21 Best Safety Tips for a Solo Female Road Trip

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Embarking on a cross-country solo road trip can be an exhilarating experience but also a little scary, especially for first-time solo travelers. Breaking out of the comfort zone is both liberating and challenging. It took me a few months to muster up the courage to embark on my first solo road trip.

I first decided to drive from FL to the West Coast, stopping at as many national parks as I could. I’ve since taken another four cross-country journeys since that first one in 2021, and have driven from Florida to New York yearly since 2021. Road trips are my favorite way to see the country, save money, and really just spend time with myself exploring and discovering so many hidden gems along the way.

For the female adventurer stepping out on her first solo journey, it is important to navigate the open road confidently and follow proper safety precautions for an enjoyable journey.

In this blog post, I’ll share some essential safety tips tailored for the first-time solo female travelers, whether you are setting out on a cross-country road trip or a weekend escape, these road trip safety tips will help you embrace the freedom of solo travel while prioritizing your safety every mile of the way!

Get Navigation Ready

Nothing is worse than blissfully enjoying a long drive only to be interrupted by a rerouting error when using Google Maps. Prepare for your road trip by downloading offline maps BEFORE you leave home (the internet is required for most downloads) so you are prepared to drive anywhere, even with poor connectivity. I’ve used other offline maps like Maps.me and Gaia GPS, but I find Google Maps to be the easiest and it’s free use.

Also, have a backup plan by packing a paper map or road atlas in case of technological glitches- like losing or damaging your phone. With offline maps and paper maps at your disposal, you’ll be ready for twists and turns on the open road.

Research Your Route Ahead of Time 

Researching and pre-planning parts of your solo road trip route is vital for safely stepping out of your comfort zone. Mapping a route helps avoid sketchy areas or remote areas with no gas stations that may be essential for a long drive- or at least lets you plan accordingly.

Getting a feel for what to expect along your solo road trip, deciding where you want to go, where to make pit stops, and how long you plan to be on the road helps minimize uncertainties and contributes to a more relaxed and confident solo travel experience.

Stay at a Secure Accommodation

While I love a car camping cross-country road trip, for some solo female travelers, road tripping is best done with hotels in mind. Booking accommodations in safe areas is crucial. Sometimes you’ll want to book last minute, not knowing where you’ll end up for the night, but making sure you have reviewed potential overnight stops prior to arriving is key to booking a safe and secure accommodation. 

Arrive before nightfall allowing daylight visibility to navigate unfamiliar surroundings and give you peace of mind. If you are car camping alone, the drill is still the same. Research optional overnight parking lots or off-road pull-offs and arrive before dark to make sure you feel safe in your overnight location. 

Stay Alert Behind the Wheel

Staying alert behind the wheel is crucial for personal safety during a solo road trip. It aids in navigation and decision-making, preventing wrong turns and delays. Make sure you get enough sleep, pack enough healthy snacks and keep yourself hydrated to improve alertness. Avoid driving in fatigue hours such as mid-afternoon or late at nights.

Plan your itinerary to include breaks every 2 hours or so. Make a pit stop at a secure rest area. Get out of the car, stretch your legs, and take a short walk to refresh your body and mind. Listening to a fun road trip playlist, and engaging podcasts or audio books is a great way to keep your mind active and engaged. Staying alert behind the wheel ensures quick responses to changing road conditions, unexpected challenges, or potential hazards helping to improve your safety on every solo road trip. 

Stay Informed on Local News and Weather

Keep on top of local news and weather updates to avoid potential hazards or unsafe areas. Listen to local radio stations for up-to-date information. Map out your route and review weather conditions to make sure you won’t be facing any inclement weather, including strong winds that can really freak a solo traveler out while driving cross country. 

Keep Your Tank Full and Fuel Up Wisely

I never let my tank get below a ¼ tank full, filling up at ½ a tank is ideal but sometimes the road stretches for miles with no gas stations in sight. It’s not good for your car engine to be “running on fumes”. When you let your gas tank get too low, the engine sucks up sediment and debris settled at the bottom of the fuel tank, potentially causing damage to your car engine. It’s best to maintain a reasonable level of fuel to ensure optimal performance and prevent potential issues associated with running on empty.

Make sure to refuel at well-lit, busy gas stations and avoid isolated areas, especially at night. At night, I only use gas stations with a credit card reader at the pump. I rarely go inside to pay even if the pump indicates I have to go inside- I move to a different gas station instead. Besides feeling safer, it’s more convenient to pay at the pump.

Leave Valuables at Home

Travel with as little valuables as possible. I always go on road trips with my camera gear and laptop for remote work, but I never bring jewelry or other valuable items unless I absolutely need them. That is not saying much, as my camera gear and laptop are my most valuable possessions by far.

