Solo road trip? Yay!
Regular readers have heard this from me before. I love road trips.
And given that A Road Trip Alone: Top 10 Tips to Prepare has been the #1 post on Solo Traveler for the last six months, I gather that many readers love taking to the road solo as well.
So, it's time to line up the best solo road trips that some of our readers, Tracey, and I have taken and tell you a little about each so that you can decide which is right for you.
If you're new to road trips you may want to first read: A Solo Road Trip: Why You Can and Why It Will Be Fabulous!
Australia Road Trip Route: East Coast and Tasmania
On this trip, Solo Traveler reader, Jeanette, took a road trip of a lifetime. She flew into Cairns, eastern Australia, went north and then south to Brisbane. From there she flew to Hobart, Tasmania and did a large loop of the island.
In this post she shares what she did along the way, tips to make it easy for you to follow her route, and her favorite photos. From her experience on the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns to the Port Arthur Penal Colony in Tasmania, she shares it all. Solo Travel Destination: Australia Road Trip.
One Week Road Trip in Iceland
Driving the full ring road is a classic Iceland road trip but at over 800 miles, or more than 1300 km, it requires at least a couple of weeks to cover well. With only 8 days, I focused on the southeast coast. I picked up the rental car at the Reykjavik airport and discovered that it involved more instructions than usual. There are a few important things to know about driving in Iceland which are all shared in this post: A Road Trip Through Iceland.
A New Mexico Road Trip Alone
This road trip through New Mexico took Solo Traveler reader, Joanie up the Turquoise Highway to the funky art town of Madrid, then Santa Fe, Taos, and Abiquiú, where she stayed at Ghost Ranch (Georgia O'Keefe territory). On her way back to Albuquerque she stopped at Bandelier National Monument.
Natural beauty, art, local indigenous culture and, above all, solitude were enjoyed on this trip, which you can read about here: Solo Travel Destination: New Mexico Road Trip.
The Acadian Coastal Drive, New Brunswick, Canada
On this solo road trip you'll enjoy spectacular ocean views, the warmest ocean beaches north of Virginia, and dozens of small harbors where you can watch the catch come in and, in season, buy lobster for a song. There are also restaurants that feature Acadian food, the Acadian Village near Caraquet to give you a history of the people, and Le Pays de la Sangouine, which offers activities and entertainment springing from the novels of Antonine Maillet, a famous Acadian author. If you go in August don't miss the Tintamarre on August 15th.
Moncton is the natural starting point for this road trip. You can get there by plane, train, or bus. You can also rent a car or drive your own to your starting point. There are more details on what to do, and where to stay and eat in the posts here:
- The Great Acadian Road Trip: Itinerary, Tips and Lots of Pics
- The Tintamarre: A Festival to Beat the Band
- Learning from Travel: A Lesson in Following Dreams
Acadian Shores: Nova Scotia
As the Acadians were dispersed all over North America, one Acadian experience is not like another. To get a completely different sense of Acadian culture and an amazing seaside experience, go to the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia.
This trip starts in either Halifax or Yarmouth to which there is a ferry service in the high season from Bar Harbor, Maine. Read about this trip here:
- Acadian Shores Road Trip: How to Enjoy 4 Days of Sea and Sky
- Nova Scotia’s Acadian Shores: The Stories I Love to Discover
Solo Road Trip Exploring Medieval Germany
2017 was the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation which began with theologian Martin Luther posting his 95 theses, a list of questions and propositions for debate, to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. Doing so confronted the institution of the Catholic Church and changed Christianity forever.
Despite the anniversary being in 2017, you can still follow this road trip and explore the birthplace of Protestantism. There are towns which are given the moniker Lutherstadt before their name (Lutherstadt Wittenberg, for example). There is also the Lutherweg, which is a four hundred kilometer walking trail that goes through the many cities impacted by the Reformation.
All that sounds pretty serious, but, in fact, Germany celebrated this anniversary with reverence and kitsch. In the gift shops, there were Luther-themed socks, chocolates, wine, beer, Luther-shaped pasta, little Playmobil Martin Luthers, Che Guevara-styled Luther t-shirts, and, a favorite kitschy Luther item, Katharina Luther (Luther’s wife) perfume No.95 (get it…like the 95 theses).
Read more about this road trip:
- Taking the Scenic Route: Road Trip through Medieval Germany
- History and Kitsch: Visiting Luther’s Germany
Ontario, Canada Back Roads Trip
The shortest, most direct route to Killarney, Ontario, Tracey's destination, involved 250 km on a highway that is not known for being scenic. It is known for fast drivers, interspersed with swaths of construction projects and frequent, lengthy cottage country traffic jams.
