solo road trip - so. oregon to austin
hi - i'm taking off for austin by the end of this week by myself in my 1977 300D. What's the best route (especially to avoid snow & ice) - and is it safe to be alone for that trip? my mom is a little worried about me!
The Sierras and the Rocky Mountain states (Utah, Colorado) are getting some snow over the next couple of days. If you wanted to avoid that, and you were leaving today, you could either go south on I-5 and pick up I-10 to Texas. You'd encounter lots of rain, probably, but otherwise be OK.
Things could change toward the end of the week, so take a look at road conditions and weather just before you leave.
It is safe to travel alone, you just need to remember to use common sense. Drive with all doors locked until you are ready to get out, and keep your cell phone on (and charged, so pack your car charger). When you stop, park as close to the front of the truck stop, gas station, rest area, etc., especially at night. All in all it is very safe to drive alone, you just have to remember there are idiots, morons, and wierd people all along the way.
And if you get stopped by an unmarked police car at night, don't be afraid to ask for the badge number and call the police station to verify that they are who they say they are.
And don't forget, don't stop for stranded motorists, just call the highway patrol or state police, they will get help to them.
Other than that, just keep your eyes on the road, and check the weather reports.
Unmarked police cars
I would not advise any person to stop for ANY unmarked vehicle at night unless absolutely CERTAIN it IS a police vehicle. For example, in my state, I recognize the vehicles and light patterns of the local unmarked units. In a strange location, you may have no way of knowing what the locals use. The reason for my post is that once you've stopped, and the "officer" is close enough for you to talk to, if he IS a bad guy, you are already in trouble.
A better course of action is to continue driving, and call 911 to verify the identity of the vehicle following you -- a dispatcher can quickly determine if the vehicle is law enforcement by querying the officers on duty by radio.
Understand that for this very reason, it would be extremely unlikely that a law enforcement agency would be using an unmarked vehicle (without an accompanying MARKED unit) for traffic enforcment duty. Don't be bashful about making the call either -- if the vehicle following you is NOT a genuine police vehicle, you may very well NEED the assistance of a real officer -- and it puts it on record (the 911 tape) why you are NOT stopping right away.
Can you get into trouble for following my advice? No reasonable officer OR COURT would find you responsible for a violation under the circumstances as defined. A driver is required to stop on the lawful command of a police officer -- but you must KNOW that the vehicle is indeed a police vehicle. If you aren't sure, then you should play it safe.
All of that said, before anyone freaks out, is this a likely occurrence? I don't think so -- the "police car ruse" has been used a FEW times, here or there, but overall, it's a fairly rare occurrence. And most of us can easily tell the difference between a pretender and a real cop. This is certainly not something I worry about while on the road. Bob
great advice, and thanks so much. are there any items that you would NEVER leave home without if you were making this drive, especially in the winter (even though the roads will probably be ice & snow free)? any suggestions would be helpful.
You are in LUCK! There's a basic list in RTA's winter driving tips <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/travelplanning/Winter-Driving.htm">article<a/>. Click on the link, and I'll send you there! Bob
Bring an empty gas can with you, AAA membership is a must, a good cell phone too. I always have a little knife and a pepper spray on me when travelling solo. I ran out of gas recently in a bad neighborhood at 1 am and was very close from being in trouble with bad guys, so now lesson learned! As soon as my gauge is lower than the half (the gauge indicated that my tank was ¼ full), I'm heading straight to the gas station and I always have all these items with me.
But don't worry too much, use common sense and everything will be all right. I never had any other problems and I've been doing solo roadtrips for years. USA is a very safe country, just trust your instincts and keep out of dark alleys and weird people! If it doesn't feel right, get out!:-) But remember that meeting new people is also one of the greatest part of a trip, so don't be too scared, you'd lose the essence of it all!:-)
Have a great trip!
Ps-If your mother is worried, maybe it would be a great idea to make plans with her to call her every 2 days or so. Give her your planned itinerary so she knows where you're going.