Always store valuables in inconspicuous places inside the vehicle and keep items like electronics and bags out of sight when not in use. 

Consider a portable lock box for small items and use tinted windows or DIY window covers to obstruct inside car views for added security. 

When parking in public lots for an extended time (usually when hiking), I usually bring my camera backpack with as much gear as possible rather than leaving it in the car as a safety measure. I’m always concerned someone will break into my car and steal my livelihood, my cameras, and my laptop. I have yet to experience a car break-in but you just never know when you might be in the wrong place at the wrong time, so better safe than sorry.

Trust Your Instincts

Trusting your instincts is crucial to ensuring personal safety during a road trip. Your intuition often picks up on subtle cues that may not be immediately apparent. If a situation feels uncomfortable or raises concerns, it’s essential to prioritize your safety over sticking to the original plan. This might involve changing routes, finding a different stopping place, or altering your schedule last minute. Being flexible and responsive to your instincts empowers you to make decisions that prioritize your well-being, contributing to a safer and more enjoyable travel experience.

Stay Connected

Whether you are visiting a small town or driving through the Grand Canyon National Park, it is important to stay connected enough to ensure your safety but still enjoy your solo travel experience. In case of an emergency, having someone aware of your itinerary and progress ensures prompt assistance if needed.

Keep your phone charged, use a car charger, and share your itinerary or GPS location with someone you trust. Even if it’s just a few social media posts, by maintaining open communication during a solo road trip, you create a safety net that enhances both your personal security and the peace of mind of those concerned about your well-being.

Avoid Driving at Night

Driving at night presents several challenges and increased risks compared to driving during daylight. Some reasons you should avoid driving at night include, limited visibility, increased driver fatigue, wildlife activity, increased risk of impaired drivers, increased risk of crime, and possible challenging road conditions. Whenever possible, plan your driving during daylight hours to mitigate these risks. If you must drive at night, ensure your vehicle’s lights are in good working condition, reduce speed, take breaks to combat fatigue and stay vigilant for potential hazards.

Keep Your Vehicle Well-Maintained

Ensure your vehicle is in good condition inside and out before your solo road trip. Regularly check tires, brakes, lights, battery, and fluid levels to improve the longevity of your vehicle. Have a thorough pre-trip inspection by a qualified mechanic to identify and address potential issues before they escalate into major problems. Preventing breakdowns is especially important when traveling solo, as finding assistance or a repair shop might be more challenging in specific locations.

Knowing your car is “good to go” will give you peace of mind while on the road and improve comfort while driving, helping to combat driver fatigue. 

Pro Tip: I also always ensure my wipers are in good shape and frequently use RainX before any long road trips to increase visibility during rain. RainX works well and is easy to apply.

Pack a Car Emergency Kit

You should at least have a basic Car Emergency Kit, including a spare tire, jack, jumper cables, and basic tools, with you on every long road trip. It is also wise to know how to change a flat tire. 

Rental Cars should come with an emergency kit and a spare tire. Ask the representative if your car includes a spare or has an emergency roadside number to call in case of emergencies.

Remember to periodically check and update your emergency kit, ensuring that all items are in good condition and that supplies with expiration dates are still valid. Don’t forget a first aid kit and any medications. Being prepared can make your road trip safer and more enjoyable.

While I do have a flat tire kit, I’ve learned a portable air compressor is my best friend when it comes to flat tires on my solo road trips. Usually, a flat is caused by a nail, and the compressor will allow me to quickly blow the tire up enough to get it to a repair shop. This is much easier than changing the tire myself or waiting hours on roadside service.

Sign Up For Roadside Assistance

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a popular roadside assistance service that offers numerous benefits for solo road trippers, including services for flats, batteries, tows, fuel delivery, lockouts, and more. It is an additional safety precaution to help your solo journey be more enjoyable and less stressful. 

I definitely think the cost of a subscription is worth the peace of mind. I’ve used it several times over the years and almost always had a good experience. Although they offer an after-hours service, I discovered a flat tire at 2 a.m. and could not get a hold of them. We could not get the jack to work, the spare was flat, and I did not have a portable air compressor yet. Luckily, I was with friends, and a friend’s sister came to our rescue, but if I was alone, I would have had to sleep in my car or leave it until the next day when AAA’s normal business hours resumed. Despite this bad experience, AAA has saved me several times with unexpected car issues, and now I never drive cross-country without them. 

Use a Hide a Key (but in a smart way)

If you asked me a year ago (before I locked myself out of my car in an area with no cell reception), I would have said it is too risky to hide a spare car key near my car. Now, after an accidental lock-out, I realize how convenient it can be, but using a hide-a key does come with some risks.

Traditional hide-a-key devices are not 100% secure. Leaving a spare key near your car increases the risk of theft if someone knows where to look and discovers the key. Consider hiding a key that can only lock and unlock your car and not start it.

