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We LOVE traveling solo.
Travel is a riveting and life-changing experience, though we always recommend safety and preparedness, especially when traveling alone. Especially if this is your first time at it, we want to help you make sure that nothing goes overlooked.
Check out our first timer’s tips for traveling solo.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
1. Plan to fly domestic.
If you’re nervous about leaving your culture, or just about going far from home, take your first solo trip to another part of your home country. You should have no problem with language, currency, or changes in diet. Jet lag, if any, should be minimal.
2. Check your documents.
If you decide to fly international, make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from your trip. Many airports will not let you fly if your passport is nearly expired.
If you don’t have a passport yet, make sure you apply for one at least 3 months before your first trip.
In most countries, you will not need a visa just to travel short-term. But do check the embassy online to see if you will need to apply for a visa before leaving.
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3. Book in advance.
Secure your flight, hotel, and transportation ahead of time. Don’t leave it up to chance.
Book your flight roughly 3-6 months out, and your hotel 2-4 months out, unless you book a package deal. Whenever you book, just make sure it’s not on the spot!
4. Tell your bank.
Tell your bank you will be traveling, so they don’t freeze your card if they see any suspicious purchases. The last thing you want is to be somewhere new without access to money!
5. Register with the embassy.
Wherever you’re traveling, consider using the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
If anything goes wrong in-country, the US Embassy will know exactly how to get a hold of you or your family. Enroll here.
If you’re not a US citizen or legal resident, check your home country’s embassy website to see if they have a similar program.
6. Write down addresses.
Keep your hotel address written down, and accessible. It’s no fun to go digging all over the internet to find it when you’re trying to take a cab or Uber, and it especially targets you as a visitor.
7. Get a secure handbag (and luggage).
Not only is pickpocketing fairly common for tourists, these days, it’s so easy for scammers to get access to your credit cards without even touching them!
Consider buying a handbag that is VFID secure, that people can’t access your information from the outside. As high-tech as that sounds, some bags are pretty cheap.
8. Book insurance.
Truthfully, no matter how much you prepare, anything can happen. There are great insurance providers out there that can meet your specific needs as a traveler.
ONCE YOU ARRIVE:
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9. Get a phone card.
Get a SIM card upon landing, and immediately tell someone you’ve landed.
10. Have a check-in.
Check in with your friends and family, but pick one person to check in with once per day. Whether it’s mom, dad, or best friend, check in with that person consistently to let them know that you’re all right.
Consider keeping their number listed as your emergency contact, and leave it somewhere accessible, whether your inside your wallet or passport.
11. Carry ID.
Always carry your passport or ID. Your passport is your access into the country. If you can’t provide the proof that you’re allowed to be in this country’s borders, you’re traveling illegally. Any time you leave your house or hotel, make sure you have it on you.
12. Keep an eye out for common scams.
Scammers, especially in parts of Europe and Asia, tend to target lone travelers. Keep your bags secure, and be extra cautious when a stranger asks for help or offers to sell you something.
You got this! Solojourners loves to encourage what everyone else will call you crazy for. Take that first big step into solo adventure.
Ready to go?
If you’re planning your next trip or need some travel inspiration, then check out Lonely Planet’s world-best ranked travel guides, available for nearly every country!
We hope these tips for traveling solo are some practical help and will give you the courage to get out there!
If you’re a seasoned solo traveler, share with us in the comments how you got over your biggest fear about travel.