WHY YOU NEED TO TRAVEL SOLO AND HOW TO ENJOY THE JOURNEY OF IT (Roadtrip edition)
When was the last time you sat down with yourself? Had a deep talk with yourself? Connecting the parts of yourself that feel all over the place lately? When was the last time you took time to make sure you were okay? You did something that made you feel alive and happy? When was the last time you looked life in the eyes and said, “I’m doing this for ME!”
Solo travel is a lot of all that. A lot of conversations with yourself, answering of the questions you’ve spent so much time running from. It’s finding the missing pieces you’ve given to others the past few months. Solo travel is nothing but a time for YOU. And I can’t lie I think that’s why I love it so much. I love just the open road, we have a good bond; her and I. It’s crazy how many people look at me like I’m down right crazy when I say I’m going to go on a road trip alone or heck even when I’m out hiking alone for the day. The looks I get is like I’m straight out of a looney bin. I always think 2 things -
1) How sad it is that the world has become so accustom to women always needing a man or someone with them
2) People never want to be alone
Sometimes I thought it was weird, how much I wanted to spend time with myself. But I like to be alone, I enjoy my own company. And for awhile I thought it was such a bizarre thing to always want to be be a lone wolf, but I also realized how much of an empowering feeling it was to do things alone. To go into restaurants and say “A table for one”, to talk to people on the road or trail and say I’m out there by myself. It’s empowering. It’s freeing. It’s fearful sometimes. It’s being truly alive. Solo travel gives me an emotional roller coaster. From trying to figure out how to navigate a town I’ve never been with no directions, all the way to finally witnessing a view that’s been on my bucket list forever.. It’s a range of emotions when it’s just you and the road. A lot of amazing and beautiful feelings that you almost don’t want to share and can’t even. It’s honestly something everyone has to experience once in their life, there’s so many special moments waiting for you.
I won’t lie the whole reason I had went on a trip by myself last year was because I got in a car accident and after I got a new car I knew I needed to spend some time with myself. Now fast forward to this year.. It felt like it was time for almost like this new annual trip I started last year, so I again said screw it and went for it. Not super scared or fearful but a lot more excited and ready. It’s honestly crazy how your whole energy can shift about going on an adventure by yourself, how you can start to replace the fear with excitement. Instead of saying “I have no idea where I want to go or what to do” it’s more of “I have a whole place to explore and nobody to tell me where I don’t want to go!”.. Once that whole mindset changes. Oh man, it’s amazing!
So here I am as your encourager to get out and roadtrip alone. Or even just go on an adventure alone. I was listening to this podcast actually while I was on hour 8 of 14 along the Pacific Coast Highway coming home. The name “Go some place alone” by Happier with Gretchen Rubin (Fitting right?) She said in it. “You don’t get the same experience you do if someone were beside you” - That sounds like such a duh moment but it’s so true and you truly don’t recognize that until you’re out in the middle of some place you’ve been dreaming about and you’re standing face to face with that view.. It’s so much more special when it’s just yours for that moment. And yes I understand, the thought of going somewhere alone can be daunting, especially if you’re a young woman like me. I get it trust me, I’m right there with you. What if someone breaks into my car or tent while I’m sleeping? What if I get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere? The list goes on and on.. I know because I’ve thought it over more times than you could count. But here’s the thing: We can NOT plan for the unplanned. Those thing’s are not guaranteed to happen so why worry about them and let it stop you from doing something you really want to and that could be truly amazing? And also, everyone on the road or that is traveling through wherever you are is 97% of the time a helpful human. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just been on the side of the road to find directions on my phone and people have pulled up to ask if I need help. Not everyone is a horrible person and until that thought escapes your mind it won’t ever feel right to go out in the world alone.
Now that I’ve gone on 2 trips by myself I’m not saying I’m an expert, but I am saying that I feel I’ve gotten some great little tips / tricks on how to feel more safe and comfortable while being on the road with just you and yourself. So let’s get into it more:
Stay connected to family
Before I go on my trip I let my parents or brother know my route, even if it’s just a rough idea. Letting them know what states I’m traveling to and in what order with what my driving route looks like. If I have specific places I’m trying to be somewhere on a day I’ll write this down as well (such as an already booked campsite)
I always share my location: This is one of my favorite things if you have an iPhone! Whenever I’m in service my brother is able to see exactly where I am, down to if I’m at a store or driving on the freeway - he’s always able to see where I’m at
Bring stuff that reminds you of home: I love cozy blankets so I will take up the space to have one with me and I always bring essential oils since I use them when at home and in bed - it just gives me the comfort of feeling at home
Carry some cash on you for campsites, showers, random tolls, state park fees. Whatever it is just keep like $30 on you but never too much!
