Solo Travel the World
Travelling to a different part of the world for the first time by yourself can be daunting. But it can also be one of the most liberating adventures of your life. I took my first solo trip to Europe when I was only 19 years old, and I learned more from that trip that most will learn in a lifetime. I saw 10 Countries during that trip and experienced a lifetime of memories that linger to this day. Most of my solo trips since then have been to Asia and they have been just as rewarding if not more so.
Below are my tips of things that you need to know about traveling the world solo to make sure that you enjoy your time and stay safe in the process.
Stuff to Pack
When going to a foreign country for the first time all by yourself the temptation is to pack too much stuff. Whether you are travelling for 1 week or a few months you should adopt a minimalist mindset. In other words pack less.
Generally I only take enough clothes to get me through about 7-12 days. You can easily find ways to have your laundry done while traveling and you really don’t need that many cloths. Make sure that you take two pairs of shoes and at least one formal or semi formal outfit. As a man I usually take 1 suit or a really nice polo shirt and pair of slacks in case I get invited to a place that I will need to dress up. Sometimes this comes up unplanned and you should always be ready.
Don’t worry about too many casual cloths because you can usually find more fairly cheap if you need them while travelling.
Electronic devices- Most of the time I only travel with a phone and a tablet with a portable keyboard attachment. I make sure to bring at least one extra charger for each device in case I have a breakdown. If I need or plan to work on the trip I also bring a laptop. These devices allow me to stay in touch wth friends and family while globetrotting. They also allow me to work remotely and have reading material or movies on the plane ride to my next destination.
Always check the Countries that you are travelling to and see if you need a special adapter or transformer for you electrical devices. It is a good idea to get these before you leave your home Country.
Make color copies of your passport biographical data and put them in your bags! I have never had to use any of these, but I have had friends who had their passports stolen in the past. You certainly do not want to be on the other side of the world without any form of identification!
Make sure you pack a minimum amount of toiletries. When you arrive in a new country you might find that certain products are unavailable or are priced much higher than you are used to paying.
Bags- At the most I would travel with a backpack to take on the plan and one small to medium checked luggage. You really do not want to cart around several bags when you arrive at you port of call. The only time that I make an exception to this is when I am going to be in one spot for several months.
Get a money belt! This is a small pouch that is worn under your clothing to hold your major cash. The idea is that you cannot get quickly robbed or pick pocketed out of your major carry cash.
Make sure that you have copies of all your pre-paid hotel or accommodation confirmations and airline itineraries. I have sometimes pre-paid for hotels and when I arrived they had no record of my pre-booking at the hotel. Having a copy of the confirmation has saved me from re-paying for the same room until they get the situation sorted out.
Overall when packing for a solo trip overseas you should always think “can I live without this item in my bag”.
Get TSA travel locks for your bags to secure them. These locks can be opened by TSA without the need to cut them off if they need to inspect your bags.
Consider getting a secure or cut resistant bag. There are bags that are designed to be virtual safes and at least by you time before a thief can get to your important possessions. I personally like the LocTote bags for travelling.
You need to have a plan for accessing money while you are abroad.
Make sure that you travel with at least two credit cards or a credit card and Debit Card that can be used while in another country. Notify all of your banks before you travel that you will be in another country for a certain period so that they will not flag your card. There are horror stories of travelers who have gone overseas and could not use their cards because they were frozen and had no access to funds.
Always carry some cash in case of an emergency. I generally keep at least $500 U.S. dollars on me in case for whatever reason I am unable to use my cards. Depending on what part of the world you are in, you could survive for several weeks.
Have a relative or friend back home that can access your accounts to make a deposit if you get in a crisis. They don’t have to be able to withdraw or see your account information. It can be as simple as leaving them a deposit slip to your bank.
If you get in an emergency and cannot access any of your accounts, remember that Western Union can send money almost anywhere on the planet. You can always have a friend or family member send you money via western union.
Hotel Safes- Don’t trust that the staff cannot get into the safe in some countries. Never leave all of you eggs in one basket.
As mentioned previously you should get a money belt to keep the majority of your cash while travelling. This is a pouch that is worn on a thin belt around the waist under your garments. It will prevent random pickpockets and provide protection from quick robberies or snatch and grabs.
Checking in with the embassy. In some places that are more dangerous it is a good idea to contact the embassy and let them know your itinerary. They will send you travel alerts to let you know if things change in the region and if they are advising leaving or limited travel.
Throw away wallet. The idea is to keep a second wallet that is carried in the normal place of a wallet. It will have some cash in it and generally will have fake or cancelled credit cards. If a thief takes your wallet they will think that they have gotten your loot and will move on. There should be some cash in the wallet to confuse the thief. Usually I place 20 $1 bills in the wallet so that it looks full. Remember you are in a foreign country and they may not be familiar with your currency. I have never actually had to use this method, but I have always had it ready.
Intel on the place you are travelling. Before you go to your destination find out what the situation is on the ground by checking the internet. The more information you have, the better you can prepare for what you are likely to encounter.
Check in with relatives. Make sure that you check in periodically with loved ones so that they know where you are and how long you will be in the area.
Staying in touch with wifi etc
If you have contract with a cell phone provider, contact them to see if you can sign up with a temporary plan for international travel in the places that you are going. These are generally pretty reasonable for a very small plan. You would really only use these in case of an emergency or where you cannot use internet or wifi. Don’t just go and use your phone without one of these add on plans or you could find that you have a hefty bill when you return. Worse, your phone may not work at all.
Use apps like Skype, facebook messenger, or Viber to stay in touch with friends and family at home. These work over internet and you can communicate for free if you have internet connection.
Most of the time you will be able to use Wifi at hotels to keep in touch with home. I have been to several places in Southeast Asia where I needed something more than the hotel connection to reliably communicate. Check with local phone service providers about either getting a sim card for your phone for internet access or for a pocket hotspot. In Asia I have used personal hotspots to communicate and use the internet for very little money.
Finally, I have traveled the world on dozens of trips solo and have never had a problem and have never been robbed or stolen from. So enjoy your trip and realize that if you take these precautions you more than likely will not have a problem.