By the time I was wandering around the Mary Todd Lincoln House in August of 2018, I had been on the road for a month, camping and living out of my car. I was proud of myself, to be quite honest, because I had imagined all sorts of things going wrong, and having all sorts of meltdowns while parked along the side of the road, and none of that had happened. I’m being a little dramatic here, but I had worried before I left that I wouldn’t be cut out for the vagabond lifestyle. Would I be able to do this?
After a month, I felt like I had worked through things. I felt comfortable being on my own. I wasn’t freaked out about not having a reservation each night. I was doing this! So, to share the knowledge, here’s a few things I learned as a solo woman, road-tripping through the United States.
- When in Montana, get gas before you get down to half a tank. Once, I had more than a half a tank when I departed for my next destination, but given my route, and the distances between towns with gas stations in Montana, I was down to about 20 miles left by the time I saw a gas station!
- Very few people tent camp in the Midwest. I was largely alone in the tent section of the campgrounds I went to, as a general rule.
- Don’t leave your tennis shoes outside at night. The torrential downpour when I was staying at Boonesboro State Park in Kentucky soaked my tennis shoes through and through, and got them muddy enough that I had to take out the insoles and wash them out in the campground shower.
- Don’t forget your quarters when you go to do your laundry…
- Ask the locals for their recommendations on restaurants, hikes, and other places to see. Even if you don’t have time, you can always put it on the list for next time!
- Get to your campground before dark. For safety purposes, of course, but also because it is hard to cook and find your things by the light of a lantern.
- Know your car. AKA, if you have a Honda CR-V, don’t open the back doors from the inside without unlocking the doors with the fob. It sets off the alarm! Apologies for the early morning wake ups, my fellow campers!
- Try the local flavor – even if you are saving money by not eating out that often, be sure to check out some of the local fare. There are fun breweries, good wines, and unique regional dishes all over!
- Some of those gadgets are a real lifesaver! I traveled with an electric cooler that plugged into my car, converters so I could plug regular plugs into the car’s cigarette lighters, rechargeable battery packs, a rechargeable/solar powered lantern, and bug screens for my windows so I could sleep in the car with the windows down on hot nights! There is so much innovative gear for camping and road trips!
- Not everybody will be kind, or friendly, or safe. But most people will. People will definitely look at you funny if you are camping alone. Just get used to it; they probably don’t mean any harm, and they might even be jealous.
What would you add to the list?