Her response to the idea of driving that far on Highway 400 alone, as a relatively new driver, ranged from disappointment to boredom to fear. It wasn’t what she had in mind for the only trip out of the city she was going to get during a hot, humid summer.
So for her solo road trip she opted for the back roads. She asked Google Maps for a different route–one that would avoid major highways, toll roads, and ferries. The difference in timing was substantial. If she took the highway, she could be sitting by the water in 4 1/2 hours. Avoiding the highway would add at least 1 1/2 hours. Ah, but read here about the pleasures that extra time delivered: A Solo Summer Road Trip to Killarney.
Solo Road Trip on the North Coast 500, Scotland
Scotland's North Coast 500 can be walked, cycled, and driven. But it's five hundred miles. A road trip is recommended.
Following the northern coast of Scotland, it offers dramatic landscape, narrow roads, lots of Highland cattle and sheep, and above all, lots of heartwarming Scottish people. This solo road trip was taken by Su from Austria. She did it in 12 days.
In Su's words, “Many visitors basically rush through in 5 days, which doesn’t make sense to me. It was just fantastic taking my time to explore the countryside on hikes and walks, catch up with the locals, and enjoy homemade food and drinks. This is not a place for high speed, it is a country to dive into and soak up the Scot Spirit. I recommend it to everyone who loves pristine nature and remote places with a bit of a rough spirit.”
Read more here: Solo Travel Destination: North Coast 500 Road Trip, Scotland.
Road Trip through Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia – Circular
Now, this is another road trip that I took but, I confess, I did not take it solo. It was my honeymoon as I remarried in 2017. However, I would take it solo. The roads were in great condition and the signage was easy to follow, so I'm recommending it in this post.
The first post in the list below gives you our itinerary, driving times, and budget. It also covers what I learned about renting a car in Italy and how to book the ferry between Croatia and Italy. However, plans always get changed while traveling. The second post below compares our plan to what really happened. Then, there are some posts on the highlights in our different destinations.
- Planning a Road Trip Around the Adriatic: Slovenia, Croatia & Italy
- Travel Plan vs. Reality: European Road Trip
- Split, Croatia: A Perfect Port and More
- Travel Plans Change: Two Days in Dubrovnik
- Two Sides of Ljubljana: Historic and Alternative
- Touring the Tuscan Hills South of Florence
Cape Breton Road Trip – Sea to Sky in Nova Scotia
Visit a bit of Scotland in North America. Nova Scotia means new Scotland and you definitely get the feeling of Scotland's highlands there, especially when you visit Cape Breton Island. The whole island has a population of about 150,000 spread over small towns and villages. It has fabulous music with ceilidhs (pronounced kay-lees) to be found everywhere, the top golf course in North America, the historical summer home of Alexander Graham Bell, great seafood, the Fortress Louisbourg, and much more. Unlike Scotland, you get to drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Most of this trip is easy driving. The roads in Nova Scotia are in good shape. However, touring the Cabot Trail raises the level of difficulty somewhat. I met a woman who was 70 who did the trail alone in a small RV. It is definitely doable but it will be a slight challenge for some people.
Unless you live nearby, you will likely fly into Halifax Stanfield International Airport and drive to Cape Breton from there. There are chain hotels on Cape Breton but you'll likely enjoy the small, family run enterprises better. Read these three posts for the highlights of any trip to Cape Breton plus where I stayed and what I ate.
- Cape Breton, Nova Scotia: 32 Tips for a Great Trip
- Solo Travel Destination: Top Tips for Visiting the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
- It’s Not the Middle of Nowhere But… Finding Big Luxury in a Small Town
American Southwest – Phoenix, Arizona to Denver, Colorado
Get outside of Phoenix and there is magic in Arizona. From the Arcosanti community to the Painted Desert to Sedona's new age stores, spas, and galleries to the wonder of the Grand Canyon, there is magic everywhere. This road trip took me from Phoenix north through Arizona to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, to Zion National Park, then across to southern Utah and Monument Valley, and finally over to Colorado, Durango, and Denver. It was an exciting trip that was diverse and across landscape I had never seen the likes of before. It was spectacular! Sedona is as new age as you'll find and Durango looks like it's out of the old west. Driving over the continental divide near the end of the trip was yet another thrill in this road trip that offered many.
Most of this trip was relatively easy driving but if you include Colorado you will likely be challenged by the Durango to Denver leg, which includes the Million Dollar Highway between Silverton and Ouray. It's a two-lane highway with virtually no shoulder and a very steep drop-off. I approached it very early in the morning to avoid traffic and was glad that I did.
