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A Seasoned Solo Road Tripper On Her Go-To Safety Tips

There's a certain allure to solo travel. It's been documented across pop culture for decades as the ultimate means of self-discovery. From Wild to Eat Pray Love, we've witnessed characters endure the heights of wonder, independence and transformative challenge from their solo adventures.
It may not be a feat for everyone to try, but there is something undeniably enticing about heading out into the great unknown on your own.
Since 2021 has proven to be a lot (we know we don't need to explain why again), a solo road trip could be the perfect antidote to any pent-up languishing and mundanity experienced this year. After all, having spent most of the year walking the same streets and looking at the same housemates or family members, there is an intense need for a little more excitement.
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On top of this, Australia is blessed with some of the world's most breathtaking and accessible natural wonders, so a road trip is a great way to make the most of them. But, there is a little bit of planning you need to do first before heading off.

What is the allure of solo road tripping?

"I mainly do two-week solo trips. I've done South of France, Italy, New Zealand and some shorter Aussie trips by myself. Travelling through New Zealand solo was fantastic. I just hired a car, ate a lot of great food and snowboarded around the South Island," said Maddy Ziper, a seasoned solo-traveller from New South Wales.
"I'm a very independent human. The first time I travelled solo was initially in the middle of a trip with a like-minded friend, and we wanted to see different countries, so we went our separate ways for a few weeks," she explained further.
"After that, it became natural — when I needed a break, and my friends didn't have any annual leave, I'd just go out by myself. You find out so much about yourself travelling solo. Especially when it comes to learning new skills on your journey — you can screw up as many times as you need to improve and not feel like you're holding people up."

"You find out so much about yourself travelling solo."

How can you stay safe while road-tripping alone?

While the image that solo road tripping conjures may be one of complete spontaneity and carefreeness, a lot of prepping needs to be done in the lead up to ensure you're safe along the way. Things like checking in for regular stops at an Ampol, or taking your car in for service before heading off are no-brainers, but travelling solo requires a little more thought.
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"It sounds cliche, but plenty of planning is essential for safety. I always looked into accommodation reviews and checked out the hosts before booking. I prefer staying in Airbnb's and hotels over hostels for safety, but there are some really cool femme hostels now," recommended Maddie.
"While it disgusts me that we [women and femme-presenting people] even have to take precautions, I've always brought some type of defence keychain. Over the trips, I also have mastered a very confident front in public, too — it helps a lot in dodgy situations. You're a lot less likely to be approached when you look unbothered."
"Befriending strangers can be incredibly intimidating, but it's worth it when you're travelling solo in terms of safety and fun. One night I'd be having pizza with rad German girls, and the next night I'd be having a beer with a group from Kenya," she added.

What other essentials should you keep in mind?

While it may be easy to get preoccupied curating the perfect playlist in the lead up to a road trip, ensuring you've ticked off the essentials to maintain a level of comfort and safety along the way is needed.
"For extra confidence, make sure your phone isn't going to die halfway through the trip. Look up your phone and internet packages prior if you're going overseas. Bring a reliable charging bank cause you know your battery will die when you're driving in the middle of nowhere," Maddy suggested.
"Also, make sure you're decent with cars — practise the basics because manuals are stressful on scary drives and new areas. I've been caught on an icy mountain having never put on snow chains before — it was a steep learning curve."
"I'm a sucker for a good capsule wardrobe for travelling. Keep it small but, diverse enough so you can rotate between and still feel cute," she added.
This summer, there's no denying we're all yearning for our utmost adventurous dreams to come alive — to spark something we haven't felt in a long time. If you're planning on hitting the road solo, make the most of the time to reflect and experience new territory — you could learn something about yourself you never realised you had. If you've done the work to set yourself up for a safe trip, you're all set.
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