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  1. #1

    Default August 2012 Pacific Northwest Solo Road Trip!

    some thoughts before i begin...

    1. finally! a site to express my anxiousness and excitement about road trips and journeys on the open road! most sites and / or friends other forums / sites just don't have that many people that are interested in road trips, which is depressing in a way.

    2. hello to all! i'm excited to share my trip with you all and hope to get some good advice, neat info and tips and tricks before the journey begins, but if not, then it's kind of even more exciting.

    3/11/12 EDIT: it seems that making it to Crater Lake is only possible if i drive 12-15 hours a day and avoid enjoying the journey and making as few stops as possible, which sounds like no fun at all. so i am "re-routing" my trip to something a bit closer to home, but the main goal is to enjoy the journey, not any specific destination along the way.


    let's begin!

    in August of this year (probably last week of August) i will be taking a week of vacation from work and driving from my hometown of Sheboygan, WI (on the shores of Lake Michigan FYI if you want an idea of where in Wisconsin) to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, then to Bandon, Oregon and then back home.

    all of this in about 10/11 days! so color me very excited.

    here's the kicker(s): i'm 24, it's a solo trip, it's my first solo trip and it's the first time i'll be driving alone for longer than 60 miles, ever.

    so in a lot of ways, i am incredibly excited, incredibly nervous and incredibly "mentally blocked" that in fact, i am doing this in a little over 5 months.

    the car i will be driving will be my new 2012 Ford Fiesta SE Sedan, which arrives in early May, so car wise, i feel i am well equipped and prepared. also i have the feature of if my air bags deploy my car automatically calls 911, so if the worst came scenario arrives, that will be a slight "blessing" (i'm guessing unless i'm in the middle of nowhere and get no reception, maybe).

    my plan (as of right now) is to leave early Friday morning (i will already have 45+ hours in by Thursday night of work, so i can take off Friday as a "sick day" and gain an extra day) and arrive in Oregon sometime Sunday afternoon (hopefully). at latest Monday night. then spend a day / day and a half at Crater Lake, then drive the coast (Bandon) for a day or two, and then head back. i imagine as long as i'm heading back to Wisconsin by Friday morning (depending how long it took me to arrive) i'll be in good shape to be home at a reasonable hour Sunday night to be (somewhat) ready for work the next day. and again, i could use another "sick day" if i wanted.

    my boss knows this and is fine with this, which is awesome.

    i'm very much a "plan every detail" person, which sucks and i'm trying to break away from because i don't want this trip to be planned out each and every minute. that's no fun. so while i am planning on taking back roads and quieter highways, i won't have everything carefully planned out: no real destinations besides the Park and the shore and no time lines / time frames except for the basic ones mentioned above.

    i have a list of stuff i'm bringing along which i will share once i feel it's pretty complete, nd today bought the first item for the trip - 2012 Road Atlas. next purchase will be a GPS system (any suggestions?) and then some hiking / backpack / pack stuff. the less stuff the better, but i will be prepared.

    also planning on having around $800 for gas. used the estimator on here, and was right around $670, so $800 may be good or a bit less than necessary, so may put more into it. also planning on having $800 or so for hotel rooms. most food i want to bring with unless i find neat restaurants that are specific to an area / state. most of this will also be cash since who knows what middle-of-nowhere town won't accept my debit / credit card. i will also be telling my bank and credit card company what states i will be in so they don't freeze my cards when they see otherwise suspicious behavior.

    i will also only carry 1 credit card ($4,500 limit), my debit card and the rest will be cash.

    i also want to have around $800 for anything else - goofy momentos / snacks and anything else that catches my eyes.

    round trip i should be going through at least 13 states! and part of the way will be on "the Loneliest Road in America" - US Route 50 in Nevada. i'd also like to drive through ghost towns and maybe see some "haunted" locations on the way if not too far out of the way and / or if time is not an issue.

    on the way back i'll be going through Montana, and depending where Going-to-the-Sun Road may be, i want to travel that as well.

    sorry for the long post, but hope to hear from some experts out there on traveling through the great Pacific Northwest!

    states i will be driving through:

    South Dakota
    North Dakota
    Last edited by iam1bearcat; 03-11-2012 at 10:05 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    I hate to tell you that you might be biting off just a little more than you can chew - how many hours a day do you think you can safely sit in the car doing nothing but driving - day after day after day?

    Sheboygan to Crater Lake is over 2200 miles - which is 4 days minimum, at least 10 hours a day in the car with nothing but fuel and bathroom stops. There is no way you are going to be able to make it home in only 3 days.

    This is just slogging along on Interstate highways, with no time for scenic detours!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default From one solo tripper to another.

    As a solo tripper, and especially one who has never travelled further than 60 miles, you need to be aware of your needs on such a long trip. Sitting on the black top, looking at a white line for ten hours a day becomes extremely monotonous, to the point of being hypnotic. To plan to do this day after day is not just unwise, it is no good for your wellbeing, and certainly not safe.

    As your plan stands you will spend nine of your eleven days just hurtling down the Interstates. It will be tiring and not the least bit enjoyable. Are your destinations of any significance, other than that you would like to see them? Because if they are not, you could design a very nice trip, which does not cover such a great distance.

    Why not look at US2 all the way to Glacier NP, take in Yellowstone and surrounds and return via Rocky Mountain NP. A little research would help you discover much of what you say you would like to experience, ghost towns, haunted establishments and scenic routes. In fact you could do most of that on secondary highways, driving reasonable distances and thoroughly enjoy yourself. And instead of the Loneliest Road in America, you could include the highest road in the USA... The Trail Ridge Road.

