NC to CA
Hello Everyone! Somewhat new to RTA. In a few days, I will be driving solo from Raleigh, NC to Walnut Creek, CA over the course of about 6 days. I'm hoping to get in anywhere between 400-600 miles per day seeing as though it's a little over a 2800 mile drive. The longest I've driven alone in a day was from Denver to Austin on one occasion and and from Austin to Atlanta on another so I'm no stranger to long drives although I'd prefer to not have to do that again which is why I've given myself some time to actually stop and enjoy what this country has to offer! I was wondering if you all had any suggestions on safe places for a female solo traveler to stop along the way within the 400-600 mile radius each day. Also, are there any retro motels or B&B's that would be cool to stay a night in or restaurants that I should try along the I-40 route?
As far as safety is concerned for a solo female roadtripper, it is much the same as for everyone else.
Your most important way to stay safe is to listen to that little voice inside, which tells you this place is or is not safe. The moment you do not feel comfortable, move on. This is a very personal thing, as places where one person 'feels' fine, another might wish to move on.
Secondly, and I am not sure if you did on your previous trip, always inspect the hotel/motel room before you commit. Besides the usual, make sure the smoke alarm has not been disabled and that the door has a lock which cannot be opened from the outside, such as the chain or bolt lock.
And last, but by no means least, a belated Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.
It's a shade over 2800 miles by the most direct, all-Interstate route. That in itself would need five full days of driving at around 550 miles per day. On a long, multi-day drive such as this, 550 miles in a given day is as much as you should attempt. Trying for 600 on any day will just leave you a bit worn out the next day and weariness such as that is cumulative. Your best bet is to just set a steady pace, with a known goal each day and pulling up, relaxing, and resting before you feel tired. Making reservations beforehand helps in this regard. Not only does having a place pre-booked lessen the temptation to continue on too far in a given day, but it also is one less thing you have to spend time on while on the road - shop for the best accommodations from the comfort of your home rather than at the end of a long day on the road.
Five days also does not include wandering off to explore the old roadbed of US-66. Note that such a highway no longer exists. The designation 'US-66' was decommissioned more than two decades ago once the route was largely superceded by Interstates 55, 44, and 40. Where the old roadbed still exists, it will usually, but not always, be designated as 'Historic Route 66', or as a state route such as OK-66, AZ-66, etc. You can find more information on the old route on websites devoted to the old highway such as this one. I know that in my own state, Arizona, there are several 'vintage' motels along 'Historic Route 66' (Santa Fe Ave., Milton Rd.) in Flagstaff, and the longest remaining stretch of the old highway runs from Seligman through Peach Springs to Kingman. This is the stretch that provided the visual inspiration for the movie, Cars.
You'll need to keep in mind as you plan that on a day when you intend to use large portions of the former US-66, you won't be able to drive as many miles as you could on I-40, and will need to plan that evening's stopping point appropriately. As for safety, remember that everywhere is somebody's home town. They feel safe there, men and women. Use the same precautions you would around your own home. If a place or situation doesn't feel right, just move on.