I have wanted to take a solo road trip for over a year.
Last summer I planned to go to Montreal for Le festival de la bière. None of my friends could go or had passports, so it looked like the perfect opportunity to do this thing that I’d wanted to do for ages.
Instead, I went to New York with my ex.
Now, it was a great trip. I got to see a band that I loved in college play their last show, and I got to catch up with two old roommates and meet a new friend. I finally saw the Museum of Modern Art (free Fridays!) and the Central Park Zoo. I got to visit a Hare Krishna festival in Washington Square Park (which was already one of my favorite places in Manhattan).
That’s just the things I did in New York. There was a lot more on the way there and back.
Having someone with me was nice. Sure, he was my ex that I was sort of seeing again, and we broke up for the final time shortly after the trip, but he was still a close friend, so it was definitely not all bad. And it was nice to have somebody to switch off with so we could cover more miles.
Still, I wanted to travel somewhere alone: Just me and the open road.
I finally did it, and here are some of the best things about that trip.
Being alone in my car is basically a huge karaoke jam session no matter how short the trip is, so this was like a marathon singing event.
Best part: I didn’t have to have anybody else’s approval for the music playing. I know a lot of people have this “rule” that the driver picks the music, but I kind of hate that rule, even if I am the driver. I don’t want to mess with anybody else’s flow, and I don’t want them to mess with mine.
If I wasn’t feeling a song, I could skip it. If I wanted to listen to the same song three times in a row, I could.
Also, I get self-conscious singing in front of other people unless I’m drinking. Being alone in the car, I could belt out the tunes off-key or on-key as loud as I wanted without having to feel like an idiot or worry that my neighbors would hear me.
Because writing is such a huge part of who I am and because my memory is awful, I tend to write down everything.
It’s nice to have that record, but sometimes it’s also nice to just let thoughts flow without having to remember them later.
Being alone in the car with nothing to distract me except the music and paying attention to the road, I got to just let my mind wander and soak up the emotions without worrying what it all means or trying to organize it in a way that I can make sense of later.
Sure, you don’t have to be alone to appreciate a good view. And it’s arguably easier to admire the landscape when you aren’t also watching the road.
But that’s why I took frequent stops. I lingered at picnic areas because I wanted to take in the hills around me. I noticed details that I would have missed if I were trying to keep up a conversation with another person.
Speaking of stops, I didn’t need anyone’s acquiescence to stop at a neat-looking place. I had a sort of schedule that I was working off of for tentative places to stop, but I didn’t feel any obligation to stick to it, and I quite frequently didn’t.
That’s how I ended up wandering around downtown Marble Falls for an hour. It’s why I found the absolute coolest picnic area with graffiti in bright colors all over the table.
Now, when I went to New York with my ex, he was never opposed to somewhere I wanted to stop, but I was definitely less likely to bring it up. Also, the way that interesting things crop up on the highway, it’s often difficult to call them out before you’ve passed them.
I really like spending time alone, so for me, traveling solo was amazing. I tend to talk to myself anyway, so conversation was never lacking. I’m comfortable being by myself.
I would definitely do this again. I posted a few days ago about the creepy incident at the last picnic area, but that won’t stop me from traveling alone in the future.
Still, current plan is a weekend road trip to Colorado with a friend from high school, so solo road tripping isn’t my only option or only desire.
I just want you to know if you’re thinking about hitting the road solo that it is totally okay. More than okay, it’s a blast!
So do it. Go for it.
Ever been on a solo road trip (or even non-road trip)? How was it, and what did you like about it? Let me know!