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Thread: Teen Road Trip?

  1. Default Teen Road Trip?

    Hi! I'm an 18 year old female who recently graduated from high school. In June, I'm considering a road trip from Southern Missouri to Southern Nebraska that is approximately 700 miles. We have family friends who live in Nebraska so I would be staying there for a few nights. The trip estimate is about 11 hours, and I figure I'm pretty safe with taking $300 because I have a small, fairly fuel-efficient car. My question is, do you personally think 11 hours is too much for a teen to drive in one day? Also, how dangerous do you feel it is for an 18 year old girl to travel alone?

    I'm really set on going alone because I really think the trip will give me time to reflect and think, and also feel it'll be a great preparation for college & a more independent lifestyle. My mom is a bit iffy on the idea, but is agreeable as long as I have my car serviced and learn how to change a tire beforehand.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Not What You Think

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Any such RoadTrip is an adventure and all adventures represent obstacles to be overcome. You just have to recognize them when they come up and deal with them, and not waste time on phantom problems. So right off the bat, let me say that an 18 year old can certainly make the trip you're considering alone in complete safety. Read through this article for some things you'll need to think about. Something that you will have to think about is covering that 700 miles. That is not an 11 hour drive, that is a day and a half drive. I'm sure that you got the time estimate from a computer based mapping routing like MapQuest or Google Maps, but their driving time estimates are fantasies. They simply take the number of miles and divide by some speed limit. They make no allowance for traffic, stops for food or fuel or even bathroom breaks. For moderately experienced drivers we recommend no more than about 550 miles as a day of driving. For a novice, you should plan on no more than 500 and should definitely plan on an overnight stop. You should also plan on making a couple of stops during each day's drive at a state or local park or just a cute town and take half hour walks just to clear your head, get the blood flowing again, and generally break up the drive.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-17-2009 at 09:43 PM. Reason: Typos

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    It is no more safe for a male than a female to make a solo road trip at any age. Let your feelings be your guide. If a road/rest place/urban area/etc. feels uncomfortable move on and don't stop.

    Follow AZ's suggestions.... it will make for comfortable timing. Regular stops, walks, drink plenty of water and do not drive when you would normally be asleep. 700 miles makes a comfortable two day drive, without rushing, without stress in case of hold-ups, time for relaxing meals and time to stop and enjoy the sights along the way.

    You are very lucky that you have such a sensible mother. Follow her advice, and you will be well prepared. Might also ask if they would put you onto their AAA membership - if they are members. If not, could make it worthwhile to take a membership before you set out on the trip. At least you know who to call should anything happen along the way.

    A friend asked me to reflect on my first road trip, what had I found the most interesting. My response was.... I found out who I am!

    Lifey wishing you a great trip

  4. Default

    Thanks so much for the replies!

    Though I'm not doubting your words, I just returned home from a trip from Galveston, TX to Southern Missouri, approx. 680 miles. We covered it easily in 12 hours, with five to six stops along the way. Mapquest's time was 11 hours, 25 it was pretty close. My mother actually wants me to make the drive in one day, as she'd rather me stay the night with our family friends instead of a hotel.

    However, I'll definitely consider cutting it into two days because I know you guys know what you're talking about. Thanks for the recommendation about AAA, I hadn't even thought of that!

    The only thing I'm really nervous about is car trouble (my parents having to come get me, etc....). I'm just going to put my faith in God, set out with some good music, and use common sense & hope for the best :)

    Thanks again, guys!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you feel comfortable driving that many hours in one day and your mom is okay with it, go for it. Eat a good breakfast and get an early start, and stop for a leg stretch every couple of hours. Eat healthy food and not a lot of it, drink plenty of water. Be prepared to find a hotel if you start feeling tired. As you said, use common sense!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Some more solo road trip tips

    A couple more articles that I think you'll find helpful.

    This one on solo roadtripping tips I wrote and another one by Lea Lane.

    And this one on speed run tips.


  7. Default

    Thanks so much! Glc, I plan on leaving pretty early, like 6 AM or so and getting tons of sleep the night before...I'm okay with getting lost as long as it's in the daylight. Mark, I really enjoyed your article! You make some great points, and so does Lea. I really appreciate it.

    Again, thanks to everyone for the feedback. After your comments, I feel much more secure & prepared for my trip.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bribythewater View Post
    Though I'm not doubting your words, I just returned home from a trip from Galveston, TX to Southern Missouri, approx. 680 miles. We covered it easily in 12 hours, with five to six stops along the way. Mapquest's time was 11 hours, 25 it was pretty close. My mother actually wants me to make the drive in one day, as she'd rather me stay the night with our family friends instead of a hotel.
    I think the key word here is "we". Driving alone is different -- you don't get a turn resting from driving, you don't have anyone to talk to you to keep you going. I can't recommend 700 miles SOLO in one day.

    If you do, remember that the following day you shouldn't make any plans. Anytime you make a drive like this in one day, you will crash the next day.

    As for the money, I'm assuming you're ONLY responsible for your on-the-road expenses? You'll be staying with friends, and they'll feed you, wash your clothes, etc. during your stay? If so, then you're more than fine with $300. Do pay attention to what you spend GETTING THERE and tuck that amount (plus 10% more) into a pocket of your wallet as your GOING HOME money.

  9. Default

    Thanks for the reply! I drove the whole time home from Galveston but like you said, talking to someone does make a really big difference..definitely makes the ride shorter. I'll definitely take it into consideration. I'm trying to talk my mom into the idea of making it a two-day trip, but she's really worried about me staying in a hotel alone..doesn't think it's safe, but then again neither is driver fatigue.

    Anyway, yeah, I can get the basic necessities (food, shower, laundry, etc.) at their home so all I'm really paying for is gas, which I estimated at about $250 very tops. The ACTUAL figures are: round trip is exactly 1400 miles, at 20 mpg, and $2.39 here. When I type it into the calculator, I use 1500 miles, at 17 mpg, $2.80...comes out to $250. Good idea about tucking back the money plus 10% that it took to get there, thanks!

    So far, even the highest gas prices in Kansas and Nebraska do not top $2.77, but I know gas prices will go up near the 4th of July.

    Does anyone think I should take a credit card in case of emergencies? I don't have one but pretty sure I could talk my mom into it. I'm really responsible, especially with money. I have a debit/checking account and don't even use it lol because I prefer cash. I think that makes me a more "aware" spender. I'm not the type to use it for anything EXCEPT emergencies. So what do you think? Needed or not?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default 110% Needed

    You should always have a credit card with you for emergencies. You should use your debit card and not have more than $100 in cash in your vehicle and you should certainly have a contact card in your vehicle's glovebox like I recommended in the articles I listed above.

    # Place an itinerary in your vehicle's glove box, along with a list of contact numbers, in case your car is found by law enforcement (and you are not in it). Ensure that someone knows where you expect to drive each day of your trip.
    # Put an ICE, ("In Case of Emergency") listing in your cell phone address book (with contact information and notes, in case you are unable to speak following an accident or other road incident.

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