How To Do A Solo Road Trip

This post was origninally featured on Corona Australia

A road trip is a pretty common concept… packing friends or family into a car and heading out onto the open road for whatever near or far destination you may have. However, to willingly and happily set out on a trip spanning multiple days and thousands of miles (or kilometers) by yourself isn’t what typically pops into people’s heads when they are looking to go on an adventure. Well, over the past two years I have made it a tradition to hit the road alone over New Years, and there is something about removing yourself from anyone else’s agenda but your own that makes everything seem that much more meaningful. Plus you will get to know yourself better than you ever imagined and return to the “real world” feeling liberated. Below are some tips I’ve put together on how to make the most out of your own solo road trip.

1. Make A Loose Plan

Have an idea of major sights and places you want to see along your trip and plan out your route around that. I tend to book hotels the day of or one day in advance rather than booking all my accommodations before the trip because you never know if you will want to spend an extra day anywhere or what unexpected detours you will be compelled to take along the way. If you plan to camp instead of paying for hotels than you can be a little more laid back about where you end up once the sun goes down.

2. Make Sure Your Car Is In Good Shape

This one is (hopefully) pretty obvious but the last thing you want is to be broken down on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere by yourself. Get your oil changed ahead of time, check tire pressure, etc. so you can help avoid any issues in the middle of your trip.

3. Playlists & Podcasts

Depending on how long of a trip you decide to take and the distance between your stops you could end up spending hours on end in your car. However instead of having someone sitting shotgun talking your ear off, it is nothing but you and your thoughts. You never know where you lose cell phone reception (ruling out Pandora etc.) and where radio stations only play horrible music so it is a good idea to load a few playlists onto your phone, or wherever you happen to play music from. I also turn to podcasts when I am in need of something a little more stimulating… This American Life, The Moth, Radio Lab, and Serial are definitely good ones to start with.

4. Bring a Camera

I don’t care if you are using your phone or lugging around a big DSLR, taking pictures along a solo road trip helps keep you entertained and more determined to seek out the best places. And keep in mind, you’re travelling by yourself… you’ll have no one to back up your story about the weirdest hotel you’ve ever stayed in or the most amazing sunset you’ve ever seen if you don’t have any photographic evidence.

5. Catch A Sunrise

There is something incredible about watching a sunrise by yourself. I’m not talking about through your hotel window or a few steps out the door… do your research to find the best place to watch sunrise in whatever area you’re in. I’ve woken up at 4am, drove through snow and hiked an hour in the freezing cold and darkness to see one of the most amazing sunrises I might ever see. When you put in the work it makes that moment when the sun starts to peak over the horizon that much more epic. Trust me on this one… you need to do it at least once.

6. Don’t Underestimate Strangers

This goes two ways. First… don’t underestimate the kindness of strangers. Stuck in a bind? Chances are most people you encounter while on the road will be willing to help. Also, just because you’re on a solo road trip doesn’t mean you need to go mute for the entire trip… strike up a conversation with someone while you’re at the coffee shop in the morning. You might collect some interesting stories. But at the same time, don’t just assume everyone has good intentions… if you get a weird vibe from someone then steer clear.

7. Eat local food

It’s easy to get stuck in a routine of just eating fast food while on the road. But that’s no fun for your palate or your health. Find restaurant that aren’t chains along the way. And yes I know, some people are shy to eat at a sit-down restaurant by themselves, afraid all the other diners will think they are a loser… but trust me, you’ll be ok. You may be surprised to find the best food you’ve put in your mouth at a random place in the middle of nowhere, or you might have digestion issues the next day… but that’s all apart of the experience.

9. Just Go!

Stop coming up with excuses and get out there! It doesn’t need to last a week long… if you only have a weekend there are still adventures to be had that might only span over a day or two. Like I said before you don’t need to put in a ton of effort planning out your entire trip ahead of time… just have a rough idea of key places you want to hit. A lot of the time the most interesting stuff I’ve seen on a trip were things I had no idea I would come across. The only person stopping you is yourself.