Guest Post by Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
Depending on your frame of mind, setting out on a solo road trip can be daunting — or exhilarating. If you’re an extrovert, you might find it a little strange being out on the road all by your lonesome. If you’re an introvert, on the other hand, getting away from it all with no one to answer to but yourself can be the best feeling in the world.
Add the ongoing pandemic into the mix, and you’ve got another factor that can complicate things, no matter your personality type.
Some folks will want to get out of the house to be with people and end their sense of isolation. They’ll take heart in the CDC’s relaxed travel guidelines for those who have been vaccinated. For others, just getting out of the house is the whole point. It’s not a matter of connecting with others so much as it is an antidote to months of being cooped up.
With these ideas in mind, I thought I’d come up with a few helpful hints on how to go solo on a road trip during this challenging but still interesting time.
Decide what kind of trip you want to take
Before you head out, get an idea of what you want to do and where you want to go. There are plenty of possibilities. Here are some questions to consider:
- Are you headed for a single destination or several? Or maybe the road itself is the point: Is your journey the destination?
- What kind of sights do you want to see, and where do you need to go to see them? It matters a lot whether you’re out to see the mountains or the ocean; wildlife or cityscapes, in choosing where to go. In the current environment, it’s important to keep COVID hotspots top of mind, too.
- What kind of activities do you have in mind? Do you plan to be active (hiking, biking, whitewater rafting), or do you plan to relax on the beach or at a spa? This will help you choose what kind of gear you bring along, among other things.
- How much can you afford? It’s important to set up a budget ahead of time, have enough money in the bank, and have sufficient credit. (If you don’t, start building it. A secured credit card can be a great way to improve your credit while you avoid overspending.)
- Do you plan to cruise the highway or go off-road? This will help you choose what kind of vehicle to take if you’re renting or have a choice at home. If you’re taking your own vehicle, be sure it’s road-ready: change your oil and filters, and rotate your tires. Be sure to check the tread for wear and the sidewalls for bulges that could lead to dangerous tire blowouts. You should also check your spare tire to be sure it’s in good condition.
Stay in touch with your home base
Being alone out on the road, even the biggest introvert can wish for some company. You might flip on the radio and listen to your favorite tunes or pop in an audiobook, but neither one is a perfect substitute for human interaction.
Unless you live by yourself, you’ll probably be missing the people you left back home. So be sure to check in with your home base regularly. Bring along an extra phone charger, and make sure the battery on your phone has plenty of juice.
Not only will staying in touch with loved ones back home keep you from getting lonely, but it will also reassure them that you’re OK. (They’re probably missing you, too, and maybe worrying a little.) It will also keep a lifeline open in case you run into an emergency and need to communicate with others in your family, or with emergency services.
Also, have all the phone numbers you need on hand, including your medical provider and insurance information. If you’re planning to be away from civilization, consider a Wi-Fi signal booster, and think about roadside assistance if you’re not too handy at changing a tire.
Be your own best resource
You don’t want to overpack, but since you’ll be out there by yourself, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got everything you need. Make sure you pack your medications, plenty of water, and anything else you use frequently.
Download a weather app for travelers to alert you to rough weather and dangerous conditions such as flooding, whiteouts, or black ice. Load this along with a GPS app that includes info on road closures, construction, and traffic accidents. You might also want to carry a paper map in case you’re out of cell tower range.
Also, you can materially prepare for emergencies by assembling three basic kits:
For safety and utility on the road, include things like:
- Jumper cables
- A jack and lug wrench
- Screwdrivers (Phillips head and regular)
- Socket wrenches
- Swiss Army knife
- Electrical tape
And if you’re traveling in cold regions during winter, cold-weather essentials like a blanket, ice scraper, snow chains, and extra antifreeze are important to add to your road kit.
- Antiseptic solution and wipes
- Adhesive tape
- Calamine lotion
- Disposable gloves
- Face masks
- Disinfecting wipes
- Hand soap
- Hand sanitizer
Whatever your plans or your destination, be your own best company. A solo road trip is like life in miniature, so take in the sights around you, and take the time alone to reflect on where you want to go and how you want to get there. With the proper planning and the right attitude, you can make your solo road trip safe, fun, and rewarding.