The feeling could be overwhelming for people preparing for their first solo international travel. Being anxious is normal. You are concerned about what you will find out there. Your safety and how to handle yourself alone are your most important priorities. With preparation and common sense, solo travel is not as scary as you think.
- Bring Extra Identification
Aside from your passport, bring extra identification like unexpired government-issued IDs. When you need to check-in hotels, you can provide your government-issued ID and not your passport. Carry additional photocopies of your passport if you accidentally lose or get your passport stolen.
- Check valuables
Always be mindful of your belongings, especially when traveling to multiple countries or having numerous flights. Make sure not to misplace your valuables. You don’t want your stuff stolen or lost when you are somewhere in a middle of a foreign country. Check valuables regularly like passport, cellphone, and wallet.
- Use social media
Use the power of social media to ensure your friends and family that you are safe. Post on Facebook or Twitter where you are, or post about your next flight. That way, people will know that you are safe and secure.
Before the travel date, inform your bank that you will be traveling outside the country to avoid inconvenience. Some banks do not allow debit cards or credit cards outside the country without informing the bank. The card might get declined for suspicious transactions as you swipe it or take money out from an ATM. If you carry cash, have enough funds to cover your travel duration and have backup funds if you get short of money.
- Don’t forget your itinerary.
Your itinerary will be like your travel bible. Following an itinerary will make it easier to accomplish your planned activities. Take note of important details like train timetables, opening and closing hours of establishments, and tourist spot locations.
- Inform hotel reception about your itinerary
Leave a brief itinerary to the hotel receptionist about your activities for a specific day. In case of emergency, the hotel or someone knows your whereabouts.
- Keep your cell phone charged.
As much as possible, make sure that your phone is charged, bring power banks, and take note of emergency numbers. Great for emergency purposes and to contact people back home.
Don’t skip the local food. It is part of the experience. Try it if a local food has a funny taste or weird smell. It is all about trying something you haven’t tried or eaten before. Street foods are the best!
Truthfully, anything can happen during a trip. Stuck in traffic, missed a flight, got sick, lost a wallet, countless unfortunate possibilities… Don’t stress. However, focus on what you need to do. Do not lose yourself in the worst cases. Know your next move and look for options to get out of the uncomfortable situation.
- Travel light
Traveling without bringing your whole closet is critical in making your first solo travel comfortable. Imagine carrying 20 kilograms of luggage, and then you are only traveling for 3 days. You will be exhausted, not from the trip but from dragging around your luggage. If you are backpacking and planning to have a long-term trip, bring only the necessary laundry to hotels, or you can always buy something you need on the road.
- Stay in hostels
This is best for long-term budget travel and solo travelers to meet new friends. Hostels do provide reasonable accommodation and breakfast. The only difference is that you will be sharing the room with other people. When I travel, I usually get capsule hostels. It has more privacy compared to regular bunk bed hostels.
- Be street smart
Remember that you are traveling alone, so you need to be extra careful. It is about being aware of where you are and what situation you are in. When you feel something isn’t right, most likely, it isn’t. Do not do something that will attract attention, like flash money in the street, wear expensive jewelry pieces, or wear too catchy clothes for attention. Blend in and lay low.
- Be responsible
Traveling alone would demand a lot of being responsible. When you want to enjoy, always remember that you are somewhere miles away from what is familiar to you, and you are on an adventure – ALONE. Take control and be responsible while having a few drinks or partying with new friends. Always make a decision that you won’t regret after. Your safety depends on the choices you make. Always make smart choices when you travel, regardless. Say no politely when you feel you need to.
- Take pictures and appreciate the moment.
A holiday won’t be complete without beautiful pictures. Take as many photos as you can and share them with your friends. It is a great way to keep memories. You don’t want to miss a great opportunity of having memorable photos or videos and get that hundred likes on Instagram or Facebook. Share with the world your experience, especially with those who can’t travel like you. Let people see your adventure through pictures.
- Don’t forget to enjoy, meet new friends, and create beautiful memories
Don’t be too anxious. Enjoy the opportunity that you are somewhere many people only dream of seeing. Feel the wind on your face when you are at the beach, taste a sumptuous local meal, learn a few local languages, smile at everyone you meet, challenge yourself, see what you can do, appreciate freedom, and be happy.
Just like they say, life starts outside your comfort zone. So challenge yourself on how far you can go, how strong you can be, and how creative you are in making beautiful memories alone. Be confident. You’ll do just fine. 😀