Trips For One
Rolling Solo by
For many people, a road trip is a group
adventure, a family expedition or a bunch of friends
hitting the highway for a holiday. For others the appeal
of the open road is that it offers solitude, a time
to think without having to accommodate anyone else.
If you're one of these just-me-and-my-car types, there's
no better time than summer to hit the road.
A solo road trip gives the traveler absolute
power, the opportunity to control every aspect of the
trip. Of course, one choice is to control nothing at
all, to simply let the direction and events of a day
dictate where the traveler goes and what happens as
a result. Whatever the traveler's style, there's only
one person to please -- and one person to take the blame
when things go wrong. For some, this is daunting. For
others, it's road-trip nirvana.
Popular literature usually portrays young
men as solo road trippers, but the majority of solo
rollers that we know of are women. A frequent topic
of discussion on the Great American RoadTrip Forum deals
phenomenon, and in our experience far greater numbers
of women, both young and old, hit the road solo. It's
an equal-opportunity adventure.
There are obvious advantages to road tripping
1. There won't be any arguments about
which shock-jock radio station to listen to or what
kind of music to play.
2. You can sleep in or you can get up
before dawn -- and you don't have to wait for the
3. You can get to know other travelers
whom you might not even notice if you were traveling
4. You can "think out loud"
and say things that you would never say in the company
of any other living person. In fact, you can do just
about anything you want in the confines of your vehicle
(hopefully in a safe and sane manner).
5. You can choose the level of planning
and routing for your road trip. I frequently advise
first-time solo adventurers to choose a route without
plotting a strict itinerary. Even if the end date
is fixed, a solo road tripper can enjoy the luxury
of changing plans along the way.
6. You don't have to justify your choice
of destinations or roadside attractions to anyone
else. If you just love those refrigerator magnets
found at tacky roadside vendors or would like to stop
in every town and look for old books, you can do it
7. There is an incredible sense of empowerment
that seems to accompany solo roadtrippers that tends
to seep into our other more mundane lives.
8. You get to be a "renegade"
if you want to be. As one of the owners of RoadTripAmerica.com,
I make a living providing clear, concise and (hopefully)
good advice, but when I am on solo road trip, I frequently
break one or more of the "rules," usually
the one about telling someone where I am planning
to go. I trust that my expertise and the hundreds
of thousands of successfully completed road-trip miles
will contribute to a satisfactory completion of my
adventure. My point is, when you're on a solo trip,
you get to make up most of the rules. Embrace your
inner renegade -- it's good for the soul!
I took my first solo road trip the year
after I graduated from high school. I drove 10,578 miles
in about three weeks, zigzagging my way from southern
California to southern Florida and back. In the intervening
years, I've made well over a hundred solo runs. Here
are a few things I've learned and would recommend you
consider on your next solo adventure:
- Determine your personal
road trip profile and plan your trip accordingly.
- Keep a journal -- a simple notebook
works well -- and jot down your thoughts at least
once per day. Carry a camera and use it frequently.
- Carry items to give as friendly gifts
to people who are helpful to you on your journey.
I carry small souvenir pins, but the possibilities
- Establish a check-in time with your
friends or family. Some travelers do this twice a
day; I tend to do it once per day.
- Place an itinerary in your vehicle's
glove box, along with a list of contact numbers, in
case your car is found by law enforcement (and you
are not in it). Ensure that someone knows where you
expect to drive each day of your trip.
- Put an ICE,
("In Case of Emergency") listing in
your cell phone address book (with contact information
and notes, in case you are unable to speak following
an accident or other road incident.
- Plan your road
trip music, create a "Go-Kit,"
and have a road
food plan. Carry your own personal pillow with
you and know how to complete a safe and sane speed
run if you need to.
- Carry an extra set of keys to your vehicle
and a complete set of medical and legal records, including
a passport or other legal identification.
- Consider engaging the services of an
automotive service response company like AAA or Allstate
Motor Club. Many of these organizations support free
online trip planners.
- Carry a citizens band radio and/or listen
to National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
weather alert stations.
- Local newspapers are good sources for
information about the towns you will be traveling
through, but the best way to scout out little-known
roadside gems is get a haircut or get your nails done
in a small town and speak to the locals about their
own favorite hangouts.
- Listen to your own internal "personal
radar." Generally the same little voice that
keeps you safe at home will serve you well on the
road. It helps to remember that every place you visit,
is someone's home town and the personal safety rules
that you use in your home town will work in the places
you are not familiar with.
Best advice: Be open to whatever the road
brings you; be aware of your surroundings; and get on
out there. If you can stand your own company, a remarkable
adventure is waiting for you.