If there’s one thing I can recommend that you do during your lifetime, it would be to go on a solo road trip. There’s just something so satisfying about making it to your final destination all on your own merits while focusing on nothing but the open road and beautiful scenery.
My friends thought I was pretty crazy when I told them that I was driving from Texas to California all by myself. Honestly, I don’t blame them because it does sound really daunting considering it was a 20+ hour drive, but I made it and I’m here to give you all the tips for embarking on your own solo road trip.
A majority of these tips have to deal with safety since that’s the most important, especially as a female traveling solo. You can read about my entire trip and see all the pictures in my Southwest Snapshots post!
1. Rest stop at McDonalds
Whenever I made it to the next destination on my itinerary or started to feel drowsy while driving, I would pull over at a McDonald’s to get a hot breakfast or take a quick nap in the back seat.
McDonald’s offers free WiFi so I used it to save more music to my phone and watch a YouTube video while enjoying my breakfast. In addition, McDonald’s is my #1 stop of choice because they have tons of locations open 24 hours, the restrooms are clean, they’re more safe than a truck stop, and the food is cheap.
2. Refill gas in major cities
During my road trip, I made a huge effort to only fill up the tank when I made it to major cities instead of random gas stations along the highway. I would even fill up the tank if it was still half full just to be safe.
In my experience, it was easier to find cheaper gas in the city than at gas stations that can monopolize because they’re the only one for miles and often more safe.
3. Get premium versions of music streaming apps
It’s super annoying when you try to stream a song, but it keeps buffering because your connection is spotty or you’re out of data. To avoid this, I paid for the premium versions of Spotify and Soundcloud so could to listen to any music of my choice with no buffering or advertisements.
My recommendation would be to make a huge road trip playlist of songs you enjoy so you can just let it play on shuffle. As small as this seems, it made a huge difference of my mood during the drive because I wasn’t constantly trying to find a song I wanted to listen to and could focus on just enjoying the drive.
4. Drive during daylight hours
I made an effort to do a majority of the driving during daylight and lucky for me it was April, so the sun was setting at around 8 p.m. giving me lots of light to work with.
Since I was driving an unfamiliar route I felt more comfortable driving during daylight in case any issues came up that required me to pull over. For safety reasons, I would recommend that you do the same.
5. Stay in accommodation close to main route
Although it may not seem like it, taking detours really sets you back when you’re on a schedule, so I only stayed in accommodation that was close to the main highway making it super easy and quick to hop right back on my route.
Unless you’re getting free accommodation by staying with friends or family that live further in the city, there are tons of hotels and Airbnb options along major highways. During my trip, I opted for an Airbnb and you can use my link to get $40 off your first stay!
6. Use cruise control
Using cruise control was probably one of my best decisions during the road trip, because it allowed me to have a smooth drive and not spend too much energy pushing on the gas pedal. If you’re unfamiliar, the cruise control option allows you to set a constant speed for the car to drive without having to use the accelerator and it’s often found on the steering wheel.
You should only use it when you’re on the open road with miles between cars and not in any sort of traffic so you don’t have to constantly change the speed.
7. Keep snacks in the passenger seat
Hunger can really sneak up on you sometimes and usually it’s when you’re going 90 mph on the highway in the middle of nowhere and all your snacks are in the backseat or at the bottom of your backpack.
It would be unproductive to add 15-20 minutes to your arrival time just to find somewhere to pull over and get the items you need. Save yourself the trouble and have all the snacks and drinks you might want ready and right next to you.
8. Start driving early in the morning
This is definitely the best tip if you want to use some time to explore the cities that you will pass through. A majority of my drives started between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. and it helped me beat any morning traffic and drive for more hours during the day.
By doing this, the arrivals at my final destinations for the day were between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. so I was still able to visit a few spots and take pictures of the cities that I was staying in for the night. It also allowed me to spend an hour or two in the cities I was passing through to rest at before the next leg of the journey.
9. Tint your windows
Without a doubt driving a car with tinted windows feels like such a luxury and although it might not be in your budget (especially for a road trip), there a tons of benefits. During my solo road trip taking naps and eating in the car was such a breeze because it was really hard for other people to see through the windows.
In addition to privacy and security, tinted windows generally keep your car cooler during the summer months meaning you won’t have to blast the AC so high during your trip.
10. Get a mid road trip check up
As I stated earlier, safety should be your main concern so it doesn’t hurt to go to your car brands dealership and get a routine car maintenance check done before making the drive back.
Luckily, I drove a Acura TLX during the road trip, so it was easy for me to make an appointment at any Acura dealership in California and get a standard check up, car wash and vacuum for free.
All of these tips played a huge role in making my solo road trip a success and if you use them they’ll definitely help make your trip smoother. Where are you headed on your road trip? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading and stay hungry to learn, create and grow!