Have you ever gone on a solo road trip? It’s definitely different to drive many hours by yourself than when you have a friend or family member in the car to entertain you! I didn’t make my first long drive by myself until I was in college, and in those days, my mom told me to call her every hour on the hour to let her know where I was. 😉 As crazy as that sounds, it broke up the drive for me and gave me something to do and something to look forward to (besides my destination!).
Since moving to the D.C. area, I’ve made my fair share of drives back home to Pittsburgh on my own. Most recently, I was on Spring Break and I drove from D.C. to Rochester, NY to visit one of my friends. This was a longer drive, and Siri had me taking the scenic route. Ha! I talked about my road trip essentials here, but today is all about what you need to do to survive a road trip by yourself!
Overpack beverages and snacks.
Three water bottles and a cup of coffee. Does that seem like a bit of excess!? I do this for a few reasons: first, I can easily refill one of those bottles when I stop. Second, when I’m driving alone, I don’t particularly like to stop. When there are other people in the car who want to stop, I feel less guilty pulling over. Just me, and I want to power through! Finally, I am particular about how my water tastes and some water fountains are weird. 😉
If you are traveling a familiar route, you might know where you would like to stop for a meal, but you never know how busy that place is going to be. Mid road trip, I don’t want to wait very long when I stop, so it’s always a good idea to have “easy” food in the car. I like trail mix, Larabars, fruit, and veggies. While you’re packing snacks, you might as well choose some healthy options, because when you’re stuck in the car and it’s your only choice, you will probably eat it. 🙂
Choose your entertainment.
Before I go on a long drive, I always update music playlists on my phone. Even one or two new songs makes me more excited. I also recently added a playlist from high school to my iPod and it’s SO much fun to listen to! Switch it up when you know you are going to be listening to music for a long while.
When the music starts to bore you, what are you going to do? Download podcasts before your drive so you have something on hand to listen to when your music starts to get old! I also recently started listening to audiobooks in the car and that has been the BEST distraction, even on random trips around town. Music, podcast, audiobook…I wouldn’t recommend just one. I would recommend you have them all up your sleeve, because you never know what kind of mood you might be in. 🙂
Plan to stop.
I mentioned that I don’t particularly like to stop when I’m driving by myself, but it is completely necessary. You need a mental break, and if you’re anything like my over-hydrated self, you’ll be searching for the next rest stop’s sign! I like to try to make it halfway (depending on how long the drive is) before I stop because I get a decent amount of driving in, it gives me something to look forward to, and it feels like the drive is “almost” over when I get back in the car. Plus, when you travel alone, someone is probably wondering where you are and if you are okay. Use this time to text or call your family/friends!
Figure out who you can call.
When the music is stale, the podcast has ended, the audiobook won’t hold your attention, you’ve already made a stop, and you’re STILL not to your destination, who can you call? There are so many phones (and cars) that have hands-free calling now that most people should be able to safely make a call when driving. (Of course, safety should come first.) Depending on when you are driving, your best friend/mom/brother/sister/significant other might be at work or otherwise occupied and unable to talk. This is when you call and catch up with an old friend because you have the time and you NEED a distraction. 😉 On one of my most recent solo road trips, I traveled during the day on a Friday when essentially everyone I knew was at work or school. In that case, I made a few extra stops so I could play with my phone to take a brain break. Ha!
I have noticed so many people who are driving by themselves on the highway with a phone in their hand. If you are solo road-tripping and you are starting to lose your mind, eat a snack. Drink some water. Listen to music. Call someone. Listen to a podcast or audiobook. Repeat. Just don’t be irresponsible with your phone! We are so connected and it is so tempting to quickly respond to a text, but it is so not worth it! You want to arrive at your destination happily and safely.
Happy road tripping!