Traveling solo can be the ultimate way to fully indulge yourself. You have the opportunity to immerse yourself in new surroundings, cultures, and activities without the preferences of a traveling companion getting in the way. Traveling alone allows you to give in to your impulse decisions, change plans last minute, and basically do what you want, when you want.
However, travel issues such as safety, loneliness, and other potential risks mean it’s important to prepare as much as possible and use common sense throughout your trip. This guide will talk about how to properly prepare for your solo adventure, how to know what to bring or where to go, as well as some common beginner mistakes you should avoid.
Preparing for Your Solo Adventure
As a solo traveler, you’ll need to do some pretty extensive planning to ensure you have a safe, smooth trip. Fortunately, we live in a time where technology can give us access to some really awesome tools. You can use your smartphone or tablet before or during your trip to utilize some helpful apps that will make solo traveling a breeze.
To help keep you organized when planning your trip, you should consider making a checklist of all the important things you have to remember. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the main things you need to consider when planning your trip.
Whether you’re going to be gone for a few days or a few months, traveling costs money. One of the best things you can do for yourself, and your bank account, is to start planning as soon as possible. It’s important to organize your finances and figure out how much you can really spend on the trip. This includes any bills you may need to pay while you’re gone. Furthermore, it could be beneficial to break your trip down into financial categories like flights, dining, excursions, etc. to really fine-tune your travel budget.
As a solo traveler, you won’t have additional people to help pay for things if money gets tight. With that in mind, here are three main areas where you’ll really need to consider your spending habits:
- Lodging: Traveling alone means having no one to split lodging costs with. Because of this, accommodation expenses can quickly add up. To avoid these expenses, you should consider looking into options like Airbnb or other services that allow you to rent out a room in a house. This is generally a cheaper option than a hotel. However, if you do choose to stay in a hotel, opt for one that doesn’t have extra accommodations you don’t really need.
- Airfare: If you plan far enough ahead, you can usually find a good deal on airfare. It’s important to look at flights during times of fare drops or sales to really snag a great deal. Unfortunately, sometimes more affordable flights have inconveniences like longer layovers, so it’s up to you to decide what’s worth the cost.
- Transportation: It can be tempting to utilize a taxi or ride-sharing service in an unfamiliar place in order to make sure you get where you want to go. However, these costs can quickly add up. One of the best and cheapest modes of transportation? Walking! Not only do you spend no money, but you get to see and experience things you wouldn’t get to if you were being driven around.
Additionally, it’s important to let your bank know where you’re going and how long you’ll be there to avoid having your card use viewed as suspicious by the bank. While traveling, you should consider storing a backup card or cash in a separate place in case your primary card or cash gets lost or stolen.
Health & Safety
Taking precautions to ensure your health and safety are properly taken care of is one of the most important things you’ll need to do as a solo traveler. With that in mind, you should ensure you get any vaccinations that are required for where you’re traveling to. Additionally, you might want to consider looking into international health insurance so you can rest assured that you’ll be covered if you get sick or injured on your trip.
One of the most important things you need to do as a solo traveler is to inform someone of your travel plans. If something happens and you don’t get to your destination safely, someone at home needs to be aware of where you were coming from as well as your transportation information. This person should also have copies of your photo ID, health insurance information, and your passport. Additionally, you need to keep this person up-to-date on any changes you make in your plans along the way.
Important Information for Women Travelers
When choosing your destinations, it’s a good idea to do some research on local laws and customs. This can come in handy when you’re speaking with locals or trying to get information while traveling. Additionally, you should have the contact information for US Embassy and emergency services on you at all times during your trip.
Once you begin planning your trip, there are a few important things you should consider doing ahead of time. These may include:
- Booking flights
- Securing lodging reservations
- Scheduling transportation to and from the airport
- Creating an itinerary
- Purchasing an international phone plan
On the other hand, you may opt for a completely unplanned trip, and that’s okay too. However, these are some very important things you may want to do before you leave for your trip so you’re all set when you get to your destination.
