After driving and cycling for Amazon Flex, I decided it was time to share my experience by giving you my list of important items you will need at all times. I sometimes switch between driving and cycling; the cycling is to keep up a healthy lifestyle during the daytime and driving tend to keep for night deliveries and weekend schedules. Since Amazon Flex allows both types of couriers to work for them, I am splitting the article into two halves, the first part will be for car drivers and the second will be for bicycle riders.
Items for Cars
Collapsible Hand Truck, you must always have this item in your car luggage compartment, you never know when you will get a heavy delivery, usual crates of water or other drinks. Sometimes I also get more than three orders to deliver into the same apartment complex, so having one of these saves a lot of time and hassle.
Phone charger cable , this is a must. You do not want to be in the middle of a schedule and have a mobile device with no power. Place the cable in your car and don't take it out, ever. It's best to take a magnetic smartphone model since it saves on the USB wear and tear and it is so much easier just grabbing the phone and dashing out without the hassle of discounting and reconnecting. Just make sure you place your phone in a good place, so you don't knock it out of position when it is charging. You should also have a USB charger as back up or used when you need to watch the GPS map for deliveries that you are not sure about. You then connect the USB cable to the phone which you place in the dash mount for safe driving.
Insulated bags, you can get these from the Amazon Flex warehouse or distribution center, or you can buy one from Amazon. I bought an extra bag for pizza deliveries, and it only cost me $20. You will need two types of bag, one for hot and one for the cold. The cold bags can plug into your carport and charge with 12V DC, making sure the cold drinks and items reach customers in good condition.
Collapsible Crates, these must-have items come in a number of sizes ranging from 34 liters all the way up to 62 liters. Don't try to double stack paper bags in these, but they are very helpful with large delivery loads.
Dash Mount , an absolute must for safe driving. When using the app during your block, you will need to mount it during the times you drive. Make sure it's placed in a good position for both your eyes and hands to reach. Never drive with a mobile device on your hands. Mounts come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, so you just have to decide which one suits your car and your personal preferences.
Portable Phone Charger , this completes the holy trinity of phone chargers, the magnetic and USB are for in the car, and the portable charger is for outside the car. Sometimes you find yourself waiting in a restaurant for a delayed order, and that can take over half an hour. So, you need to be prepared. There is a number of models; some have 2 USB ports, others one and some are solar powered. I prefer the two USB port model, and it provides a hefty 20,000mAh which is useful when you are stuck on a long delivery and need a quick boost. The portable charger is only to be used in cases of emergency when you really have no other options.
Powered Heater/Cooler , this is also important for larger orders, it holds up to 24L and plugs into the car power. Basically, it's either a car powered refrigerator/Freezer or food heater.
Earbuds with a microphone , when talking to customers while waiting for orders, or even in the car for short distances, this item will save a lot of hassle as it will free your hands. In fact, I prefer to keep it on all the time. I sometimes take one earbud out when I am waiting, but generally, keep them connected at all times. It's important to buy the option that comes with a microphone.
Drink Carrier, a very important item to have in your car at all times. It keeps your coffee, coke and water cans and cups held upright when driving and I prefer the four holder since it is useful for holding more than one cup.
All season floor mats , while you will always need a good mat in any season, all seasonal mats are imperative to maintain a clean car. There are many types of mats sold through a number of online and brick and mortar shops. Prices vary a lot, so you should consider the following issues when deciding what mat to buy. 1) what is your car model, make and year, you might have a standard set ready to clip into your car, if not, buy ones that can clip in to make sure they don't move around. 2) What is your weather like, if you are in a rainy zone or a dusty zone, these issues must be factored into which kind of mat solution you use? Also, consider if you are buying mats for the back only or for all the car. Dealers sometimes have really good sales on, or you can go on Craig's list, e-Bay, and Amazon for online buying.
