When most people think of road trips, they usually invision a Griswold-style family vacation where the whole family piles into the car and annoys each other for what seems like an eternity before finally reaching their destination.
While this has been a rite of passage for many families, it has also turned many folks off to the idea of road tripping. Thankfully, you have alternatives.
Back in 2009, I drove the California coast with my then-5-year-old, my parents, and my little brother. I think I was feeling a bit nostalgic and just a little unsure of my ability to pull off such a trip on my own, so we had our own little Griswold-esque vacay. Although we had fun, I definitely got annoyed by my dad’s constant driving tips, and having to censor my language (and music!) with my mom in tow.
Recently, I decided to try something different. In honor of my 33rd birthday, I hit the road for an eight-hour, 500 mile jaunt to Arizona….alone.
And it was GREAT.
Thankfully, the drive from Los Angeles to Arizona is pretty straight forward: you hop on the I-10 and keep driving until you need to get off. That’s literally how it went.
I left L.A. at about 10 am, and after stopping three times to stretch my legs, get gas, and grab a sandwich, I got to Tucson a little after 6 pm.
How did I manage to stay sane for 8 long hours on the road?
Here are my tips for pulling off the perfect solo road trip:
1) Be patient: If you start any trip already annoyed, in a hurry, or on edge, it will be a looooong ride. Before I left I made a commitment to keep my cool, no matter what. Bad drivers? No problem. Traffic? I could deal with it. Random delays? I got this. If you keep your cool while on the road you’ll not only be happier, but I promise you’ll reach your destination sooner as well.
2) Always have a GPS or smartphone: I’m not sure where I’d be without my Samsung Galaxy smartphone. It not only helped me navigate to my resort, but it also helped me locate restaurants, local attractions, and movie times while I was away. If you don’t have a standalone GPS, make sure you have a smartphone (or tablet) that can help you get where you want to go. It’s a lifesaver!
3) Have TONS of music: There is nothing more annoying (and more boring) than trying to find local radio stations while on your road trip. And depending on where you are–which may be in the middle of nowhere–you might not be able to pick up a signal at all. Before hitting the road be sure you have all of your favorite music, audiobooks, or podcasts on hand. Luckily, I have XM radio in my SUV, so I can pretty much listen to my favorite stations anywhere. And when I got tired of that, I switched to my phone to listen to albums I already downloaded.
4) Keep the plan very minimal: Part of the fun of a road trip is being able to decide what you want to do on the fly. If you plan out a jillion activities in advance, your vacation will feel like a job. If you MUST plan, pick a few attractions you know you really want to see and leave the rest up to how you’re feeling that day.