Rookie Driver Sells Everything to Pursue Her Dream of Traveling More
Imagine yourself sitting in a large, endless room of cubicles with fluorescent lighting overhead answering one customer call after another. And for 23 years, you’d look out the window on your way to the kitchenette dreaming about the places you’d love to go.
Alaska. Paris. Australia. Japan. New Zealand. Brazil. Italy…
But, you felt trapped. You had to keep the job and the health benefits. You had a home to pay off. You had a car loan. You had a boyfriend or girlfriend.
One day, Natalie Eubanks got up from her seat in that cubicle farm, looked around, and said, “I’ve had enough.”
And so begins Natalie’s second journey from a quality assurance advocate at Time-Warner Cable to professional truck driver.
“I finally reached that point where I had to make a change,” says Natalie. “I wanted to reclaim control over my life.”
With a strong desire to see the world, Natalie boiled her choice down between an airline flight attendant or a truck driver, both of which would allow her to see more of the world, or at least her own country.
Living in San Antonio, Tex., Natalie had seen Germany and parts of Europe growing up as a “military brat.” But beyond Texas and Arizona, where her military family was also stationed, she had never seen much more of the very country that she grew up in.
Choosing truck driving, Natalie enrolled in the Sage Truck Driving School in San Antonio to earn her CDL, and from there, she took another dramatic step:
She sold the house, sold the car, and she said goodbye to her beloved family and friends.
Today, at 42-years-old, Natalie Eubanks is seeing America, unencumbered by the baggage that weighs down her former cubicle farm co-workers.
“I literally chucked it all,” says Natalie. “I told myself, ‘Do it for a year.’ Well, here I am, a year later, and I’ve decided, I’m going to give it another year.”
As a solo OTR driver for Transport America, Natalie has visited 30 states, so far; fished in Arkansas; walked through the Mall of America in Minnesota; dined in several restaurants featured in the television show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and has met many wonderful people.
And her favorite “new” place so far?
“I have to say, driving through Tennessee and West Virginia in the fall and seeing all of the fall leaves was simply incredible,” Natalie says.
But re-arranging her life to focus on travel has meant that every day Natalie is forming new habits to help her achieve goals such as traveling to Seattle this summer or go to Australia in two years.
Because travel is expensive, Natalie understands that she needs to keep her truck moving.
“I run hard. I spend weeks out on the road. I have family in Tennessee and I’ll take 36 hours to stop and see them. I go home to see my mother every couple months,” Natalie says, “but other than that, I’m running this truck and saving every dime so I can travel.”
In addition, Natalie eats carefully and makes sure to get a full night of sleep.
“I’ve learned that if you want to safely run a truck, you need to take care of your own engine first,” says Natalie, who pampers herself every couple weeks by staying in a motel or hotel to get a comfortable night of sleep and a bath.
For Natalie, choosing the trucking company to pursue her specific lifestyle was as important as making the decision to become a professional driver.
“I did a lot of research to choose the right trucking company for me,” says Natalie. “I looked for a company that offers a strong training program for new drivers, such as me, and I researched trucking companies that put safety first. Transport America came out on top.”
“For example,” she added, “with Transport America, your driver instructor actually is awake and sitting in the passenger seat while you drive to help you learn how to become a better driver. I learned with some other companies, the driver instructor is more like a team driver and actually sleeps while the new driver is learning the ropes.”
Natalie credits Mike Young, a driver instructor for Transport America, for preparing her to be a successful and professional truck driver.
“He was an excellent mentor for me,” says Natalie. “I can still hear his calm voice in my head sharing advice on this or that.”
And she credits her fleet leader, Angie Sholly, for keeping her rolling.
“I would not be as successful as I feel without her knowing how I like to run.”
Asked if she would recommend the same path for other men and women, Natalie offers this advice:
“Making the jump and following through on it, was a big accomplishment for me,” says Natalie. “I don’t feel as fearful about the future and about change as I used to.”
I believe you have to set goals to achieve what you want. I want to go to Ireland. I want to experience Carnival in Brazil. I want to go skiing in Germany. I want to go on an African photo safari. I’ve dedicated myself to this lifestyle. I have so many trails yet to uncover and I am proud to continue my journey with Transport America.”