7-day solo road trip in Northern California

I have to admit I haven’t always been a fan of solo travel, thinking it may be boring, too expensive and even not so safe. However, I was curious to try at least once before to judge. So, last summer, I organised my first solo trip: a 7-day road trip through Northern California just by myself. Oh, what a revelation it was! Mindblowing! Now I love solo travel so much! Don’t get me wrong, I still love travelling with friends or family, but solo travel gives me so much more freedom and makes me completely open to new adventures and people. My world literally changed after this trip! That’s why I’m more than happy to share my road trip experience with you!

“Anybody can be an explorer if they want to be. You can be an astronaut if you want. Figure out what you want to do, and then go do it” – Helen Thayer

This was my itinerary. It includes:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Yosemite
  3. Lake Tahoe
  4. Sacramento
  5. Berkeley

So, I spent the first 3 days in San Francisco. This city has amazing vibes. It is so colourful and different than any other big American cities! To be honest, I spent more than 3 days there, but I was working in the meantime and I could explore just in my spare time, so it’s like I was there for 3 full days. Here you can see the top 10 things to do in San Francisco according to me!

Painted Ladies
Painted Ladies in San Francisco

After 3 days in San Francisco, I find a car to rent on TURO and I left the city early in the morning of the fourth day. Direction: Yosemite National Park. It was the first time for me renting a car and the first time for me driving in a different country than Italy, and I was alone. So, yes, I was kind of worried for like 5 minutes. But then I started to enjoy the trip! Being solo gave the freedom to stop wherever and whenever I wanted, but what I enjoyed the most was that I could sing so loud that people from other cars could hear me. I love singing but I’m the worst singer ever, so you can imagine the reaction of my friends when I start singing 🙂 But this time, no fellow travellers, no problems! Oh, I had I such a wonderful time!

On top of Upper Yosemite Fall
On top of Upper Yosemite Fall

Anyway, I arrived in Yosemite around 2pm and I spent 2 days there. This park is unbelievably beautiful. If you can, try to find an accommodation in one of the villages of the park, so you don’t need to drive to get there again if you want to spend there more than one day. I booked my accommodation one week before, so villages in the park were already fully booked. However, I was lucky enough to find a spot at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort, which is still pretty close to the park entrance (20 minutes driving) and if offers you hostel solutions, but also camping places and bunkhouses. I personally booked a bunkhouse because I didn’t have a tent and I didn’t find a place in the hostel. The house was really big just for me (there were a bunk bed and a kingsize bed), but well, the bigger the merrier 😉

These are the activities I did in 2 days:

During the first day, I hiked the top of Yosemite Fall Trail (here more detail about my first day in Yosemite), while during the second day I did all the other activities (here more detail about my first day in Yosemite). In order to do all these activities you need to wake up really early, but it’s worth the effort! I swear!

The morning of the 6th day drove from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe. This drive is stunning, with so many breathtaking viewpoints which I described in my post From Yosemite National Park to Lake Tahoe on the road. I actually didn’t spend so much time at Lake Tahoe because I went on an August Sunday and it was so busy that I preferred not to stop for a long time. I just ate in one of the many restaurants by the river and admired the turquoise water for a while.

Lake Tahoe view from Inspiration Point
Lake Tahoe view from Inspiration Point

The night of my sixth day I arrived in Sacramento. To be honest, I didn’t plan to visit this city, but I found a nice and cheap Airbnb after the Airbnb I previously booked cancelled my reservation on the day I was supposed to arrive. So, I took the chance to explore the city and I was quite surprised. The most interesting part of the city is the old part, which is indeed called Old SacramentoOld Sac has historical buildings, which still show a reasonable approximation of their original appearance, and make you feel to be in the American Old West.

Old Sacramento
Old Sacramento

On my 7th day, I woke up and drove for my last time (at least for now) through California. Oh God, if I was sad to leave this beautiful country! Anyway, After 1 hour and a half driving I arrived in Berkeley and I returned my rented car. I was so sad I didn’t realise I left my jacket there (but to be honest I do this kind of things every day, even when I’m happy). My flight was late in the night and I had time to explore the university campus and feel the vibes of the place where so much history and activism took place.

Sather Tower
Sather Tower at Berkeley Campus

Later that day I took the metro and went to the airport to take the flight which would have brought me back home in Dublin.

This trip was my life-changing trip for me! I realised I really enjoy spending time just by self, and that being solo pushes me to talk to strangers and to be more receptive to what I can learn from them. Did you experience a life-changing trip yourself? Where did you go?

All my posts about my 7-day road trip in Northern California are here.

All my posts about California are here.

Author: Giusi

Travel is life!

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