It isn’t uncommon for me to travel 5+ hours to a race venue, alone. While it DOES keep me from giving it my all at times (tired from driving, concerned about getting injured and not being able to drive back, traffic), I love the experience of different venues, so I do it anyways.
My most common distance is about 2-3 hours away. I do those drives like its nothing, these days. I don’t tend to hold back on those races, either. Normally anything at or above 3 hours away, I do. I often leave my home before daylight and not all routes keep me on main highways. With that being the case, I always keep personal safety in mind in my travels. Here are a few things I do, to insure I have the safest drive there, and back.
I keep my vehicle’s exterior spotless normally, and it does stand out when its clean. But prior to a race trip, I let it get dirty, I will get more detailed on this later. I always check my tire pressure, and oil life, prior to any trip out of town. Tend to it as needed. I start my trip out with a full tank of gas as well. I despise pumping gas when it is not daylight. Wee morning hours or late at night, I just don’t feel comfortable. Print out your directions to the venue, like in the old fashion days with MapQuest. I do this, because I do pass thru areas of absolute no service, as in, OnStar won’t even answer me. So, if for some reason I lose GPS on my phone, lose my phone or it spontaneously combusts, I still have a hard copy of my route to & from. I always leave with plenty of time to spare for stops, traffic and detours, if needed. I hate rushing to park, register and bag check at races.
Being an ID Channel addict, I am well aware of the creepers that are out there in the world, random or calculated. So, I follow these simple rules, for myself. First, needing a drink should never be a reason for me to stop, I always carry a cooler packed with water & snacks. If I need a restroom break (because between coffee for the wake up and chugging water to be over-hydrated for a hot day of running-it happens), I stop ONLY for that reason. I do not get gas, use restroom and buy a drink. One stop, one purpose. If my stop must be in the darkness hours, no highway rest stops. No matter what. Only well lit exits, with larger gas stations, infrastructures (think surveillance cameras) . During daylight hours, I will stop at rest stops. I hold my keys to my vehicle in my fist, all the way in and out. In case I need to set off my vehicle alarm or throat punch (whatever is needed at the time, ha).
I never let my vehicle go lower than a 1/4 tank of fuel when traveling. You never know what kind of traffic issues or re-routes you might have to do in case of wrecks, etc. Have you ever been stopped in traffic, in Florida, in 90+ degree temps for over an hour? Let me tell ya, your vehicle idling with the A/C on, just to keep you from melting, takes the fuel….So, when I need fuel, I stop only at stations that, once again, are well lit, within sight of the highway. I pay at the pump, and do not enter the station or leave my post at my vehicle. If I need a snack, that too, is a separate stop. You are probably thinking, what a waste of time, stopping for individual needs at the moment. And sure, it takes a little longer to make separate stops, but I feel safer this way. Why? It does not take long for people to notice that you are traveling alone. And when someone who is contemplating to be up to no good, you are found out even faster. I like to blend in, and not be as noticeable. That’s why I let my vehicle get dirty on the outside prior to my trip, as well as not being in one location while doing several things, that take me additional time or take my attention away from my personal safety.
Of course, I let multiple people know which route I am taking, estimated time to get to and from, and address of the venue. If anything changes my route, plans or ETA, I am quick to reach out to those people. I like to inform multiple people, in case someone doesn’t answer my call/text.
These steps/ways of traveling help me feel safe along with those who care about me. I am fortunate enough that my guy enjoys destination golf, and most of time, will happily do an overnight/weekend trip to venues further away. I race, he golfs. Win/Win.