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

Trying again, I understand I’ve at all times had a mushy 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 huge sand dunes.

Since then, I’ve taken road trips to nearly 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 buddies when flying wasn’t sensible. That modified in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic severely restricted journey choices for me and everybody else. Impulsively, the one cheap strategy to journey appeared to be by automobile. For me, that meant solo highway journeys.

I’ve since taken highway journeys to each nook of my dwelling 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 just a few classes as properly. Listed below are 9 issues I’ve discovered highway tripping solo.

Pre-planning for road trip in Arizona

Pre-planning for highway journey in Arizona

Photograph 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 examine the small print (the principle 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, try the 2 or three various routes, after which program my most popular route into my cellphone’s mapping app. I exploit the Apple Maps app, however many individuals choose 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 way in which. It’s additionally clever to examine in with these individuals whenever you arrive at your vacation spot.

2. Reserving Resort Stays In Advance Is Advisable

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

Nowadays, particularly in the summertime, you’re more likely to end up with no place to remain with out correct planning. Highway journeys are extra well-liked than ever, and plenty of resorts alongside main highways turn out to be booked weeks prematurely, whereas tenting at nationwide parks typically requires reserving months prematurely. The stress of searching 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 a giant 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 automobile will get about 40 miles to the gallon, so I may conceivably drive greater than 500 miles earlier than I have to gasoline up. For my peace of thoughts, I by no means wait anyplace 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 refill 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 following gasoline station.

Professional Tip: Cellphone apps like Gas Guru may also help you establish the place the following gasoline cease will likely be, and the bottom costs.

Northern Arizona road trip

Full management on a Northern Arizona highway journey

Photograph credit score: Cindy Barks

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

Sure, solo highway tripping presents a sense of freedom by providing you with full management over your route, your stops, and the size of your stays. Keep in mind that the tradeoff is that it additionally means you may have complete duty for the entire driving and little selections alongside the way in which.

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

5. In-Automotive 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 beloved for road-tripping are Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Freeway, Elin Hilderbrand’s 28 Summers, and Lucy Foley’s The Paris Condo.

I additionally like to take a look at the channels on my SiriusXM subscription. On one memorable summer season journey by way of Arizona and Nevada in 2020, I listened to the complete 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 decisions 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 maintain my Overdrive account stocked with books in order that I’ve loads of decisions on my lengthy drives.

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

Effectively-serviced automobile on Valley of Hearth highway journey, Nevada

Photograph credit score: Cindy Barks

6. A Effectively-Serviced Automotive Is A Life Saver

As a highway journey approaches, I make a degree of getting my automobile 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 a giant highway journey developing and ask them to take a look at essential parts 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 by way of my automobile insurance coverage and now have a membership with AAA (American Car Affiliation).

Packing the trunk strategically

Packing strategically

Photograph credit score: Cindy Barks

7. It’s Essential To Pack Strategically

Though I sometimes subscribe to the mantra that it’s finest to pack mild, I consider 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 automobile 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 wish to have loads of shoe decisions, together with mountain climbing sandals, hiking boots, sneakers, flip-flops, and a few mountain climbing packs.

I don’t like to hold every part into my resort room every night time, so I maintain the sneakers, jackets, and packs in separate large-size packing cubes that I go away in my automobile the place they’re simple to seize, as wanted.

Professional Tip: To cope with points that come up on the highway, I maintain a provide of useful devices and merchandise in my automobile, 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 Neglect The Snacks And Drinks

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

I wish to inventory my coolers with bottled water, glowing water, mushy drinks, and snack-size baggies filled with grapes, orange slices, and mini carrots.

Finding a comfort zone for safety in Arizona

Discovering a consolation zone for security

Photograph 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 maintain that in thoughts and make my resort reservations accordingly.

It’s necessary to seek out your road-tripping rhythm, private consolation zone, and by no means proceed driving whenever you’re drained. Typically a fast nap in your automobile 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 supply some privateness.

Professional Tip: The adage of “it’s extra concerning 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 typically to scent the roses (or the daisies or sunflowers or lupine). I like to recommend programming at the very 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 way in which.

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