1. Be safe
Whenever people hear that a woman wants to travel by herself, their first instinct is to tell you about their cousin’s neighbor whose car broke down in Alabama and was never heard from again. Thank those people kindly and then ignore them.
You can ignore them because you’ve done the following:
- bought a cigarette USB charger for you phone and computer.
- bought a Roadside Emergency Kit
- if you’re reallllly worried (or if the people in your life are) install a phone tracking app so a few select people can know your exact whereabouts
- put together a list of the numbers in your phone (because if something happens to your phone, you know you won’t remember anybody’s numbers)
- given someone your itinerary and the contact numbers of the people you’ll be staying with
- packed some bottled water and granola bars in the trunk (so you won’t be tempted to eat them all)
2. Have the vaguest outline of a plan
Half the fun of roadtripping is embracing all the funny/weird things that come your way. Precious Moments chapel
? Sure! Fried okra and pecan pie for lunch? Okay! Visiting a huge lake in Nebraska
with 100 miles of white sand beaches? Dontmindifido.
You should have enough of a plan that you can tell your hosts which day you’ll arrive on their doorstep or make hotel reservations, but don’t schedule yourself too tightly. I like to limit driving to six hours a day and stop about every two hours to stretch and explore. I use Google calendar to plan my trips and then share the calendar with my guy and my parents.
3. Stay healthy
If you’re road tripping for multiple days (or weeks!), it’s really easy to rely exclusively on gas station and fast food. Shockingly enough, sitting for six hours a day and only eating Combos and coffee will make you feel gross.
Make an effort to stop at state parks and do some wee hikes, walk around new towns, buy your lunches from the grocery store’s produce section or just buy one of those salads from a fast food restaurant. You’ll feel way, way better.
4. Stay entertained
You can only talk to yourself for so long. I amuse myself by trying to find the local station of any city I’m passing through and listening to one million podcasts (here
are some of my favorites). Long trips are also a good time to put your phone on speaker and have deep and meaningfuls with far-flung friends.
5. Stay comfortable
Under the heading of ‘obvious,’ a long trip in the car is not the time to wear your super cute, super tight vintage dress. If you’re going to be sitting for 6+ hours, wear comfy layers. When you’re driving through different climates you can put on/take off clothes as needed and you won’t get an angry stomach from that tight waistband. I swore by yoga pants, ballet flats, a t-shirt, cardigan, and scarf.
6. Don’t get (totally) lost
I’m terrible with maps which is why I’m going to marry my Garmin
. If you’re not worried about your cell phone reception conking out, there are literally hundreds of navigation apps
Before I got my Garmin, I thought it would be “a good personal challenge” to rely on actual paper maps and the directions of locals. You guys, you’d be amazed how many gas stations don’t sell maps for their state, don’t sell maps for neighboring states, and how many people are unaware that Louisiana is south of Missouri.
Be ye not so stupid as me. Use an effing GPS system.
Have you ever road tripped alone? Or with friends? What advice would you share?
I like this, so you go for your life… Greetings from the penguins near the South Pole (New Zealand!)
Even though I won't be travelling solo when I'm in America later this year, I'll definitely keep this sound advice in mind. Yoga pants ftw for travel!
I did this fall – best weekend ever. Took a short roadtrip (to clear my head) to the Smoky Mountains. Cranked up Amy Winehouse and Willie Nelson all the way! Hiked the Chimneys (a killer) and 8 miles of the Appalachian Trail. All.by.myself. – except for the million other people sitting in cars to see the fall foliage. I ran into several bears and the smell of pine trees along the ridge was one of the most magical memories of my life. I say go for it!
I travelled from Toronto, ON to Vancouver, BC – which took about 5 days going through Canada.
I think my only advice is take your time. Soak everything up. My only regret is that I felt so rushed to get where I was going that I didn't enjoy the "journey" as much.
