Traveling solo is not only an adventure, but also an investment in yourself. Every day that you spend alone in a new environment is yours to indulge in a new experience, new sights and sounds, and potentially make new mistakes to learn from. The rules of the road can be a bit different when you’re not traveling with a buddy, however. Here are some tips to help make your solo adventure go a bit more smoothly.
Preparing for the Worst When Traveling Solo
Secure your crucial documents before travel. One of the worst-case scenarios when traveling is that your bag with your travel documents and credit cards is lost or stolen. Take pictures of your driver’s license, passport, credit cards (front and back), reservations and other crucial documents for your trip. Then upload them to a cloud storage service such as Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive. Then delete the photos from your phone. This way, you can still access all of your important documents from a computer if they’re lost.
Secure your items while traveling with a portable safe. A portable safe is a very cheap way to secure electronics and important documents when you’re on your journey. The Pacsafe Travelsafe is a mesh bag lined with wires that cannot be cut through (at least not quickly). You can store your laptop, credit cards and other important items in the safe and then secure it with a cable and lock it to anything sturdy in your hotel room, such as a pipe. These safes are cheap, and they allow you to leave your valuables in your room safely while you explore a new city.
Packing and Prepping for Solo Travel
Bring half the clothes and budget twice as much money. Resourceful women tend to pack more than we ever need for a trip. Lighten the load and pack only half as much as you think you’ll need. Traveling solo is easier if you’re not lugging nearly as much luggage. You’ll also have more room to purchase things on the road if you decide to splurge on gifts for yourself or loved ones. It is also a good idea to budget more than you think you’ll need in case of an unexpected expense such as a car repair or an extended layover.
Register your trip with important agencies. If you’re traveling out of the country, register with the U.S. State Department. They will send you an emergency alert if anything happens in the country you’re traveling through, such as civil unrest. You can also register with the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT). This group will help you find medical services with English-speaking doctors or nurses if necessary. Consider purchasing travel insurance as well.
Plan to check in with friends or loved ones. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member back home. If you don’t have an itinerary and plan to fly by the seat of your pants, check in with a phone call every day or two to let someone know where you are.
Making it the best trip ever
Talk to the locals. Service people at restaurants can be some of your best resources for finding local flavor. Chat up the waiters and maids wherever you go for the best advice on places to avoid and things to see that you won’t find in the typical tourism guidebooks.
Be assertive (or fake it ‘til you make it). Carry yourself with confidence even if that’s not your normal personality type. This will not only keep you safer when traveling alone, but it will make you more approachable. Make eye contact with everyone and look as if you know what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions either!
Simplify your style. You’re probably traveling to take in new sights, rather than to be seen. Don’t worry about having a full professional wardrobe or dressing for a night on the town. Keep it simple when it comes to style. This will also help you reduce the number of things you have to pack (see the above tip about packing half as much).
Have fun and make lots of memories. Make the most of your trip and be sure to document everything. Enjoy every moment and take photos to remember everything and to share with others in the future. Remember that nothing ever goes exactly as planned on a trip, so stay positive, learn and grow from every experience.