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  1. Default First Time Traveling Alone. Need Help Please!

    Hi everyone! I'm really just needing a little bit of advice so I stay safe. I am in my early 30's, female, from Alabama. I am planning a trip in 2 weeks to visit some family in Detroit, Michigan. I waited too long to get a good price on a bus ticket, so it looks like I'm driving. I have never driven alone, so I'm somewhat nervous and don't know what to expect. I looked on Google maps and it says estimate is 740 miles. I'm not really worried about driving because driving doesn't bother me. I'm more concerned about traveling alone.

    Also, I will be driving a Pontiac with about 150k miles or so. I take pretty good care of it, get oil changed, tires, things I need to. I thought about renting a car but I was told I can't bc I only have liability insurance and it's in my dad's name, and he refuses to sign for me to rent a car. If I am wrong, please let me know. I'd much rather rent than drive mine!! I'm just trying to get input if this is safe or not. The car is a 95 model I believe. I plan on leaving around 4 am and not stopping until I get there, unless I need gas or other necessary stops.

    Any tips please? What do I need to do before I make this trip or should I even attempt it?? Really more concerned with driving an older vehicle with a lot of miles. I would freak out if I got stranded!! Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default myths and problems

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There are a few issues with your plan and "what you've been told" that we should clear up.

    The first, and biggest, problem with your plan is trying to do this trip in one day. 740 miles isn't just a long day, it really has the potential to be dangerous. Just for perspective, professional drivers (truckers) are limited by law from doing more than about 600 miles in a day. Despite what an online mapping program will tell you, you will have to be on the road for a minimum of 13-14 hours. If this was a trip with multiple, experienced, drivers who were well rested before leaving, and didn't need to do anything the next day, the you might be able to pull this off as a one day sprint, but doing this as your first big trip, and doing it solo really isn't a good idea. Plan an overnight stop and you'll be much safer. Also - as a solo driver you should be stopping much more often then just when you need gas. Taking a break from the road every couple of hours, even for a few minutes, just to get out of the car, move, and refocus is very important.

    About the rental car, I'm not sure where you were told that you couldn't rent a car because you only have liability insurance, but frankly, that's kind of silly. You don't need to own a car, much less have insurance, to rent a car. You can buy insurance as part of your car rental. You should also check with your credit card, as typically, rental car insurance is also included as a benefit.

    If you end up taking your own car, you really need to take it to a mechanic to get a full inspection before getting on the road. A 20 year old car is going to have parts that are simply wearing out, so you need to see what could be a problem that could leave you stranded. Along those same lines, I'd strongly consider getting some kind of roadside assistance package - like AAA - that can help if something does break down.

    Finally, while this is a roadtrip forum, if all you are looking to do is get from point a to point b as quickly as possible, make sure you look at airfare. Its not uncommon at all for it to actually be cheaper to fly, especially if you can be flexible on travel dates and are willing to drive a little ways (perhaps Atlanta or Nashville?) to find a good deal.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    Quote Originally Posted by wastedsea View Post

    Any tips please? What do I need to do before I make this trip or should I even attempt it?? Really more concerned with driving an older vehicle with a lot of miles. I would freak out if I got stranded!! Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
    That's a really long run for someone who has never done this before. Plus you may be heading thru some urban areas which will slow you down and stress you out.

    Car checkout is critical. Northern strength anti-freeze. Northern tread depth on the tires. Fresh wipers and washer fluid and a washer pump that actually works. Reliable belts hoses and battery. Good spare tire. Fuel pump been changed recently? Probably should get that done. It's probably the most painful of the long-term consumables to change. (others are alternator and starter - these are easier to do if it becomes necessary)

    Know how to change the tire. Try it to be sure you know how. Know how to check under the hood. Check every other gas stop. Just because the car has been fine in town for the last 5 years doesn't mean it'll be ok on the interstate. A problem detected early means you get to decide what to do - much better than waiting on the road shoulder with the hood up.

    If you plan to get freaked out if stranded I suggest you don't go. If you can develop a plan for what to do if that happens - then you'll feel better and are acting like a responsible adult. Your choice.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    If you don't already have a membership in AAA, it's a good idea if you DO end up taking your own car. BTW, we take our cars that have more than 120K miles on them on long trips all the time. We get them checked out before we go, but that's not always a guarantee that you won't have any trouble. We had trouble with our truck this past summer, and it had less than 100K on it.

    BTW, I've driven across the country on my own, solo. Don't try to do 740 miles in one day. We don't even do that with two of us! Drive about 450-500 miles one day and finish the rest the next day. Find a motel, use your instincts about the area, make sure that it has 2 solid locks on the door (a good knob and a chain or deadbolt), that the smoke detector works. Get some rest, as you'll need it to finish the drive the following day.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A back-up.

    As a solo traveller, I am inclined to agree with most of the above. For your first trip I would definitely not go beyond 500 a day. Maybe a klittle less. Keep up your fluids... drink plenty of water. Even if it means more bathroom stops. Amazing how that helps one stay alert. You need time out of the car. However, I would have the phone number of someone whom you can call day or night.... just in case. Someone who does not ever 'freak out'. A AAA membership is essential if you are not mechanically minded or don't fancy having to cope with a flat tyre.

    Accommodation - Be sure to ask to see the room before you book into a motel. They cannot refuse. Check that the door has at least one lock which cannot be opened from the outside... such as the chain lock. See that it is up to your standard and that the smoke detector is working (a long umbrella comes in handy here.)

    Have a great trip. You'll be a better person at the end of it.


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