Lots of the issues that make highway journeys so nice — the sensation of freedom, the concentrate on the countryside, the solitude — are magnified whenever you set out on a solo journey. For a quick interlude, it’s simply you, your automotive, and the highway. It’s fantastic, however it may be daunting too.

Wanting again, I understand I’ve at all times had a comfortable spot for highway journeys, beginning with a magical journey to the Oregon Coast within the household station wagon once I was 7 years previous. I keep in mind gazing up at large redwoods, splashing within the ocean for the primary time, and climbing large sand dunes.

Since then, I’ve taken road trips to just about each western-U.S. state, and to the Canadian Rockies and Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

Up till not too long ago, although, my highway journeys have been considerably sporadic and infrequently taken with household or associates when flying wasn’t sensible. That modified in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic severely restricted journey choices for me and everybody else. Rapidly, the one cheap technique to journey gave the impression to be by automotive. For me, that meant solo highway journeys.

I’ve since taken highway journeys to each nook of my residence state of Arizona, the California coast, Nevada’s Great Basin National Park, southern Utah’s many state parks and national monuments, New Mexico’s White Sands National Park, Texas’s Big Bend, and the Guadalupe Mountains nationwide parks.

My journeys have all been nice adventures, however there have been a couple of classes as properly. Listed here are 9 issues I’ve discovered highway tripping solo.

Pre-planning for road trip in Arizona

Pre-planning for highway journey in Arizona

Picture credit score: Cindy Barks

1. Pre-Planning Is A Should

With out navigational enter from a fellow traveler, I’ve discovered that it’s crucial to establish my routes and research the small print (the primary highways, main turns, and attention-grabbing factors) earlier than I head out.

I often begin by looking out level A to level B on my laptop computer laptop, take a look at the 2 or three different routes, after which program my most well-liked route into my telephone’s mapping app. I exploit the Apple Maps app, however many individuals want the Google Maps app.

One other apparent cause for having a set itinerary is security. By letting somebody know your route earlier than you go, you may have some backup in case you run into hassle alongside the best way. It’s additionally clever to examine in with these individuals whenever you arrive at your vacation spot.

2. Reserving Lodge Stays In Advance Is Advisable

Central to a solo traveler’s pre-planning must be resort, campsite, or short-term rental reservations alongside the best way.

Lately, particularly in the summertime, you’re prone to end up with no place to remain with out correct planning. Highway journeys are extra widespread than ever, and plenty of motels alongside main highways turn out to be booked weeks upfront, whereas tenting at nationwide parks typically requires reserving months upfront. The stress of on the lookout for lodging en route is compounded whenever you’re alone since you don’t have one other individual to analysis vacancies when you drive.

Professional Tip: I’m an enormous fan of my Marriott Bonvoy rewards card and I often attempt to discover a Marriott model resort for my nights on the highway. There are many different loyalty and rewards programs to take a look at as properly, together with VRBO for short-term leases, and Hipcamp for tenting websites.

3. Frequent Gasoline Ups Present Peace Of Thoughts

My automotive will get about 40 miles to the gallon, so I may conceivably drive greater than 500 miles earlier than I must gasoline up. For my peace of thoughts, I by no means wait wherever that lengthy and often cease to fill gasoline each 250 miles or so.

A part of the reason being that gasoline station stops give me an opportunity to stretch my legs, get a chilly beverage, and take a restroom break. One other half is the uncertainty of once I’ll be capable to replenish once more. Particularly once I’m driving on distant roads in Texas, Arizona, or Nevada. I by no means take an opportunity on ready for the subsequent gasoline station.

Professional Tip: Cellphone apps like Gas Guru can assist you identify the place the subsequent gasoline cease can be, and the bottom costs.

Northern Arizona road trip

Full management on a Northern Arizona highway journey

Picture credit score: Cindy Barks

4. Having Full Management Over Your Journey Is A Blessing And A Curse

Sure, solo highway tripping affords a sense of freedom by providing you with full management over your route, your stops, and the size of your stays. Do not forget that the tradeoff is that it additionally means you may have complete accountability for all the driving and little choices alongside the best way.

There are positively occasions once I’d like a second opinion on a route or turn out to be tired of the drive. That’s when pre-planning is useful.

5. In-Automobile Leisure Is Essential

Whether or not it’s music, audiobooks, or podcasts, having one thing to maintain my thoughts occupied as I drive makes all of the distinction on the planet on my solo drives.

