Embarking on a solo road trip might seem intimidating – After all, travelling to a foreign land alone can be daunting at first, but don’t let that fear deter you from setting off on a swashbuckling adventure. Take it as a significant step towards furthering your independence, developing a better relationship with yourself and creating memories that will last for a lifetime.
Still too nervous to take the plunge? These are eight tips to help get you started on your first solo trip, so go forth and conquer!
(Related Story: 5 Things You Need To Do Before Going On A Road Trip)
Tip #1: Make Sure Your Ride Is Ready
You can’t go on a road trip if your car isn’t in good health. Schedule an oil change and an inspection a few weeks prior to your trip. This way, if the mechanic runs into any issues that need your attention, you will still have some time to fix them before you head out.
Tip #2: Map Out Your Route
If you don’t have the habit of planning, now is the time to start. While you might thrive on spontaneity and living in the moment, there are a few things you need to plan out before your first solo outing.
Start by planning your general route. You should know which cities you would like to hit, the roads that will get you there, and what major cities and stops are along the way. I prefer to map out each day’s stops ahead of time, sometimes down to my snack and bathroom breaks. At the very least, map out where you would like to be at the beginning and end of each day. From there, you can book your hotel stays and decide how long you would like to spend in each city.
Tip #3: Have A Backup Plan
Remember that plan I just told you to make? It might not even happen. Nothing ever goes exactly the way we want it to because, frankly, that’s life. Make sure you have a backup plan, whether there are alternate routes to avoid tolls or construction (I recommend bringing paper maps as well as a digital GPS in case you lose service in more remote areas), marking sites you are willing to skip if you run low on time, or bringing snacks along with you in case you don’t want to stop for a full meal.
Tip #4: Use Multiple Navigation Tools To Keep You On Track
Navigating on the road alone can be a bit of a challenge. I use Google Maps though you need to be aware of the data the app chews through as, depending on where you are, it could be expensive. In addition to a GPS, I like to have a compass as it confirms my direction if I am unsure.
Tip #5: Pace Yourself
An important part of planning your route is knowing your limits. Seasoned road-trip veterans can often drive up to 12 or 14 hours in one day, but you might want to cut back on the drive time for your first trip. If you have never been behind the wheel longer than four hours, don’t try and cram 9 hours of driving into one day. Ease your way into it and don’t be afraid to stop and continue driving the next day. After all, that is why you have a backup plan, remember?
Tip #6: Create An In-car Essentials Car Kit
Cars are unpredictable and tend to break down at the most inconvenient times, even if you have had them inspected beforehand. Consider investing in a roadside-assistance program so if you end up with a nail in your tire, you aren’t stranded 500 miles from home. For non-car-related problems, put together an emergency kit before you leave with essential items such as a blanket, a first aid kit, extra phone chargers, and water bottles.
Tip #7: Inform Your Loved Ones On Your Whereabouts
While you will be physically alone on your road trip, it is important for someone to have a general idea of your whereabouts. Let someone you trust know where you are going, when you are going, and keep them updated along the way. This could be a simple text when you get to your destination or a phone call every day or so to chat. Either way, make sure someone is looking out for you.
Tip #8: Live In The Moment
At the end of the day, this is an adventure for a reason. Soak in every moment of your solo journey and use it as a chance to regain your sense of independence. Take some time at each place you visit to really soak in the atmosphere and live in the moment. As scary as diving into something new might be, it’s incredibly rewarding on the other side.
(Related Story: The Best Road Trip Cars For Cross-Country Driving)
Last but not least, if you are in search of the perfect road trip vehicle, UCARS has an extensive range of fuel-efficient cars that offers a comfortable, silent and smooth ride while still having sufficient space for extra passengers and luggage. Visit our online marketplace at UCARS for the finest collection of quality pre-owned and new continental automobiles.