If you start thinking negatively, you can quickly work yourself up to such an angry and depressed state and ensure a negative holiday season.  You can always celebrate the holidays in your truck or on a later date with your family. Avoid arguing with your dispatcher, trucking company, and whoever else who comes to mind! Remember everyone is working hard to do what’s best for you and your company.
  • Show you care. If you can’t be home for the holidays, it is important to show your family you care.  Make plenty of phone calls.  Texts and emails are nice, but hearing your family’s voice is much better and video conferencing is even more ideal. Skype and Facetime (on apple products) are free video conferencing software you can use. Send cards and presents. You can send a present for your family to open on the holiday and have a different present to give them when you are home. This shows your family you are thinking of them, even though you are not there to celebrate.
  • Set realistic expectations. If you are planning on being home for the holidays, but it depends solely on if you get a load in the direction of home, this means there is a chance you will not make it home.  Make sure you explain this to your family—especially the little ones.  The uncertainty of being home for the holidays is quite anxiety provoking.  Make tentative plans but let your friends and family know there is a chance you will not make it to every event.
  • Avoid family drama. Are you not very excited to see certain family members?  If so, how can you modify your holiday experiences so they are not set up to be a disappointment?  Maybe it is imposing a time limit. You do not need to spend all day at a family gathering.  Do you usually bounce from house-to-house all day long?  It is OK to skip some family members’ homes.  You could see certain family members on odd years and others on even years. You can celebrate the holidays with certain family members on a different day. Alcohol and other drug use can also fuel family drama.  If this is the case, make it a point to have a substance free gathering.  Be sure to leave out the discussions that can cause arguments such as politics and religion. 

Tips for having a Happy Holiday:

  • Avoid predicting a negative experience and remember each holiday can be better than the last.
  • Do not fixate on the exact date.  If you miss the holiday, you can spend time with family in the near future.
  • Show your family you care and are thinking of them.
  • Limit alcohol consumption and consider a substance free gathering.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend at holiday get-togethers, especially if there has been problems in the past.

Above all, remain positive and those you love will be more positive as well.

Comments (2)

buck black

Buck is a licensed therapist (LCSW, LCAC) in a private practice who focuses on anger, stress, and relationships. He practices in Lafayette, Indiana and is available online at He specializes in working with truckers and their families over the phone and on Skype at

Read These Next...

LIVE Smart

Trucker Buddy Christmas 2013

December 27, 2013

LIVE Smart

Holidays in the Truck

October 08, 2018


Being in a large family between my wife's side and my own, we tend to do several gatherings around the actual Christmas/New Year's holidays. It works out better this way and puts less emphasis on the chaos most find running around on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Roads can be awful to commute on during these days anyways. For New Years, I actually can't recall the last time my wife and I went out for this holiday. We tend to fall asleep on the couch before midnight anyway and the years we did host anything at our house it was never more than just a couple of close friends. This is one holiday I make it a point not to drive on, with many people drinking and driving. Not that I live in fear of this, but I all too often have seen things on these roads I would rather not be involved in if someone decides to take the wheel after drinking.

December 13, 2012 21:21:18 PM

When my husband and I moved to CO 6 years ago and left our family behind in WI, we started experiencing the same problem. What I've learned over the years is that if this is a possible issue, you have to make the holiday when you are together just like Buck says. In fact, we have it set up so that we celebrate with them in January which ends up having some bonuses. We avoid crazy holiday travel and higher plane ticket prices, and get to buy our presents using the after Christmas sales! We still make sure to call them and try to get our presents out to them so that they can open them on Christmas day, but otherwise, we just make sure to still do some of the traditions when we can be together.

December 10, 2012 10:18:39 AM