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Rolling down the windows, turning up the music, and driving down the highway with your hair blowing, the sun beaming, and endless landscapes all around. Going on a road trip is one of the most exhilarating and freeing feelings in the world. Not to mention when you’re on a solo road trip and you get to call all of the shots, getting to be as rigid or spontaneous as you please. As you drive from city to city or cross-country you can have quite the adventure versus if you were to fly from one destination to the other. As a travel nurse and travel fanatic, road trips are normal in my day-to-day life as I am always adventuring or driving from one travel nurse contract to the next. Here are my 6 solo road trip tips to ensure safety, and that I have an epic time while on the road.
7 Solo Road Trip Tips to Ensure Safety and That You Have An Epic Time on the Road
1. Safety First!
My main solo road trip advice is to ensure safety. Ensuring your safety begins before your road trip does. Make sure to get an oil change if needed, address any warnings that may have shown up on your car dashboard, and that your tires have plenty of air. You’ll also want to travel with a spare tire and a Roadside Essential Emergency Kit. Familiarize yourself with all of the products in your kit before setting off.
Another safety tip is to check to see if you or your family has AAA (American Automobile Association). You can pay a small fee of 61+ dollars/year to have access to AAA and if you ever need roadside assistance, AAA will come to your rescue. They do things like help with tire changes, jump start your car, fuel delivery, and more. I’ve used AAA on multiple occasions and find them to be helpful and worth the money.
If you’re planning a road trip abroad, especially solo, I highly recommend purchasing travel insurance for peace of mind in case anything were to go wrong. I use and recommend World Nomads.
2. Have a Purpose
Before setting off on a road trip by yourself, discover what your purpose for doing so is. Are you going on a road trip to strictly have fun and be spontaneous? Are you going to learn history? Are you going to gather content so that you can share it with others? Are you strictly doing it to get to from point A to point B? Whatever your purpose is, you’ll want to plan your road trip around that purpose.
For instance, if you’re going to have fun and be spontaneous maybe you don’t research much beforehand and don’t pre-book hotels. Instead, you might find yourself stopping in any town that looks inviting along the way and then asking locals for recommendations once you’re there.
If your purpose for road tripping is to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, make sure to look up your route ahead of time. I prefer to use Google Maps! You may also want to pre-book your hotel rooms along the way so that you ensure you’ll have somewhere to stay. However, I’ve never pre-booked hotels and I’ve never run into an issue (yet)!
If you aim to gather content, photography, and information to share with others, plan to stop a lot along the way! You’ll want to add in time from destination to destination for extra stops in case you see a roadside attraction you want to stop at or you find a good spot for photos. Do some research by looking through Pinterest and finding out what other people have done. I like to start there and then always do something more off the beaten path that hasn’t been recommended yet. I usually combine information from Google, Pinterest, and the state tourism website that I am road tripping through.
3. Be Flexible
Even if you’re a type-A planner (like me), it’s important to maintain a sense of flexibility during your road trip. By not being flexible you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Like any other trip you take, there is most certainly something that will go wrong during your road trip. Whether that is not arriving at a certain destination at the time you wanted to get there, getting a flat tire, or stopping at an attraction that you wanted to see and finding out that it is closed. Manage your expectations by having a plan, but being okay with it if your plan doesn’t work out 100% the way that you wanted it to.
4. Pack a Cooler
My biggest solo road trip essentials include plenty of food and drink! I like to pack a mini cooler of ice, snacks, and drinks to munch on along the way and keep me alert. If I were to stop and buy gas station food and fast food throughout my road trip I would feel gross and not want to road trip anymore. By packing healthier foods I feel good, have enough energy to keep going, and I look forward to splurging on a meal when I finally arrive at my destination.
Snacks that are easy to eat on the road and (typically) mess-free include guacamole packets, Lara bars, Rx peanut butter packets, grapes, carrots, turkey, and popcorn. I also bring plenty of water and an occasional energy drink if it’s going to be a long drive.
5. Plan for Comfort
When preparing for a road trip, keep in mind that you will be sitting in a car for the majority of the day. With that in mind, make sure to dress comfortably in something you won’t mind sitting in for long hours. If I’m planning on taking photos along the way, I usually get dressed from the top up and put on pajama pants or workout leggings on the bottom. Before I get out I do a quick change in the car into my jeans or whatever else I wanted to wear. I always keep my extra clothes handy in the seat next to me so I don’t have to go digging through my bag. This also goes for if I want an outfit change – keep the clothes you want to change into in the car, out of your bag.
You’ll also want to keep in mind the shoes you’re wearing. If you like to drive barefoot, wear sandals that can easily be taken on and off when you get in and out of the car. If you prefer to drive in tennis shoes, then wear tennis shoes.
6. Make an Epic Road Trip Playlist
Before setting off, make sure you make an epic music playlist. I like to make at least two, all depending on what my mood is. If I’m driving during the summer and passing through lots of small towns, I’ll opt for an upbeat country playlist. If I’m driving in the winter around Christmas, a Christmas playlist it is! I also make a playlist to help me “stay awake” when driving feels long, and a calmer playlist if I’m starting early in the morning and need time to adjust to being awake. Don’t forget – keep your hands on the wheel at all times! Don’t mess with your music while you’re driving. Instead, pull over to do that somewhere safe.
If I’m not in the mood for music I also make sure that I have a few podcasts that have been pre-downloaded in case I lose service wherever I am. My favorite road trip podcasts include Dr. Death, Crime Junkie, Moms and Mysteries, and my own podcast – Passports and Preemies Talks (wherever you get your podcasts)!
7. Purchase Car Insurance
If you’re renting a car, you’re definitely going to want to have car insurance. While you can add this on to most rentals, I suggest checking with your credit card first to see if they offer it as a free perk. I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and they do offer free rental car insurance as long as you make the booking with the credit card. Aside from the car insurance perk, I highly recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you’re an avid traveler as it offers tons of travel perks.
When you’re planning your road trip, solo or not, following these simple tips will ensure a safe and fun trip with reasonable expectations. By taking simple steps towards safety, being flexible, going at your trip with a purpose, packing a cooler of goodies, and dressing comfortably, you’re on the path to road trip pro!
I’m curious, do you have any solo road trip tips that I forgot to mention? If so, let me know in the comments below!
For more road trip inspiration, don’t miss:
The Best 8 Day Northern Portugal Road Trip Itinerary
The Ultimate California Coast Road Trip from San Francisco to Santa Barbara
The Best 4 Day Montenegro Road Trip
Solo Guide to a 7 Day Road Trip Through the UK
A 2 Day Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary
Solo Girl’s Guide to a Romania Road Trip