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Tips for a Solo Female Road Trip

Considering a road trip but have concerns, as a solo female traveller? Read on for my tips and tricks for ensuring a fabulous road trip. Does the thought of going on a road trip alone as a female traveller sound appealing but a little worrying? I worried, too. I had done plenty of road trips with family and friends but I wasn't convinced I could do it alone. I began with some small solo trips which built up my confidence enough to drive cross-country on an epic Canadian road trip and have continued to build my confidence to the point where I now spend 2-3 months each summer on the road.

White Sprinter van parked amongst trees. On the side of the van is the word "Wanderlust" and the RamblynJazz logo

Over time, I've meticulously crafted an array of road trip itineraries designed to help you navigate the countless choices this province offers. Whether you're following the footsteps of history along the Gold Rush Trail, venturing through the serene landscapes of the Sunshine Coast, or uncovering the hidden gems of Vancouver Island, I've mapped it out for you. With more road trip itineraries ready to be published, you'll want to subscribe to make sure you don't miss future posts.


But today, I'm excited to share something even more precious than itineraries – wisdom. This isn't just your standard set of travel tips; it's a treasure chest of insights, exclusively tailored for solo female road trippers. Although many of these tips will work for all genders, some tips specifically address the concerns of women.


Solo Female Road Trip: Before You Go

Take the time to do some pre-trip planning and preparation that will include considering safety issues, vehicle maintenance, items to pack, and route planning. It is essential to familiarize yourself with traffic laws and regulations for the region you are exploring. Take the time to ensure you are familiar with any unique local rules. As an example, in British Columbia, most U-turns are strictly forbidden (even when Siri tells you otherwise!).

No U-turn road sign

image: Clkr Vektor from Pixabay

If travelling outside your cellular area, invest in an e-sim to ensure access to navigational tools and to be able to contact emergency services, if needed. I have been pleased with Airalo e-sims.

Road Trip Safety

While adventure and spontaneity are at the heart of a road trip, it's essential to prioritize safety, especially when travelling alone. While connecting with fellow travellers and locals can be incredibly rewarding, exercise caution when sharing personal information. Avoid announcing that you're travelling solo, and be careful of oversharing on social media. It's okay to lie. Remember that while the vast majority of people you'll meet on the road are friendly and genuine, it's best to stay realistic about the existence of potential "Generic Bad Guys" without becoming neurotic.


You may be planning on staying in Bed & Breakfasts and budget lodgings but it's a good idea to throw a sleeping bag and maybe a small tent into your supplies, in case of emergencies or other unplanned issues. My tent was especially valuable when a storm hit and delayed all ferries from Newfoundland causing all hotels, motels, and bed & breakfast places to be filled while waiting for the voyages to return to regular schedules.

small green tent with camp chair, cooler, and bottle of wine.

Before settling down for the night, it's important to decide on the conditions needed to stay overnight safely no matter where you are staying. Ensure you have a way to communicate in case of emergencies and keep the doors locked. Adequate lighting and a secure location for parking are also crucial. Trust your instincts – if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. If you're in doubt about the safety of a location, don't hesitate to move on. If travelling in areas with wildlife, consider what is needed to make sure those beasties keep a safe distance. How will you alert them to your presence and persuade them to move on? How will you store food? What strategies or equipment might be needed?

2 brown bears at the water's edge

To avoid any preventable hiccups on your adventure, make sure your vehicle is serviced by your mechanic. Get the oil changed and get your tires (including the spare!) and all safety systems inspected. Consider an auto club membership. My BCAA membership has been invaluable and I won't consider a road trip without some sort of emergency assistance service


The first step in crafting your unforgettable road trip is to become the Sherlock Holmes of blogs, maps and guidebooks. Dust off those atlases, fire up Google Maps, and start plotting your course. Your itinerary doesn't need to be set in stone. I recommend against a solid itinerary. Part of the joy of road-tripping is taking advantage of the flexibility of making your schedule and plan.

An assortment of map books and travel guides spread on a counter

Let your loved ones know your route and check in with them regularly. A simple text or call to say you're safe can bring peace of mind to both you and your concerned friends and family. Keep your vehicle fueled and your devices charged, as emergencies can happen when you least expect them. Finally, it's wise to have backup paper maps on hand.


