Do you enjoy traveling? If so, have you ever taken a solo trip on your own? Or have you ever seen the vast United States in its full glory? If the answer to these questions is no, it may be time to plan your first solo cross-country road trip. Traveling cross country on your own can be the experience of a lifetime. To prepare for such an adventure, here are some tips to make sure you plan it right.
Research Entertainment Options
A solo cross-country road trip means you’ll have to find a way to occupy yourself. After all, you won’t have family and friends immediately surrounding you, unless you make some new mates on the road. As part of your planning, look up the city entertainment of the places you’re passing through. Start by joining some Facebook groups or going on Meetup.com.
Different cities are known for different types of entertainment. For example, do you plan on going through Nashville or Memphis? If so, Nashville is a hotbed of live country music, while Memphis is known for its live blues performances and tasty BBQ. If you’re also interested in the history of music, make a pit stop in Detroit, where you can see the Motown Museum. By the time you make it out west, In addition to having access to live music, you can also take a tour of the Space Needle.
While you’re on your solo trip, you’ll have to eat. While it’s easy to indulge in junk food and unhealthy snacks, your body should have the right nutrients it needs so you have plenty of energy to travel on your own. After all, a solo cross-country road trip means you’ll have to look out for yourself and stay alert, way more so than if you had the protection of a group. Drinking your water and getting your fruits and vegetables will provide the energy to keep up with your trip. So whip out your Google Maps and find the nearest produce market where you’re staying. Many cities also have farmers markets where you can invest in the harvest brought in by local farmers. Check the city.gov website for information about seasonal farmers markets and entertainment choices.
Even if your solo trip involves accommodations with kitchens, you’re still going to want to eat out from time to time, if not all the time. By utilizing sites like Yelp, Trustpilot, and Google Reviews, you can find out what locals and other visitors are saying about the most popular local restaurants. If there is a particular type of cuisine you like, or if you have dietary restrictions, you can plan to see what local restaurants and cafes can meet your palette.
Make Sure Your Car Is in Good Shape
Can you imagine your car breaking down on the road? If you’re using an RV to make your solo cross-country road trip, that’s your ride and hotel all in one. Depending on where you’re at on your trip, it may take a while to get roadside assistance. Do your due diligence by getting any necessary maintenance, such as transmission repair, from local mechanics before you set off. Another step to take is to map out your travel area and make note of any local auto body shops en route and sign up for roadside assistance. You can always access help from an app or by a quick phone call.
Plus, you need to make your car interior as comfortable as possible. After all a solo cross-country road trip means you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your vehicle, so you want to make sure it’s properly cooled and heated when needed. Get the right car AC repair so you’re not stuck in a car that’s sweltering with heat or cold when you’re trying to make your journey. If you make a full cross-country trip from coast to coast, you’ll be passing through different climates and temperatures. Take the time to get your car AC unit checked so you can ensure you’re always comfortable, whether you’re in Arizona’s arid climate or dealing with a Midwestern winter.
Pack the Right Clothing
When exactly do you plan on making your solo cross-country road trip? The time of year that you plan to set off and see the country can play a major role in the type of clothing and accessories you need to pack. You should also consider the amount of time you’ll be on this trip. If you’re going to start when one season is in full bloom and not come back until another season is near its end, you can go from a drastic temperature change to another. For example, if you set out now while autumn is getting underway, the temperatures are still cool and you get to experience the leaves changing. However, if your road trip doesn’t end until December, you’ll be in the middle of winter and may need to trek through tons of snow.
Remember, the United States has different regions that have different climates. The Northeast is the part of the country where you can rely on four distinct seasons. The southern part of the United States tends to remain relatively warm year-round but can get the occasional rain or snowstorm. The flat land and cornfields of the Midwest experience very harsh winters. The southwestern part of the country can be quite arid, especially when you hit Arizona and New Mexico. By the time you reach the Pacific Northwest, you can look forward to a lush vegetative environment that has frequent rain storms. If you plan on hitting all of these regions and climactic changes, make sure that your suitcase can keep up with that experience.
Your clothing shouldn’t just reflect the temperature and climate change. You should also think about the type of activities you want to do. Do you plan on enjoying the beaches of Miami or Southern California? Make sure you have your bikini or swim trunks and sandals. Want to go skiing or snowboarding in Utah? Pack your snow activity equipment or be prepared to rent some. Plan on going for a night out on the town at local bars and high-end clubs? Make sure your attire can meet the dress code for certain lounges.
