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  1. #1

    Default Long Distance Solo Road Trips...

    Ever taken a long distance road trip on your on before? I have.

    Here is the advice I offer anyone looking to do it:

    Route your trip. I've recently discovered Google Maps and love it not only for the directions, but the easy to read maps and ability to find local attractions such as grocery stores, movie theatres and hotels. Make sure your in-car atlas is up to date as well. Nothing worse than making a turn onto a road that no longer exists...

    Let your friends and family know where you're going. Send them an itinerary (including phone numbers and addresses of places you're staying) so they can check on your progress, or keep you company on the phone.

    Stop in to see a therapist before you go...get all your shit out on the table before turning the key in the ignition. There is no place darker, scarier and more intimidating than your own mind. Be sure to schedule a follow up appointment before you leave so you are guaranteed a “decompression” upon return. You may think I'm kidding with this one. But you'll understand what I'm talking about when you've hit mile marker 1200 and have just spent the past 20-hours listening to yourself think about ALL the things you work very hard to NOT think about in everyday life...

    If you are using said trip as a way to escape problems (like I have, to get away from the boyfriend who just dumped me or stress at work), make sure you have LOTS of “anytime” minutes and a car charger on your mobile phone.

    Have LOADS of music on hand (an iPod, stacks of CD’s or XM radio work very well).

    Check out some books on tape (or CD) from your library. That way you don't have to hand a wad of money over to the chain bookstore in the mall for something you're probablly only going to use once or twice in your lifetime.

    Research local NPR radio stations so you know where to go for good talk radio and programs (I am a fan of “This American Life”, “the Car Guys” and “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”). Thing of it is, no matter how much music you bring, you still get bored of it WAY before it all runs out and I find it incredibly soothing to listen to people talk.

    Remind yourself that you are neither mentally unstable nor outright insane for wanting to drive 9+ hours a day can even do this out loud, since no one is in the car to hear you converse with yourself :)

    Don’t be afraid to space out for short periods of time. Sometimes it’s nice to just not think at all...hat’s what cruise control, is for. But always be aware of what's going on around you.

    Caffeine is bad. While it does a great job of keeping you awake, it also makes you jittery, messes with your stomach and hyper activates your bladder. For all the time I spent at rest stops relieving myself, I could have taken two 45-minute naps and been much better off.

    Fast food is not fast. As much as possible, I recommend stopping in grocery stores for food you can make (sammiches, fresh fruit, pre-made things from the deli). Bring a small cooler for perishables. The amount of colonic distress that is caused by the food flavored salt they hand out at rest stops is not worth it. Again...for the time spent “clearing my system” I could have made a ham sammich at a rest stop, enjoyed the sun and been on my way. Three times over.

    Finally. You are never really alone. People at rest stops, roadside towns and attractions are, for the most part, very nice. Talking to strangers is not only good for stretching out your vocal cords, but can also lead to some interesting side trips and long time friends. I once met a woman at a gas station who told me about an isolate hot springs lodged in the crook of two mountains, outside Spanish Forks, UT. Armed with a hand drawn map, a full tank of gas and my hiking boots, I managed to spend one of the most memorable days of my life, with nothing but the hot water and two very naked love-birds to keep me company (to this day remember those two, whoever they are, much more vividly than I would like...but those are the quirky things that make life worth living).

    And I think that's about it. Every trip is different for every person, but having expereinced several long distance solo trips, I can safely say that everything on this list would have (and has) helped me.

    Bon Voyage, have fun and be safe!

    My Solo Road Trip History...
    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)
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-31-2006 at 02:18 PM. Reason: fixed format problems

  2. #2


    Awesome post! Great suggestions!

    I'll always suggest a CB radio. Talk radio, music, and books-on-tape/CD can only do so much to keep a person alert and stimulated. Even if you aren't tired, highway hypnosis can get the best of you. Interactive conversation is a great way to stay in alpha consciousness and if you have thick enough skid and can take truckers with a grain of salt, most of the conversation can be humorous. Not to mention all of the great route info they can spew at the drop of a hat.

