4 Things I Learned from a Road Trip Alone

I’ve never been the most confident driver; I wait too long to turn right-on-red, I forget the difference between right and left, and I’m always late because I refuse to leave the right lane on the highway. Nevertheless, I decided to visit my two best friends from high school (Hi Jacqueline! Hi Chloe!) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville this spring break. After flying from Boston to Nashville, it was a 195-mile drive from Middle to East Tennessee. As terrified as I was, I was determined to conquer my fear of driving in order to visit my friends.

After driving there and back in 36 hours, I am happy to report that I survived, and I’ve collected four things that I learned over the 400 miles alone on the road.

  1. 1. It’s really not that hard.

    Despite what I told my mom as I drove away, I was a little nervous about driving so far—about 3 hours back and forth—by myself. But, as I drove down the highway, I realized that I do, in fact, know how to drive well, and I even found myself in the left-most lane, passing other cars and trucks!

  2. 2. Plan out your stops.

    Because a lot of my drive was through the rural Tennessee hills, I planned out my stops in Cookeville and Oak Ridge—two places I knew were safe and populated—before I left. I stopped for Starbucks and a bathroom break in both locations on my way to Knoxville and back, and it made my drive a lot less stressful when I needed to stretch.

  3. 3. Queue up the podcasts and music.

    I didn’t want to be skipping through songs and frantically searching for my favorites while driving, so I loaded up my Spotify queue with ample music before leaving each stop. I found it best when I alternated between music and podcasts, switching from pop songs, Broadway show tunes, the news, life advice, and everything in between.

  4. 4. It’s easier going than coming back.

    The drive went A LOT faster going towards Knoxville because I was so excited to see my friends for the first time in nearly two months. Leaving, however, I was super sad; I didn’t know the next time I’d see them since all of us have different schedules now. Luckily, I was able to spend every last second with them in Knoxville, hitting our favorite places (Starbucks, Target, etc.), before I hit the road.

After driving over 400 miles, I am now a lot more confident in myself and my ability to drive and entertain myself. I had so much fun in Knoxville, seeing my friends and exploring the city and the college campus, and my friends and I are even planning our next road trip from Nashville to St. Louis and Chicago this summer—maybe I’ll even drive!


Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!