Family vacations. Spring break hiking adventure. Post-graduation road trip with friends. Whatever you mentally associate national park vacations with, it most likely involves traveling with other people, at least interacting with others in some capacity (see my roadtripping for introverts article here). But what if (gasp) you want to try hitting your favorite park solo this time? Or worse yet, what if you’re an introvert who wants to hit it solo? The absolute nerve of you. But if you dare, below is my all-encompassing guide for park-bound introverted readers who want to travel solo without completely losing their mind.
- Make sure you love driving.
Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be doing a lot of it (yes, even if you fly and rent instead of taking the traditional road-trip route). If you are planning on driving the whole way to your destination, get–or at least seriously consider getting–a AAA membership. This goes for our extroverted friends too. Or just anyone, really. It pays to be prepared. Once you got that part taken care of, prep some spotify playlists for the road. Some of my favorite national park-bound playlists additions include Ira Wolf, Jared and the Mill, and, of course, The National Parks (yes, this entire article was kind of an excuse to pitch my favorite folk banks). Essentially, just make sure you know what you’re getting into, and take steps to prepare for it.
- Stay organized (and prepared).
Create a rough itinerary. Emphasis on the rough, but tailor it based on your level of travel anxiety. The reason I like National Parks so much is because they require a certain amount of planning ahead, yet still leave enough room to make it an adventure. No matter what you do, DEFINITELY buy a road atlas. Like, a paper one that you can fold out. Phones get bad signal, phones die, and phones can be inaccurate. The last thing you want to do is have to ask someone for directions. Make sure to also stay on trails if you hike and go on more populated hiking trails if you’re alone. You don’t want to get hurt and have no one for miles to help you.
- Make memories
Bring a journal. Make a conscious effort to keep up with it. Buy postcards. Be that annoying person who takes selfies. Try not to fall off a cliff, though.
- National Park Passport
Ok, so you’ve probably already heard of this one. But if you’re not sure whether or not to hit that extra monument even though you have the time, or that scenic outlook, or you had a nervous breakdown the night before and are two seconds away from quitting altogether, it can give you a sense of purpose and force you to follow through with your plans. Another unintended bonus is that it may force you to interact with the clerks when you wouldn’t do so otherwise, giving you insight into what to expect.
- And lastly, the weather.
I’m from Minnesota, so this is second nature. But even if it is for you too, check anyways. Then check again.