This post makes me really, really, REALLY happy. I've been wanting to take a solo trip for some time, but the thought makes me a little nervous. I had plans for awhile to make a trip to Europe, but let it fall by the wayside when none of my friends or family members could go with me. The thought of traveling solo overseas still concerns me, but I'd love a weekend alone somewhere just to clear my head. Thanks for writing this!
I think that money asides, this resonates more than we (extremely curious beings) like to admit it does, hearing that from friends "I had plans for awhile to make a trip to Europe, but let it fall by the wayside when none of my friends or family members could go with me." sounds just like me, talking to myself when I cant sleep at night… ugh. thanks! we wanderlusting minds are not alone — even if we will go solo, off we go! 🙂
Pretty much all my (big) trips have been solos – two years in London, a year in Ireland, trips to various European cities (Paris, Nimes, Montpellier, Salzburg) – my theory is "why should I miss out, just because I'm solo?"
My mother and I do a few trips together too – before our big one (six weeks across China/Mongolia/Russia) a few years back, we went on a shorter (5 day) road trip to see if we could travel together without killing each other (literally and metaphorically).
This is what I would suggest to you, Cassie – take smaller trips to find what suits you. Go away on a road trip for a few days (3-5). You'll learn a lot about yourself, learn more about what you like/don't like about travelling, and because it's a road trip, you can easily pack up and go elsewhere if you don't like what you find/where you are.
In our family, my parents always said that we needed to know our own country before we went to another country (we live in New Zealand), so our (winter – we were farmers) holidays were spent road-tripping around New Zealand and taking the roads less travelled. Which is why I'm now planning to drive Route 66 on my own at the end of 2016.
It is, to quote someone famous, better to regret what you have done, than regret what you have not.
I’m a woman who is planning a solo trip down Route 66 from California to Shamrock Texas. I am very apprehensive. What do you suggest I do for safety and easing my apprehensions.
the last point "Stay on Track" I'm not so sure! My best roadtripping adventures occurred off the track. I met someone, something came up, a new opportunity presented itself. It was fun and that is the adventure!
I just got back from a three week roadtrip across Canada and four months in Asia. Traveling is by far the best thing that you can do for yourself, I hope your posts encourages others to get out there!! 😀
this is such perfect timing! i'm going on a road trip from boston to orlando next month! thanks, dear. xo
Go over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & take the Ferry and check out Ocracoke Island. Go to the kite store buy a kite & go fly it on the beach! I felt like a kid again.
My problem: now I have a hard time traveling with people, as I'm so used to traveling alone! Independent women, unite!
I made many solo trips in my younger days. Long before GPS or cell phones. I continued to do so after my daughter was born. Just the two of us, with a lot of warnings and stories of doom from my family. But I always loved it and so did she! The best way to find fun and adventure, is to be lost.
I'm dying to take a road trip across rural Arkansas (where I live) along all the backroads. Arkansas has more state highways than California but most of them are hilly two-lane old trails riddled with potholes. This summer I plan on taking a number of extended drives!
Great post! During my last job I spent two months out of the year traveling solo on a nonprofit budget. I usually spent 4-10 hours driving each day, 5-7 days a week, and basically covered the Midwest! I can relate to the importance of not relying on fast food and working in some occasional activity…otherwise you'll turn into a slug!
One piece of advice I would add is to make new friends! Find places where you can meet other solo travelers and chat with them. Be safe of course, but I met some great friends and learned great travel tips from people I met on the road.
took a road trip from boston to houma, louisiana with…wait for it…my dad. pretty awesome/a little weird. but def my favorite part was both of us seeing new orleans for the first time together and standing by the all-mighty river while the french quarter bustle hummed behind us. po' boys for all!
These are definitely tips for all road trippers. The beauty of technology makes it so you can use your phone for a lot of navigation and sights/restaurants/attractions-finding.
Ooh, thanks for the tips! I'm making the move from Los Angeles to Austin this summer, so I have a long solo drive ahead of me. I'll have to steal some of your ideas, especially the one about stopping to hike every so often!