Paper towels and tissues , it is always very useful to have a pack of tissues in the glove compartment. You offer them to your passengers when they enter sneezing or sniffling. Just make sure that you clean up with the disinfectant wipe after they touch anything if they rub their noses with their bare hands. You can also use them to clean up the vomit if you don't want to use disinfectant wipes to start off with.
Tire inflator and pressure gauge , no matter the season you must always check your tire pressure once a month at least. If you are a professional driver, you should check once a week. With cold weather come some internal pressure changes in tires, and they usually deflate by a few PSI, so before the cold comes in, double check your tire pressure and fill them up. I maintain a tire inflation and pressure gauge in my car at all times; you never know when you will need to use the inflator, and the gauge is good to check pressure when you think it's time to change and don't want to bother going to a gas station to check. Tires are one of the most important parts of your car, in fact in terms of safe driving they might be the most important since they are the only part of the car that touches the road, and as such their surface must be in perfect condition. Different tires fit different surfaces and weather conditions. For starters, if you drive in cold weather you will need to use all-season tires. The inflator and gauge are actually cheaper items then thought, and they connect to the car cigarette lighter adapter. It's also useful for inflating water beds.
Spare tire or flat kit and car tool kit, some cars come with a tire compressor and fix a tire kit such as BMW's, but for most common cars it's imperative you keep one of these in your luggage compartment. Just remember that these kits inflate the tire with some kind of foam, so once you use it, you will have to change the tire. If you can change it for the spare tire you have, that would be better, but for those occasions when you have a double puncture or no spare to replace the flat, then use this and drive straight to your mechanic or tire center.
Jumper cables and a portable battery jump pack, there are two options for a flat battery, either jumper cables, and then you have to rely on the good nature of a passing car owner, or you can spend a little and buy a portable battery jump pack that kick starts your car. You could slug around with you a spare battery if you feel like it, but that's only if your battery is so old you want to keep it until it drops dead, and then replace it immediately. Most battery related cases usually start in the winter, but on occasions, you get those battery jitters all around the year, so keep jump cables for sure, and maybe add the battery pack for back up.
Items for Bicycles
As a bicycle courier, you reduce al the overheads of owning and operating a car while maintaining your health. Cycling around is great cardio work out, and it also brings s a certain amount of freedom as you are not reliant on traffic to move around. The downsides are speed for long distance runs and weather as well as limiting yourself to small order deliveries.
Bicycle, if you own a bike, use the one you have. Some cities have free bikes or bike sharing, you can use that if you don't own a bike, and I suggest that before you go out and buy a bike, check out the delivery service first, you might opt out using a bike and prefer driving.
If you do decide to deliver using a bike and want to buy one, then I suggest you buy a sturdy bike, a mountain bike hybrid with flat handlebar is the best bet. You need something that is easy to maneuver, sturdy enough to carry a lot of excess weight and capable of going over all kinds of surfaces with comfort to you as well as stand up to all the punishment you push the bike through while delivering.
Get a strong backpack; you will need something with re-enforced stitching for your shoulder straps. Military surplus is the best since the military equipment is designed to withstand extreme situations. While you will have a good backpack, I suggest you also attach a cargo rack to the front and back. You will find having the extra space which can come in handy when juggling food, drinks and different sizes and shapes.
Helmet , you must drive with a helmet at all times, even in hot weather, your safety must always come first.
Cargo Rack, bikes come with two options, front and back racks. Usually, it's a personal preference issue, but I suggest getting both. Most deliverers use a backpack only, but I have found that having a front bin helps with some of the bottle deliveries as well as a place for my personal drinking bottle, and sometimes having a back rack helps to carry my personal stuff such as a raincoat (plastic). A lot of riders don't like the ungainly sight of back racks, so it's really a personal issue and how much dedication you put into the door to door bicycle delivery.
