solo road trip

Solo Road Trip (13 Essential Tips to Make Yours Stress-Free)

For even the most seasoned of travelers, a solo road trip can be a daunting prospect. 

Do it right, though, and it can also be a lot of fun.

As driver, navigator, AND entertainer, you’ll get an unparalleled sense of freedom as you hit the road. With no-one to answer to, you can decide where you go, when to stop and what to do.

In this article I’ve compiled 13 helpful tips that will make your solo road trip seem easy.

Follow them and you’ll stay safe, stay on track, and most importantly, ENJOY yourself!

There’s also useful information on why you should take a road trip on your own, a list of solo road trip essentials you cannot forget, and advice on camping solo.

Contents

Why do it?
Tips
Essentials
FAQs
Camping
solo road trip infographic

WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE A SOLO ROAD TRIP?

  1. To feel liberated
  2. You’ll feel confident after overcoming challenges by yourself
  3. To be inspired by new places
  4. There’s no-one to tell you what to do
  5. You can go fast or slow – it’s up to you!
  6. For an adventure
  7. It’s healthy to be at one with your thoughts
  8. You don’t need anyone else to have a good time
  9. You’ll meet interesting people along the way
  10. Because you can!

SOLO ROAD TRIP TIPS

driving on a solo road trip
Driving solo through the mountains

These 13 tips for a long road trip alone will ensure you stay safe, have fun, and keep everything going smoothly.

1. PREPARE YOUR VEHICLE IN ADVANCE

Preparing your vehicle for your road trip alone is one of the single most important things you can do before you set off.

Why?

It ensures you won’t have any unexpected hiccups along the way.

When driving a long distance alone, the last thing you want is to break down in the middle of nowhere. 

Do yourself a favor and check your car over before you go.

As a minimum:

  1. Fill up with gas before you set off (it’s more expensive on the highway)
  2. Use the pre-departure checklist below
  3. Read on to tip #13 below about insurance and ensure you’ve got relevant cover

PRE-DEPARTURE CHECKLIST

Fluid Levels| Tire Tread | Tire Pressure | Lights | Wipers | Gas Levels

Not too car savvy?

Take your car to mechanic for peace of mind. They’ll be able to give it a once over and service anything that might cause you bother down the road.

2. DON’T DRIVE TOO FAR IN A DAY

Although it might seem obvious, this is one of my best tips for long road trips alone.

Know your limits. 

Remember, there’s no-one to share the driving with.

If you know that after four or five hours you tend to feel uncomfortable or get sleepy, don’t drive for longer than this simply to make up ground. 

If you do need to drive a long way in one day, drive for no longer than 9 hours, as recommended in this in-depth article: How Far Can You Drive In A Day

An easy way to ensure you never have to drive too far in one sitting, is to…

3. PLAN OUT YOUR SOLO ROAD TRIP

As you’ll be driving alone, planning ahead can take a lot of the stress out. 

Planning your road trip saves you from having to drive too far in a day (mentioned above), as you’ll know where you’re going to stay each night. It also means you can choose the best solo travel destinations.

Sure, spontaneity is great when you’re in a group. You can experience the adventure together. However, during a solo road trip, it can be nice to know there are no nasty surprises around the corner because you have planned everything out.

What to plan:

  • The route and how far you’ll drive each day
  • Accommodation
  • Parking
  • Things to do along the way
  • Where you will take rest stops
  • Where you will fill up on gas

BEST RESOURCES FOR ROAD TRIP PLANNING

Booking.com | Parkopedia | iExit 

4. TELL SOMEONE YOUR PLANS

As you’ll be driving alone, it’s important that someone is looking out for you from afar. Tell someone close to you your plans, even if they’re not set in stone yet. Include information like where you’re staying and when you expect to arrive.

But don’t stop there.

Keep in touch with them along the way.

It’s the 21st Century, after all.

If not for safety, your point-of-contact will probably appreciate a heads up that you’ve reached your destination (and that you’re having a great time!).

5. CREATE A SOLO ROAD TRIP BUDGET

When driving a long way on your own, you wan’t to be able to focus on the drive ahead and not worry about finances.

Creating a budget before you set off takes all the worry away from this.

