this past summer, i took off for a little over two weeks on a solo road trip across the southern united states. i was encouraged by my well-travelled uncle to just go for it. i saved for six months in order to pay for everything in cash. i learned quite a few things along the way. some of them the hard way. (scroll to the bottom of this post for links to my recaps, stories, and photos from my trip).
here’s some advice to keep in mind as you plan a summer road trip (solo or not):
- budget! you won’t stick to it completely but it will keep you from spending wildly and going into debt.
- book your hotel ahead of time. you can get better deals. check and compare prices on travel websites, but also call the hotels. sometimes you can get a better deal by talking to them directly.
- get your car checked out. i took mine in and had everything looked at before i left. you don’t want any surprises. i wish i had learned a few basic things too, like changing the tires. luckily, i didn’t run into any trouble, but i should have been a little better prepared in that area.
- plan out your meals and snacks. decide when you want to eat out and when you want to eat from your stash. i planned a few special meals/desserts and ate the rest on the road.
- get yourself some apps. i suggest gas buddy, google maps, podcasts, starbucks, yelp, food tripping, pic collage, pic frame, and the usual social media apps. podcasts kept me focused. i saved them up for a few months so i’d have plenty.
- an ice chest is a must. i kept bottled water, juice, diet cokes, and sandwich stuff in there. most of my meals were on the road. i saved a ton of money by doing this instead of relying on convenience stores.
- make daily outlines of activities with all the info (hours open, address, special exhibits, etc.). with a bunch of options, you can decide which ones to do in the morning and have all the info. (this made me feel like i was being spontaneous even though i wasn’t.)
- check in with someone each day. for safety reasons, this is very important. i called my parents every night, told them my funny stories of the day, and said “i love you”. you never know what is going to happen!
- stick to your plan, but don’t be afraid to change it.
- take tons of pictures.
- connect online each day and journal. i kept a simple journal. next time, i’ll just write online each night. it’s a little lonely at night to be honest. it is good to write and reflect on each day.
- visit people you haven’t see in forever along the way.
- be prepared for the unexpected like an afternoon rainstorm in the smoky mountains (oh, wait…that’s pretty expected – but apparently not to a girl from west texas) and just go with it. police chase in mississippi, just go with it. a ticket on the first day of the trip, just go with it. 🙂
- stop every two hours or so. you might see something amazing. and getting out of the car is good for you. it gets the blood flowing again and helps you focus better when you have to get back into the car.
- get over the fact that you’ll be taking a lot of selfies. unless there’s people around, it’s just you and your stretched out arm. here’s a brief collections of mine:
recaps of my summer trip…