I love this post so much! So many women are scared to road trip alone, but it's great fun, and totally freeing. You never know what you might find! I have some suggestions, because I'm a road trip junkie.
If you're in the US, I cannot recommend AAA enough. You get all the free maps you want, and nice people will come change your flat, get your keys out of your car, or tow you to a reputable repair shop. It's cheap and totally worth it.
A GPS is nice, but you always want paper maps for emergencies. Like if a huge solar flare wipes out the satellites. Or something pedantic, like your GPS being stolen.
Writing down important phone numbers is a great suggestion! I once found myself with a broken transmission in a little Nevada town, running down the car battery calling my parents, while inside the building next door was a landline. Stupid!
Oh, and carry cash! Many small attractions (like historic gold mines in the mountains) don't take debit cards.
Also, it is nice to bring a nicer set of clothes – you never know when you'll end up drinking white wine at a free symphony in a ritzy celebrity summer hometown.
Also: visit your national parks! In addition to outdoorsy ones with hikes of varying lengths, there are also interesting historic sites! Where else can you get gorgeous views, nice hikes, and free educational entertainment (read: ranger programs) for under $20?
And my last suggestion: listen to your gut. Your intuition – about people, situations, or what would make you most happy – is usually right.
Thank u.. I really needed this extra boost of knowledge and confidence. . . I travel alone a lot but not as far my upcoming trip from Nashville to the Gulf Coast. Yassssssssssssss! I’m going to the beach girl! All by my lonesome. . And will #Enjoylife every moment of it. . Safe that is.
Great advice will mos def use these tips. .
Didn’t mean to leave anonymous. . I’m Inglish Z. from Tennessee!
I’m from East Tennessee and taking my first solo roadtrip in June to Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach NC. I’m treating myself for graduating college. My fiance was supposed to go but got a great job offer and the dates of our trip are blocked off at his new job. No one can get time off so I decided to go ahead and book the trip. I’m 34 and my mom is furious about the whole situation. Tells me I will get carjacked or killed. She’s not the only one. It’s nice to see a page full of comments from other women solo travelers. Reading everyone’s experiences and plans assures me that I’m doing the right thing. I just don’t understand why people think women are so incapable! Sorry for the rant! Keep on truckin ladies and safe travels ??
You can absolutely do it! Have so much fun, Brandi!
So helpful! I'm going to copy and paste your comment onto the Yes and Yes facebook page!
My favorite part of this post? That you ate Combos. Those are my favorite road trip snack!
I went on road trips with my mother – our biggest excursion being a three week journey across America with just her, myself and my cat. We stopped twice to visit friends but otherwise it was just us 3 and the open road. I never embraced driving but it was fun being an 11 year old navigator. I think the best advice I can give is to always have music you can sing loudly to. And for kids to do as they are told – especially when it concerns safety and not straying. Nothing put the fear of kidnapping in me more than seeing all of those "MISSING" flyers posted across every road stop we came to =/ I never strayed from my mom.
I did a lot of solo cross-country drives over breaks from college and grad school. This was just before the age of the cell phone, so I wasn't contactable on the road–instead, I had good emergency supplies, road flares, first aid kit, tire jack, etc.
I should have gotten the car checked out before traveling, but I was poor & therefore rarely did. This resulted in a fan belt disintegrating mid-drive one Christmas Eve morning. Fortunately, the auto mechanics in the tiny Ohio town I was nearest to ("birthplace of Rutherford B. Hayes!") were willing to take ten minutes out of their holiday party to fix it, so I could finish the remaining ten hours of drive instead of holing up in a motel for Christmas. Don't let this be you!
Other good ideas:
– Get a car cooler & fill it with sandwiches and apples. Maybe locate a couple grocery stores on your route before leaving.
– BRING WATER. Lots of it.
– You need a box of tissue and a couple rolls of toilet paper in the car.
– Yes, paper maps! Get them at state welcome centers for free.
– Music will help you stay awake on long stints. So will opening the windows or venting to the outside if it's cold out. (Smoking lots of cigarettes also kept me awake–but you all know better than to try this one, right?)