In your budget you’ll need to include the following:

  • Rental car (If not using your own car)
  • Personal car costs (If not renting)
  • Gas
  • Accommodation (and parking!)
  • Food/Drink
  • Activities
  • Unforeseen circumstances

6. USE NAVIGATION

The last thing you want when driving alone is to get lost in the middle of nowhere. Use navigation to take the risk out. There’s no point in guessing and ending up stressing.

You don’t necessarily need a standalone GPS system. 

There are a number of excellent navigation apps can you use. You can see a break down of the features, advantages and disadvantages in this article on road trip planner apps.

For reference, these are my favorite: 

(You may have heard of them)
(Great for live traffic updates)
(Excellent offline feature)

Pro Tip: Download maps before you set off so you can still use navigation when you’re out of cell service. Maps.me has an excellent feature for this.

7. GET INSURED FOR YOUR SOLO ROAD TRIP

When traveling solo, insurance can give you peace of mind. Ensure you’re covered for any eventuality on your solo road trip with the following types of insurance:

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel insurance is a must for any trip. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly, but it’s best not to take any chances. 

I recommend insurance from WorldNomads.com

It’s available to people from 140 countries, AND you can buy a policy and even claim online after you’ve left. That means it’s never too late! 

You’ll be covered for medical expenses, theft, cancellations, baggage loss, and activities.

ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE

Roadside assistance can cost as little as $5 per month, and this small monthly fee can  really put your mind at easy when driving a long way on your own. 

US/Canada

Enter Your Postal/Zip code to find your local AAA/CAA club.

UK

Check out Money Supermarket to compare policies. 

RENTAL CAR INSURANCE

Renting a car by yourself?

Don’t fret and ensure the car is covered. That way you’ll be able to concentrate on enjoying the drive.

Our article on finding the best deals on rental cars has the low-down.

INSURANCE CHECKLIST

Travel Insurance | Roadside Assistance | Car Insurance

Make sure you have adequate cover when on a solo road trip!

8. KEEP YOURSELF ENTERTAINED

Boredom is one of the biggest obstacles you’ll need to overcome when you embark on a solo road trip. After all, there’s no-one to chat or play road trip games with.

That by no means you need to sit there in a dull silence. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained.

The best forms of solo road trip entertainment come through listening (because you need to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road), so download some of these ideas before you go:

PODCASTS

Listening to a podcast is a great way to stay stimulated and kill some time during a long solo journey. 

Download some podcasts that sound hilarious or interesting to you prior to departing.

AUDIOBOOKS

Audiobooks are the perfect resource for a bit of in-car entertainment – they can keep you going for hours!

Get onto Audible and download some books that sound juicy before you go.

And for when you’re bored of listening to people talk…

listening to an audiobook on a solo road trip
Listening to an audiobook can be a great way to pass some time on a solo road trip

PLAYLISTS

Even a solo road trip needs an ultimate road trip playlist, right?

Before you set off, ensure you have compiled and downloaded a playlist of all your favorite tunes on Spotify

Don’t be afraid to let loose and belt out the classics. 

DOWNLOAD BEFORE YOU GO:

Podcasts | Playlists | Audiobooks

9. PACK PLENTY OF FOOD

As I’ve already mentioned, a solo road trip is all about preparation. When it comes to what you’ll eat, it’s no different. 

Don’t find yourself hungry and in the middle of nowhere to purchase food. Pack plenty of snacks. This will also help keep energy levels high.

Plus, gas station food can be awful. Taking your own is always better.

Use this Road Trip Food List to help find the right foods to take.

Follow these tips:

  • Go to the supermarket before you set off and buy healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, and seeds to graze on
  • Have a filling breakfast before leaving to avoid overindulging  junk food (one of the best ways to eat healthy while traveling)
  • Pack a cooler so you can keep food fresh on the go
  • Prepare a picnic  and stop somewhere awesome for lunch
  • Fill up a coffee flask in the morning with your favorite brew (reusable coffee cups are more eco-friendly)

10. PACK AN EMERGENCY KIT

Include an emergency kit in your road trip packing list.

Accidents do happen.

That’s why it’s important that you always pack an emergency kit for your solo road trip.

Make sure this includes a first-aid kit, roadside safety kit, water, blankets, a jerry can, and a flashlight (accidents happen in the dark, too!). If the worst happens, it’s best to be prepared. 

EMERGENCY ITEMS CHECKLIST

First-Aid Kit | Roadside Safety Kit | Spare Tire | Jerry Can | Flashlight

11. GO SLOW

Drive safely. 

