Your first road trip alone often feels like you are taking a pilgrimage to a holy place. The fact that you embark on a journey alone speaks levels of your independence.
Maybe you are making your first solo trip out of necessity or exploration. It does not matter.
What you need to know is how to plan a solo road trip.
So how do you plan for such a trip?
I will show you solo road trip tips that are guaranteed to effect a smooth journey. These 16 tips may be simple but when you are in the thick of it, you will thank me.
- 1. Understand the terrain and driving requirements
- 2. Documentation
- 3. Packing essentials
- 4. Mapping Out
- 5. Select a comfortable car and learn the essentials
- 6. Are you covered?
- 7. Entertainment
- 8. Bookings and tours
- 9. Emergency kit and numbers
- 10. Take breaks
- 11. Your camera is your best friend
- 12. Keep in touch with your people
- 13. Money
- 14. Secure packaging
- 15. Explore surroundings
- 16. Safety
- In conclusion
1. Understand the terrain and driving requirements
I find that the more research you do before a trip the better for you. Where are you headed to? Is it winter or spring?
Such information will be of use when you are packing and selecting a car to drive.
How good is your driving?
If you are an excellent driver, you don’t have much to worry about. If you haven’t driven for long distances before, there are a few things that you can do.
The most important long-distance driving tips are just to ensure that you take regular stops, stay hydrated, stay rested before the trip, bulk up on energy, chew gum and listen to something as you drive.
You will be able to manage your first trip without being overly exhausted.
For your first road trip solo, you might be anxious and lose sight of things. All your documents including passport/driving license need to have copies.
Keep all your original documentation in a waterproof casing. Keep these copies somewhere near you, so you can access them quickly when you need them.
3. Packing essentials
In this day and age technology is something unavoidable. It can be your travel video camera or laptop but be sure that you carry charging sources.
I find it best traveling with universal adapters and USB cables so that I can plug-in in different sockets I find along the way.
Other essentials that will make your journey comfortable include a backpack with padded straps, plastic bags to hold things, multipurpose shoes, maps, durable light source, clothes with hidden pockets, toiletries, safety whistle and first aid kit.
All these things are relative depending on where you are going. If it is not the first road trip alone to a new area, you will be able to carry less.
Research online for experiences that other people have had in your area of interest. You will find out information that most websites do not provide.
4. Mapping Out
Now that you have a location picked out, it is time to map it out. I use various kinds of mapping applications just to make sure I’m on the right route.
We have all experienced times when the car’s GPS fails.
As a backing, it is crucial to have an atlas map around you. They are inexpensive and will be of great help if you are in a foreign country. If you have a map someone can point you in the right direction.
Alternatively, you can communicate to your local AAA and get maps of the route that you are embarking on. Google maps is another reliable source if you have good network coverage and adequate battery levels.
If you fail to map out where you are going, you will find that getting lost is the least of your problems. Frustration, anxiety, and stress will be your main opponents.
5. Select a comfortable car and learn the essentials
I find that what is comfortable for me, might not be comfortable for another person.
You will be spending an enormous amount of time in that car. It has to suit your height and weight. Further still, it has to keep up with the terrain.
Selecting the right car boils down even to the wheels. If you are heading to a snowy area, it is best that you fine snow-capable tires. If you are heading to a muddy and less forgiving area, a 4-wheel drive with good suspension will do.
The car you are using to travel should be serviced just to ensure that everything is in place.
Another thing, you have to learn how to change a tire. You may not think much of it but accidents happen at the weirdest of times. The faster you can change a tire, the faster you can get on your way.
Remember that sometimes the AAA or a credible towing track cannot get to where you are for some hours due to distance. Better be prepared to get your hands a bit dirty.
6. Are you covered?
I know that insurance companies have been bombarding you with travel insurance covers.
Yes, I know that they are annoying sometimes. In this case, however, you actually need these guys to cover you.
Travel insurance can cover you if you have an accident or settle hotel accommodation. Depending on the package that you select, you can be covered for a year or for the period that you are traveling.
You also need to look at the car that you are traveling in. Does it have insurance? What kind of insurance does it have and what does this cover?
In the case of any accidents or mishaps, you will be able to navigate easily.
Be sure to have all this information somewhere near just in case the information is required by the authorities. I usually have a waterproof folder somewhere holding my paperwork. You will thank me later.
They say silence is golden but in some cases, you need a bit of a distraction. If you are like me, music really gets me into the groove of my journey. It is proven that music keeps the mind engaged and entertained.
You will find that the louder the music, the more your brain wakes up. The last thing you want is to be sleeping on the wheel. That will not be a good scenario.