    My solo road trip history:
    Boston, MA to Madison, WI to Omaha, NB, to Boulder, CO, to Dinosaur, CO, to Salt Lake City, UT to Seattle, WA, to Victoria, BC to Mt. St. Helens, WA to Crater Lake, OR to Brookings, WA to San Francisco, CA to Monterey, CA to San Luis Obispo, CA to San Diego, CA to Idyllwild, CA to Las Vegas, NV to Denver, CO, to Omaha, NB (again) to St. Paul, MN, to Chicago, IL to Boston, MA. Whew! 10,000 miles, August 26 to October 28, 2000

  3. #3
    Dr. T Guest


    What a wonderful post! I have only taken one significant solo road trip (from Sacramento, California to Xenia, Ohio in a Volkswagen Rabbit) but it was extremely memorable. I recommend everyone take a significant solo road trip at least once in their lives.

    Thanks for sharing your tips and interesting experiences!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Therapy...

    I remember four years ago taking my first significant solo road trip, from MA to Ft. Myers, FL. It was all the therapy I needed, it's part of the reason I went back to college the next year. So far, so good. I know that I'm much better off than I otherwise would have been!

    Those miles and miles of listening to yourself think can be draining, but in the end a lot of issues can be resolved that way. It's meditation. And the implied self-sufficiency can do wonders for your self esteem.

    "Car Talk" is a road trip staple for me, too. When my AM radio was working, I'd try and see how far away I could pick up at night (farthest from MA was Cleveland, OH AM 1100).

    That being said, I much prefer the company of significant other on long trips.

  5. #5


    My trip four and a half years ago also preceded my going back to college a year later. And I also now prefer the company of my girlfriend, whom I mere months after returning from said trip. If I wasn't so attached to her, I think I'd be up for solo trips again! :)

    I'm looking forward to reliving the western leg of my solo trip with her sometime in the next couple of years.

  6. #6
    DrumCorpsAlum Guest


    AM radio! I'm a conservative, so I love Glenn Beck, Rush, Savage Nation, and all of those guys. In fact, I hardly even listen to FM. It keeps me sane. I bring along a CD with background music on it that I sing to. I'm dricing to Cleveland this summer from SC, so just the two of those things should keep me sane.

  7. Default

    sorry to revive an old post, but in my many solo trips, ive learned a few things.

    Cracker Barrel is gods gift to roadtrips, if your in the east, they're everywhere and usually easily found. The food is cheap and even better, the food is awesome. A perk, books on tape, you buy one, and you can TRADE it in for another at the next cracker barrel you come across. great for those reaaaaaal long trips. Even better, rather then "hunting" for Cracker Barrels, when you check out after your awesome, cheap meal and your book purchase, they have FREE roadmaps beside the registers, not so much a good road map, but a roadmap that lists every single crackerbarrel location across america.

    another thing, i agree with the caffeine, and energy drinks as well... they can ruin a road trip, nothing worse then having enery to build a bridge, but being stuck in a car... bad for those who don't like cruise control also. and the stuff it does to your stomach when you are unable to move around and let it work its way through "naturally". nothing worse then caffeine stomach for 3 days straight

    i have to back up the cooler suggestion. put some jelly, peanut butter, spicy mustard, mayo if you like it, 2 packages of lunchmeats, bag of lettuce, all in a cooler, buy a loaf of bread and now you have breakfast, lunch and dinner.. if thats how light you prefer to go. or you can really get creative, buy cans and cans of tuna, salmon and chicken. each can be had for anywhere from 1.00-2.00/can, and when any of these are mixed with a little spicy mustard, some dillseed seasoning, maybe a dash of mayo if you like, you have quick and easy chicken/tuna sandwhich, even better if you tear up lettuce into smalll pieces and mix it with your spicy mustard/dill/mayo mix.. makes it more filling and something about it is just awesome, even better on pita but now your overpacking :) plus its loaded with good stuff, low in fat, high in protein, good carb - protein ratio and tastes oh so good.

