It's a new month, and that mean's it's time for a road trip. Time to go explore New Mexico and Texas Hill Country, check out Magnolia Farms in Waco, Texas, visit my father in law-and of course spending some quality time with my daughter and husband. That's right, I'm going from hot and dry to hotter and more humid.
As normally happens every time I take a road trip, I get lots and lots of questions. Aren't I afraid to travel by myself? What do I do about going out to eat? How do I stay awake when I drive? Do people treat me differently? And why don't I just fly? Apparently, a lot of folks are uncomfortable road tripping, as well as traveling alone.
When people ask how I feel safe when driving, my first answer is always that I have a smart phone with wonderful 4G reception. Yea, I know there are a bunch of readers and other folks who think that a smart phone is an abomination, but modern technology has allowed me to feel safe on some pretty deserted roads at some pretty odd hours. And, while not trying to sound like the latest commercial, I have never, ever been without 4G service no matter the road conditions. Thank you, Verizon Wireless!! Actually, my smart phone is my best travel companion on every level, from finding the cheapest gas to providing GPS, to making reservations by pushing a button, to having a digital picture of my insurance card. But more on all that later.
For everything other than broken on the side of the road safety (stay in the car, lock the door and call the insurance company), I figure staying safe on the road is simply common sense. When I get to the hotel I text quickly and let someone know where I stopped the night. When I stop for food and or gas, I aim to hit mainly truck stops. I don't roll down my window for strangers at night..............you get the idea.
As far as doing things alone, this is something I have never had a great issue with. I try to go out to dinner earlier than later, but that's more because of the crowds than discomfort. I take a book with me-and if they have windows near the front, I ask to be seated there so that I can people watch.
Whenever it works, I stay somewhere with a common room, or common eating area of some such. These are often more business oriented or more hostel-like or bed and breakfast-like. At the Hilton Garden Inn in Carlsbad, California there was a small happy hour daily for the guests. Every afternoon after exploring San Diego or going to the beach, most guests would gather there before doing their evening thing. I've been at a large bed and breakfasts where there were group meals, and most hostels have common areas where people sit and talk.
If I'm not traveling to or with family and friends, I make sure to try and find something going on that will give me a chance to seriously converse with like minded people. It's not necessarily, but when such a thing exists it's always fun, be it a crafting convention, a near by church with a coffee hour, or even taking the hop on hop off bus or boat tour the first day I am in a new place. On this particular trip, I am visiting every quilt shop along my way, and may sit in on a class or so, so I am sure to be busy. I'm especially looking forward to my favorite shop, Quilt country, and I have an envelope put aside specifically for that store. I'm coming, fabric!!!
Having said all of that, in solo travel as in anything else, you need to be comfortable with your own company, at least for a few days. As my son would put it, I self-entertain very well, be it in the car while driving (streaming Audio books and Pandora and even a Great Course class if it doesn't require visuals), or in the city, on the beach, or in a small town. Give me a journal, sketch book, tablet with Kindle app and fairly interesting surroundings, and I am rarely bored.
And now, I'm off to get packing! Postings for the next two weeks will probably be shorter, sweeter, and more about the photos, if you know what I mean!