A Hide key is best if you are in a remote or isolated area where lock-out assistance may be difficult to find or if you find yourself locking yourself out frequently and need to gain quick access. It’s also best for older vehicles with traditional mechanical locks. Modern vehicles with advanced technology, like electric key fobs, may not be suitable for a hide-a-key system.

It’s essential to weigh the convenience against the potential security risks. If you choose to use a hide-a-key, be cautious about where and how you hide it to minimize the chances of unauthorized access. 

Keep Your Car Clean and Organized

Maintaining a clean and organized car during a solo road trip contributes to a more enjoyable, safe, and efficient travel experience. When it is only you on the road, you’ll want access to essentials quickly so you can handle tasks independently without distractions.

A tidy and clean environment can positively impact your mental well-being. It creates a pleasant atmosphere and contributes to a sense of order and control during a long journey. 

Additionally, when you make pit stops along the way, having a clean and organized car can leave a positive impression and reduce the risk of attracting unwanted attention. All enhancing safety during a solo female road trip.

Use a Hands-Free Phone Mount

Using a hands-free phone mount is the best thing you can do to improve your safety while on a solo road trip. A phone mount prompts safe driving practices and helps reduce distractions while driving. In many places, using a handheld phone while driving is against the law, so a phone mount ensures compliance with regulations and helps avoid potential fines. It makes following a GPS super easy and promotes safer communication practices so you can maintain better control of your vehicle. There are many different versions of car phone mounts, but I love the air vent holders that adjust to any size phone and do not use a magnet. 

Track Your Spending 

Whether you are on a strict budget or not, tracking your spending is a good way to remain financially aware while helping to prevent overspending, ensuring you have sufficient funds for the entire journey. 

Use a spreadsheet, notes app, or notebook and pen to jot down daily expenses such as gas, food, lodging, entrance fees, etc. Knowing how much you’ve spent in different categories allows you to allocate resources accordingly. This strategic planning ensures that you have adequate funds for all aspects of your road trip and gives you Peace of Mind, allowing you to enjoy your road trip without constant financial worries, contributing to a safer and more enjoyable travel experience.

Have an Emergency Fund 

It is always important to plan for the unexpected and have an emergency fund in case of any travel misshapes or faux pas that can arise along the way. 

Medical issues, car breakdowns, and even unexpected opportunities such as unique experiences or unplanned activities may arise. A travel emergency fund provides a financial cushion to handle these unexpected costs without derailing your entire trip and gives you the financial flexibility to seize unexpected opportunities without straining your budget.

How much to include in your emergency fund will depend on various factors, including your travel style, planned activities, destinations, and personal preferences. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, allocating 10-20% of your daily spending for unexpected expenses is a good idea. 

 Make Sure Car Insurance is Up-to-date

Ensuring your car insurance is up to date is crucial for financial protection and legal compliance during a long road trip. Contact your insurance company to ensure comprehensive coverage, and review travel insurance policies to safeguard yourself against unforeseen circumstances during your journey.

Confirm insurance coverage when renting a car to avoid unexpected costs. Pay for a rental car with a credit card that offers rental car coverage, and consider purchasing additional rental car insurance through your car provider for peace of mind. 

Don’t Over Pack

You should always pack efficiently, bringing only the essentials to help improve your comfort and safety while on the road. Overpacking a car can make your car cramped and limit mobility, creating an unpleasant travel experience. Packing too much in your car can obstruct visibility, increasing the risk of accidents. Loose items may become projectiles in the event of sudden stops or collisions, which could be detrimental to your safety.

To avoid overpacking, plan your outfits in advance, considering the weather and activities. Aim for versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits that serve multiple purposes. Limit the number of shoes you bring as shoes are bulky and take up a lot of space. 

I like to pack clothing in clear storage boxes with latches during long road trips to easily see what I have and where everything is. When I am not sleeping in my car, I use a large tote bag to pull what I need for the night and the next day, helping to minimize the luggage struggle. 

Bring Protection

Carrying items like pepper spray, a taser, or personal alarms provides a sense of security and serves as a deterrent against potential threats on a solo female road trip. In unfamiliar environments, readily available protection can empower solo female travelers, enabling them to respond effectively in unforeseen situations and navigate their journey with increased confidence and peace of mind.

The type of protection is up to you and should be one you are comfortable using. I have never had any safety issues arise in over 3+ years of solo road tripping, but carrying an air horn, bear spray, or taser while hiking and sightseeing does help me feel more confident in my daily adventures. 

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Whether it’s your first solo trip or you’re a seasoned adventurer, the allure of long drives and cross-country exploration is hard to ignore. By following these road trip safety tips, you’ll have a secure and empowering expedition, allowing you to embrace the freedom of the open road, enjoying every mile along the way. Happy Road Tripping!

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