    for snacks, i like to carry sunflower seeds, crackers(water crackers), nuts(unsalted), fresh fruits, vegetables(baby carrots are great snacks), yogurts, JERKY, anything small and easy to eat while driving really.. saves $ at gas stations buying snacks and candy bars that are filled with bad-for-you's and you's wallet.

    also, car charger for phone, CAN OPENER, KNIFE, updated map, JACK, roadside emergency kit(includes flares, pump, toolkit, towropes, etc all for 25$ or less), flashlight, means of fire, WOOL BLANKET, pillow, sleeping bag, and anything else you decide to bring

    i ALWAYS drive in slideon sport sandals on roadtrips.. wether its -12 or 104 outside, just wear some good socks if its cold, makes the trip much more comfortable to take your shoes off and let them breathe

    bring more music then you think you'd ever need.. youll need more.

    thats all i can think of now. obviously just suggestions, but i like to be prepared for everything

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

    Default How many solo trips is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by NickF829
    sorry to revive an old post, but in my many solo trips, ive learned a few things.
    Wellcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum -- this thread is "always revived" (it has been designated as a "sticky" and so is always on the front page of this section). How many solo trips have you done? Over what time period?
    Cracker Barrel is gods gift to roadtrips
    I used to enjoy them -- but they serve way too much fat-laden food for my diet these days. But I do like the table puzzles provided at each table.
    for snacks, i like to carry sunflower seeds, crackers(water crackers), nuts(unsalted), fresh fruits, vegetables(baby carrots are great snacks), yogurts, JERKY, anything small and easy to eat while driving really.. saves $ at gas stations buying snacks and candy bars that are filled with bad-for-you's and you's wallet.
    Here are a few more yummy treats for roadtrip munchies.

    Thanks for the ideas!


  9. Default

    im 21, so ive only been driving 5 years, but in those 5 yearsive done 2 3000+ mile trips, and plenty of 1000 milers

    most recently was this january, a snowboarding roadtrip: northern va, to NYC for pizza and attractions, to VT, to Quebec City, QC, to Stoneham and St Anne and Massif, QC(about 5hours from us border), back into VT to Jay Peak, Stow, Stratton, Smugglers notch, Killington and back into NYC for pizza and bagels then home to northern Va, just around 3000 miles, 10 days, lowest temp hit -12 with a 75 mph gust on Jay Peak, highest temp was 51, with rain, in Quebec, in January...the locals hated us "americans bringing our crappy weather". 8 resorts total, 2 good days of snowboarding, about near 800$ in gas, 1 wreck, 1 beer festival, temps so cold and wind so strong, that with vehicle on, heat on high, seat warmers on high, you can still feel the cold and the wind sitting in the drivers seat... it was "fun". i slept in the truck every night of that road trip, me and a friend.. the truck was on all night w/ heat on high, windows vented all around to let any built up co2 out.

    the previous was a solo from northern va, to nyc, to houlton ME(canadian border in maine), then took nothing but backroads through so many small towns and through all of new england, broke down outside of burlington VT, 5 miles from canada, nearest town was 40 miles, barely had cell service, had to get towed back into burlington, get a room and fix the car in 10 degree weather in the morning with a cheap walmart toolkit.. it worked and it got me home, with a few more sights to see on the way including the NW newyork mountains, ticonderoga, and a few other historical parks and cities along the way.. very good "thinking" trip.. solo's are sometimes best

    i hear ya on the crackerbarrel fat-town. its a nice treat if you decide you just need to feel "at home" its the best place to go and fill up. but other then that its probably a good idea to not make it a normal dinner for you

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

    Default It is "required" duty around here

    Quote Originally Posted by NickF829
    im 21, so ive only been driving 5 years, but in those 5 yearsive done 2 3000+ mile trips, and plenty of 1000 milers
    That is impressive.
    very good "thinking" trip.. solo's are sometimes best
    Yeah, the co-founders of RTA do 2-3 solo trips each year -- good for the soul and the mind.


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