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  1. #1

    Default Solo road trip - California to Arizona and back.

    Greetings and salutations,

    I'm so glad I found this website ... I really need some sound advice before making any decisions.

    You see, I'm thinking of doing a solo road trip leaving LA airport - heading for Arizona. I've been to the States before (2005), but this time I want to hit the open road on my own. I guess I want to do some 'soul searching' type stuff. I have no idea what I hope to achieve, but who cares. I just want to feel free on the open road with no itinerary and no specific plans for each day.

    My questions are:

    - is it safe for a woman to do a road trip on her own (age: 39)
    - is it advisable to follow a specific route - I don't know America at all
    - are hotels/motels readily available (it seems crazy to book hotels in advance)
    - will it be better to hire an automatic car with SatNav as apposed to a manual car and paper map?

    I'm as scared as hell, but this is something I really want to do. I have no idea where/what/how, but I guess that's the whole point. But at the same token, I guess it's safer to have a route mapped out?

    Can anybody give some pointers or offer some advise please?

    Oh, I forgot to mention: I don't do big cities, people, busy places, tourist attractions and so forth. I want to spend time 'off the beaten track' and explore nature for what it is - soul searching stuff.

    Also, how much money (approximately) will I need for petrol, accommodation and food?

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    Quote Originally Posted by SeaWychie View Post
    Greetings and salutations,
    My questions are:

    - is it safe for a woman to do a road trip on her own (age: 39)
    This comes up from time to time. See this thread and the links therein to alleviate your fears. It is definitely safe.

    - is it advisable to follow a specific route - I don't know America at all
    It depends. In some areas you would want to stick to the Interstates to remain safer if you are unfamiliar with an area, but that said there's almost always more than one way to get to a place.

    - are hotels/motels readily available (it seems crazy to book hotels in advance)
    - will it be better to hire an automatic car with SatNav as apposed to a manual car and paper map?
    I'd say that 99.9999% of the cars available for rent in the US are automatic transmission cars. Of course, I don't see why if you could get a vehicle with a manual transmission that you wouldn't be able to get GPS. Anyway, even if you have a car with GPS, a good paper map is essential. One popular choice is the Rand McNally USA-Canada-Mexico atlas, which you can get at Target or Wal-Mart (among others) for less than $7.00.

    There's a lot of highway off the beaten path that will allow you to avoid the big cities. Of course, a lot of the most exciting natural areas are within the National Parks, which can get busy - but even there, you can find places of solitude.

    Costs would depend on just how long you were on the road, what type of lodging you choose, and your dining preferences. A comfortable estimate would be around $100/day, but there are certainly many ways to save money on a road trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Go girl !

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Sometimes it's a great plan to have no plan at all and see where the roads take you. We have had many female solo travellers who have had the same concerns as you but have had successful and trouble free trips. It is a case of using common sense as you would at home as everywhere is some body's home town.

    You don't have to follow a specific route but it might be worth researching your options so that you can make informed choices from the road.

    You shouldn't have any trouble finding lodgings along the way, especially before the peak season.

    You will struggle to find a manual box as most standard rentals will be auto. Nothing wrong using a Sat Nav as a helping hand but always carry paper maps, they are so much more informative and will help guide you off the main highways while sole searching.

    There is a fuel cost calculator at the left of the page and I would average hotels at $50- $70 a night but that will vary according to location and type. Food costs will vary greatly from eating out of a cooler to high end restaurants, but pick a Motel with a hearty breakfast will help set you up for the day.

    If you have any specific questions just ask but take a good look around all the RTA pages, they cover just about everything to do with the road trip !

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    If you do decide to go with a GPS, you may find its cheaper to just to purchase a GPS unit from a major retail store rather than renting one with your car rental. Car rental GPS's tend to cost about $50 a week, and these days you can buy a cheap GPS for under $100. The major brands also sell map upgrades, so you could even buy a unit in the UK, and then purchase and download maps for the US before your trip.

    But I agree, even if you do get a GPS, a good paper map/atlas is essential!

    And unless you are planning to rent some exotic sports car or something else that isn't carried by a major car rental company, an automatic transmission really will be your only option. I actually prefer driving a manual, but they just aren't available in the American rental market. (in fact, purchasing a car with a manual transmission in the US is even getting difficult!)

  5. #5

    Default

    Wow, thanks for your comments everyone. I feel so much better now.

    I lived in Africa most of my life so I'm used to 'having eyes at the back of my head', but as you all say it's just a matter of being vigilant.

    I will have a good mosey around this site and I'm sure I'll pick up some awesome tips.

    Oh, btw ... when is peak season? I'm thinking of coming end of April for 2-3 weeks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default peak

    Peak season for travel in most of the US is the summer, specifically late June, July and August, when school is out of session.

    However, in some warm weather areas - like Southern Arizona - you actually see more winter travelers, with spring break (in March) really being about peak. In any case, the end of April should really be one of the quieter times of year, falling between the winter/spring break peak, and the start of the summer travel season.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SeaWychie View Post
    Wow, thanks for your comments everyone. I feel so much better now.

    I lived in Africa most of my life so I'm used to 'having eyes at the back of my head', but as you all say it's just a matter of being vigilant.

    I will have a good mosey around this site and I'm sure I'll pick up some awesome tips.

    Oh, btw ... when is peak season? I'm thinking of coming end of April for 2-3 weeks.
    If you had the common sense to survive Africa, the state will be easy for you. I think end of April is great. You avoid the hot weather plus miss spring break vacationers and summer vacationers.

  8. #8

    Default

    A thought ...

    It seems a family member wants to join me on my epic journey, so I was thinking:

    "What if I hire a compact RV"?

    Do you think it will be cheaper?

    If you take the cost of hiring a car, petrol, and accommodation into consideration maybe it's the way to go?

    The only thing is, do I have to stay in a RV park or can I just find any camping ground for the night? Also, are you allowed to 'park' the RV overnight somewhere in the desert?

    I don't know the rules/do's and the don'ts of the RV world, so your input will be appreciated.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default I doubt it.

    You would have to price things up but generally speaking the RV will be the dearer option. Even the compact RV's are quite thirsty when it comes to gas but they are often dearer to rent than a slightly larger 'C' class that drinks more gas.

    You can't just pull up anywhere in an RV although there are some rest areas that permit overnight stays and you could use truck stops or Walmarts with the managers permission but you cannot set up camp and get the table, chairs and BBQ out. The National/State parks offer cheap camping [$20 a night or less] and it is in the National parks that the lodgings can be dearest. However, in resort type RV parks you couyld pay $45-50 a night which would be close to a budget Motel.

    An RV really is a "lifestyle" choice and not one of budget, if you like the lifestyle it's great, if you are trying to save money it's not worth it.

  10. #10

    Default

    Thanks for your input Southwest Dave.

    Yes, you are right ... car rental is the best option.

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