These past few months I’ve been on a bit of a self-improvement kick. One of the things I’ve been wanting to really focus on has been not letting fear or indecisiveness stop me from having amazing life experiences. I wanted to go back to that 17-year-old who literally lived by the Nike motto, “just do it” and took off for 6 months to hike the Appalachian Trail with two guys I barely knew after just one semester of college. I don’t know what happened after the past few years but somewhere in the finishing college and starting a business I turned into a bit of wuss. Like, need to have things on the calendar two weeks in advance, wuss.
So when the opportunity came up to take a solo road trip down to Florida while my awesome husband (who was one of those AT guys) watched our beloved pets, I took it. As someone who works from home and gets stressed about a solo trip to the grocery store, this was a pretty big hurdle for me. Here’s what I found out and what helped me keep driving when I wanted to pull a U-turn and head for home.
Grow a good life.
You’ll enjoy your own company.
First I’d say that thanks to today’s modern technology the people you love are just a phone or Skype call away no matter where you travel. But really you’ll enjoy your own company. Odds are you’ll probably do and enjoy things you wouldn’t if you were traveling with someone else. Whether it skipping a popular tourist attraction to walk around a weird antique store, trying a restaurant your best friend would hate, or even just listening to some podcast about ghost stories that would bore your husband to tears, you’ll have experiences that are uniquely you.
It can help you break bad habits.
On that note, getting out of your comfort zone on a solo trip can help you break bad habits. Getting a change from your normal routines can help put them in perspective. During my trip, I went to bed and got up early. Mostly because I spent my evenings relaxing instead of working on the computer. At home, I had told myself I just need to sleep late but in reality, I just need to remember to not procrastinate and take time for myself.
This also especially applies to folks with close roommates or significant others. You probably don’t even realize how much you rely on someone in your day to day life. Not having them there to drive, or order food, or make phone calls will force you to do things for yourself and remind you that you’re absolutely capable even if it makes you anxious.
You’ll become a more confident driver.
I have to say I’m a pretty nervous driver. I grew up and learned to drive in a small town with literally one stoplight (and even that was technically in the next town over). For me, this road trip immensely helped my driving confidence. When I started the trip I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to drive 5 hours by myself and it would take me forever to get anywhere. However, by the time I was ready to head home, I drove 16 hours on the last day! That said, you shouldn’t spend the whole trip driving, remember to stop and have fun.
Sometimes you just need a change of pace.
Taking a trip by yourself and experiencing something completely outside your normal life can help inspire and refresh your life. Maybe you’ll come home and realize you need a change or realize you love the way things are, but feel even more motivated now that you’ve had a breather. Either way, experiencing new things is a great way to boost your creativity.
Conquer your fears.
Take a furry friend.
Mona was a lifesaver for me during this trip in so many ways. Though she’s not a big dog she helped me feel much safer and less alone throughout the trip. Being able to reach over and pet her while I was anxious on the road was a huge help. She also made it much easier for me to chat with other people. We adopted Mona just a year ago but she is super personable and has a story everyone seems to want to hear! While I can’t seem to manage small talk on my own, I think Mona helped start at least 15 conversations for me on this trip. If you’re super anxious about traveling and have the option to take a pet, I highly encourage it!
Remember that other people won’t remember.
The cool thing about solo road trips is that you can go to places where there’s no one you know. If you have social anxiety it’s great to remind yourself that you don’t have to see people you meet ever again. Feel like your chat with that other camper was awkward? Who cares? You’ll never see them again and odds are they won’t remember you anyway. People are so wrapped up in their own lives that once you’ve traveled on they will quickly forget the things that may have seemed super embarrassing to you.
Take something that makes you feel good.
Whether it’s your favorite blanket, hoodie, book or all three having items that make you feel comfortable and safe in the car can make a big difference. Even if you don’t end up using them knowing they’re there if you need them might help.
Be over prepared.
Kind of like having a few things you love, having all the “just in case items” can help you be a more confident traveler. When you’re road tripping solo it’s totally okay if you over pack. Who’s going to complain? I brought things like my backpacking gear including a stove and tent, toilet paper, jumper cables, first aid supplies, and a pocket knife none of which I ended up needing.
Plan something you’re super excited about.
No, I don’t mean the trip itself. For my trip, I found a couple of new podcasts and a book that I saved specifically for my trip. The book came weeks in advance so by the time my trip rolled around I was stoked to start reading. I also planned a stay at an amazing AirBnB, pictured above. While it’s pretty affordable I was traveling on a tight budget so this stop was my splurge but it was well worth it.
I took a big camera and tripod but you can just use your phone if you want but do take them even if it makes you feel like a tourist. You’ll want to remeber this.
Have you ever taken a solo road trip? What are your best tips?