I'm thinking about driving from California to Florida ALL ALONE!

My car is new and I have GPS. I would only drive for 7 or 8 hours a day so it would take a little more than a week.

I’m a 62 year old female and of course my family is not thrilled with the idea. I’m nervous too, but that’s part of the appeal for me. I think.

What do you guys think?

Will you be staying in reasonably safe motels? Will you be staying on the Interstates?

What are you afraid might happen?

Personally, I wouldn’t see a problem if you are a competent driver and don’t think you would get too fatigued by driving 8 hours a day for a week. (I regularly do 8-hour drives alone but not for a week at a time. I’m glad to relax after a day like that.)

My sister drove by herself from Virginia to California and back a few years ago and had a great time. She just turned 70 and is thinking about doing it again soon.

I don’t know your starting and endpoints, but San Francisco to Tampa is about 2900 miles for an estimated 41 hour driving time per google maps.

I’d suggest some audio books for areas where radio would not be a good option. Most of the path is on interstates, which can be boring.

Take your time, rest if you get tired, see some sites on the way. Sounds like fun to me.

Fun! I’ve driven across (but not round trip) and most of the way across (round trip) on my own. Priceline is great for “I’m 2 hours from Kansas City. Let me see if I can get a decent hotel cheap.” I also camped at some stops, but I probably wouldn’t do that now (from an aches and pains perspective). Second the suggestion to load up a few audiobooks.

If you want some company to help you stay awake, there are a few websites to hook you up with people going your way.


This is the main question. Please think about it for a while, write down your answers, and then a day or two later look at what you wrote.

For myself, I can’t conceive of any reason NOT to do this drive ,while enjoying every hour of it.

But you are obviously different, and have your own worries.
If your concerns are logical,then look for logical solutions.
If your concerns are less logical, and more like some sort of gut-level instinctive fear of the unknown: then think carefully, and logically, again.
If you can overcome your fears, do the trip. And Enjoy!!!

If you are comfortable in driving and travelling, it can be a great way to see parts of the country you would, otherwise travel to. Give yourself a few extra days, pick some iconic or interesting spots to stop and explore, load up on tunes and audiobooks, and sample the local flavor.


What are the constraints on the trip? If you don’t have constraints just treat it as a vacation and find various sites along the way to visit.

I suggest you have your mechanic give the car a thorough examination before you leave to find any mechanical problems. You need to be sure your tires (including spare) are in good shape and property inflated. You might buy AAA or similar coverage for peace of mind.

I regularly drive coast to coast to see family. I’m about the same age, but male, and never had a problem. I’m departing next week for just that.

If you or your family has a specific concern, I’m willing to address it, but I don’t think you will have any problems.

A few pointers -

You say the car is in good shape, and I believe you, but depending on your last oil change, you may come due along, say, New Mexico. I’d recommend a fresh one, along with a complete fluid check. Check tire pressure, wiper blades, and lights, too.

For multi-day drives, if your goal is to get there, plan on about 600 miles per day. You can do a bit more in the west where speed limits are higher, but 600 miles is a good days drive. You can do more, but you can get real tired, real fast.

But because it sounds like this might be a one and done sort of thing, I’d suggest stoping at an attraction or two. It’s a big, beautiful country, and there are things to see.

Have good audio entertainment. Satellite radio, iPod on shuffle, or books on tape is best, something you don’t have to fiddle with too much.

Don’t eat at chains, look for a local place. McD’s in CA is the same as in TX. Sometimes it may disappoint, but sometimes you find a place where the food is darn good.

Gas up at truck stops. They have lots of turnover, both in the fuel and the coffee - so they’re fresh. Quick off/on the interstate. They almost all have a small store for munchies and travel related items. Not supermarket prices, but well below 7-11 type stores. Gas prices may not be the cheapest for 20 miles, but they will be below average. Restrooms are clean, because truckers demand it. The chains have phone apps to help you find the closest. I like Pilot/Flying J, but Love’s is OK. T/A is OK, but there aren’t as many.

Join a hotel loyalty program. You will probably earn a free night, maybe two or three I f it’s a round trip. I don’t like chain restraints when traveling, but hotel chains don’t bother me.

Road trips are an American tradition.

They are more fun if you get off the interstate and use the highways. See the small towns. Nearly every town bigger than 20 thousand will have motels. A McNally atlas will tell you where they are located.

Half the fun is spreading out the map in the motel room and planning the next days drive.

The GPS is a nice backup in case you get lost. But I’d use a map for a relaxed road trip.

The GPS will have an annoying habit of leading you back to the Interstate. It wants you to take the most efficient route. That’s not what a road trip uses.

