In a little less than a week, I’ll be in a rental car on my way to Asheville, North Carolina for my first solo road trip. Here’s how I picture it: windows rolled down, sunglasses on, loud music on the radio, and me carefree and cruising confidently down I-65. I don’t think I am actually capable of being that carefree, but I’m hoping to at least enjoy the ride. While I am very excited that I am heading off on my own to explore a chunk of the US, I also have no delusions that I can just pick up and go without some sort of plan. I made my hotel and car rental reservations months ago, and mapped out my route from Chicago. I have the basics down, but there’s still a number of things I need to check off my list before I can embark upon this adventure:
First, and most importantly, snacks. No road trip is complete without a good supply of treats to keep you nourished between pit stops. I typically need salty snacks, like Chex mix or pistachios, and some sort of fruit to keep me going, plus plenty of bottled water, of course. I always pack a box of granola bars to have for breakfast while I’m on vacation to save some money on eating out. I am planning on packing a lunch as well, so I don’t have to stop as much on the way.
A fun, upbeat playlist is essential to any road trip! My trip is going to be around 10 hours from Chicago to Asheville, so I’m working on the ultimate mish mosh of tunes that I can sing along to. I’ve already started on my Road Trip playlist, but it needs a lot more work to try to fill that time slot. Also, because the drive is on the longer side, I’m also playing with the idea of getting a book on tape from the library to help pass the time (any suggestions??).
I know it will be hot in Asheville, and I’ve already started to put aside some hot weather clothes to pack. I also know I will bring too much, as per usual. But, that’s part of the beauty of a road trip: no checked baggage fees! Everything that I have set to bring on this trip already is hoarded on my desk at the moment. In a couple of days I’ll have to get it together and put everything into my suitcase and backpack to be ready to go. Because I am prone to forgetting things when I pack, I always make a checklist beforehand to limit the things left behind.
I have been doing some light research on the local attractions and dining options, but I need to figure out my must see/eat places. I don’t like to go in to a trip with a completely planned out itinerary, but I do like to make a small list of things I absolutely want to accomplish while I’m there. Currently at the top of my list are The Biltmore Estate, The Orange Peel, Chimney Rock, and exploring downtown Asheville. I like to use google maps to see which attractions are close to others so I can lump them in together in one day. I am working with three days to enjoy an amazing city with a lot of activities to choose from so a girl’s gotta have priorities.
While I am fairly confident in my driving abilities, and fully confident in my ability to take care of myself, there will always be ways to limit any travel safety risks. I am putting together an emergency kit for the car, which will include: first aid supplies, jumper cables, pepper spray, and an atlas in case Google maps fails me. I also am bringing along a door stop, a tip that I stole from the Young Adventuress, to secure my hotel room door. I already gave my family and boyfriend my hotel information, and plan to check in with them each day. The best thing I can do to keep out of any weird situations is to simply pay attention.
Over the next few days, I’ll (hopefully) have a good handle on all these things. I am so excited to be on my way, and I can’t wait to tell you all about Asheville when I get back.
If you have any tips for solo travel or road trips or even audio book or music recommendations, please share them in the comments!