There’s no rush. 

Sometimes when I’m alone in the car I get that restless feeling of just wanting to arrive at my destination, especially if I’ve been driving for a long time.

Try to remember that this isn’t helpful and just enjoy the journey. How often do we get alone time these days?

Taking it easy is also much safer – you’re far less likely to have an accident if you go slow.

You might also save you money on your road trip as you drive more economically.

Embarking on a solo road trip
There’s no rush on a solo road trip!

12. GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

There is nothing better for you than a full night’s sleep before a long drive.

Not only will it keep your energy levels high, but it is important from a safety perspective.

Under-sleeping causes micro-sleeps (temporary lapses in focus) which are not ideal when embarking on a solo road trip.

Studies have shown that you are as impaired as someone who is legally drunk after being awake for 20 hours at a time.

You wouldn’t drive drunk – alone or otherwise – so don’t do it on no sleep.

If you need to stop, don’t hesitate. You can always refer to our guide on how to sleep in your car.

13. TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS

Finally, stopping regularly is one of my most important tips for long road trips alone. 

From a safety standpoint, you’ll need regular breaks to keep your energy up and to help you stay alert while driving.

But that’s not the only reason.

Frequent breaks also make the journey much more enjoyable!

If you’re putting in the miles by yourself, why not have some fun along the way? 

Some break ideas for your solo road trip:

  • Park up and go for a run
  • Find a sweet spot and have a picnic
  • Camp in the wild
  • Order an outrageous meal at a restaurant
  • Visit a weird attraction you stumble across

BEST RESOURCES FOR FINDING THINGS TO DO

Getyourguide | Google Trips | Travel Blogs 

SOLO ROAD TRIP ESSENTIALS

  1. Windscreen phone mount
  2. Battery Pack
  3. Re-usable coffee cup
  4. In-car charger
  5. Dash cam
  6. Sleeping bag
  7. Head torch
  8. A good book for the evenings
  9. Cooler box
  10. Foldable Picnic Blanket

When embarking on your road trip alone, it’s paramount that you remember all your solo road trip essentials.

I’ve listed 10 items above that are absolutely necessary.

However, it’s likely there’ll be a lot more in your road trip packing list.

SOLO ROAD TRIP CAMPING

In my opinion, camping is an integral part of any road trip.

Unsurprisingly, a solo road trip with camping involves a bit of extra planning.

However, just as with a road trip alone, camping alone can be extremely rewarding.

Firstly, you need to remember all your camping essentials.

Second, follow these tips:

  1. Ensure you feel confident in your camping skills – pitching a tent etc.
  2. Use established campsites
  3. Let someone know where you will be camping
  4. Take a battery pack

SOLO ROAD TRIP FAQS

Still have some burning questions before you embark on your road trip alone?

Here, I’ve tried to answer the most commonly asked questions about a solo road trip.

HOW DO YOU SURVIVE A LONG ROAD TRIP ALONE?

  1. Plan ahead
  2.  Check your vehicle is in working order
  3. Pack a safety kit
  4. Set a driving limit for each day and stick to it
  5. Take regular breaks from driving
  6. Pack all your solo road trip essentials
  7. Remember entertainment for the car – playlists/podcasts/audiobooks

HOW DO I PLAN A SOLO ROAD TRIP?

Planning a solo road trip is important to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Here’s how:

  1. Download the best road trip planning and navigation apps
  2. Map out your route
  3. Create a budget
  4. Book accommodation
  5. Book attractions along the way
  6. Pack everything you need using a packing list
  7. Check your car over or take it for a service
  8. Go!

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR A LONG DRIVE BY MYSELF?

  1.  Figure out the distances between your stops
  2. Set a schedule
  3. Check your insurance
  4. Make sure you have everything you need by using a packing list
  5. Check your car is in working order or take it for a service
  6. Pack an emergency kit
  7. Wear comfortable clothing
  8. Get a good night’s sleep before you leave

HOW MANY HOURS CAN YOU DRIVE IN ONE DAY?

You drive for a maximum of 9 hours in one day, excluding breaks.

For every 4.5 hours of driving you should take a break of at least 45 minutes.

This equates to approximately 500 miles that you can drive safely in a day. However, this will vary depending on speed limit, traffic and your breaks.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

Which solo road trip tip was your favorite?

Or do you have any other tips for taking a road trip alone?

Either way, leave a comment below and let me know!