How Solo Road Trips Can Be Fun at Any Age
Are you a Baby Boomer who still enjoys driving? Many people do continue driving into their senior years. It makes so many things more convenient if you drive rather than take another mode of transportation.
Shopping is easier, there is less lifting, and trips are shorter. Here’s a story about a 105 year old British lady who is still driving. It really does give you transportation freedom.
How About a Road Trip?
How about taking car trips? Flying is faster, but for short distances you often spend as much time in the airport as you do in the air.
Driving in your own car is much more comfortable than traveling by air, unless you can afford those big upgrades to business or first class. There’s no surprise package food or delayed meals due to air turbulence either.
If you are retired, you might find that there are advantages of solo road tripping.
There’s no reason you must stick to a schedule now. There are no deadlines, so taking a side trip on a whim is part of the adventure. You can stop whenever you like. Choose your own music or just enjoy a quiet drive. You never know who you will meet or what unusual things might happen. It’s an adventure!
If you travel with family or friends, you are a closed group and you are less likely to meet new people. When you travel alone, you are much more approachable. I’ve met many interesting people when traveling solo.
Even on public transportation, or just walking down the street, you meet the most unusual people. I’ve had conversations with bikers, homeless people, even street artists while traveling alone.
Being totally spontaneous is fun, but it’s not for everybody. If you are not experienced at long distance driving, you’ll need to plan more carefully.
Avoid driving at night or where there are long stretches of highway without towns or roadside rest stops. These can be dead zones for cell phones, so do plan traveling through these areas in daylight hours.
It just takes a little planning. Map your route on a real map. Use GPS when you can, but have a physical map in case you lose GPS reception. Estimate the amount of time you want to be behind the wheel each day, factoring in rest tops, side trips and meal stops. This should make for a relaxed schedule.
Positive Experiences During Small Emergencies
Even if the unforeseen happens, make the best of it. I once found a wonderful historic hotel after I’d driven too long and too late.
Chosen by film crews while on location in the Southwest, there were pictures of all the famous visitors lining the walls, along with old west décor. It was real charming with its neon light and rail fence.
How to Choose Accommodations
I find I can usually book accommodations a day in advance with a smart phone. However, in a tourist area or busy metropolitan area, you’ll want to book further ahead.
What are some things to consider? Be sure to check for ratings online, if you have particular needs or desires. Location is important, too. In tourist areas, the rates will be highest close to the attractions.
Close to major highways, most any accommodation will be clean and safe. In remote areas, such as national parks and wilderness areas, this can be a major problem. Book well ahead for these locations.
Dining Can Be Inexpensive and Fun
On a budget? Take along a cooler for cold drinks and lunch fixings when on the road. It saves time and allows you to stop whenever you like. You never know when you’ll spot a nice meadow or shady tree lined creek that would make a nice picnicking spot.
Do you need to refill that cooler or picnic basket? Stop at local farmers’ markets. The fruits and vegetables are always tastier fresh from the farm.
In an area with orchards during fall? You’ll get the best fruit you’ve ever tasted right on the farm. During harvest there are sometimes sheds warmed by ovens with pies baked right there in the orchard. You can’t get that in a roadside restaurant!
Picnicking is not your thing? You needn’t worry. Major highways in the US usually have plenty of roadside restaurants at most exits. These include fast food restaurants as well as family style restaurants. Sure, they are convenient but can get boring.
Spice up your mealtime by following a roadside sign to a small-town restaurant. Once, while driving through the Midwest, I followed a sign for a Mexican restaurant several miles off the highway. Wow, it was the best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten!
Make It an Adventure
Take a chance. Strike out on your own. Make your own adventure. Follow that sign to an old west ghost town, stop at a local theater for a live show. Turn off at a local festival. Just know everything is not going to go as planned. Make it an adventure, the small events make solo travel fun.
What kind of road trips have you taken in your life? What are some fun adventures or unusual places you’ve found by accident while traveling solo? Have you ever had a serendipitous meeting while traveling solo? Please share your experiences below!
Joy Harmon is a former theatrical costumer, teacher and longtime traveler. She currently lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she is active in the local English speaking theater. She is pursuing a new career in writing – please check out her first novel.