Have everything you need incase of an incident with your car. Everything to change a tire and have someone teach you how before you leave or watch a YouTube video! Same goes with bringing jumper cables! If you’re road tripping somewhere during winter: have chains for your car. Traveling somewhere that never cools down? Have extra water on you so you don’t overheat
Always have a first aid kit in your car. You have no idea how handy it will be!
Ladies: When I’m on the road by myself I always have a stun gun, pepper spray (One that’s small enough to throw in my purse) and my dad always insists on me having a knife. Do I think that’s needed? No. But it does give me a sense of safety.
One thing you need to consider while road tripping by yourself is where you’re going to be sleeping. Because let’s be honest that’s the scariest part of being on the road by yourself.. I choose to sleep in my car for multiple reasons but mostly being because it locks and I have the room in it to put a mattress. With this though I obviously don’t want anybody looking into my car.. Invest in a sunshade for your windshield and curtains for your windows. I found these amazing ones on Amazon and they work great! You can adjust them to fit your windows. If you’re sleeping in a tent I would advise to always be in a designated campsite and not in the middle of the nowhere: talking to the ladies here.. A tip I had read somewhere if you are a solo female traveller and want to pitch a tent but still feel unsafe even in a campsite: pack mens hiking boots and put them outside your tent. Nobody is going to want to mess with you if they think someone is in there with you
Since I am sleeping in my car I don’t pack a lot of valuables besides my camera which I always take with me when not in the car
I don’t make my car look super girly to indicate it could just be me in there. Hanging up a huge dreamcatcher, pink air fresheners, bunch of stickers on my car, etc. I just want to blend in
things to do differently when you’re alone
When sleeping in your car: set up your curtains and windshield cover before getting out of your car at all so you don’t show you’re by yourself. Always get somewhere before dark too!
When talking to strangers I usually say “we” to not giveaway that I’m traveling by myself.. The only people I really tell would be park rangers or people that I know could help me
Have your route planned out beforehand. Yes, it’s fun to go and be spontaneous I totally am for it but I feel that it’s better to have a plan or some places written down in a order you want to hit them. That way you’re not stuck in a place you haven’t researched, you have ideas on where to camp nearby, what good hikes or places to see are. When solo it’s nice to have some of these things planned so you’re not making decisions at night or in a place you have no research on
Use Google Maps! I’m going to write a blog post about how I use it for all of my road trips and I’ll link it here eventually. BUT use it for the reason you can download maps offline - before this trip I had never used it, but when I was in the middle of Utah with no service and somehow was able to find directions to EVERY single place I needed, it was life changing. Trust me on this.
If you’re someone like me and like to post stories on social media - do this after you’ve left the place just so people aren’t following along too closely
If you start to feel lonely
Do a walking tour for the town you’re in or in a National Park - trust me there’s so many different walking guides that you can do and are great for being informative and also meeting people!
Go to a visitor center of the city you’re passing through or again talk to a park ranger: they’ll be sure to give you some great local spots and also be super curious to hear your story. One of my favorite things is hitting the Ranger Station in towns and finding out what spots they usually explore at after work
If you’re doing a hike or walking on a trail don’t be afraid to say hi (If the person looks inviting obviously) - I can’t tell you how many people I have met by just saying hi to them and then having a full conversation with a stranger who felt like a long lost friend
A great way to start a conversation is by asking if they want a photo of themselves! If I see a couple, another girl or even a family taking selfies or photos I ask if they want a photo together. This is also great because then they’ll ask if you want one!
Go to a coffee shop, cafe or restaurant and get a seat at the bar if you’re old enough. I absolutely love eating alone and honestly use this time to catch up on my phone or text / call family
Listen to podcasts! This year I have absolutely fell in love with listening to podcasts.. Is this what becoming an adult feels like? Podcasts = the new talk show radio.. But it’s comforting listening to other people talk and feeling like you’re apart of a conversation almost. My favorite person I’ve been listening to is Chris Gethard with “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People” - Absolutely so beautiful and inspiring.