Bicycle Bag, these are the main delivery instrument, bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes including backpacks and pannier bags. Caviar courier's get a specific bicycle bag that costs around $40 and is easier to use than most backpacks. Most bags are not fully waterproof, only water resistant, so when buying one, make sure you either buy a waterproof version or buy a plastic cover you can use to protect your bags and backpack. The waterproof versions usually come without insulation, so take that issue in mind too.
Small or Large Food Delivery Insulated Backpack, these sit perfectly in both the front and back bike racks, but you will need to secure the bag to the rack or to the backseat post if you don't have a rear rack.
Insulated Pannier Bags, these bags need a rack to sit in, if you try to secure it on a post the bag will swing all over the place and in some instances droop over the side of the wheel fender and rub against the wheel.
Portable Phone Charger , this is a must for all bicycle couriers, since you rely on the use of your phone for work and it will eat up through your battery fast. There are a number of models; some have USB ports, others direct wall connectors and some are solar powered. I prefer solar-powered model, and it provides a hefty 10,000mAh while the portable charger carries a 20,000mAh punch, which is useful when you are stuck on a long delivery and need a quick boost. I find that when I am waiting in restaurants, I plug in the wall charger and let my phone get those 5-10 minutes of charge.
Earbuds with a microphone , when talking to customers while waiting for orders, this item will save a lot of hassle as it will free your hands. In fact, I prefer to keep it on all the time. I sometimes take one earbud out when I am waiting, but generally, keep them connected at all times. It's important to buy the option that comes with a microphone. When riding the bike, keep only one earbud in at any given time, you need to be able to hear the traffic around you for safety purposes.
Bicycle Locks, this is a must even if you are not a courier. You must protect your bike from theft, so make sure you have a good lock, and I will review three types here. Remember to adapt your bike for anti-theft according to the level of danger in your city or in the area's you might work in.
Hex Nut Bike Skewer, for the more dangerous cities or areas, where the threat of getting your wheels stolen, if not the entire bike. It causes the would-be thief to think twice before trying to steal your bike, although there have been cases where the rear wheel came off during attempts. In any event, this type will enable you to free up your bike to a simple frame security lock, which means faster in and out deliveries.
Locking Skewer, this is similar to a car rim lock, but for a really determined thief, you might lose the wheels of your bike with this method.
Bicycle U Lock, this is great for locking up your bike after you use the hex key bike skewer. It comes in a number of sizes; a five-inch one will lock your rear wheel and frame, the larger seven-inch version can lock your bike around a pole. Make sure you get a cable with your u-lock and consider locking both wheels. Don't skimp on the brand you buy; you should get a strong lock such as an orange or yellow kryptonite lock version.
Bicycle Tool Kit never leaves home without one. This is the most important toolkit you will need with you at all times. You will need a multi-function toolkit with tire pry rods as well as a CO2 inflator and spare inner tube. You must learn how to replace an inner tube. If you are a serious bicycle delivery person, then you will most probably be riding for around 6 hours a day, this will deal out a lot of wear and tear, so, be prepared.
Bicycle Tires ,as with cars, the most important part of the bicycle are the tires. These are what separate you from the road, and the tires are what connect the bike to the road. A good bike tire is never too expensive to invest in. Make sure you buy a brand that is long lasting, ha a good grip and is suitable for your weather conditions. For really cold weather, snow and ice, make sure you have proper tries replaced during the winter seasons. Always check bike pressure at the start of the day and the end of the day. Sometimes, when going over really rough terrain, potholes, and sidewalk to road conversions, you will damage or even rupture your tire if it is not properly inflated.
Bicycle Cleaning Kit, this is not just for beauty, it's for maintaining the resistance of your bike to rust and oxidization, and other weather conditions that can damage bike parts over time. Make sure your chain is clean and oiled at all times, and make sure all your gears are well greased. In winter time or in dusty environments you will need to perform basic maintenance twice daily. I also suggest that you use a citrus grease remover from the frames, wipe them down as well as any moving parts and use a wax based lubricant for bikes. Wax based lubricants are perfect for cold weather conditions.