8 Tips For The Perfect Solo Road Trip
Road Trips are a great way to visit places in the United States that you might not otherwise get to see. There are a lot of cities that don’t have an airport, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth visiting. The beauty of a road trip is that you don’t have to wait to do it. It can be a weekend long road trip or if can be a month-long trip. Going it alone can let you see even more of what you want because there is no one to keep you from doing what you want to do. Do I take a right or a left at this fork in the road? The decision is yours! Actually, when doing a road trip alone, ALL of the decisions are yours!
Start without a plan – I know all the planners out there are starting to scream at their computer, but don’t yell at me just yet. I know everyone travels a little different, but this road trip is all about you. I’m not saying don’t have any idea of where you are going or where you might end up for the night, but give yourself some leeway. If there is a fork in the road, give yourself permission to take the road less traveled, unless the road is muddy and impassable. There will be plenty of opportunities to figure out what you want to do for the day whether you stop by a visitor center when entering a new state (one of my favorite things to do) or pop in to a local restaurant for breakfast and talk with the waiter or waitress. If you have a set plan already in place, you might miss the best spots in the area.
Take It Slow – There is no rush. We already suggested you don’t make a plan so don’t worry about getting to your next destination as fast as you can. There is no need to power through your drive or rush through a town with a lot of amazing shops or beautiful scenery that you want to check out. And, because you are all alone, you can take as much time as you would like at any spot you want.
Snacks – Maybe the most important thing of your solo road trip are the snacks you pack in your car. You won’t have anyone to contend with when it comes to getting the last gummy bear or slice of apple and peanut butter so make sure you pack your favorite snacks. You can always take time to stop by a grocery store and restock on a rainy day so don’t overload your car at first, but it is a wise idea to make sure you have enough food and a variety so you can save on eating out.
Passing the Time – You will be in your car a lot, going from place to place and the scenery won’t always be the most entertaining. I’m looking at you, Iowa and Nebraska! Make sure you have options. I like to have various options depending on if the sugar from the bag of gummy bears has kicked in or not. Playlists, podcasts and books on tape (CD or Downloaded) are on the top of the list to have ready to go and easily accessible in your car. And just know that if you are having a hard time staying awake or are tired because you didn’t get the best night’s sleep, don’t play the boring reading of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. You should probably switch to something more upbeat, like your playlist of 80’s hair bands or pop songs from the 00’s so N’Sync can keep you awake.
Listen to Yourself – There isn’t anyone else to ask where they want to stop, when they want to stop or what they want to eat. This is all you! If you pass something on the road that looks like it might be fun to check out, by all means, pull over and check it out. It might be worth it or it might not, but at least you stopped to see and no one will ever know if it wasn’t. Whether it is a quirky roadside attraction, or a beautiful roadside pull off with a gorgeous view of the local landscape, you know what you want to see and what you enjoy doing so take this opportunity to be selfish. You won’t have to apologize to anyone except yourself if you end up taking the wrong road.
Chat With The Locals – I always rely on locals for tips on local hikes or beautiful spots I should visit and, since you have been in the car alone, it might even keep you from going crazy. You never know who you might meet or what they will have to say, but don’t you want to find out? As I had mentioned in tip #1, one of the best ways to find places to visit is to stop by a state’s visitor center. Every state I have visited has had one and there is an amazing amount of brochures and magazines that have suggestions on places to visit. There are also usually people working at these spots and it is a great way to get more information if you need it. A brochure about a White Buffalo? “Nope sorry that Buffalo passed away a few years ago, but there is a museum.” Well I guess I will cross that one off my list.
Be Flexible on Accommodations – Give yourself options: a tent, a hotel room, your car. All of these can be great options depending on the circumstances. I’ve gotten to campsites before and the wind gusts were 50-60 m.p.h. with torrential rain. There was no way I would get a tent up by myself in that weather, trust me I tried. (Side Note: Your tent can act like a kite in high winds and travel very long distances if you let go.) Don’t ever rule out options before you know the circumstances. A rough night’s sleep in your car might be the best option. Besides it will make sure you are up early to enjoy the day!
Hike the Local Trails – Every city has a few trails that you can check out. I make it a point, no matter how short the hike, to at least try one trail in the cities I stop in to stay overnight. It might be in the morning to wake myself up and get in some exercise before I get on the road or at the end of the day to stretch my legs from being in the car. Either way it’s nice way to see what the city has to offer and who else you may meet along the way!
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