I’ve driven long distances across the country a number of times and highly recommend it. You’re not on anyone’s schedule but your own so no constraints on where you wander, when you stop to see something v. when you don’t, when you eat, etc.

My best advice: Be open to new experiences, but bring a healthy dose of awareness to strangers who attempt to engage you at public rest stops. Be mindful to not put yourself in vulnerable positions.

Also, drive on the top half of the tank and take bathroom breaks sooner rather than later. You never know what you may encounter just around the next curve that may delay your access to fuel and/or a loo. An example: I was driving to Southern California once. I passed by a town when I was in need of both, planning to drive on to and stop in the next small town about 15 miles away. Unfortunately, an electric power line fell across the entirety of I-5, fully blocking the road in both directions. We were turned back and I had to take a long detour on surface streets on fumes, with a full bladder. Fun times.

I wouldn’t even try to do 600 miles a day unless you’re in a hurry. It’s tiring and interstates are boring.

You can set GPS to avoid highways, but you potentially run the risk of winding up on some pretty crappy roads in the middle of nowhere. Do you belong to AAA? They may be able to help you plan a more scenic route.

America is a big place with a lot to see. My suggestion would be to look at all the states you might cross and figure out one, maybe two things in each state you’d like to see–keeping in mind you might need to detour. Pick your top four or five and plan around that.

Have fun!

Oh, you can reassure your family by using a tracker web site. They can see your trip as it unfolds.

It will pin point your trip. Many of them let you blog. You can describe what you’re seeing, attach photos, short videos, and express your feelings.

Then you have a wonderful record of your trip. Something you can read and bring back memories. Maybe inspire another road trip too.

Google trip blog tracker for web sites.

I’m a man not a woman. But I’m of comparable age (56) and have driven several trips of comparable length (New York to Texas and back). And I’ve enjoyed the trips.

My advice is to make sure you have a reliable car and GPS. Get a AAA membership so you have somebody to call if you have a flat tire or some other mechanical problem (plus they’ll give you free maps and guidebooks). Have somebody back home that you can call if you experience a more serious problem.

When you cross a state line, look for the government-run information centers. They’ll hand out maps and guidebooks. But more importantly, they had out those books of hotel coupons. Grab those so you can find cheap places to stay at night. A laptop or smart phone are also handy so you can look up the discount hotel websites.

I find I have no problem driving ten or more hours a day as long as I make stops along the way to break up the driving time.

Go for it. Florida is a lousy destination, but whatever. The roads are good all the way, there are plenty of places to stay and eat along the way, and if your car is in good shape it ought to be a fun trip. If you don’t have a strict time schedule you can meander to your heart’s content.

The next question will be “Which route?” The southern straight route is the one I’m most familiar with. Just get on the I-10 East and boogie. When you run out of road turn right. There’s Florida.

I haven’t done coast-to-coast but I have done border-to-border many times. Once in a single 18 hour speed run. But I was much younger and more foolish then.

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What are you afraid might happen?

Nothing specific, just nervous about doing pretty much anything alone because I’m not used to it, I guess.

I’m a little concerned about weather. It might take me a month or so to get everything ready. Is there a time of year that would be too late to drive?

Thanks for all the replies. It sounds like it’s not a terrible idea!

I wouldn’t drive the Midwest after October or early Nov.

Snow is no fun. You’ll see a lot of beautiful fall colors in October.

Course you can avoid the Midwest and take a Southern route. We don’t get snow until late Nov. or December.

It’s rare to see snow before Thanksgiving in the South. Any major winter storms are always Forecast at least a week in advance.

I think there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t.

But I’m curious as to why you’re considering driving instead of flying. It doesn’t seem to be about stopping to see stuff along the way*, and by the time you factor in gas, motels, and restaurant meals on the road, it’s probably not going to be much cheaper, if at all. So is the driving itself the main attraction? Nothing wrong with that; if that’s what you want to do, then by all means do it. But I’d give different advice depending on the reason.
*Admittedly, that’s reading something in to the OP, but if it was mostly to see landmarks or visit friends along the way, I’d have expected to see a list of places you planned to stop, rather than the number of hours you planned to drive each day.

I’ve never driven as far west as California. So I don’t know what it’s like crossing the Rockies. But most of the rest of the route should be no problem. I’ve driven across the south in the middle of winter and the weather’s never been a problem.

I have had some problems further up like Tennessee and Virginia (and even northern Texas). They don’t get serious amounts of snow but these states have virtually no capacity for dealing with snow and local drivers aren’t experienced in winter driving. But snow is rare in these states and it shouldn’t be any issue if you’re driving from California to Florida.

However, you should pay attention to the weather and watch for heavy rain reports. You can get unbelievable amounts of rain in the south and it can affect driving conditions.