The thought of traveling alone for some people, can be quite intimidating and scary. Thats why I’ve narrowed down all of the things I’ve learned while traveling solo, in the hopes that you will feel more prepared and confident for your trip. Without further ado, lets get into it!
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Check to see if there is a visa requirement for the country you’re visiting. For some countries you may need to apply for a visa to enter beforehand. For instance, if you’re American and you would like to visit Australia, you will need to apply for a tourist visa prior to entering the country. This can be done online via their government website. For countries such as Thailand, you can obtain a visa on arrival, which means all you have to do is show up!
Make sure that you’ve had your passport for at least 6 months before you travel, or else they might not consider your passport “valid” and not let you board the plane. The same goes for the expiration date. DO NOT attempt to leave the country if your passport expires in less than 6 months WITHOUT doing research on if the country will let you in. If you’re an avid traveler, double check how many pages are left in your passport. I made the mistake of not looking, and I had to go to the American embassy in Thailand to get more pages sewn in, in order to have enough room for my visas. Not the biggest deal in the world, but it’ll save you the stress if you double check before you leave the country. Speaking of embassies, it’s a good idea to have a look and see where your embassy is in the country you’re visiting, just incase!
If you’re American, always carry American dollars with you. In some countries, especially Southeast Asia, they will ask you to pay $20/30 U.S dollars at the border for your visa fee. In addition, have wallet size passport photos for your visa so they don’t charge you extra at the border. Lastly and obviously, carry copies of your passport with you and make sure you have a copy saved in your email. Like I mentioned earlier, always travel with some cash on you. I always had about U.S $300 in cash hidden in my bag for emergencies only.
Travel insurance! Don’t be cheap, just get it.
Make sure you call your banks to tell them that you are going away, this way, they won’t think you’ve had card fraud when you’re buying McDonalds in Bangkok. Depending on what bank you’re with, you might want to research other banks that might offer travel cards which don’t charge international fees when you use ATMs abroad. Helpful hint: find out your bank’s international phone number ahead of time so you don’t waste money and time doing it abroad if you have an issue.
Buy a book/journal. Although you’ll meet loads of people during your travels, chances are you’ll definitely be alone at some points. Bring a book to read for planes/bus rides and definitely invest in a journal! Even if journaling isn’t your thing, the pen and paper might come in handy sometime!
PACK LIGHT. Less = more
WHEN YOU’RE THERE
Have someone at home that knows where you’ll be- let them know what dates you’re flying on, and what cities you’re in- just incase! Have someone that checks up on you every few days (Thanks dad!)
Know how you’re getting to and from the airport/bus station/hostel and hotel BEFORE you get to the airport. Are taxis safe? Is bargaining a thing? Does your hostel or hotel have complimentary airport pick up? Do your research, people! It can save you stress and in some cases, money, if you plan ahead.
When it comes to booking accommodation, read reviews on websites like hostelworld.com and booking.com for hostels/hotels etc. If you’re traveling alone and you’re a female, you might feel more comfortable booking an all female dorm, however I usually book a mixed bed dorm and the biggest one can find (aka 12 or 10 bed dorms). The bigger the dorm, the cheaper; and I find that the more people there are around me, the safer I feel. When choosing a hostel, I usually go for the cheapest thats rated the best, and that is also social, or reviewed well for solo travelers.
Know what you want to see! When you are traveling alone you might meet people and decide to tag along with them for a few days. This is great, but don’t lose track of why you came to a place. If you have something you want to do or see that no one else does, politely excuse yourself from their plans for that day and explore on your own! That is, after all, why you’re traveling solo in the first place!
Be organized. Make sure you have multiple debit cards with you, just incase you lose one, (or leave both in the ATM machine in Thailand, like I did…whoops). Not only should you have multiple ATM cards, but you should keep them in separate places. I always had one on me, and one stashed away in my backpack, just incase my purse got stolen.
BE SMART. Just because you’re in Bali doesn’t mean you should drive a motorbike while you’re drunk, or get on the back of someone else’s bike who has been drinking. If you get hurt, there might not be anyone there that can take care of you. Lastly, make sure to take care of your health and don’t run yourself down. You are your own responsibility.
Most importantly- remember to have the time of your life. Talk to EVERYONE. Traveling solo is incredible, and something most people wouldn’t do. Its your chance to start fresh whenever you meet someone new. Be nice, and save your judgments for someplace else. The best part of your trip, after all, will be the friends you make along the way.