Have Car, Will Travel.

It’s a great aspiration for many people, to drive across the country. But as a solo female traveler there are considerations to make prior to and during your trip. Because no matter how independent and confident you feel in your home town, a solo venture cross-country will make you feel both larger than life and also incredibly small. Most people have a set time frame for their return due to work and family obligations, but if you ever find yourself in that rare position of freedom to just go, it’s a lot more complicated a venture to plan. It’s also a life-expanding journey that will teach you any number of things about yourself. So to help you get the most out of your adventure, here are a few tips…

Do Your Homework

Research is an imperative part of the planning process. It doesn’t mean you won’t encounter any number of unexpected bonuses and yes, setbacks, but having half a clue before heading out will make your trip that much more enjoyable. While dreaming and scheming, work your tail off to minimize expenses as much as possible and save as much money as you can. In credit card debt? Do your best to knock that debt down and out before departure so that you can reserve your cards for emergencies.

When you’ve chosen the destinations that appeal to you, mark out a general itinerary and then plot out your route based on how long you can comfortably drive each stretch. Will you be camping, visiting friends, staying in hotels, or all of the above? If so don’t forget to keep your friends in upcoming towns in the loop.

Safety is of paramount concern, particularly for a solo traveler and particularly for a woman. So first things first, take the most reliable transportation you can afford and then equip it with a car alarm and a GPS. Also be sure to sign up for roadside emergency service from a group like CAA. Speaking of which, yes GPS navigation devices rock but do not forgo getting maps of your travel route because even the best tracking devices can sometimes steer you wrong (coming from the girl who was falsely led up a mountain in Arizona). If at all possible, learn basic car repairs. Learn how to change your tires, check your fluids and change fuses and tail light bulbs, too.

If you can, reserve rest stop breaks for the day time and choose stops that have a lot of families around. Also if you’re prone to chatting with strangers, become more reserved on the whole, and refrain from advertising that you’re traveling alone. Never ever get below a ¼ tank of gas, preferably not below half a tank, and gas up in the day when you can. Until you’re out there eating up the miles it really isn’t comprehensible how vast this great land is; don’t find out the hard way by getting stranded in the prairies with no help in sight. Always have a gallon or two of water and snacks on hand at all times, as well.

If you do encounter a threat, how do you plan on defending yourself? If you were able to take a self-defence course before departure that’s excellent. Also consider having mace, a knife and wasp spray on hand as well.

Set up a travel safety text messaging group, of friends or family members, and then be religious about keeping them in the loop. Tell someone right when you get in the car and when you arrive at your destination. Going hiking at the provincial park you’re camping at? Notify friends of the name of the trail and when you’re going in, and when you’ve come back out (better yet, connect with a local friend and hike with them or with a group). Also notify a ranger or camping host of your whereabouts, if possible. If camping, situate yourself in amongst camping families. Granted it may not be the most quiet night of sleep but you’ll be well looked after. Also camp by a camp host whenever possible and be sure to introduce yourself and explain your situation. Remember that most folks clear out of camp grounds after the weekend’s over, so plan accordingly so you aren’t left out in the woods alone.

And always, ALWAYS, keep your phone charged and with you. It doesn’t mean you’ll always get adequate reception but still don’t forget!

If this all sounds like doom and gloom, it really isn’t. These tips are simply steps you can take to help insure that your adventure is one about learning, growing and experiencing spectacular places and things while being safe. It’s a fact that there are several types of people in the world: people who wish they had driven cross-country but never did it; people who pine to do it “some day” but most likely never will. And then there are the special few who actually went for it by following their heart and doing this tremendously amazing thing. What doesn’t exist is someone who’s seen their country by road and then said, “Oh yeah I drove across the country, once. Meh, it was alright, nothing much to say about it.”

So get to living your dream and happy travels!

Author Emma Bell writes for Coupon Croc. Looking for the perfect adventure clothes? Check out these Asos discount vouchers.