“Road trip!” Magical words, aren’t they? And your road trip for one means you can go, stop, see, and stay as you please. In Part 1, you did the planning and prep work. Now it’s time to pack the car and head out!
READY: Packing up your car
One of the best things about a road trip: you’re not restricted to one suitcase and one personal carry-on. Make no mistake, you don’t want to bring too much–extra weight affects mileage. Still, it’s nice to toss in hiking gear, your new fleece jacket, and that biography–or trashy novel–you’ve been meaning to read since last winter.
I’ll leave the clothes packing to you. You know where you’re going and what you’ll need. It’s all about comfort and ease. Not sure? Here’s a list from USA Today.
The passenger seat is YOURS!
Another benefit of solo road trips: the passenger seat becomes yours to use as you wish. Start with a roll of paper towels to use as napkins and for cleanup. What else?
- A trash bag or box
- Portable chargers
- Assortment of coins and small bills
- Extra face masks
- Hand sanitizer
- Camping toilet paper–or a regular roll
- Chapstick, hand lotion
- Electronic toll pass
Food! Drinks! BYO!
First, let’s talk nutrition. Gas station snacks and fast food are not your friends. If you’re not sure where or when you’ll be stopping, bring your own supply. Don’t forget your reusable water bottle!
A small cooler holds your favorite drinks, fruit, cheese, chocolate, or the gourmet sandwich that you found in a local deli. Nuts and dried fruit are good choices. Mints and gum, as you like. Some roadtrippers swear by hard candy, too.
Back seat supplies
The back seat holds things that aren’t essential for the drive, but you still want to access quickly. Get a bin or box for other items you may need. Some suggestions:
- A beach towel serves as, well, a towel…but also a picnic table cover.
- Bug spray can save the day!
- Cleaning supplies: disinfectant wipes, rubbing alcohol, surface cleaner, stain remover, and gloves.
- Jacket or sweater
- Journal or notebook
- A folding chair is a nice addition
Even if you don’t intend to make your own meals, it’s a good idea to have a small box with cooking/food prep items, too:
- Can opener
- Wooden spoon
- Eating utensils
- Corkscrew/bottle opener
- Plate, bowl, and cup
- Instant coffee (or tea)
- Heating coil to boil water
- Storage containers and ziplock bags
- Dishwashing liquid and sponge
Finally, the trunk
Use the trunk for once-a-day items, such as your suitcase. Just because you have extra space, don’t forget to pack light! Don’t add stress by bringing valuables or things that you’d hate to lose. You can always find new things, as well as buy unique wardrobe pieces as you go. That’s part of the fun!
Emergency supplies go here, too. How much depends on where you’re driving and how remote it is. Experts recommend:
- Road emergency kit
- Windshield wiper fluid
- Quart of oil
- Gallon of water
- Collapsible gas container
- First aid kit
SET: The final steps before you go
This part is easy. You’ve already done most of the work. A few last-minute details, and you can depart with confidence!
- Share your itinerary with others.
- Charge all devices.
- Double-check that you have power cords.
- Fill the gas tank.
I’ve made a printable “Peace-of-Mind Checklist” to make sure you’ve thought of everything before setting out. Adapt it to your solo road trip, depending on how long and far you’re going.
DRIVE: On your road trip for one!
Time to leave! At risk of sounding like a mother–which I am–I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about safety. You’ll roll your eyes like a teenager, but here we go:
- Keep in touch with others every day. Let them know where you’re headed and when you’ve safely arrived. Texting is fast and easy if you don’t want to “break the travel spell” with long conversations.
- Don’t pick up strangers. (I know, I’m channeling your mum…) Even if they seem nice, or if you want to be helpful, it’s too risky. The other thing is that it can be hard to get rid of someone once you’ve started. Do. Not. Do. It.
- The same goes for stopping when someone is stranded on the road. You’re thinking, “This could be me…” You can still help by calling 911 for assistance–be the Anonymous Good Samaritan.
- If ANYTHING seems different or wonky with your car, get it checked out. Promise me. As much as we’d like it to happen, autos don’t heal themselves.
A word about hotels and health…
Unless you’re camping or sleeping in your car, a hotel will be waiting for you at the end of the day. During your planning, you probably found that every hotel has posted its actions regarding Covid-19 and your safety.
You simply cannot afford to take chances during the pandemic–and likely for a long time to come. Major hotel chains have taken great pains to ensure their properties are clean and ready for you. Their staffs are trained and all precautions are in place. From the time you walk in, you should expect:
- Barrier shields at check-in. You may also have the option of no-contact check-in using the hotel’s app.
- All staff wearing face masks. Forget the craziness and politics of masks; if the staff isn’t wearing them to demonstrate responsibility, what else isn’t happening?
- How about other guests? Are they wearing masks? I know you will be…but do you want to stay in a place where masks are optional? I don’t!
- Is hand sanitizer readily available? Even by vending machines?
- Is the furniture in common areas socially-distanced?
- What’s happening with dining and those free breakfasts? Buffets should be a no-no. Tables should be spaced apart, with a restricted number of guests at each one.
- The hotel should clearly say how it’s cleaning during guest stays and between guests. You can also check to see if non-essential items (pens, menus, in-room coffee makers, travel guides, etc) are in place. If so, ask to have them removed, or put them in a drawer–then wash your hands.
- If the hotel doesn’t supply disinfectant wipes in each room, use your own supply to wipe surfaces and “high-risk” objects: door knobs, light switches, door peepholes, remotes, clocks, lamp buttons, faucets, etc.
- Same goes for using the hotel’s business office, computers, workout area, and pool. You know the drill…