– Speaking of music, make sure you have lots of it in an easily charged non-radio-based format, since rural and mountainous driving often means no radio signal.
My road trips, solo or otherwise, usually end up as a "What Not To Do" list. However, they are also memorable. I took a solo road trip when I first moved to California to see the blooms of Death Valley in the spring. I overestimated the number of campgrounds in the area (2?!?) and ended up sleeping in my car in the middle of Death Valley. It was a little weird, but I woke up to the most beautiful sunrise and hiked around all day without seeing another soul. It was beautiful.
That sounds amazing!
My advice on a solo road trip…bring your dog! There will never be a better traveling companion. They love the open road & are always up for a spontaneous adventure. Dogs are the best listeners. They love to rock out & do that funky chicken dance right along beside you. They warn you when you are getting into a strange situation, and alert you to approaching strangers at the gas station or convenience store. They insist that you get out to stretch your legs at every opportunity. They invite conversation with the friendly locals.
I used to take my dog & go car camping at the beach that was 5-hours from my home.
Nothing will soothe my soul like a peaceful trip to the beach–walking, tossing sticks, and listening to the waves crash–complete with sandy footprints on my jeans from my best little buddy!
Aw I went to the Precious Moments chapel when I was a little girl, and I decided I wanted to get married there. Luckily, when i got older I decided it was too cutesy! But what a fun little side trip for a road trip!
Great tips, I'm want to travel and surprise surprise my friends aren't always keen on my destinations. I'll get up the chutzpah soon enough and head out on my own.
Thanks for the kick in the pants, friend!
These are all good reminders when you're looking for a fun time with road trips. First priority among all these is the security. Security involves factors like safety, food and plans so make sure you plan out the trip ahead so there won't be any regrets on the way. Also, remember to have fun while doing it coz that's the main reason why you engage in these recreational activities.
I loved this. I can't believe how many women would never consider a solo road trip but I love them! I have On-star, GPS, IPAD, IPOD and road maps. I use them all, but not at the same time. lol! I am directionally impaired, but I'm smart and savvy with my I-tools. My tip is have your phone or your ipad connected with a spouse or close friend that has a locater app., that way they can tell when you get to your destination safely and don't worry for you.
I've only been on one solo road trip so far – I drove from Arizona to San Diego and stayed for two nights in a town where I didn't know a soul. I only have a few tips to add:
– Check your car and learn about it! Before I left, I had no idea where my oil or jack was. So I had some father-daughter bonding time while he showed me how to check my oil and other fluids, change a flat and we checked the air pressure in my tires and my spare. I'd also had a 5000 mile maintenance done just a month or two before. This gave me a stronger feeling of safety and security – so even if something did happen, I would know where to start.
– Don't let your tank go below a quarter full. I don't have a good sense of miles and time, so when this happened I panicked until I found a gas station.
– Don't be afraid to wander! On my way back, I headed for the ocean and just drove in a general southern direction. I ended up on the Pacific Coast Highway, enjoyed some beautiful views, and stopped at La Jolla Cove to take some gorgeous photographs. If you give yourself enough time, then it's okay if you lose your way; it might just give you the chance to experience something amazing that wouldn't have happened otherwise.
– Do whatever YOU feel like. It was so freeing to do exactly what I wanted without worrying about other people's wants, needs, or finances. I wanted to go to the children's aquarium next to Legoland, so I did; I wanted to spend hours at the Flower Fields, so I did; I wanted to find the first Rubio's and eat a fish taco, so I did and I damn well enjoyed all of it because I was able to fulfill all of my self-centered desires.
Man, now I want to go on another solo road trip. I don't dislike traveling with friends or family, but it is so freeing and so empowering to do it on your own.
Staying above a 1/4 tank is an excellent suggestion! Be aware of how closely spaced the gas stations are, also – in less populated areas, you'll want to fill up whenever you can.