For me, nothing beats an audiobook to assist cross the hours. Not solely do I turn out to be immersed in a captivating story, however I’m capable of transport myself to faraway locations. Some current audiobooks I’ve liked for road-tripping are Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Freeway, Elin Hilderbrand’s 28 Summers, and Lucy Foley’s The Paris Condominium.

I additionally like to take a look at the channels on my SiriusXM subscription. On one memorable summer season journey via Arizona and Nevada in 2020, I listened to the whole countdown of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Prime 100 hits on the Tom Petty Channel. I’ve additionally been recognized to tune in to Comedy Central Radio’s hilarious units and The Pulse’s current hits.

Listening to podcasts is one other entertaining choice that many vacationers swear by. Two fascinating selections to take a look at are Serial and This American Life.

Professional Tip: Free loans of audiobooks can be found with a library card at many public libraries, by way of the Overdrive or Libby apps. I at all times preserve my Overdrive account stocked with books in order that I’ve loads of selections on my lengthy drives.

Well-serviced car on Valley of Fire road trip, Nevada

Nicely-serviced automotive on Valley of Hearth highway journey, Nevada

Picture credit score: Cindy Barks

6. A Nicely-Serviced Automobile Is A Life Saver

As a highway journey approaches, I make a degree of getting my automotive in for service — if attainable, by timing my common oil adjustments with my journeys. Then, I at all times point out to the service technicians that I’ve an enormous highway journey developing and ask them to take a look at essential components just like the tires, brakes, windshield wipers, air-con, and fluids.

If and when unexpected emergencies do come up, having a roadside help coverage is essential. To cowl all my bases, I’ve towing protection via my automotive insurance coverage and now have a membership with AAA (American Car Affiliation).

Packing the trunk strategically

Packing strategically

Picture credit score: Cindy Barks

7. It’s Essential To Pack Strategically

Though I sometimes subscribe to the mantra that it’s finest to pack gentle, I imagine a solo highway journey is a chance to overpack a bit within the curiosity of being well-prepared. In any case, you may have the entire automotive to your self!

I often pack a jacket or two, together with an assortment of denims, capris, blouses, sweatpants, a hat, and swimming fits. As a hiker, I prefer to have loads of shoe selections, together with climbing sandals, hiking boots, sneakers, flip-flops, and a few climbing packs.

I don’t like to hold all the things into my resort room every evening, so I preserve the footwear, jackets, and packs in separate large-size packing cubes that I depart in my automotive the place they’re straightforward to seize, as wanted.

Professional Tip: To cope with points that come up on the highway, I preserve a provide of useful devices and merchandise in my automotive, together with jumper cables, a photo voltaic flashlight, disinfectant wipes, bandages, and duct tape. I additionally pack tenting gear, together with a tent, a sleeping bag, a pillow, and an air mattress — simply in case.

8. Don’t Overlook The Snacks And Drinks

To make sure that I’ve a provide of chilly drinks, contemporary fruit, and veggies for snacking, I preserve a big 5-day ice retention Igloo Max cooler within the cargo space of my automotive, and a small cooler within the entrance seat the place I can simply entry it whereas I’m driving. I often replenish issues from the bigger cooler into my small cooler and add ice to each.

I prefer to inventory my coolers with bottled water, glowing water, comfortable drinks, and snack-size baggies stuffed with grapes, orange slices, and mini carrots.

Finding a comfort zone for safety in Arizona

Discovering a consolation zone for security

Picture credit score: Cindy Barks

9. Discovering Your Consolation Zone Enhances Security

I’ve discovered that I can comfortably drive 8 to 10 hours in a day, however something past that turns into taxing. As I map my route, I preserve that in thoughts and make my resort reservations accordingly.

It’s vital to search out your road-tripping rhythm, private consolation zone, and by no means proceed driving whenever you’re drained. Typically a fast nap in your automotive at a relaxation space can do wonders, however at all times keep in mind to decide on your spots with security in thoughts. I carry small window shades that connect utilizing suction cups to the glass to offer some privateness.

Professional Tip: The adage of “it’s extra in regards to the journey than the vacation spot” is rarely more true than on a highway journey. For that cause, I remind myself to be current, take all of it in, and cease usually to odor the roses (or the daisies or sunflowers or lupine). I like to recommend programming at the least two hours of leeway into every day’s schedule to permit time to discover sudden scenic byways and charming downtowns you encounter alongside the best way.

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