If you’ve never attempted a solo road trip before, be prepared for an adventure unlike any other road trip you’ve taken before. Driving alone for hours at a time is both liberating and dangerous, and you’ll need to prepare thoroughly before you hit the road. Here are a few important things to keep in mind as you plot your route:
- Know Your Route
You aren’t going to have a navigator in the car with you, and if you get lost you’ll be completely on your own. So unless you’re comfortable stopping at random gas stations and asking for directions, make sure you have the means to figure out exactly where you are.
You might have a smartphone with GPS capabilities, but you’re not going to have reception everywhere you go. If you get lost in the middle of nowhere or run out of battery without a way to charge your device, you might be in trouble. Bring along paper maps as well as your phone, and consider investing in a nice GPS too.
- Plan Stops
You might not have a carful of kids that will need periodic potty breaks, but you still need to plan stops along the way. Driving alone puts you at risk of fatigue and boredom, and if you don’t stop and stretch regularly, you’ll put yourself and your car in jeopardy.
Before you leave, look up attractions along your route. Plan to stop at museums, monuments, famous local restaurants, visitor centers, and nice hiking trails along the way to keep yourself from getting too bored in the car.
- Maintenance Your Car
Bring your vehicle in to an auto shop like Speedy Brake and Apollo Muffler and get that maintenance you’ve been procrastinating taken care of. Have your tires rotated, your oil changed, your tire pressure equalized, and your alignment and brakes checked. Get any significant car repairs done too—you don’t want to break down in an unfamiliar town.
Do a basic check of all your fluids before you head out as well. Check your oil, windshield wiper fluid, coolant, and transmission, power steering, and brake fluids. Top off anything that needs it, and check with an auto repair shop if you have any questions.
- Know Basic Car Care
Since you’re going to be on your own out there on the road, know your basic car care. Brush up on how to change a tire, check your tire pressure, jump a dead battery, and add more engine oil.
If you do have car troubles, you’ll want to know enough to get your car to the nearest shop. Obviously not everything is under your control, but something as simple as learning how to change a tire can mean avoiding the extra expense of a tow truck or roadside assistance.
- Pack Food
You won’t have anyone around to keep you awake, so make sure you pack plenty of snack food. Don’t go straight for the sugar, though some carbs and candy are great for a quick boost of energy. Pack healthy foods too, like fruit, carrot sticks, and nuts. Eating sugar and chips all day might keep you awake, but you’ll probably feel sick or lethargic by the time you reach your destination.
Bring plenty of water, too. Water will give you more sustained energy than any caffeinated beverage, and it’ll keep you feeling healthy and cool, too. Bring several water bottles so that if you get stranded or stuck driving through a desert with no rest stops you won’t get dehydrated.
- Stay In Control
If you feel yourself starting to get tired, pull over. Decide ahead of time that you aren’t going to drive fatigued. Also decide that you aren’t going to drink and drive. It might be tempting, especially after you’ve been driving for several days, but stay far away from any substance or activity that will lead to reckless driving.
Solo road trips are certainly an adventure. If you prepare properly, you’ll have the trip of a lifetime. Stay safe, stop frequently, and above all, enjoy yourself!