The first time I booked a trip abroad by myself, I felt a number of emotions. I was thrilled to experience a new adventure, terrified something would go wrong, and overwhelmed by the possibilities of traveling solo. The desire to set off on your own is exciting, but you also might have a number of fears and concerns. Traveling solo around the world can be rewarding, but there are a few things you might want to keep in mind before you head out on the road.
Make sure friends and family know where you’re going.
While you might have a fantasy of going off the grid, it’s a good idea to let the people closest to you know the phone numbers and addresses of the places you’re staying. Plan a designated time to contact home so they know that you’ve made it to your destination. I usually give my parents an itinerary so they can call the hostel I’m staying at if they have any worries.
Keep copies of your important information–just in case!
Before you go, make photocopies of your passport and insurance information. If you happen to lose your passport, you can still identify yourself to the local U.S. Embassy. Make sure that your family has copies, too, so they can help you apply for a new passport or can book you a ticket home, if needed.
Know that you will feel lonely at times, but it will go away.
Traveling solo can be amazing—you will experience things that you never could when you are with friends. You’ll be more open to talking with people and stepping outside of your comfort zone. However, there will be times where you will feel lonely, and that’s okay. Remember that this feeling is temporary, and moments when you wish you had a travel buddy are a great opportunity to meet some fellow travelers and to learn more about the foreign country you are in.
Take plenty of pictures (and make sure that you’re in them).
Documenting your time abroad can be difficult when you are traveling alone, especially when you want to show people you are having a great time! While you might have a lot of pictures of buildings or sights, you might not have very many of yourself. You’ll be glad you overcame your shyness and asked someone to take a picture of you when you look back on your solo adventure later. Don’t be afraid to ask—most people will be happy to take a photograph
Trust your instincts.
Being in a foreign country can be frightening, and you might not know that you are in a bad situation until you are already in too deep to get out. While it might seem like a fun idea to try something new or to go out and party, if it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. This can be especially true as a young women traveling alone—make sure you know the rules of how to stay safe in each location you head to.
Know the numbers of the police department in each country you are located.
While the likelihood of needing the police while in a foreign country is small, you never know when an emergency will happen. Consider purchasing an international SIM card at the airport so you can send texts and make calls while abroad and have numbers of the local police and your country’s embassy available in case you need them quickly. Again, you probably won’t need them, but you will be happy you have them if you do.
Make sure to research the places you are going.
One of the best ways to truly enjoy your trip is to take time and do some research. Even reading a novel about your chosen destination can get you into the mood of traveling and can teach you about local customs. Also, if you know a bit more about the country you are visiting, you’re much more likely to feel prepared before you go.
Though this is easier said than done, relaxing and enjoying your time abroad is what is going to make it memorable for you for years to come. You’ve already prepared, now enjoy your time exploring new cultures and trying new foods. Take some time and enjoy a coffee at a cafe and or slow down your pace of sightseeing and sit in a local park and people watch. This is all a part of traveling too.