Tip: Consider safety of all types in all areas of your journey. Think about what you will need in case of personal injury, vehicle breakdown, getting lost, wildlife encounters, emergency contacts, prevention and protection.

Packing Your Vehicle

Once your basic route and safety issues have been considered, it's time to pack up your vehicle. How much you want to take will depend upon your personal choices, the amount of room you have, and the types of activities you'll be involved with. When packing up your vehicle, your goal is to avoid filling the space that can be seen from the outside and to prevent anything from moving around the vehicle during normal operations in case you will need to brake hard. Ideally, everything should fit into your trunk space except the items needed during the drive. Remove anything of value from the interior before leaving your vehicle.

cartoon of a car loaded for a beach trip

image: Clker Free Vektor by Pixabay

Do NOT place all your important belongings (cash, documentation, etc) in the same place. Store copies of your important documents on the cloud. Will you want to bring along any sports or entertainment equipment? Podcasts and audiobooks are perfect road trip companions. Do you need a camp chair or stove? Are you really going to attend an event where you will wear a fancy dress and high heels? How will you charge up your devices? I recommend a multi-input car charger that will charge your phone as you drive. As far as personal items, that's all about the kind of road trip you have planned. Those travelling from city to city in search of urban experiences will be packing very differently from those heading out on fishing expeditions. Having said that, plan on doing laundry regularly rather than trying to pack different outfits for each day. (See my post about doing laundry on the road here) Plan on filling a snack box that can sit safely on the passenger seat and allows for an easy one-handed grab. Good road trip snacks can be consumed neatly using only one hand and unwrapped easily. Include a variety of both nutritious and junk food snacks as well as an assortment of drinks. To keep snacks cool, you might want a cooler that can be plugged into your vehicle's DC (cigarette lighter) outlet.


7 plastic bags filled with snacks: pretzels, crackers, fruit, and vegetables.

Tip: Don't tempt thieves by leaving items where they can be seen from outside the vehicle. Secure all items to prevent movement while the vehicle is in motion. Don't forget a snack box and some good road snacks!


Solo Female Road Trip: On the Road

Now that you've got your vehicle serviced, basic route decided, and packed your car it's time to hit the road!


Driving Tips

Break down your journey into reasonably-size distances where you drive no more than 2-3 hours before taking a break. If driving in areas where weak cellular connections are likely, download all maps. Look ahead on your route to note any interesting stops along the way. Schedule your driving for daylight hours. Read the signs along the highway and turn off whenever something strikes your fancy. Stop at viewpoints and rest stops.

If you pass something that looks interesting, stop and enjoy it. If you drove past before realizing it was interesting, turn around. You may travel a different route on your return and won't have another opportunity.

A small rail car on a rail line at the Claybank Brick Factory

a delightful and unanticipated stop at Claybank Brick Plant in Saskatchewan

Don't let your fuel or windshield cleaner get low. Fill up long before you need to worry and keep it topped up. Make sure to check liquid levels regularly. Carry extra window cleansers and scrubbers to get rid of all the bugs that will be splattered across your windshield. Be aware that you can get sunburnt even while driving and apply sunscreen. One of the worst sunburns in my life was the arm I had resting on the window frame during a road trip. Bathroom breaks will be required. Highway rest stops and gas stations can be a gamble for cleanliness but fast-food chain restaurants are reliable and usually have decent coffee. Tips: Keep your fuel tank and windshield cleaner full. Take a break from driving every 2-3 hours. Make frequent stops to admire your route.

While Exploring

Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Don't get lost in your phone or a delightful street performance. Trust your instincts and react accordingly. Be prepared to be assertively protective of yourself and your information. Choose safe activities with people nearby. This doesn't mean that you can't hike, just don't go on trails that are rarely frequented by others. Do a pub crawl tour rather than go alone. Don't drink too much. Look for accommodations with women's only floors.

exterior view of a small town museum and visitor center

Plan on stopping at Tourist Information Centers for excellent local advice for things to explore and suggestions for places to stay and eat that may not show up on internet searches. Some of my best adventures have been discovered this way.

Take Plenty of Photos

Whether you have fancy camera gear or your phone, take lots of photos and don't forget at least a few selfies of you on this amazing road trip. For selfies, use a tripod or prop your phone/camera on something and set the timer. Get into position and let it do its thing. Keep practicing until you are comfortable. If they are all awful, you don't need to show them to anyone but chances are strong that you'll get some that you enjoy.