If you are not a musical person, worry not. There are plenty of audiobooks that can offer the company as you move along the road. Driving long distances alone will only be fun if your mind is engaged and conscious.
8. Bookings and tours
The days of arriving at hotels with no bookings are slowly going extinct. It is not recommended to travel without knowing where you’ll sleep and wash. As much of a risk-taker than I am, I usually have to book all my accommodation and confirm before the travel date.
If you are driving across the country alone, you can rely on a reservations application. There are very many platforms that allow people to book their rooms online. You can not only book sleeping quarters but tours within the region, car rentals, sporting events, among other things.
The better you plan your itinerary the less friction you will experience. Try not to make your schedule very tight, there are always unforeseen incidents. I had to learn this the hard way that is why I ensure that my schedule has some flexibility.
9. Emergency kit and numbers
Among the solo road trips tips that you cannot overlook is this one. You have to be prepared for emergencies as they never come knocking.
First things first, an emergency kit should be present in your car. This kit should also be accompanied by a small fire extinguisher. It can be a small cut or your engine on fire, either way, these kits are lifesavers.
Emergency numbers are also another thing to keep at hand. You need numbers that will help you in case your car breaks down, inform the police in case of problems, contact your family members, or the embassy if you are in a foreign country.
You might not necessarily need these numbers since you may be well prepared but, it never hurts. Even the backup plan needs an additional backup plan.
10. Take breaks
I cannot stress this enough. Exhaustion is among the leading causes of accidents on the road. There is no rush. The place that you are heading to is not about to uproot itself and go somewhere.
If you feel that your body is tired, find somewhere safe to pack and take a nap. Drink plenty of water and eat nutritious food. If your body is running at its optimal levels I promise you, you will feel excited and energized.
If you are running on a schedule, you can use your phone to set an alarm. This will help you feel rested and maintain an agile schedule.
11. Your camera is your best friend
This is your first solo trip and I bet you would love to remember it. Whatever your reason for traveling you can always make memories.
Most of our devices right now have integrated cameras so you have options. Remember to carry batteries, memory cards, power banks and charging points.
This is your time to be free, enjoy it and keep a souvenir.
12. Keep in touch with your people
I know the thrill of driving cross-country alone can make you lose track of time. This is normal, but just to ensure that people are not worried, keep in touch.
It does not have to be constant calls since sometimes the network gets disrupted. When you get ample time you can call, text, email, or post a picture on social media. If you know they are at peace, you will be at peace.
Plus, it never hurts to have someone know where you are in the case that you need help.
Are you using cash or cards? Have you informed your bank that you will be out of the country?
Questions like these should be at the back of your head while planning. According to your bank, it needs to know that you will be out of the country so that they don’t flag/ freeze your account.
If you’re traveling out of the country, you do not want to have a lot of currency at hand. You can exchange a little bit of money before leaving. This will make it easier to find suitable rates on the other side.
This is without risking getting robbed.
14. Secure packaging
If you have valuables be sure to put them somewhere secure. Others prefer wearing clothes with secret pockets while others have bags that have secret compartments.
Whether it is a backpack or a briefcase, make sure that your valuables are safe.
If you have one, take an extra backpack or a duffel bag with you for different situations. If you don’t have one, take a look at the best travel duffel bags we have selected.
15. Explore surroundings
Driving cross country alone is not like speed dating. You have to take your time and sink into the scenery.
This is an excellent time to get in touch with nature and other people. If you love food like I do, little cafes, diners, and restaurants are a lovely company. You will get to sample local cuisine and meet new people.
A road trip alone is a great way to feel free but you also need to be careful. Apart from the safety of your possessions, you also have to be safe.
- Always have your seatbelt on and in the proper manner.
- Ensure that your phone is always charged.
- Make sure that you have proper lighting when exploring dark areas.
- Wear protective clothing in cold areas. A hypothermia blanket is always good to have around.
- If you are in trouble, be sure to use your hazards to indicate that you need help.
- Have a loud whistle with you in case you need to call for help.
- Keep emergency numbers on speed dial.
- Record everything when you meet crazy people. The evidence is important.
- Always check the tires after tasking miles and repair if need be.
- Always have an emergency kit in place, car jack and jumper cables at hand.
Get all 50 safety tips for traveling alone in one complete PDF
Get all mentioned 50 traveling alone tips for men and women in one ebook for FREE. Save the PDF on your device and read offline while flying to your solo adventure. Have a safe trip!
The world is so vast and waiting for you to explore it. Admittedly, it seems like a daunting task at first.
But if you use those long-distance driving tips, I am sure that even for a first-timer, you will do great.
These are only 16 tips; do you have any more to add???
Let me know. You can also share with me and tell me how your first trip went in the section below. That’s it for now, see you next time!