    As for carrying cash. It can be done safely, providing you obtain one of those pouches which you wear under your clothes. Take out what money you need for the day... and a bit more. However, it being summer, make sure your clothes cover it. A strap showing is a red flag. And never leave money in your car, or in a hotel/motel room.

    I have travelled tens of thousands of miles solo, and at times carried many thousands of dollars that way... without ever having lost a cent. Be vigilant. Be sensible. And you'll have a great holiday.


  4. #4


    Thanks for the input guys.

    Hmm... and i think you may be right. thinking about it last night it really sunk in just how much CONSTANT driving i'd have to do. and like you both said, i wouldn't really be able to stop and enjoy the journey, it would just be constant driving. and since it would take 2 full days to just get there, even at 12 hours of driving a day, that would be 4 days just to get there. and then another 4 to get back - and again, at 12 hours a day.

    and honestly, that doesn't seem like much fun, so i am re-routing my trip.

    Lifey: ironically enough, i was just looking at Glacier National Park and "Going-to-the-Sun" road! looks like a pretty awesome park, but since i'm not super outdoors-y, i feel the park is greatly out of my range of skill (i.e. home to 300+ grizzly / black bears) and could be dangerous - depending on what i do.

    i guess my main goal is to just enjoy myself and visit smaller cities and avoid major highways. find lonely, isolated roads and enjoy the scenery and quiet of them (you know, what most people want to avoid ha ha).

    back to the drawing board (sort of). i figure if anything i could still take a route headed towards Crater Lake National Park but take in more of the journey and when the time comes, turn around and head home...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    In the future, please don't use the edit feature to change the details of your trip. You made the change clear, but it really is just easier for everyone to follow the details of your trip - even if you make major changes - if you simply post them as responses.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by iam1bearcat View Post
    Lifey: ironically enough, i was just looking at Glacier National Park and "Going-to-the-Sun" road! looks like a pretty awesome park, but since i'm not super outdoors-y, i feel the park is greatly out of my range of skill (i.e. home to 300+ grizzly / black bears) and could be dangerous - depending on what i do.
    Really, the beauty of any national park is that you don't have to be some super-outdoorsman to enjoy them. They are all set up in a way where you can really have fun if you are a family with children, a senior citizen, a 20-something Survivorman-wannabee, or anything in between. There is no reason you should ever feel that Glacier or any other national park is out of your skill range.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Four corners region ?

    Have you considered the Four Corners region at all ? The scenery is both diverse and quite wonderful with great drives, small mountain towns and National/State parks galore !

    I think given the time you have and your inexperience with longer, multi day drives it could make for a good destination area. It's a trip where you could comfortably get 'out' and back in 3 days of driving each way [taking different routes] and have some time driving through the region while enjoying the sites for four or five days.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Some "required reading" for your planning!

    Some more resources for your planning

    You might be surprised to learn that the percentage of women solo road trippers is much, much higher than male solo road trippers. Here are a few more tips you might find helpful.

    First is an article I wrote about the art of solo roadtripping...

    These are are older threads -- but they are all posts from experienced and brand-new solo road trippers.

    Jillian's trips and her tips for getting started....
    one way: Key West, FL to Madison, WI (1991)
    one way: San Francisco, CA to Minneapolis, MN (1993)
    round trip: Minneapolis, MN to New York City, NY (1995)
    round trip: Madison, WI to San Francisco, CA (1999)
    round trip: Milwuakee, WI to Quebec, QC to Philadelphia, PA and back (2005)

    Judy has been a long-term solo adventurer...

    Here is a first-time solo tripper and her concerns about safety! ...And her report after she finished her first trip!

    and finally some thoughts about solo tripping and camping.


  9. #9


    thanks for the links and info guys!

    i think my goal is still to reach the coast in Oregon - either Bandon or Rockaway Beach.

    i figure i will try and drive 500-600 miles a day. i know it sounds like a lot, but i think it's doable. a few years ago a buddy and i drove to Minnesota (6 hours there), went to a concert (3 hours and exhausting) and then drive half way home before deciding to stop since we weren't in a rush. so right there was 12 hours and it definitely didn't feel like that long of a time. so i think 500-600 miles a day / 8-10 hours a day is possible.

    i also think what i will do is try and reach the coast as "quickly" as possible (leave early Friday morning and get there hopefully by Monday night / Tuesday morning), spend a day there, and then start the journey home. on the way home i'll make more stops for interesting sights as i can better judge my time and how much time i have left on the way back rather than the way there.

    again, i know it sounds like a lot, but i just have this desire to see the coast again (first time in a looooong time) and nothing else really grips me or holds my attention. and if i don't at least try to reach the coast, i think i will feel a disappointment about any other type of road trip i take.

    i think for sleeping i will try and cut down on money spent by getting a campsite every other night (or so) and just sleeping in the car (i.e. $10-$25 a night compared to $45-$60 a night).

    i will also get a $50 National Park pass for all the parks since a lot of parks are on the west coast in Oregon and maybe will drive the Pacific Northwest drive through Portland down the coast (on the way to Rockaway / Bandon anyway).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Doable.

    Your thinking is sound, with one proviso. At 2400 miles, you are still looking at four 600 mile days. Some of it off the Interstates. (600 miles is the maximum professional drivers can legally drive in a day.) Doable taking the most direct route, with normal meal, bathroom and fuel stops. Remember, no buddy this time. You are on your own. Make sure you get a good night's sleep, every night.

    After a day or so in Bandon, you then have an extra day or two to give yourself some time for seeking out spots of interest on the way home.

    Have a great trip.


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