So, you’re off to a vacation destination you and your best friend have been planning to go on for a while now. The day before the trip, your travel buddy called to say they are sick and that they won’t be able to make it. But still, your friend insists you should go alone.
At first, you’re hesitant as the idea of traveling solo sounds scary and risky. After thinking it through, you decide to conquer your fears and take on the adventure.
You thought that at one point in your life you may have to travel alone anyway. For instance, your boss may require you to attend business meetings abroad on your own.
It may not occur to you that solo travel isn’t new to a lot of people. Some people just need to do it regularly as part of their work or lifestyle. While for others, traveling solo has become more of a hobby.
You can always learn a thing or two through the experiences of others. Who knows, you might actually like solo traveling. But you won’t know for sure unless you try it.
In any case, there will always be a first time for everything. And when yours comes, you can note and apply these 12 hacks that solo travelers do.
1. Planning the itinerary ahead of time
From the accommodations to the tours, you need to map it all out prior to your trip. Do proper research on your destination’s famous attractions, must-try cuisines, hostels, or hotels with great reviews, and anything that relates to your interests.
Spontaneity may seem pretty exciting, but it could also be time-consuming. Especially, when you’re the only one doing everything. Instead, save your time for something else worthwhile like savoring local delicacies, immersing yourself in the culture, or simply enjoying your moment of independence.
2. Taking note of important contact information and language basics before travel
In case of emergency, make sure you have a ready list of essential contact information in a notebook or on your mobile phone. These may be numbers or email addresses of the nearest embassy at the destination, your insurance company, and travel agency, among others.
Learning how to say common expressions in the language of your destination may also help locals understand you better in matters of difficult situations.
3. Informing someone you trust about your itinerary and updating them from time to time
Let your family or friends know the dates and places you are planning to stay in or go to. Constantly advise them about your whereabouts and the different people you interact with.
Do not think of it as an invasion of your privacy but rather a safety net in the event something unintended may happen. In that manner, your family will serve as your virtual travel companion. They can immediately locate and help you should the need arise.
4. Keeping soft copies of travel documents
Aside from the printouts, provide an accessible scanned copy of all your documents such as visa, passport, plane tickets, and reservations. Save it on your mobile phone, or in a cloud from where you can easily view it anywhere at any time.
5. Packing light
Ensuring your safety in a foreign land already takes up a lot of space in your mind. The last thing you want to worry about is whether you have your complete belongings with you at all times. Hence, you need to pack light but pack smart.
Bring only what you need and place your things inside the baggage as compact as possible. Try to fit everything in one carry-on bag and another bag for check-in. In that way, you can effortlessly secure the two bags with one in each hand without second-guessing whether you misplaced or forgot any of them.
6. Investing in a local sim card
You may think a roaming-enabled sim card and Wi-Fi connection are good enough to access calls and the internet. It could be when you are going to stay only for a couple of days.
Otherwise, purchase a local sim card once you arrive at the airport to make cheaper and more reliable calls. Remember you are traveling alone and most of the time you are going to rely on your resources for information and communication.
Moreover, not all places may offer free Wi-Fi. Spare yourself from the costly charges of roaming data overseas and instead, browse the internet using a local phone number.
7. Securing a basic medical kit
Don’t leave your first aid kit at the place where you are staying. Make sure you always bring a basic medical kit with you no matter where you go. You’ll never know when you will be needing medicine for motion sickness or a bandage to protect a foot blister in case you require a lot of walking.
8. Bringing a mini tripod
You can always ask someone to take a photo of you. However, when no one is around to do it for you, you can just set your camera on a timer and mount it on a portable tripod. Apart from giving you the freedom to choose your preferred view or angle, using a tripod creates a more scenic and wider view than a selfie-stick.
9. Carrying a portable power device
A power bank may come in handy in rescuing your low-battery mobile phone or camera when you’re in the middle of nowhere and there isn’t a power outlet nearby. Never risk a dead mobile phone as it is your ultimate means of communication as a solo traveler.
10. Keeping an offline map
Before your trip, locate and mark your itinerary on an online map. Take a screenshot, save it on your mobile phone or print a copy. Take note of the nearest landmarks, the ones you think you will easily recognize such as international fast food or familiar brands.
Better yet, find an offline map of your destination in the app store if there is one, and download it. This way, you can quickly tell in which direction and how far apart the location of your places to visit are, even without internet access.
11. Dressing comfortably
Opt to wear comfortable clothing and footwear during your travel. It would be convenient if you can move your body freely and walk for long periods with ease.
Being comfortable with yourself boosts your self-confidence. And you will need a great deal of it as you make various decisions during your solo journey.
However, you should always take into consideration the weather or climate at the destination.
12. Listening to what your intuition is trying to tell you
Whenever you feel that something is off about someone or a particular situation, it’s probably because it is. It doesn’t mean letting paranoia ruin your whole trip. But it’s also not a good idea to discredit your gut instinct.
Between yourself and other people, you know and trust yourself better than anyone else. So, when you feel unsettled and unsafe about something or someone, use your best judgment and prioritize your health and safety.