After posting my recent piece about the freedom of solo road trips , my husband, Dan, pointed out that perhaps it was somewhat irresponsible – or, at the very least, misleading – for me to encourage others (especially wide-eyed women like me) to travel alone. Although he acknowledged how liberating solo travel could be – especially for women in search of solitude, spiritual rejuvenation, new experiences, and new friendships – he thought that I ought to provide some safety guidelines for pursuing such solo trips. While I suspect that his advice stems, in part, from his own concern about my desire to travel alone, he's right that, like it or not, America isn't always the safest place for a woman to navigate by herself.
While it's certainly admirable for an independent woman to explore America – and the world – on her own, it's important to take precautions, whether you're visiting an urban metropolis like New York City  or venturing via RV through the wilds of Montana . Though many towns and rural areas in America are still relatively safe, there are simply too many things that can go wrong – on the road, in a campground, or even in a crowd.
So, for my fellow female travelers, here are some safety tips to bear in mind should you decide to take a solo journey this summer – or in the not-too-distant future:
ᴥ Before heading out alone, tell someone back home about your intended travel plans, including specific itineraries if possible.
ᴥ Learn how to operate your vehicle – whether you choose to ride a motorcycle or drive a motorhome – and be prepared to make minor repairs, such as changing a flat tire.
ᴥ Invest in a service like AAA, which will allow you to secure roadside assistance when necessary.
ᴥ Stick to daytime driving; having road trouble at night can be potentially perilous.
ᴥ Stay close to busy attractions, streets, and campgrounds; never, for instance, stay overnight in a deserted rest area.
ᴥ Try to stow your money, credit cards, and identification close to your person, as big purses can make easy targets.
ᴥ If you feel that someone is stalking you, find a public place (such as a store or tourism bureau), and don't hesitate to alert the police.
ᴥ Keep the doors to your lodging and vehicle locked at all times.
Before heading out on your trip, you should also procure and pack an assortment of road trip essentials  (plus, depending on your mode of travel, some RV essentials  as well), including a first aid kit, proper automotive fluids, a canister of pepper spray, and a cell phone with GPS capability, which can be useful in an emergency. Just remember that cellular reception is limited in the United States' more remote areas, such as the backcountry of the Everglades  – so try not to explore such areas without a professional guide.
If you have any tips of your own, feel free to share them by commenting below. In the meantime, consider the advice of Marybeth Bond , a seasoned travel expert and fellow member of the Society of American Travel Writers . Besides offering some serious safety advice for women , including ways to minimize your odds of becoming a rape victim, she's also compiled a few tips for making a solo trip a little easier and more enjoyable , such as how to dine alone, avoid unwanted attention, and communicate with strangers. “Be brave and take the plunge,” Marybeth advises. “Try traveling solo, you may become a convert. Remember, it is better to be alone than to wish you were alone.”
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo / Text © 2011 Laura Martone
Laura Martone is Moon’s American Nomad  and the author of Moon Michigan , Moon Florida Keys , Moon Baja RV Camping , and the upcoming Moon New Orleans, which will be published in Spring 2012.