The author leaning against a post with a sign "North America's Most Northern Grape Winery"

Camera propped on a barrel, using a timer. Celista BC

Start Small

Your first solo road trip doesn't need to be an epic journey. Start small. Take a short getaway near home and expand the distance and duration as your confidence builds. Learn your daily driving limit, the items you need or don't need, the activities that you enjoy, and the skills you need to make your road trip a success.

Final Thoughts

A solo road trip is an empowering adventure that every woman should experience at least once in her lifetime. The open road holds the promise of self-discovery, personal growth, and a newfound sense of independence. As a solo female traveller, you'll find strength in navigating the unknown and building confidence with each passing mile.


With this guide in hand, you'll be well-prepared to embark on an unforgettable journey. Remember to research your route, maintain your vehicle, and choose accommodations wisely. Pack thoughtfully, prioritize safety, and stay connected with your loved ones. Trust your instincts and savour every moment.

Looking along a road with mountains in background.

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15 Comments


Guest
Nov 03, 2023

This is a very comprehensive list with lots of things to consider and keeping in mind before a solo road trip. It's insane how much you have to think and potentially take care of right? I've done a few road trips myself, not on a scale like your adventures with your van, but long tours in a regular car (Germany to England and the entire East Coast of Australia). I can definitely approve of breaking up your route into smaller sections and take regular breaks. Don't drive 6-9h in one go, your body will pay it back the next time you have opportunity to catch up on sleep.


Carolin | <a href="https://solotravelstory.com/">Solo Travel Story</a>

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Lyn (aka Jazz)
Lyn (aka Jazz)
Nov 03, 2023
Replying to

Most of my road trips have been done in a regular car. It's important, I think, to drive shorter distances to enjoy what you are seeing. Who wants to spend a whole day inside a vehicle looking at a road? blech.

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Guest
Oct 27, 2023

Safety would probably be my top concern on a road trip alone, so I love your tips! Espeically keeping a tent and sleeping bag. I'm in a number of travel groups where people's accommodation is cancelled for whatever reason last minute so that's good to have, and honestly not sure I would have thought about it.

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Lyn (aka Jazz)
Lyn (aka Jazz)
Oct 30, 2023
Replying to

I'm glad you got some useful tips! Safety is a concern but I truly have not experienced anything that really worried me while on a road trip. Being prepared is the key, whether that is auto club, having a tent just in case, or just paying attention to our surroundings.

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Emma Gilbert
Emma Gilbert
Oct 22, 2023

I've done a lot of solo travel, but never a proper solo road trip. Your posts are inspiring me though. I'm a chronic over packer so that's at least one thing I need to work on. I do love the snack box idea though, why had I never thought of that! Great tips about safety. I know even non road trip, I am more cautious now of what I post online while still in a place, and rarely reveal the hotel info until I'm gone.

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Lyn (aka Jazz)
Lyn (aka Jazz)
Oct 22, 2023
Replying to

Road trips are much more forgiving of overpacking than your hiking adventures, so I am confident you'll be fine. Stay tuned for snack box suggestions in tomorrow's post ;)


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Guest
Oct 20, 2023

I'm very bad at planning but for long road trips, it's a must. I hate to find myself with a broken car in the middle of nowhere. Offline maps and great podcasts always come handy for sure specially where you have to drive for many miles without ever encountering anyone on the road. I'll be interested what kind of podcasts and music you lined yourself up for a 2-3 day road trip? #flyingbaguette


Jan - https://flyingbaguette.com/

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Lyn (aka Jazz)
Lyn (aka Jazz)
Oct 22, 2023
Replying to

My road trip playlist is definitely a solo traveller's playlist... jazz and folk music, true crime and unsolved mysteries top the charts for me.

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So many really helpful tips here. We have a similar approach to planning - do loads of research and make sure we have info to hand, but leave some flexibility for the spontaneous stuff. You're so right about keeping backups - cloud storage for important physical documents and paper backups (maps) in case you can't get a signal. Your photo tips are a great idea. My arms aren't long enough for selfies that get the person and the scenery in, so the tripod/prop and timer approach is something I'll look into. Great post!

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Lyn (aka Jazz)
Lyn (aka Jazz)
Oct 19, 2023
Replying to

I also suffer T-Rex syndrome with short arms, so I have to prop/tripod my camera (even then I often get shots up my nose!)

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