Traveling solo can be a thrilling experience that pushes the boundaries of your comfort zone. However, you want to make sure you prepare before venturing off! Here are some of the top “know before you go” tips for solo travel.
Leave Your Contact Info with Someone at Home
When traveling, especially overseas where communication might be trickier, it’s important to let someone know your travel plans. Let them know where you’re going, where you’ll be staying, and the travel dates. This will keep your loved ones at home in the loop just in case they need to contact you. You can also enroll in STEP, the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler program.
Keep Copies of Important Documents
Always keep copies of your important documents, such as your passport, social security card, and other necessary paperwork. These copies can come in handy in case you misplace one during your travels! You should also leave copies with a trusted person at home who can email photos of them if necessary.
Network – Who Do You (or Your Friends) Know?
Talk to your contacts about where you’ll be traveling to, they may have connections in those places and could connect you with other people in their network. This is great for solo traveling because it can help give you more insight from locals into where you’re going and, if you feel so inclined, you can meet up!
Have Lodging Address in the Local Language
Always keep a copy of your lodging address in the local language with you. Although you may plan to walk back or use public transportation, if something goes wrong, you might need to get back another way. Hotels often have business cards at the check-in counter or it may be available on the website.
Bring a Book and a Journal
You may face some long travel days, and since you’ll be traveling solo, having a book to read can help entertain you. If you’re traveling light, you can download ebooks to read on your phone or trade books with others you meet along the way. Journaling is another excellent way to keep yourself entertained; it’s also great to have so you can document your journey! Trust us on this! It’s fun and special to find your travel journals and read back and recall those travel moments later in life.
Learn How to be Alone
Traveling solo means spending time alone. Depending on your personality, this might be the most challenging part of traveling solo. Being with yourself alone in another country is a big deal but learning to slow down can create a lot of growth, and you can learn more about who you are.
Download Key Apps Before You Leave
Translation app: Even in some large cities around the world, it can be challenging to find English speakers. A translation app isn’t perfect, but it works well for key words and phrases (and menus).
Local ride-share app: Find out the reliable local ride share apps and get them set up before you leave home. You don’t want to be inputting your credit card information on a street corner.
Local maps for offline viewing: You don’t want to be using sometimes expensive data anytime you need to consult a map. Most major cities have downloadable offline maps that you can load before you leave home.
Things Will Go Wrong… That’s Okay
No matter if you’re traveling alone or with others, something will go wrong. If that happens, it might be stressful in the moment, but it’s going to make great stores to tell and will help you learn to be more flexible. Learn from it and roll with it!
Keep Emergency Contact Info on You
It’s crucial that you give someone at home your information on where you’ll be traveling, but it’s also essential to keep their information on you as well. Ideally, it’s great to keep this information in multiple places, such as your mobile device and your journal. This is important just in case your phone is out of battery or misplaced and you need to call home.
Understand The Cultures You’re Entering
When entering new countries, we highly recommend learning more about the local cultures before visiting. This can help prepare you for anything you might face, such as clothing restrictions or norms and understanding mannerisms. If you plan to visit any religious sites, even in modern cities, there may be modesty rules about clothing.
Stay Someplace Where You’ll Meet Others
One of the most interesting aspects about traveling solo is the people you may meet. Staying at a place like a hostel or a smaller hotel situates you perfectly to meet like-minded individuals who might be traveling solo as well. And who knows, the people you meet on your solo adventure might turn into life-long friends!
Know Where You’re Going
It’s always a good idea to create some kind of plan before your travels. This will help give you an idea of any transportation you might need to take, sights you might want to see, and how to visit each place on your list effectively.
Ask Locals for Recommendations
Talking to locals is a wonderful way to learn about the place you’re visiting. They can tell you the best places to visit that you might miss if you’re just going to the tourist attractions! Your hotel is a great source of information about which areas are safe and which you should avoid.
Try Not to Overpack
When traveling solo, you’re in charge of all your bags. Make sure you’re able to carry all your items before you leave and have room left for any souvenirs you might be bringing back with you. If you’re flying on a discount carrier, be prepared to pay for any bags beyond a small day pack.
Leave Valuables at Home
Don’t make yourself a target. Leave expensive jewelry at home. Sometimes even a nice camera can draw unwanted attention so our day bag is large enough to hide it.
Act Confidently in Public
Acting confident is key, especially if you’re not sure where you are or where you’re going. When you show confidence, it’s less likely someone will try and take advantage of you. We’d like to believe that most people you meet wouldn’t do this, but you can never be too cautious.
Enjoy the Freedom
One of the best aspects of solo travel is not having to compromise. If you want to spend an hour in front of a favorite painting, that’s fine! If you like to get to know a place by browsing boutiques, you won’t hold up the culture-fan. Eat when you want, sleep when you want, see what you want – it’s a judgment-free zone!
You May Never Feel 100% Ready
It’s hard to find the time and energy to commit to traveling internationally with our busy lives. But is there ever really a “perfect” time to go? You might also be thinking that you aren’t ready to travel solo yet, but again, is there really going to be a “perfect” time? If you’re considering traveling alone, take the leap!
Not Ready Yet? Ease Into Solo Travel
If you think you’re ready to try solo travel but not quite ready to do everything on your own, consider taking a cruise by yourself. You can spend as much time alone or with other people as you choose. You can plan independent shore excursions on your own or join with others. It is an easy way to see if solo travel is right for you.
Traveling solo is truly an adventure of a lifetime, and we believe it can add so much value to your life. It can be a scary one, but well worth it!