I flew into Phoenix and out of Denver and had a small RV for the trip. The RV was sponsored so I didn't face a drop-off fee but you likely will if you rent a vehicle. If you want to turn this into a loop I'd go as far as Mesa Verde National Park and then head back south through New Mexico back to Phoenix. You could also do much of this trip out by flying into Las Vegas if that is of interest to you. Here are the posts from that trip to help.
- Arizona Road Trip: First Feelings, Findings and Photos
- Solo in Sedona: New Age Wonder and Red Rock Grandeur
- A Road Trip Through the American Southwest
- Pay it Forward: Travel and Share Your Good Fortune
Alberta from Border to Border
At under 500 km, this road trip is far from the lengthiest journey you could take to explore Western Canada. However, the variety of scenery that you’ll come across will leave you feeling like you’ve covered a lot more ground. This is the Alberta that not everyone gets the chance to see.
This post was contributed by Luke Fandrich, a photographer and filmmaker. His work showcases his home province of Alberta in a spectacular way. The road trip that he recommends does not include what are traditionally Alberta's highlights – Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, and Jasper. In his words, “Western Canada is a big place, and nothing will help you appreciate that more than a road trip that takes you across several distinct prairie landscapes in a matter of hours.”
His solo road trip ditches the Trans-Canada Highway and the Crowsnest Highway and covers a drive from the Saskatchewan border to the British Columbia border with a few detours. From the Cypress Hills to the Red Coat Trail, from the hoodoos of Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump where the prairies meet the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Luke, with his photographer's eyes, guides us through this road trip to see its magic.
For more, read Border to Border in Alberta: A Western Canada Road Trip.
Solo Road Trip around Lake Ontario
A circular road trip has symmetry to it. There's no backtracking. You're always moving forward and if you have rented a car you can easily return it to your starting place which saves money. In North America we have the Great Lakes: Superior, Huron, Erie, Ontario, and Michigan. Circumnavigating any one of these lakes is an adventure.
Given that I live on Lake Ontario, this is the lake that I traveled around. Starting from home I went east to Prince Edward County and further on to Kingston, Ontario, then south across the border into the United States and west to Rochester then further west and north back into Canada and Niagara-on-the-Lake. This trip takes you through three wine districts, charming towns with wonderful restaurants, the major theater center of Niagara, the opportunity for exceptional cooking schools (I took a class at the Waring House Cookery School in Prince Edward County), and a few unusual museums like George Eastman House.
This is a super easy road trip. Other than two spectacular bridges, one ferry, and crossing the border between Canada and the US twice, it's all pretty easy, two-lane roads.
I did my trip in a week, though I would recommend longer. I suggest three nights in any one location, which makes the trip more relaxing. It should have been a 10 to 12-day trip.
Nova Scotia Road Trip for a New Driver
At the age of 49, Tracey received her driver’s licence. Two weeks later she flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia, picked up a rental car, and embarked on her first solo road trip. By the end, she declared her first solo road trip a success!
In this post Tracey shares, in detail, the itinerary and experience of her first road trip. Six days in all. Lots to see and do, plus confidence to be gained. In the end she concluded that a solo road trip is something everyone should do.
“If you have not taken one, I encourage you to give it a try. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can. Now that I’ve got one under my belt, I can’t wait to start planning the next.”
- My First Solo Road Trip: Nova Scotia
- Flavors of Nova Scotia: My Top 5 Tastes
- Solo Travel Destination: Wolfville, Nova Scotia
- Trout Point Lodge: More than a Culinary Dream Trip
New York City to Bar Harbor, Maine
New England is charming. I took this road trip after attending a conference in New York City and it took me into a small-town paradise. Boston may not be a small town but when you walk the city it can feel so. Otherwise, I was on Cape Cod relaxing on the beach, bopping around Provincetown, or exploring Hyannis and the JFK House Museum there. Further north I was in Bar Harbor and I camped in Acadia National Park where the sunrise over North America can first be seen on Cadillac Mountain. This trip would be an especially beautiful trip in the fall when the trees are in full color.
The driving is easy but the navigation can be a bit tricky. Avoiding the freeways can demand quite a few turns on this route. I was happy to have a GPS with me.
To return from Bar Harbor to New York City is an 8 1/2 hour drive. You need to plan for this unless you're dropping off a car somewhere.
More Road Trips to Consider
- Solo Travel Destination: Idaho & Montana Road Trip
- Solo Travel Destination: Patagonia Backcountry
- Driving the Backroads of Emilia Romagna