I'm the first one to admit that when it comes to solo travel, my preferred method of transportation is an airplane. I don't care how long the flight is. Turbulence doesn't even phase me anymore. And I can all but drown out any conversation or noise going on around me with a combination of my iPod and meditation.
I rarely consider driving from point A to point B if it's longer than 5 hours, but when I was a kid, that's how our family took vacations. So in the spirit of my heritage, here are 5 tips you can use to plan a cross-country trip without getting bogged down in too many details.
1. Keep driving days to 8 hours or less to avoid road fatigue.
Even though driving may seem like a mindless occupation, you're actually engaging many senses simultaneously and it can be very draining. If you're planning a long road trip, like one that's over 1,500 miles, a good estimate for how much ground you can cover in a day is 400 to 500 miles.
2. Plan to stop every couple of hours.
Use something like Google Maps to input your destination and take a look at the route in 500 mile increments, approximately. While it's not precise, you can generally break things up visually by adding cities in between as stops. For example, if I wanted to drive from Boise to Oklahoma City, I'd plan stops in Rock Springs, Denver and somewhere in Kansas to keep my driving days reasonably short, and I'd then do some research into those cities to find out if there's anything going on the days that I'm there - just for a diversion. If not, then I'll plan to stop at truck stops when I need to walk around.
3. Pack the right foods with you.
Don't think that coffee will save you from fatigue on the way, even if it is loaded with caffeine. Sugars and carb-laden foods can give you an immediate boost but drag you down over time. Eat protein at breakfast and lunch with veggies for sustained focus.
4. Plan stops to see friends along the way.
It gives you something to look forward to! Friend stops along the way also give you check points with people who will be looking out for you.
5. Check in, check in, check in and keep your cell phone charged.
We never like to think about the worst happening, but check in with people on both ends of your trip, and make sure those two people have each others contact info as well. If anything should go wrong, they'll have your back faster than anyone else.