Question: We’re eating out on Friday night and want to light candles at home before driving to our host’s home. Can I light Shabbos candles while stipulating that I’m not being mekabel Shabbos?
Answer: The Rema (OC 263:10) writes that women are typically mekabel Shabbos when they light the Shabbos candles. They may, however stipulate, even mentally, that they don’t wish to be mekabel Shabbos at that time. Thus, the Mishna Berura (263:43) writes that women mustn’t daven Mincha after lighting as it is no longer considered to be Friday.
Nonetheless, the Magen Avraham (OC 263:20) writes that this should only be relied on in times of great need. The poskim debate the parameters of this. The Mishna Berura (263:21) writes that a woman who needs to prepare that night for going to mikvah may rely on this.
R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 10:19) writes that a woman who wishes to daven kabbalas Shabbos at the kosel may light candles while stipulating that she isn’t being mekabel Shabbos yet, and then drive there. The extra inspiration she will get from davening there is considered to be a great need. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 43:n137), however, held that this doesn’t qualify as a great need and so she shouldn’t do this.
The Magen Avraham (OC 263:18) writes that this doesn’t apply to men, as they typically aren’t mekabel Shabbos when they light the Shabbos candles, though it is ideal for them to stipulate that they want to be mekabel Shabbos later.Thus, under normal circumstances, a woman who had lit Shabbos candles wouldn’t then be allowed to drive to her host, though a man who had would be able to.