Driving Solo Across the U.S. - Expect the Unexpected
Our cross-country tour for women traveling alone has gone remarkably well so far sans a few bumps and bruises, which are to be expected. First of all, the weather has been perfect every mile of the way with clear blue sky's every day in every state. That in itself has been a surprise although I've always found May to be a good month to do road trips. Traffic, especially considering we're running into Memorial Day Weekend, has been very light, very few delays, which has been a welcomed surprise.
Our U-Haul Truck has been performing flawlessly and very easy to handle. It's funny to see the looks on people's faces when I jump out at gas stations... at 5'1" tall, it's clear they don't expect someone of my size and stature to be driving such a large vehicle but I believe I'm living proof that size doesn't matter. I don't have to carry the truck... I just have to drive it.
My journey from Indiania to Missouri this week had some pretty rough roads. I would have to day that both Missouri and Oklahoma (so far) had the worst roads as far as poor construction in need of a lot of work. Sure, there was plenty of road work going on but it sure did seem like they were far behind, perhaps budgetary issues. It made for driving the U-Haul a little rough around the edges forcing me to drive very slowly as not to break every last thing in the back of the truck.
These are some of the unexpected things you'll run into on the road for which you just cannot plan. Yes, you can allow extra time each day for unexpected things such as delays or road work, perhaps an extra hour or two just in case, but there's no telling just how bad each freeway in each state will be until you get there. While the truck handled each bump and bruise quite well the bad roads did cause a slow down, which cost time, so it's important to allow extra time for the unexpected. And there will be many... this is just one of them.
Another issue bad roads cost is gas which reduces your miles per gallon. With bad roads and having to stop and go frequently, it puts more demand on your fuel, which ultimately uses more gas forcing you to fill up more often than expected and costing more money. Gas prices do fluctuate throughout the country starting north of $4.30 in eastern states then slowly lowering as you enter midwestern states. Some places were as low as $3.30 per gallon, a whole dollar difference. When you consider your truck takes 30 gallons of gas to fill up, that's a big difference in savings. My point is, choose your gas stations wisely... most service area stops along the Interstates are fairly reasonable but when you get into the southern midwest part of the US there are tiny drive-through towns that offer gas stations at one end at $4.60 per gallon, as they try to hook you as you enter their tiny town, but if you drive a little further into town, you'll find other stations mid-town at $3.60 per gallon. Funny, as I left this little town of Holbrook, the last station out was also expensive. Don't wait until your tank is near empty or 1/4 full because it leaves you with a sense of urgency which may cause you to jump at the first gas station you find, which could be the most expensive. Leave plenty of wiggle room in your tank to find a reasonably priced station as there are many across our great land.
I leave you today with this caution however... choose your stops wisely. Do not stop at truck stops. There are many service areas along the Interstates that look like huge country homes, easy on and easy off the freeway, populated with many families and plenty of stores and restaurants. These are the stops you want to make, one stop for everything. They're clean, safe, and keep you on the move by making fewer stops down the road.
People tell me all the time how courageous it is to make such a long journey alone and while those are kind words, it's not about courage, it's about knowledge. And knowledge is power. When you do your research and homework on your road trip, you arm yourself with all the necessary tools to keep yourself safe on the road. Tomorrow we'll talk about how to achieve the best MPG for your vehicle.
Our deepest thanks to U-Haul (@Uhaul on Twitter and @UHaulCompany)and Bridgestone for making this journey possible. My goal is to help educate women on the tips and tricks of staying safe and sane on the road especially for those who don't do road trips very often. There's no need to be afraid... especially once you have a plan of action in the works.
To read more tips on Women Traveling Alone, click here.