Make Sure Your Kids and Pets Are Accounted for
Depending on the type of fur babies you have, you may not be able to bring them on this trip. After all, animals are like little children and may not want to sit in a car seat or a carrying cage for too long. So if you have dogs or cats that can’t make the trip, you should look into pet boarding.
These days, several businesses operate as pet boarding facilities, so your animal won’t be left home alone to their own devices. These professionals provide a comfortable, clean, safe environment for your dog or cat to sleep, eat, and rest in. While cats are more independent and sleep most of the day, dogs are social creatures who can benefit from being around other dogs while you’re away. Another advantage of making sure that your pets are accounted for with doggy daycare or a trusted family or friend is you know that they’ll be cared for, won’t get lonely, and won’t tear your house apart.
If you’re a parent, you may one day look forward to vast family trips with the whole brood. However, a solo cross-country trip is just a solo trip. Have your parents been ready for the grandkids to come stay with them for a while? Taking a solo cross-country road trip is a perfect time to pack the little ones up and send them off to their grandparents’ house for quality time. While your mom and dad are spoiling your little ones, you can hit the road and spoil yourself.
Plan for Emergencies
So you’ve done your due diligence to plan as much as possible for this trip. You’ve done your research, packed your bags with an array of outfits, gotten your car serviced, and booked any additional accommodations you need throughout your journey. You should still plan for emergencies as unexpected situations can happen at any time.
What if you’re driving at night on an empty road and you suddenly run out of gas or your engine emergency light comes on? If your car ends up shutting down, you need to call emergency towing companies nearby. What if you inadvertently hit an animal on one of these roads and they destroy your windshield or bumper? You’ll have to invest in windshield glass repair as you can’t drive on a road with an unclear vision. Unfortunately, potholes and untended pavement can be an issue in any part of the country. So make sure you can call flat tire assistance in case you bump into one.
Bring Recording Devices
The United States is a large country, so when you embark on a solo cross-country road trip, you’ll be exposed to so many experiences, sights, sounds, and history, it would be a shame if you didn’t record it properly. Sure, you won’t be the first person to take a cross-country road trip and take a photo of the Grand Canyon or a selfie in front of the Motown Museum. But that’s not the point.
Your journey is something personal to you. So bring your Nikon, video camera, journal, or audio recording device to capture what the country looks like through your eyes. You can write down your experiences daily or every few days. Make note of what it feels like to stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Take photos as you walk through the national parks and touch Redwoods that are over 100 years old. How does a Midwestern snowstorm feel when you’ve lived in southern Florida your whole life?
Capture these things visually and by way of the written word. You may want to even start a blog or write some essays about your journey. Post on social media daily or create all your assets and then go through everything when you get back home to post as you feel comfortable.
Just because you’re doing a solo cross-country road trip in your own vehicle doesn’t mean you won’t need additional places to stay. Of course, if you’re using an RV, then you have your vehicle and accommodations in one. If you’re using a regular car, then you should book some accommodations in advance so you’re able to get a good night’s rest. After all, sleeping in your car isn’t safe, and in many places is illegal to do so.
As more people engage in domestic and international travel, you have more options than ever for finding a place to stay for a day, a week, or a month. Check out sites such as booking.com, Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia, and so on for a range of accommodations. Choose from hostels to studio apartments to entire houses that can accommodate you on your solo journey. Sites like Couchsurfing.com offer cheap options where you can share housing.
Booking.com offers some options in which you can cancel within a certain amount of time. In other words, if plans for your trip in two weeks or a month from now change, you have enough time to go back on certain listings and cancel them without acquiring a fee. Therefore, you can enjoy some flexibility when planning out where you’ll stay.
As you can see, a solo cross-country road trip requires a good deal of planning. While it’s fine to do things at the spur of the moment, an extended trip is something where you should practice due diligence to ensure you don’t have any unexpected mishaps. You’re going far away from home to travel to places you likely have not been before, so you want to protect yourself in case of danger or getting lost. Plus, you should plan to have fun, meet people, and enjoy the new experiences that come with seeing new parts of the country. Hopefully, this list will serve as a useful guide in providing the trip of a lifetime.