As a single woman, any time I need or want to take a road trip out of town alone, I never fail to have some anxiety about it. “What if my car breaks down? Do I feel safe to travel alone?” Even though everyone is vulnerable, it still will always be different for a woman. So the best defense to road safety is to plan ahead and be prepared. I feel that the following tips help ease the stress and worry of the trip:
• Make sure your car is tuned up, your tires have been checked and that you have roadside assistance. If you are renting a vehicle, become familiar with it before you get on the road.
• If possible, travel during daylight hours and fill up your tank before you depart. If a woman is getting gas at a highway rest stop after dark, it allows others to see she is driving alone.
• Know your destination, especially if it is new to you. Map out your route and test your navigation system. You may want to even check the expected weather. Make hotel reservations in advance and try to get there before dark.
• Be sure to let someone know the route you are taking and when you expect to be there. Periodically touch base with them to let them know where you are.
• Pack what you need. Be sure to put a flashlight in your vehicle. It may even be a good idea to have mace or pepper spray if that helps you feel more protected. It’s also always a good idea to stash some emergency cash somewhere other than your purse or wallet.
• Don’t forget your cell phone and car charger! But don’t have long conversations while you are driving. You need to focus on the road and stay aware of what’s happening around you. Pay attention to the highway exits in case you need to tell someone where you are.
• Keep your doors locked. Lock them when you are in the car and out of the car. Don’t leave your car unlocked for even a moment. Make sure your inside lights come on when you unlock your vehicle so you can see before you enter and keep valuables off the front seat.
• Should you notice someone following you, exit at a police or fire station (main highways will have these marked) or at another well-lit, busy location. Don’t try to take short cuts. Stick to major routes.
• If your vehicle breaks down, call for help and STAY IN YOUR LOCKED CAR. Don’t get out for anyone unless they have identified themselves as someone you have called or the police.
• Also a reminder of the obvious: do not pick up strangers or stop for anyone stranded alongside the road. If you feel compelled to help, get to a safe place and call 911 for them.
I am sure the list could go on and on with safety tips and warnings. But it’s basically just be rested and very prepared, stay focused, aware and in touch. Have a plan, trust your instincts and you will definitely be on your way to a safe and enjoyable road trip to wherever you go!