DE BORGIA, Mont. — Carina BeeBe knows the pressures of life on the road, both across the U.S. and abroad. She’s got a powerhouse of world traveling under her belt as a truck driver.
As a world traveler, BeeBe said the life of a truck driver always appealed to her. Her days are filled with her sole passion — to enjoy life through travel.
“I like the freedom to meet new people and to see places. I like the feeling of having a big-ass truck under my butt,” she laughed. “I’ve always (traveled), and it’s a hobby as well, not only work. I really enjoy every day when I get into the truck, I’m happy. To me, it’s just enjoyable that I can see other places than a computer screen.”
For a time, BeeBe worked as a CDL instructor. That’s the closest she’s gotten to leaving the trucking industry. Her stint as an instructor was short-lived, and she came back to over-the-road trucking with energy and excitement.
It’s been a little over 20 years since BeeBe, a native of the Netherlands, first started her truck-driving career in Europe. She started out hauling curtain vans, then moved on to refrigerated trailers and delivered flowers and plants to Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland and France. In total, Beebe’s professional driving career in Europe took her across 10 countries.
Although Europe was her home and she was able to travel to many countries, BeeBe said it was a challenge to keep up with all the rules and regulations of truck driving.
The typical American trucker may complain about issues such as the electronic logging device (ELD) or inadequate parking. To BeeBe, it’s a step up from what she experienced in Europe. Believe it or not, she said, it’s easier for her to find a place to park here, and truck stops are bigger and more accommodating in the U.S.
“Over here, it’s an easy cakewalk compared to Europe,” she said. “In Europe, they have all kinds of goofy things, like four-and-a half hours and a 45-minute break; then they split up the hours and it’s just goofy and a pain in the butt. If you mess up, then they will fine you dearly for it.”
In addition, she explained, different countries have different fine rules. If a rule is broken according to a Netherlands rule, and the truck driver is pulled over in Ireland, authority figures can fine the driver for the Netherlands regulation.
“I do miss (driving in Europe in some ways; it’s a little bit less strict. For example, you can have a glass of wine in the evening, and nobody [cares],” she laughed. “But on the other hand, the hours and the ELD is way more complicated, and it’s a pain in the butt.”
In the midst of dealing with the challenges of driving professionally in Europe, BeeBe said she had a wakeup call when one of her friends died at a young age — and BeeBe realized she wasn’t going to live forever.
“And I was ready for a new adventure and driving a big-ass Peterbilt,” she laughed, adding that she sees Peterbilt trucks as an American icon.
So, she moved to North America and became a cross-border driver between the U.S. and Canada for Wilson Logistics. While she enjoyed her two years with Wilson, she recently started her own trucking company and bought her own truck. She’s now the owner of Dutch Girl Trucking, fitting for her roots.
While on the road, BeeBe travels with Jack, a Pomeranian-mix rat terrier, by her side. She laughingly says she got a dog to make sure she regularly gets her “butt out of the truck and walks.”
“I have a tendency to get lazy and I don’t want to,” she said. “I like to stay active, so as soon as I stop somewhere I’ll go take him for a walk, and in the evenings, if it’s nice weather, I’ll go out for a longer walk.”
BeeBe has traveled all around the world — and has seen every U.S. state, except for Maine — yet she’s a sucker for Montana. She can’t help it; the U.S. West is now her home, and she’s reminded as such every time she wanders out and about.
“I like the weather, even though in the wintertime it can sometimes be a pain in the butt — but it’s not bad,” she said. BeeBe now lives in the tiny town of De Borgia, Montana. It’s just got a post office and a restaurant, but it’s the way she likes it: peaceful.
“It’s not really big, but that’s OK, you know. I’m on the road a lot anyway, so when I’m home it’s just nice and peaceful and I really enjoy that,” she said. “You can hike everywhere and there’s lakes and it’s just beautiful.”
Even when BeeBe isn’t driving a truck, she says most of her time is spent on the road. Traveling is her sole purpose, and she plans to keep trucking, whether she’s paid or not.
“I’m really dedicated to trucking, and I like to travel a lot,” she said. “So, if I’m not trucking, I’m traveling.”
Because of that dedication and passion for trucking, BeeBe was recognized this year as the May Member of the Month by the Women In Trucking (WIT) Association.
Because she grew up in Europe, BeeBe tries to visit every year. Over the past year, COVID brought much of her traveling, other than work, to a halt. However, she recently took a trip to California, and she plans to soon visit friends in Tennessee.
When recreational travel is allowed, BeeBe said the first place she’ll visit in Europe is the Netherlands to see her family. After that, she hopes to vacation in Mexico over Christmas.
No matter where she finds herself, BeeBe said she is always struck by the kindness of her trucking family across the world.
“With the old-school truck drivers, it’s like family,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re at, if you’re talking to a truck driver, you always have something to [talk] about, and we help each other out.”
Hannah Butler is a lover of interesting people, places, photos and the written word. Butler is a former community newspaper reporter and editor for Arkansas Tech University’s student newspaper. Butler is currently finishing up her undergraduate print journalism degree and hopes to pursue higher education. Her work has been featured in at least nine different publications.