So you’re at least considering a SRT? Good! First, realize it’s not brain surgery. The logistics are simple, subjective, and subject to change – a beautiful thing. And keep in mind, SOLO road trips and road trips have little in common in the way of experience or preparation.
To push you over the edge, here’s my list of reasons to make at least one SRT in your life. And really, it should be at least an overnighter.
- You can disconnect every connectivity device you own.
- Planning can be thrown out the door; no agenda required.
- There’s no one to care when you eat, what you eat, or if you eat.
- You can turn around 500 times to photograph something you caught a glimpse of at 70 mph.
- You don’t have to ask or care if someone else is having a good time, what they want to see next, is the temperature comfortable for them, do they need a restroom stop, what music they prefer, does your driving scare them, do they care if you go 10 miles down a dirt road looking for that ghost town you heard about once when you were a kid.
- It’s your choice of music and volume.
- It’s your choice of lodging and check in-out time.
- Getting lost becomes meaningless.
- No one cares if you don’t shower that day, or brush your teeth.
Now that we’ve covered the touchy-feely side of solo travel, let’s talk about the practicalities, most of which revolve around safety. Until 2007 my solo road trips were taken in a 1994 Mazda MX-6. No 4-wheel drive, no GPS, no OnStar, no AAA membership, and just enough clearance to not be a turtle killer. And I had a fantastic time, no matter what happened, and a lot happened.
- The single most important component: your mindset. Make sure you’re ready to consider everything that happens part of the adventure.
- If you can afford it, purchase a AAA membership.
- Inform close friends and family you’re leaving and what general direction you’re headed. Yea you’ll have to hear all the crap about it, and listen to your Mom tell you not to sleep in your car, but do it anyway.
- Designate one person as your daily contact (and tell the others who that person is). Make that call once a day, without neglect.
- Purchase a recent Atlas.
- Pack a warm blanket in the car, heavy duty gloves, a rain jacket, jumper cables, ice scrapper, a pair of boots, and all the tools required to change a flat. Make sure you’ve got a good spare.
- Have the oil changed, tires and basic fluid levels checked.
- Place a first aid kit in the vehicle.
- Never allow your fuel to go below ½ tank.
- Know the territory you’ll be in. If hiking, know the rules, the dangers (are there bears in the area, snakes, etc.) and be prepared for those. If you don’t know, don’t go. Actually, unless you’re familiar with survival techniques, I’d caution against going into any backcountry situation alone. With quite a bit of experience under my belt and some near misses (a run-in with a full grown mountain lion comes to mind), I now avoid most wilderness situations unless I’ve someone accompanying me.
- If you have any alcohol to drink, drink it after you’ve checked into your lodging for the night. Besides not wanting to drink and drive, you’ll also have all your capacities and wit about you during the time you’re out and about.
- Take both a car charger and a wall charger for your cell phone, and keep it charged.
- My own rules: No fast food. I pack sandwich fixin’s, snacks and drinks in an ice chest before I leave home. And I limit major highway travel. I’ve seen few things of note at 75 mph. But if you’re contemplating your first SRT and you’d feel better staying on major freeways, then do it! You’ll get all the benefits of solo travel and you’ll feel safe (VERY important).