At the end of September, my husband and I took a road trip to Colorado from Tennessee. Because he had to get back to to work, and my job allows me the luxury of working from anywhere, we agreed that he would fly back from Denver and I would drive back to Tennessee.......by myself.
I knew it was coming, but when he left early in the morning to catch his flight, a wave of fear hit me. I was in Denver, and somehow had to make it all the way back home, nearly 1500 miles away. I spent most of the morning calming myself down (ironic, as I laid poolside at a $300/night hotel - which we stayed at for free! Thank you travel points!).
I decided to spend my day at Rocky Mountain National Park, and quickly discovered how difficult it is to navigate a national park with no one to help you. I constantly had to pull over and look at the map, and still managed to get lost. I ended up driving back to Fort Collins and stayed there for the night.
The next morning I woke at 6am and started toward Kansas. I had heard of Monument Rocks in western Kansas, so I decided to check it out. Kansas is 99% flat and boring. The other 1% is the drive to Monument Rocks.
I turned off onto a dirt road for at least thirty miles. It was all farms with no fences, so cows occasionally crossed the road. Rocks jutted out of the hillsides, some resembling the red rocks of Sedona, and others looking like they were straight out of New Zealand. The huge Monument Rocks appeared as I turned a corner around a hill. It was completely silent and I felt like I was the only person around for miles.
P.S. There are NO restaurants or gas stations hardly anywhere in Kansas! Fill up your belly and your tank whenever you can, and make sure you have plenty of water!
I made it home the next day. My whole trip was only three days, which was the perfect amount for my first solo road trip.
Here are some tips that helped my trip go smoothly:
1. Have a plan. Know how far you're going to drive each day. Know which landmarks you want to stop at, and know where you're staying that night. Book it in advance if you can! As a female, I recommend staying in hotels rather than camping or sleeping at rest areas, but you do you. Just be safe. Account for bathroom breaks and meals. A nine hour drive easily turns into a twelve hour one.
2. Be safe. This is so important! When you're a female by yourself, everyone is scary. And maybe it's because I've been listening to too much My Favorite Murder, but there are some seriously messed up people out there! Get to where you're staying before dark. Let your friends and family know where you are and what your plans are. I checked in with my husband whenever I arrived and left a location! Spend the extra money and get a slightly nicer hotel in a better part of town. My husband bought the Automatic Pro for my car, which is a small device that plugs into my dashboard. It can detect when an accident has occurred, and calls 911 and my family if I don't answer my phone. He was able to log into my account on his phone and see exactly where my car was, and when it had moved last. It definitely gave me peace of mind just knowing that if something were to happen, someone else would know immediately.
3. Research the areas you'll be driving through. I would have never known about the Monument Rocks if I hadn't searched for interesting places to see in Kansas. I also learned that northwest Arkansas is home to several beautiful chapels in the woods, so I stopped and checked one out. There are so many neat things to see, and even the smallest of towns can have something worthy of a stop.
4. Stock up on music and podcasts. Don't rely on your data either! Service goes out quickly in the midwest, so download it onto your phone! My favorite podcasts on this trip were Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert and My Favorite Murder (so addictive, but did not calm my fears at all - would not recommend if you're traveling alone!)