Sarah, I didn't even realize there was a facebook group! I'll have to go join it 🙂
High gas prices be damned, I am taking a road trip this summer!
that is so awesome you road tripped all on your own!
I'd like to do that, but i'll have to work up to it, i still get nervous driving around my own state on my own.
Chic on the Cheap
Great post. I'd also put a vote in for not letting the gas tank get too low. I've had a few close shaves and it's terrifying.
What a great post for inspiration. I am a teacher, single guy and just retired; perfect opportunity for getting out of Dodge. (the swamp in S.W. Florida) . I'm more cautious now unlike the many other cross country road trips I have taken alone and with my kids because I am 72. I'm fit however but am balking because of that. I have 71,000 miles on my 6 year old Beemer which gives me pause, yet there's nothing to stop me. Thanks for your inspiring story. I'm ready to head west.
That's so great, Dan! You're going to have soooo much fun!
And you've updated you AAA membership, right? That business is REQUIRED. 😉
Hello again Sarah. This is Dan. See above. I am now 76 and did take the road trip mentioned in the 2013 post. There were issues but still great fun. I am ready to do it again this summer; finally. I have many friends across the country and plan on stopping (having a destination is important) to see them. I want to get to my oldest grandson’s graduation in Spokane and also to S. CA to see old friends.
To comment on the trip I wrote about in my last post, my Beemer did break down in Hayes, Kansas on a long stretch of I-70 on a 100 degree afternoon. AAA rescued me and the next day towed me 350 miles to the nearest BMW dealership for repairs in Colorado Springs. They had no idea how to fix my BMW in Hayes. I still have another older 2008 BMW 128 ragtop with 50,000 miles. Smile; I never learn. Such fun to drive. Thanks again for your inspiration. I am considering to have my car shipped back home. Depends on the cost. Love all these posts. I have to figure out how to blog.
This is really helpful, thank you!! 🙂
I am so glad that I stumbled across this posting as I'm heading out on a solo 3-4 month road trip all across the US. I've just completed a 2 month solo backpacking trip around Europe. Now it's time to see the US. Thanks for the great tips and I've even added some of your recommended podcasts to my iTouch.
Hi Sandy, I am also planning a 2-3 month solo road trip around the US. I will be couch surfing in major cities (not really a park/historic stops kinda trip). Any tips or tricks? Thank you!
I am a solo road tripper and love to read solo road trip blogs. Good tips and nice blog!
Im in Arizona and I will be driving solo cross country to Virginia with my 8 year old. I am so nervous and scared. Thank you all, all these tips are going to come in handy. I just think about everything possible that can go wrong, Parents dont make it any easier, telling me the worst things that can happen to a woman alone.
Thanks for the road trip insight and tips. I recently retired from my first career after 20+ years and decided to travel throughout the Southeast US after moving back to the mainland from Hawaii. Although, the trips were mostly for leisure, it has assisted me in deciding where to settled down for awhile. In fact I still haven’t made a final decision, so here I am still taking road trips before I plant the flag somewhere. Here are some tips I thought I’d share/echo:
1. Bring your dog or pet. My buddy enjoys traveling on the road with me. He gets to see places that many Americans don’t ever get to visit such as strolling thru the French Quarter to camping on the beach in Jacksonville. He also listens without complaint whether I am singing tunes out loud in the career just talking about life. Plus, since I camp frequently, he’s good at alerting me when either people or wild life get a little bit too close to the campsite.
2. Best to overpack in supplies than to be lacking. Sure pack extra on the necessities such as water, food, and clothing, but other items to consider bringing include an extra quart of oil, some radiator fluid, jumper cables, small portable battery charger, flashlight, etc. I am fortunate to have a midsize SUV so space is not an issue. Sure it may cost a few extra pennies on your overall gas mileage, but Murphy is known to strike at the worst times possible so I try to prepare for contingencies.
3. Document your trip. I use a variety of media to capture the journey everything from my smartphone to a camera to a GoPro. It’s amazing what you come across traveling through America; most likely stuff you’ll never see or visit again. When I get enough pictures I like, I am going to bunch them all together and put them in a little hardcover book so I can enjoy reminiscing when I get too old to travel. There are a couple of websites and big chain stores that will do that for a nominal fee.
