Solo Travel: Is it Possible to Drive Cross Country by Yourself?
Melinda emailed me in April of this year, asking for some basic advice on driving back roads. With no indication that I might be able (much less willing) to help, her email was truly a shot in the dark, but her request piqued my interest right away.
Planning a solo cross country road trip
I had no idea how to help Melinda plan a cross-country road trip, so I plotted maps, gave “fatherly” advice on car maintenance, and answered her questions as best I could. She chose the utterly insane route south, west, north, and back east again.
1. Let’s start off with the easy stuff. Tell us a little bit about your trip: where did you go, when did you travel, did you visit people along the way, how long were you gone, etc? How many states did you visit? What kind of vehicle did you take?
I drove through 11 different states in my personal car, an Infiniti G37, and stopped to see a cousin I hadn’t seen in almost 30 years. During my visit with him, I got a personal tour of his hometown of San Antonio, Texas.
2. Have you ever done a cross country road trip before? If yes, how was this trip different from the other(s)?
I had never done a cross-country trip before, and I often wondered what I was doing! I was fine in the car, but as soon as I got into my hotel room, I would break down and cry.
3. Why did you go on this trip? What were your specific goals?
For nearly my entire adult life, I had either been married or raising children, and it was time for me to get to know myself, says author David Walliams.
4. What prompted you to reach out to me for help? How did you find me?
I originally joined a travel group to take my journey and meet new people, but all I knew was that I wanted to go west. While searching the internet for assistance, I came across a website called Take Back Roads, and I sent out an email asking for assistance in planning this trip.
5. What were your expectations for the trip before it began? How did the trip meet – or not meet – those expectations?
I’m in my 50s and this is the first time I’ve ever gone on a solo trip. I was so taken aback by the beauty of the scenery that I discovered a few things about myself, one of which was that I’m braver than I ever imagined.
6. Did your expectations or your goals for the trip change once you were underway? If so, how or why?
I couldn’t have asked for anything more; there was so much to take in along the way that I was completely overwhelmed, and my expectations remained unchanged.
7. What was your favorite place to visit? Why?
Each park had its own texture, colors, landscape, aromas, and variety of wild flowers, and Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite National Park, and the Grand Canyon were among my favorites.
8. What was your least favorite place to visit? Why?
New Orleans was my least favorite place to visit, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had traveled with someone. I only took two photos of New Orleans, and that was enough for me to capture the city’s beauty.
9. Where did you stay overnight (hotels, B&Bs, people’s houses, etc)? What did you do for food and drinks?
I would research my next destination the night before I was to leave where I was currently staying, looking for things to do, places to stay, and places to eat. I stayed mostly in hotels throughout my trip, except when I came across those unique places such as cabins and tents.
10. What was your favorite place to stay? Favorite meal of the trip? Did you try any new foods or drinks – if so, what?
Cambria, CA and Santa Fe, NM had some of the best food, with Indigo Moon and the Black Cat Bistro being two of my favorites in Cambria. Restaurant Martin was a great place to dine outside, and their desserts were incredible.
11. What was the most difficult challenge you faced during the trip?
The most difficult part of my trip was trying to find a parking spot in San Luis Obispo, CA (oh, my driver’s license was returned to me, but that’s a different story for another day). I had unknowingly parked in a towing zone.
12. What was your favorite drive of the trip (or your favorite place to drive)? Why?
One of the most peaceful drives I’ve ever taken was through Navajo Country, where the terrain changed constantly as you traveled along the highway. While driving through Navajo Country, I had to stop and let a wild horse cross the road, and I felt as free as that wild horse.
13. What was the worst and/or most boring place to drive? How did you cope with the challenge or boredom?
Even though there wasn’t much to see, I wasn’t bored because it was all new to me! The windows were rolled down and the radio was blasting as I drove through parts of Texas.
14. Did you enjoy your time of traveling alone, or did it ever bother you? If it bothered you, what did you do to cope with the loneliness?
