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How I Survived a 3,000-Mile Solo Road Trip Across the US

by Staff

Business Insider’s author outside of the van she traveled 3,000 miles in.
Monica Humphries/Business Insider

  • In October, I embarked on the longest road trip of my life, and I did it alone.
  • The drive would cover 3,000 miles and six states. 
  • I survived it by packing spicy snacks, preparing for breakdowns, and listening to podcasts.

As I hopped in the driver’s seat of the Ram ProMaster van I had rented for the next two weeks, reality set in that I was embarking on the longest road trip of my life.

In the next 13 days, I’d drive through six states, cover 3,000 miles, and conquer eight-plus-hour days of driving.

It was a massive feat to do alone, but I was prepared. Between snacks, distractions, and preparation, here’s how I survived the long road trip.

I prepared beforehand by packing a few safety items and planning my route.

The author packed items like a car jumper, First Aid kit, and headlamp to prepare for her long drive.
Monica Humphries/Business Insider

Envisioning a 3,000-mile drive also meant picturing all the things that could go wrong.

Knowing myself, I feared I would spend the long drives imagining worst-case scenarios. I could picture myself running out of gas with no stations anywhere in sight, or having a dead battery and no way to jumpstart my car.

Picturing these worst-case scenarios would make long drives stressful. And stress is exhausting.

I did my best to prepare beforehand to avoid those thoughts and prevent them from turning into reality.

I made sure I had a jump starter, a first aid kit, and my roadside assistance number through my insurance company handy. I mapped out my drive and flagged areas where gas stations were few and far between.

This preparation gave me the confidence that I could survive the trip — no matter what obstacle I encountered.

Quirky roadside attractions were more energizing than gas-station stops.

A view of a small crochet museum in California.
Monica Humphries/Business Insider

Instead of looking at a four-hour drive with the goal of getting from point A to point B, I looked at the longer drives as an opportunity to explore.

I made pit stops visiting places like a small crochet museum and an abandoned waterpark in a California desert.

These stops — especially compared to my quick, routine breaks at gas stations — left me energized.

That’s because the roadside attractions gave me a reason to get out of my car, stretch my legs, and learn something new.

By breaking long drives up with interesting pit stops, my long drives felt more like a handful of short drives. This made the days when I was driving more than eight hours feel much more approachable.

And perhaps most importantly, they made the road trip feel worth it. The drive felt more about the journey, and I came home with more stories and highlights to share that I would have otherwise missed if I simply drove without stopping.

I picked intentional snacks that kept me awake and occupied.

Side-by-side images of Flaming Hot Cheetos and sunflower seeds.
Monica Humphries/Business Insider

As I roamed the aisles of Costco, Target, and Trader Joe’s looking for snacks for my road trip, I picked items that I thought would help keep me alert.

For example, I grabbed a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos from Target and the spicy Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips from Trader Joe’s. These spicy snacks were the jolt I needed when long drives got exhausting.

I also packed plenty of sunflower seeds. The food requires effort to eat, which was a helpful distraction for drives — plus, it made sure I wasn’t endlessly snacking on unhealthy foods.

And finally, nuts like walnuts and almonds were with me on the drive. These protein-rich foods helped keep me energized throughout the 13-day trip.

I opted for podcasts over music.

A screenshot of the author’s Spotify page.
Monica Humphries/Business Insider

Before hitting the road, I asked a few friends for podcast recommendations.

I figured I’d spend hours listening to music in the van, but I also wanted to discover new podcasts as well.

After just a few days into my trip, I realized I was almost always opting to listen to a podcast instead of music.

It felt similar to binging TV shows. I’d get sucked into a storyline and could easily spend hours immersed in a podcast while cruising down the highway.

A handful of times throughout my trip, I realized I didn’t want the drive to end simply because I hadn’t finished a podcast episode.

For future road trips, I’ll come prepared with more podcasts and maybe even an audiobook or two.

I packed items that made the drive comfortable.

While the van had a display, the author didn’t see GPS available, so she used her phone mount instead.
Monica Humphries/Business Insider

If I was going to be in the driver’s seat for two weeks, I wanted that atmosphere to be as comfortable as possible.

So I thought ahead and packed items that would allow for easy drives.

For example, I made sure I had a phone mount and phone charger. This way I could always see my directions and change music easily without worrying about a dead phone.

I also packed a jacket that I could easily put on or take off depending on the weather.

And I brought multiple pairs of sunglasses in case I lost one or they started bothering my face.

These small items made a huge difference in keeping me at ease in the driver’s seat.

These tips made long drives a breeze.

The author in front of her van.
Monica Humphries/Business Insider

I was prepared to never want to drive again after this road trip, but by the end of two weeks, I didn’t want the adventure to end.

By preparing for worst-case scenarios, bringing items to keep comfortable, and packing distracting snacks, I tackled the long drives without worry.

And for future road trips, I’ll hop in the driver’s seat much more confident. I know I can take on any drive — no matter the length.

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