Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 28

Hybrid View

  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
    Oct 2006
    Lauderdale by the Sea, FL

    Default Great Post!

    Quote Originally Posted by jimilkowski View Post
    Let your friends and family know where you're going.

    Stop in to see a therapist before you go... There is no place darker, scarier and more intimidating than your own mind.

    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 :)
    I call someone about every two hours even if I'm just going to Orlando (a 2.5 hour drive from North Fort Lauderdale). It's good for someone to have an idea of where you were at some point of your journey, god forbid something happen to you. If you're driving at night, this is probably hard to do - you don't want to wake friends/family in the middle of the night - but there is always someone who is not so tied to their cellphone that they can't just turn it off when they go to bed so you can leave messages of where you were. Then you also need to be able to call someone who WILL wake up should you come across any emergency in the middle of the night.

    One of the things I like about road trips is time alone with my head. I usually will take some motivational/self help books on tape to listen to and I find this time really productive for me to think about things differently or think about making some changes. A therapist is always a good thing to have, I prefer life coaches, but to each its own.

    A lot of people don't understand why some of us prefer road trips to flying (no, I am not afraid of flying). It;s just our thing, we are not nuts!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Ninetysix hours is my cut-off

    Quote Originally Posted by JustTrish View Post
    I call someone about every two hours even if I'm just going to Orlando (a 2.5 hour drive from North Fort Lauderdale). It's good for someone to have an idea of where you were at some point of your journey, god forbid something happen to you.
    Generally, that is sound advice -- we certainly recommend that travelers have a pre-set time to call "home" and each day and let family members/friends know we are still out there and doing OK. With me, I rarely check in (by telephone) more than one time every 24 hours. In fact, the rule of thumb for my wanderings is a check into the office every 2-3 days by telephone. Of course, I am rarely without e-mail and Forum access for more than 12-18 hours... The staff/family will call out the search units if I go more than 96 hours without contact...


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default 1-2 times daily is usually more than enough

    I think once daily is enough but I'll usually call once in the morning and once at night. Mostly to touchbase with the kids and the husband (who can't always get away to go with me) than to report in. Of course, while I'm calling I also tell them of my plans for the day and where I'm staying that night. I don't think more than that is necessary unless your travel plans just a lot during the day.

    Of course, in this day of free nation-wide long distance plans on cellphones, calling home more often isn't a big deal.

    If I were to have any late night emergency, I would probably rely on AAA instead of bothering somebody at home who couldn't help me at the moment anyway.

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name