Packing: Bring This, Not That
For some women, the idea of packing for a weekend trip can be daunting, let alone trying to pack for weeks or even months. It can also be stressful with little or no experience in the places you’re going to be visiting. Luckily, you can most likely buy any crucial items you may have forgotten at home along the way. However, it’s important to know the essential items you should be packing in your bags.
Clothing – The type of clothing you’re going to pack ultimately depends on where you’re going and what you’re going to be doing. For colder climates, make sure you bring plenty of clothes you can layer on top of each other. For warmer climates consider opting for tank tops that can easily mix and match with different bottoms. If you’re going to be gone a long time, you should find out if your lodging accommodations offer laundry services. This way, you won’t have to pack as many clothes because you can wash and re-wear your clothing! If you’re going to be walking or hiking, comfortable, yet durable, shoes are a must-have.
Toiletries – Luckily, hygiene is a universal concept so you shouldn’t have trouble finding things like shampoo and soap along the way. However, you should make sure you bring any important medications, a first aid kit, and sunscreen. It can be difficult to determine how much shampoo and lotion you’re going to use throughout your trip, but try not to bring an excessive amount.
Practical Items – Most likely, bedding and pillows will be provided at your lodging accommodations. But you might want to consider bringing things like towels, flashlights, and a lock to secure items when needed. Additionally, you should invest in a personal safety alarm. Pepper spray may not be allowed in checked baggage and is even outlawed in certain countries. A personal safety alarm is small and convenient to use in an emergency.
While it may be tempting to bring all of your belongings in a suitcase with wheels, you should remember that this may become more of an annoyance than a convenience. Additionally, you should refrain from bringing things like jewelry, which may attract thieves. Even if you want to bring everything from home with you, you need to really think about how much you’re willing to carry around during your trip.
Do’s and Don’ts: Common Solo Traveler Mistakes
If you’re new at solo traveling, or traveling in general, you should know that you’re going to make some mistakes along the way – and that’s okay! Because you can learn from them and be better prepared next time. However, there are a few important things you should be sure to do, or not to do, that could either make or break your trip.
Feel obligated to stay in hostels: There are tons of accommodation options, and you should choose one that you’re comfortable with. Don’t feel like you have to choose to stay in a hostel just because it’s a common choice for solo travelers.
Run out of cash: Especially when traveling alone, having no money can be a major problem. Make sure you’re keeping track of your expenses and consider having a hidden emergency stash of money on you at all times.
Ignore potential dangers: When you’re alone in an unfamiliar place, it’s critical to trust your instincts. If you’re in a situation that is making you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, you should listen to your internal alarms and protect yourself.
Overschedule activities: One of the major perks of traveling alone is being able to just go with the flow. If you overschedule activities for yourself, you may find yourself feeling drained of energy and excitement about the trip.
Hang out with fellow travelers: If you want to meet and talk to other people, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Traveling alone can sometimes get, well, lonely. It can be as simple as having a casual conversation in a restaurant or while waiting in line.
Have a backup plan: It’s important to always have a backup plan when traveling alone. That way if something doesn’t go as planned, you’re ready for it. Additionally, it’s a smart idea to let a trusted friend know where you’re headed, and if you make any changes along the way.
Feel free to change your plans: You shouldn’t resist impulse behaviors, but rather embrace them! You have the ability to do what you want, when you want, and you should take full advantage of it.
Rest when you need it: Especially on the first and last nights of a trip, it can be tempting to be overly ambitious. However, these times can be the most stressful parts of your trip, and you should consider taking it easy.
Traveling alone may seem intimidating, but it’s something every woman should consider doing at some point in their lives. Solo travel gives you a new sense of freedom, which makes your traveling triumphs even more exciting. It’s okay to be nervous, but you shouldn’t let your worries hold you back from having a life-changing opportunity.
Text by Tasmiah Rashid. This article originally appeared on CheapOair.com