Going on a solo road trip can be both exciting and intimidating. These tips will help you make the most of your adventure while eliminating some of the stress and uncertainty.
Taking some smart precautions, planning ahead, and allowing flexibility are all key when road tripping alone. Not all of the advice in this post is purely practical, though. Some of the tips are also geared toward finding opportunities for enjoyment, growth, and self-reflection during your travels.
I’ll start off with some of the more practical concerns and then expand from there.
Share Your Location With Family or Friends
This tip isn’t foolproof because you likely won’t always have cell phone reception, especially if you are traveling through more rural or remote regions. Even so, definitely consider sharing your mobile phone location with a few close friends or family.
If you all have iPhones, it’s easy to use the Find My app to share location. If everyone isn’t on an iPhone, now you can easily share your location using the Google Maps app. Check out this article for detailed instructions about how to set this up.
Have Someone You Check In With Daily
If you’ve ever watched one of those documentaries where someone is traveling through the more remote parts of the Australian Outback, you probably remember the importance of this one. While traversing vast regions without cell phone reception, the brave Outback roadtrippers sign in at makeshift checkpoints along the way. If they miss a checkpoint, authorities know to go look for them.
Of course, most places aren’t nearly so desolate as the Australian Outback. It’s possible that you will always have other cars passing by, and you may seldom lose cell phone connectivity. Still, road tripping alone necessitates some extra precautionary measures, and checking in with someone daily is an important one.
Choose someone who is trustworthy and unlikely to fail to notice if you skip checking in one day. To be even more sure, you can even select two check-in partners. Make a pact to call or text daily during a specific timeframe–for instance between 6:00pm to 8:00pm.
If, for some reason, you fail to check in during the allotted time, your check-in friend should try to contact you. Likewise, they can try to determine your exact location, as discussed in the previous tip. This is why it’s important to make sure that your check-in partners are also people you share your mobile phone location with.
Of course, shared location is dependent on both cell phone reception and a functioning, adequately charged phone. It’s possible that your friends won’t be able to see your location during parts of your trip. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make sure your check-in partners also know your planned route each day. In the event that something has gone wrong, and you need assistance, they will know where to alert the authorities to look for you.
Remember that GPS Isn’t Always Perfect
This tip is relevant even if you are traveling with others, but it’s extra important when you’re alone. While GPS is a great tool, it’s not infallible. I’ve found that GPS is especially likely to be incorrect when traveling in more rural areas, or off the main roads and highways, though obviously it could be wrong anywhere.
This makes the previous tip about checking in with others (and letting them know your planned route for the day) all the more crucial.
Also, make sure you keep your car’s fuel tank filled with more gas than you anticipate needing for each stretch of your journey. That will help to prevent the chance of running out of gas if you end up needing to go further than expected.
Ensure That You’ve Tended to All of the Basic Road Trip Safety Tips
Most of us are already aware of these, but they still bear repeating. Make sure you get your car serviced and checked out for problems before leaving for your trip. Ensure that you have necessary emergency supplies in your trunk and a trustworthy roadside assistance plan available in case you end up needing it.
All of these tips are relevant for any road trip and not specific to those traveling alone, so detailing them here is outside of the scope of this particular post. AAA has a good article on the topic that you might want to check out for more details.
Make Sure to Get Enough Rest Between Drives
On a solo road trip, you won’t have anyone to trade driving duties with. Spending hours behind the wheel each day can be exhausting. Be sure not to push yourself too close to your limits.
It’s also helpful to make a few stops along the way each day. Sometimes it can be tempting to try to take huge stretches at a time in order to reach your destination quicker. Remember that road trips are about the experience, though. Except under extenuating circumstances, a road trip isn’t supposed to be especially quick.
Stop and walk around, eat something, take photos, or just stretch a bit. This helps to break up the monotony while also reminding you of the importance of self-care.
Pack Plenty of Healthy Snacks and Water
Self-care is especially important when you’re traveling alone. On long drives, make sure you stay hydrated with plenty of water. When driving through areas with higher altitude, dehydration is even more likely. Remembering to drink regularly throughout the day can help to ensure you feel your best.
Making sure to eat enough is also key when you’re the only driver on a long trip. It’s easy to try to power through long drives, planning to eat once you’ve reached your destination for the day. This can lead to fatigue though, and when you don’t feel well, it can also take the fun out of your road trip.
I like to eat breakfast before heading out for the day. In the morning, I’ll also often check online for restaurants in my destination city that day in order to determine where I’ll get dinner. This helps make things easier for me and less hectic once I do reach my destination that afternoon or evening.
Maintain Flexibility in Your Schedule
A rigid schedule is never advisable on a road trip. Unexpected issues almost always come up at some point. Perhaps an unexpected storm will take place or the car will need an unanticipated repair. You might even just realize you really like a certain city or town and would like to spend an extra day there.
Whatever the reason, don’t fret about making changes to your road trip schedule. Just make sure to inform your check-in partner of your new plans or routes, and then accept that change is often inevitable, even with the most carefully laid plans.
Decide Where You’d Like to Stop and Sightsee
One of the benefits of road tripping alone is that you get to make all the decisions about the places you’ll stop and visit. Think about both the cities you’ll be staying the night and the areas you’ll be passing through on your route.
Stopping for a quick visit or sightseeing tour can be a great way to break up long drives. It can also be nice to just find parks along your route and stop to take a walk and get a little bit of exercise and fresh air.
If I find something I’d like to do in one of my stopover cities on a road trip, I like to try to schedule the day so that I arrive there earlier. Feeling anxious or pressed for time often takes the enjoyment out of sightseeing. With proper scheduling, you can enjoy low-stress sightseeing throughout your solo road trip.
Embrace the Quiet Time
In the hustle and bustle of modern life, some of us become accustomed to the constant sounds of text message and email notifications, beeping microwaves, blaring televisions, and so forth. Silence might even seem disconcerting at first.
Resist the urge to fill all of the quiet moments on your road trip. Traveling can be a great time for reflection, especially on a solo road trip when you will have less distractions. Silent time to think can be really beneficial when planning your future and considering changes you’d like to implement in your life.
If you try to fill every moment of silence on your road trip, you may miss a golden opportunity for reflection.
Plan Ways to Keep Yourself Entertained
This tip balances the previous piece of advice about embracing the quiet. While time for reflection is beneficial, you’ll also want to make sure you plan some ideas to keep yourself entertained.
Podcasts can be a great way to pass time on long drives. Try downloading some you’ve been meaning to listen to.
Along the same lines, consider packing some books to read in the evenings. I like to go to the library beforehand and pick up a few I’ve been meaning to read. You can also often check out audiobooks to listen to while you’re driving.
If you enjoy writing, keeping a road trip journal can be a great way to remember your travels and organize your thoughts at the end of a long day.
Enjoy the Trip
Last but certainly not least, make sure to enjoy your solo road trip adventure. While road tripping with family or friends is fun, traveling alone offers its own opportunities for enjoyment.
Your solo road trip may end up being a once-in-a-lifetime adventure you’ll look back on fondly for years to come.