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  1. Default Preping for a Solo run, and need help and suggestions

    Hi folks. first time posting, and I'm in a bit of a spot with my trip.

    I live in Southwestern PA, and I'm planning to take a run down to visit a friend in Round Rock, TX. The trip time's estimated at 21:30, or so. But obviously driving that straight through is impossible. My problem is that I'm uncertain about A. stopping at a hotel alone overnight, and B. if not a hotel, where I could pull off and just sleep in my vehicle.

    It's a long ride, and I probably would end up breaking it up in 4 hour chunks perhaps, stopping to stretch or fill-up or whatnot as needed... but I'd certainly like your thoughts/advice... as I really don't want to end up fouling my first solo trip up on my own.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Welcome new solo traveler!

    Many of us here roadtrip solo. Don't let it concern you. Let me ask you these:
    * Are you safe driving to the grocery store in your hometown? Driving to work?
    * Are you safe going into businesses on your own, like that grocery store or a shoe shop or the movies?

    If you said yes to these, than you can safely travel across country. Remember, everywhere is somebody's home town and they go around in it every day. Why shouldn't you be able to?

    You will definitely need to stop for the night somewhere as your trip is about 1400 miles. In fact, 3 days/2 nights would be even better as we generally recommend that people not travel more than 500-550 miles per day for fatigue/safety reasons.

    Don't assume that online mapping software is giving you correct travel times. You will not be able to travel this distance in 21 hours. Online programs assume that you will always drive the speed limit, never have congestion or other factors like that slow your speed down, and that you will never stop for more fuel, for food, for restroom breaks, or anything else.

    Experienced road-trippers here generally agree that 55mph is the average you'll be traveling over the course of the day with very short stops for food/fuel/bio-reasons. 1400/55=25.5 hours. I suggest you plan on dividing this into three days. You really don't want to be driving more more than 8-9 hours per day. Especially for your first long, solo trip. Louisvile or Bowling Green, KY, might make good stops for the first night. Little Rock, Arkansas, for the second night would be good. Of course, you don't have to stay in those cities because, since this is an interstate, there will be many motels along the way to choose from.

    I can't help but wonder why you think pulling over somewhere and sleeping would be better than a motel? Motels are perfectly safe for solo travels. If you're a camper, you might even enjoy solo camping on the way down (in campgrounds, not just anywhere). Of course, some people do just pull over and sleep in the car and, if you're going to do that, truck stops are your best and safest bet.

    We also recommend that you stop about ever 2 hours for those stretch-breaks. Four hours is too long to sit and drive, both for safey reasons and because of circulation issues. You need to stop more to stay alert.

    You might enjoy reading this thread about a first-time solo road-tripper, both before and after her trip and how much she enjoyed it.

    And if you insist on doing this drive over 2 days instead of 3, this article about speed runs has info you should be aware of.

    Hope this helps a bit! Do you need some advise about routes, things to see and do along the way, or anything else we could help you with?

  3. Default

    to be honest... maybe a route revision might not be a horrible idea.

    My big issues/worries are more or less:

    1. Time. while I really don't want to look at doing a speed run I may almost have to, with the trip each way effectively filling 2 days. I'd planned at least to be able to spend 7 days there, and have a day to get down there and a day to get home. obviously not possible as you've just said. The real only reason time would be an issue... and now that I look at my vacation time... won't be anymore... was because I'd also been contemplating a trip elsewhere before this. however, it seems that it's not feasible to do both now that reality's set in with regard to how many days I'll actually have available to take off.

    2 Finances. Now, granted... if finances are gonna be an issue, maybe I shouldn't be taking this trip in the first place... but for the sake of budgeting myself for things that are potentially going to happen later in the year, I wanted to avoid expending more funds than I had to- hence the hesitance to stay at a motel, etc. The bucket seat of my vehicle probably would kill my back if I slept in it, so... in the end, I guess it's unavoidable.

    But... Certainly, I could use advice on choosing a proper place to stay for the night- i.e. if it's wiser to go with hotel name a. or something else.

    And as I mentioned, potential route-refinement...if only to have a second opinion rather than just follow google-map or mapquest.

    ...thanks again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nightwind View Post
    to be honest... maybe a route revision might not be a horrible idea.

    My big issues/worries are more or less:

    1. Time. while I really don't want to look at doing a speed run I may almost have to, with the trip each way effectively filling 2 days. I'd planned at least to be able to spend 7 days there, and have a day to get down there and a day to get home. obviously not possible as you've just said. The real only reason time would be an issue... and now that I look at my vacation time... won't be anymore... was because I'd also been contemplating a trip elsewhere before this. however, it seems that it's not feasible to do both now that reality's set in with regard to how many days I'll actually have available to take off.
    I think all of us wrestle with our wants exceeding our time.

    2 Finances. Now, granted... if finances are gonna be an issue, maybe I shouldn't be taking this trip in the first place... but for the sake of budgeting myself for things that are potentially going to happen later in the year, I wanted to avoid expending more funds than I had to- hence the hesitance to stay at a motel, etc. The bucket seat of my vehicle probably would kill my back if I slept in it, so... in the end, I guess it's unavoidable.
    Oh, I think many of us take trips that stretch our budget so we try to stretch our budget to fit our trip. :) I do it by camping (see post #9) and eating out of my cooler for most meals. By raiding my pantry before I leave and filling the cooler at full-size grocery stores (not convenience stores), I really don't spend much more on food than I would if I was at home. Camping runs $15-25/night vs. a hotel of $40-45 (bare minimum) and up. Maybe these ideas will help.

    But... Certainly, I could use advice on choosing a proper place to stay for the night- i.e. if it's wiser to go with hotel name a. or something else.
    I would suggest not worrying about this. Most any hotel, especially if it's part of a chain, is going to be fine. Chains usually have some standards that the hotels bearing their name have to meet and I find that even the most inexpensive chains are usually clean enough to hang my hat for the night. Motel 6, Super 8, Econolodge and Days Inn tend to have the lowest rates, in my experience. Some folks aren't real thrilled with these no-frills places and will look for hotels a tier or two higher like Ramada, Holiday Inn, etc.

    Since you are, for the most part, probably traveling on an interstate, finding hotels will be easy. Just watch for signs along the road when you start getting tired and want to stop for the night. But if you prefer, you can either go to the websites of some chains that appeal to you and print out their locations along your route or request a free catalog listing their locations. If you live in a town where some of them are, you can even swing by and pick one up. If you're a member of AAA (and I think everybody who travels should consider an emergency road assistance program), you can get free guidebooks from them with accomodations, even some dedicated to campgrounds.

    If you pull up to any motel and get a bad vibe, maybe it's because of the location itself, or the type of people you see hanging around in the parking lot or lobby, or the place just looks pretty rundown and shabby, follow your instincts and just go someplace else. If it doesn't seem that bad but you're still doubtful, you can always ask to see the room before you check-in and pay.

    And as I mentioned, potential route-refinement...if only to have a second opinion rather than just follow google-map or mapquest.
    Actually, these programs are pretty good about giving you the quickest routes. They're just not good with their travel time estimates. I'm not familiar enough with this part of the country to give you any specific suggestions but maybe someone else will pop in and do that.

    Any traveler should always have a good road atlas. Even though I also tend to use online mapping programs to plan my trips, I usually always take a look at paper maps, too, because they often list scenic attractions, national parks/monuments, and other things worth seeing that the online programs don't always point out very well. However, depending on how much time you have for this trip, you may not have much sightseeing time.

    Hope this helps a bit.

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