4. Enjoy your trip and travel safely friends! #weride
Great tips, Paul!
Thank you all for the greatest tips and may I add, common sense is a huge asset. I am 55 female who has traveled plenty in my time from road to sea to ski and plenty hitch hiking in the 70s 🙂 . have a plan – paper copy – take time to randomly adventure. I read a tip – park at a gas station if closed till morning. don’t smoke too much. music, driving the speed limit to embrace surroundings and stop if it looks good cause you never know whats beyond. Talk to locals especially in small towns they love it. Treat yourself to an expensive butter tart and indulge in the simple things. Read local papers. Visit all travel centers. Don’t hold your bladder. Drive in the day and enjoy the stars of the night. I might even be temped to pick up a hitch hiker. Be safe and enjoy the open road.
Great tips! Audiobooks are definitely my suggestion! Usually your library app allows free audio book downloads (Cloud Library or Overdrive), or Audible gives you a free month to try it out for free. I recommend downloading a couple different books from different genres in advance so you don’t use up your data.
I am planning a solo road trip from Minneapolis around the US and Canada. I am curious what made you decide to do a solo road trip? At any point did you feel unsafe or worried because you got lost? I am planning on take 2 months to drive the 10, 000 mile trip, and camping a lot.
Hi Kelly! I travel solo a lot and, honestly, it’s never occurred to me NOT to! Most of my friends and family have traditional work schedules so they can’t take 6 weeks off and I’m not willing to put my desires on hold to wait for someone to join me 😉
There were a few times I was sliiiiiightly worried because there was someone in my hotel who felt dicey, but I just called a friend or my husband to make sure they knew where I was and what was going on. I don’t get particularly worried about getting lost.
2 months is way more than you need to do 10,000 miles. Unless you have a few significant stops of multiple weeks at a time planned. My last 30 day cross country trip was 11,500 miles. Washington State to Maine, to Key West, Florida and drifting back west hitting a number of National Parks. Plus a bunch of BBQ joints. Get the latest Road Atlas – maps are still the best, not GPS. Drive only during the day and plan to pull over before 5 p.m. – hotels are more apt to have vacancies then. Get a good meal and a good night’s sleep and take off again. Above all “don’t do stupid”! Trust your gut – not your heart or head. If something doesn’t feel right – just don’t do it. You’ll be fine – traveling solo if good for the soul.
I’ve discovered that taking long road trips solo is the way that I recapture my zen. It cleans off the proverbial whiteboard in my head and I come back refreshed and ready to tackle life again. In the past year, I’ve:
– Driven from Seattle to San Francisco via the Pacific Coast Highway (4 days, 1165 miles)
– Driven from Las Vegas thru Death Valley, across the Sierra, to Yosemite, down to Monterey, and then Big Sur and the PCH to Los Angeles (7 days, 1476 miles)
– Driven a huge circle of Las Vegas to Sedona, to Navaho Country, Northern New Mexico, the Rockies, Moab, Monument Valley, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and back to Vegas (10 days, 2585 miles)
– Driven from San Francisco to Monterey down to Bakersfield, through Sequoia National Forest, Sequoia National Park and King’s Canyon, and back to San Francisco (4 days, 1075 miles)
And next month, July, I’ll drive Vegas to Idaho all the way to Glacier NP and back to Vegas (10 days, 3100 miles).
All in a Mustang Convertible! (Except once when I drove a Camaro Convertible.)
My friends think I’m crazy, but this is what does me. There’s something about being away from everything and everyone, just me and the road, my music or thoughts, the scenery, and a gorgeous, fast car. ALONE. Blissfully alone. 🙂
I’ve already got next year’s trip planned: El Paso, north through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota and back. 10 days, 3200 miles.
Can’t wait. 🙂
Those all sound so great! And I love that you did this in a convertible!