What I Learned About Driving Across Country Alone

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years, my parents moved from Waxahachie, Tx , 2 1/2 hours away from Austin, to Lafayette, IN, 17 hours away from Austin. This was a huge shock to me, and although I was able to move with them that summer, once the school year started the distance really started to sink in. I missed them and of course wanted to visit them as much as possible, but I wasn't really able to make a weekend trip to see them anymore. The first time I saw my parents after the semester started was for Thanksgiving. Thankfully they were able to buy me a plane ticket, since my 1999 Saab (named Jolene) was no longer able to drive long distances. The next time I visited, for Christmas this time, my parents again bought me a plane ticket, but it was becoming obvious that it was ending up costing way too much for me to visit just for a week at a time, or less. So on this trip I decided to buy myself a new car. This would allow me to visit my parents for much cheaper, as well as giving them peace of mind that I wasn't going to break down every time I left my house. Now that I had my car, I was ready to drive back to Austin, but this was my first time making such a long drive on my own, and it helped me learn some important lessons about driving across country on your own. Now I'm a professional! (sort of)


1. If you want to stop, but get a bad vibe, keep driving.

I have now made the trip back and forth from Austin to Lafayette 3 times. I have seen more gas stations and rest stops than I ever thought possible. Some are really nice (Buc-ee's) and some are not quite so nice. I always make it a point to stop at gas stations or rest stops that look like they have a lot of people there. If I am driving at night, I prefer to stop at well lit gas stations to rest stops. I have seen a few gas stations that I felt were not where I needed to be and just kept driving to the next exit. This brings me to my next point:

2. Don't let your gas get to E!!

It might be easy to just drive until your gas light comes on, but this is not smart! There are a lot of areas of the United States that don't have much going on, and it would be awful to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere with the next gas station being 20 miles away. Always be aware of how much gas you have left, and if it does get low, stop as soon as you can after the gas light comes on.

3. Check you4 oil and your tires.

This may be a no brainer, but it can also slip your mind when you're getting excited for your road trip. Always check your oil and your tire pressure before you leave. The only thing worse than running out of gas on the road is having your car break down, or having a tire blowout. Checking these things before you leave can significantly reduce your chances of disaster.

4. Stop if you feel tired

I have had many early days when driving, and a few times I was just too tired to keep driving. Much to my mom's dismay, I once stopped at a gas station for a power nap. I made sure I was at a busy, large gas station, and that I felt safe. I recommend this, only if you feel safe doing so. If you don't feel comfortable with that, maybe stop at a hotel. I have to drive 17 hours, which is quite awhile, and have sometimes thought of breaking it up into two days, which I would definitely do if I was too tired.


When driving long distances it is always important to remember to be safe and always use your best judgment. When it comes down to it, you know what is best for you!