I like to consider myself a well-traveled person. I grew up riding around the country for summer vacations, and with a natural desire to get up and go, I’ve taken a few road trips on my own.
Everyone has their own way to prepare for a trip, which are usually taken with at least one other person. But, what if you’re going at it alone? I recently took a thirteen-hour drive by myself and this guide is a selection of notes and considerations to take before getting on the road.
Leave earlier than you think.
I like to begin my trips early—between 4 and 5am. Leaving this early allows for you to tie up any lose ends and get out of the city before rush hour traffic sets in. I stop to fill up my gas tank, grab a coffee; perhaps something warm to eat, check the tire pressure, the oil, and hop on the road all before the sun comes up. Give yourself that extra time, you’ll thank me for it later.
Cruise control is your friend.
Not only does it help maintain consistent fuel use, but cruise control also makes for a relaxing trip when you can give your feet and legs a break. When driving at high speeds with cars in front and behind, it’s also good to remain at a consistent speed and not follow too close. I like to keep at least 25 yards between me and the car in front (or behind) me. There’s no reason to rush, so sit back and enjoy your ride.
Don’t tailgate – it’s distasteful and dangerous.
There’s nothing more annoying than driving 9+ miles over the speed limit and having someone on your ass. And if you’re the tailgater, just stop it. It’s dangerous and absolutely unnecessary. You’re not going to get there any faster by driving 10 feet closer to the car in front of you. So lay off and relax; you’ll get there when you get there.
This is especially important when following a truck (18-wheeler). Lingering too close to trucks can be tricky as the air from the truck whips around the back and can throw off the handling of the car (it feels like 70 mph winds whipping you side to side). It’s best to follow at least 50 yards back or pass the truck altogether. And remember, stay out of the no zone!
You should know how to change a tire.
I cannot stress this enough, if you’re going on a long solo trip, you should know how to change a tire. Don’t be embarrassed by ending up on the side of a busy highway, hundreds of miles from the closest known person, having to flag down a stranger in the middle of nowhere. Don’t be that girl; it’s just not safe. YouTube has a handful of tutorials on this topic, be sure to take a look.
Roadside food is hardly ever healthy. A bunch of gas stations and fast food restaurants are a one-way ticket to feeling ill by the time you get to you’re destination. Save yourself some time and money and bring your own delicious edibles.
Pee, eat, and gas up all in the same stop.
If the agenda is to get to your destination without major stops along the way, save time by getting these things covered at the same stop. Most cars get about 5-6 hours to a tank of gas. If you can maintain hunger cravings with snacks, and drink water (sodas and teas make you have to pee much faster than water does), you’ll be set for the golden hat trick of a stop.
Make a playlist.
It’s easy to get distracted when fussing with the music. If you don’t use CDs (it’s ok, I just recently switched to Bluetooth too), make a playlist that has a variety of music on it. Some new, some old, some you would never ever listen to if someone else was around. Or find a digital station and let it play. It’s nice and easy to let your mind wonder when on the open road.
This goes for being on your phone in general. Have headphones for conversations and voice text. Technology allows us to call and text hands-free, so take advantage of it!