Tune it Up, Map it Out: 7 Tips for a Solo Road Trip

Solo travel is empowering, thrilling and sometimes a little scary but there is nothing I enjoy more than a road trip. Hitting the road alone allows me to create my own adventure, but if you’re more into group road trips, then knock yourself out. In fact, my brother recently went on a road trip to Bratislava as part of a stag do with some of his friends and said he had the time of his life! He’d recommend Bratislava to anyone, and by having a look at something like StagMadness, you too could find an amazing way to take part in your very own stag do. As a word of warning though, I’ve heard that travelling across Europe with a disgusting hangover is not too much fun! After years of hitting the highway, following are my seven tips for planning and enjoying a solo road trip while keeping safe.

Tune It Up
Remember those words of wisdom your driver education instructor echoed? No, not “lookout” or “slow down” but his words about checking your car’s fluids, tires and lights. Perform a maintenance check on your vehicle or take it to your mechanic to ensure it can make the road trip prior to departure. This is also a great time to compare car insurance quotes to make sure you are getting the best value for what you are paying. You never know, you might just add a little bit more money to your road trip budget. Also, don’t forget to check the fluids each morning before hitting the road too.

Tune Up Your Vehicle to Ensure it's Worthy of a Road Trip
Tune Up Your Vehicle to Ensure it's Worthy of a Road Trip

Invest in a Navigation System
Sure, travel is about the journey but it’s no fun ending up where you shouldn’t, especially if it’s dangerous. Invest in a navigation system whether it be something like OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation System in your vehicle, a portable GPS or GPS built into a smartphone. If you’re comfortable using maps, put the navigation systems away, but keep it handy just in case. A new car will most likely have this facility already built in. Another thing to consider is that an older car might not be as durable, so it might be a good idea to look at alternatives. One option could be to look at deals on new cars that could be leased. It might be able to to make the long journey more comfortable.

At the same time, don’t rely solely on your navigation system in case a signal can’t be reached. Always carry a map to your final destination.

Share Your Itinerary, But Not with Everyone
Let someone know where you’re going and when you get there but avoid utilizing social networks for this especially when checking into your hotel. It’s great collecting badges and earning points through Foursquare, sharing a magnificent view on Twitter or bragging about the fabulous spa tub in your Facebook status but in addition to family and friends watching your posts, you don’t know who else is watching.

If you feel the need, let your social network of followers know about the hotel you stayed in after you checked out. Think about this, if someone knows where you are staying, they can either show up at the hotel or call the hotel to contact you. Or, if they know what hotel you are staying before your arrival, they could contact the hotel to change or cancel the reservation.

Invest in a Navigation Unit but Keep a Map Handy, Too
Invest in a Navigation Unit but Keep a Map Handy, Too

Join an Auto Club
I have been a card-carrying member of AAA for about 20 years and it is peace of mind knowing they will be there with roadside assistance in case something happens to my car. In addition, membership grants discounts in some hotels, attractions and services and the AAA iPhone application is useful in locating businesses offering discounts. Plus, maps and guidebooks are available free of charge with membership.

Also, AAA has useful and free iPhone apps. The TripTik helps users locate businesses which offer AAA discounts and it also locates gas prices from area stations. Pretty handy these days!

Get Plenty of Rest
Sleep is important during a road trip and traveling solo means you need to be alert at all times. Get plenty of rest before hitting the road each day and know your daily driving limit. Stop every few hours to stretch your legs and rejuvenate your driving spirit.

Trust Your Instincts
Your instincts are one of the best traveling tools when traveling solo. Should the road lead you to a shady part of town or unsafe rest area and it does not feel right, trust your instincts and move along.

Get Out from Behind the Wheel and Enjoy the Adventure!
Get Out from Behind the Wheel and Enjoy the Adventure!

Enjoy the Adventure
Traveling solo means you control the itinerary including when you hit the highway for the day, which quirky roadside attractions to visit and when to call it an evening. Remember, although it is a road trip, get out from behind the wheel and enjoy the journey.

Save Money on Your Road Trip
Speaking of road trips, here are some tips for saving money during a road trip vacation in my article, “Don’t Let High Gas Prices Spoil Your Vacation.”

What tips do you have for a solo road trip?



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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