Overall solo travel is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.. It’s a period of self discovery, self care and self empowerment - a journey both of traveling and also to connecting with yourself. Something I reccomend you try once in your life. It is definitely life changing. There’s been so many moments I‘m standing beautiful places by myself and just thinking ‘Wow, this is so special” because man, it really is. You have a different sort of appreciation for the place you’re at. There will be fear with everything you do in life and that should never be a reason you hold yourself back from something. It just means you’re fully alive and on the pursuit of change which should be exciting!
Some other things I want to share with you that I feel make road tripping alone more enjoyable:
Bring some sort of entertainment. Download music and podcasts offline. Also Netflix and Amazon Prime TV are amazing because you can download shows or movies offline there too! I also always bring a journal and book with me for when I just want to sit around and enjoy a place.
Buy a tripod and don’t even care what people think of you. I’ve gotten way better pictures of myself than if a stranger would have took them
Don’t be afraid to listen to your favorite song 4 times in a row. Nobody is there to stop you
Buy the National Parks Pass if road tripping through the USA - it’s worth the $80 trust me
Try to organize your car every couple days so your mind stays decluttered as well
Skip all of the junk food and buy from local markets or fruit stands! I love talking to people that run these because the conversations are always great and I know everything is fresh as well
Know your limit for drive time and don’t push it. I know I don’t like driving super late at night so I always want to make sure I’m at a camping spot for sunset or right after it
Let yourself feel all the emotions throughout the journey of solo travel. There’s definitely days and nights that are better than others but that’s all in the experience, just accept it and take it all in!
Some FAQ questions I’ve gotten during my travelS that I don’t feel I answered
What do you do when strangers or guys talk to you and you’re alone?
Usually if any guys talk to me and they can tell I’m alone I just keep walking but make direct eye contact with them so they feel more threatened than I do even if it’s uncomfortable (This mostly applies if they’re hitting on me or making me feel out of place in any way.) If girls or groups talk to me I usually will talk with them since I feel more safe and have a good gut instinct. If guys such as gas station workers, grocery store clerks etc. are asking about me being alone I still don’t fully like to say it so I’ll say I’m meeting with someone or with family and ventured off.
Does it get lonely?
I mean I won’t lie and say it doesn’t. But isn’t life always, sometimes lonely? The only difference is that I’m in a place I truly want to be at in the moment of time and the best part is I’m sharing that moment with different strangers usually. All of which who want to be there too. It feels special sometimes and with that thought I don’t feel so alone. Plus, I do like to do things by myself even back home! So if you’re not sure if you’d feel super lonely try something local first such as a short hike or going to a coffee shop!
What is the worst part about traveling solo?
Honestly guys.. Nothing you would think. But you want to know what it is for me? Last year the worst thing I found about being by myself when travelling was the fact that I had nobody to help me take photos if I wanted to be in them. Just even to send family pictures of me in places, I had nobody to help take them. That’s why I bought a tripod. So now this year, my answer would be the fact that paying for gas by yourself sucks! If you want to drive to a different state, well it’s not going to be cheap. Trust me it’s worth it though. I always use GasBuddy (App on iPhone and I’m sure Android) to show you where the cheapest gas stations are nearby. Also making decisions by yourself is sometimes hard. Yes the majority of the time I love choosing what to do all day - everyday on the road.. But sometimes it does get hard having sooo many options of things to do and ideas of places to go then having to narrow it down to one thing, by yourself. Those decisions are usually easier with someone to help pick. But like I’ll always say that’s the journey of self growth and solo travel! And all the beauty and fun in it.
Where do you shower?
I usually do at National Parks if they have showers in campsites, even if I’m not staying there I’ve found that National Park showers are usually the cleanest and cheapest! If not in a NP then it’s as easy as going to any campsite and asking how much a shower is. KOA is everywhere so that would be my next option!
I hope I was able to answer most of your guys questions and concerns you have about solo travel! Also I hope I was able to provide some tips and tricks on how to make roadtrpping a bit easier of a thing to do by yourself. Just remember it’s a time purely for YOU! So embrace it and don’t let anybody talk you out of it. Life is all about discovery and trust me there’s a lot of it when traveling by yourself.
If you still have any questions for me about my travels, experiences or anything - let me know below and I'‘ll be sure to write you back!
PS - If you want to read more about the real and raw experience of my last 10 days on the road by myself - get ready for the next blog post
Thank you for being Lost in a Dream with me
With lots of love,