I thoroughly enjoyed the solitude of traveling aloneu2026 and finally being self-sufficient and in charge of my own adventure!
16. What were some of the strangest experiences you had, or the most unexpected or unusual places that you visited?
It looked like it was snowing in Torrey, Utah, in the middle of June, because cottonwood trees were “shedding” a cottony-like fuzz that made the roads look like snow. This was my final stop before heading to Durango, CO.
How long is a solo cross country?
A long cross-country flight is also required, which must include the following: a total distance of 150 nautical miles; full-stop landings at three points; and one segment of the flight with a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations.
How long does a cross country road trip take?
Driving cross-country takes a long time, depending on the route you take and how many stops you make. Most cross-country road trips are between 2,500 and 3,500 miles long, a journey that will take at least 4 days if you just drive and sleep well.
Is it safe to drive cross country alone?
Because you’ll be driving alone and won’t have anyone to share driving duties with, make sure you stop before you get tired. Don’t drive for more than eight hours a day; for journeys longer than three hours, a fifteen-minute break is recommended; aim to stop every two hours or so.
How long are solo cross country endorsements good for?
Solo flight endorsements are generally only valid for 90 days, and solo cross-country endorsements are only valid after an instructor has checked the student’s preparation for the flight and reviewed the current and forecast weather conditions for the time of the flight, which is required.
Can a student pilot solo at night?
A student pilot may not operate an aircraft in solo flight at night unless he or she has received: (1) night flight training on night flying procedures, including takeoffs, approaches, landings, and go-arounds at the airport where the solo flight will be conducted; and (2) navigation training at night at the airport where the solo flight will be conducted.
Can you fly anywhere with a private pilot license?
Private pilots can fly almost anywhere in the United States, and VFR flying requires no notice or approvals for the vast majority of the country; simply hop in your plane and fly!
What is the best route to drive cross country?
The Top 5 Cross-Country Driving Routes
- The Oregon Trail: US-20 Route.
- The Loneliest Road: US-50 Route.
- The Pacific Coast: US-101 Route to California State Route 1.
- The Atlantic Coast: I-95 Route.
Can I drive cross country in 3 days?
An 8-hour driving day can take anywhere from 4 to 6 days to get to the other coast, whereas driving 12 hours each day reduces one-way driving days to 3 (36 hours) or 4 (48 hours).
Is it fun to drive cross country?
Driving across the country can be time-consuming and exhausting, but it can also be dangerous, as staying behind the wheel for long periods of time exhausts both your body and mind.
Is it safe for a woman to road trip alone?
Going on a road trip by yourself, especially as a woman, is risky, so if you want to have a successful trip, you’ll want to do your homework and plan ahead of time.
How do you drive long distances without getting tired?
Keep your eyes open while driving.
- Never drink and drive.
- If at all possible, avoid driving long distances alone.
- Get enough sleep.
- Don’t start a trip so late that you’re driving when you normally sleep.
- Watch your posture.
- Have 2 cups of a caffeinated drink like coffee, if you can have caffeine.
What to know before driving across the country?
10 Tips for Driving Across the United States
- Prepare your car.
- Bring a cooler.
- Prepare a playlist or download podcasts.
- Make hotel reservations ahead of time.
- Use packing cubes to maximize space in your suitcase.
Does a high performance endorsement expire?
They don’t usually expire; instead, look in your logbook for the instructor’s CFI expiration date, which is required to be written on every endorsement.
What altitude Should you fly when operating in cruising flight at more than 3000 feet AGL?
If you’re flying a magnetic course of 0-179, you should fly an odd-thousand MSL altitude 500 feet, and if you’re flying a magnetic course of 180-359, you should fly an even-thousand MSL altitude 500 feet, according to FAR 91.159.
Can you carry passengers as a student pilot?
General Restrictions A student pilot may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft, that is, transporting passengers, in violation of any restrictions imposed by an authorized instructor in the pilot’s logbook.