SOLO TRAVEL 101
If you’re considering taking a solo trip, but you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe the idea of traveling somewhere completely new intimidates you. Fear not.
Here are some tips on getting started:
Preparation involves anything you need to get done or accomplish prior to planning your trip.
$ave Money: Develop a travel fund and save up adequately for your trip. The last thing you want is to be financially unprepared on your travels. Whether you aim to be a budget traveler, plan to take advantage of all the luxuries available, or whether you’re someone who likes a good mix, you should have a loose daily budget.
Get a Passport: This may sound like a given, but you’d be amazed at how many simple things slip by us when we’ve got a ton of logistics to consider. Even if your first solo trip isn’t international, after you’ve had your first solo experience, chances are you’ll immediately be begging to go somewhere farther away.
For American travelers, obtain Global Entry and TSA Precheck status for traveling through airports faster. Think faster security lines, shorter wait times, and the benefit of digital customs declaration forms. For $100, you’ll get a 5-year membership that will make your travels much smoother.
Get a Physical: If you haven’t already done so as part of your normal health care routine, make a quick visit to the doctor for a general check-up to make sure you are ripe for travel. It would be the worst thing to discover some random medical condition in another country. This is also a good time to get any necessary prescriptions or travel vaccinations and immunizations you might need.
Take Care of Home:
- Family? Solo travel is for everyone: couples and singles. Being in a relationship shouldn’t mean you can’t have a solo journey. It might not be fashionable in our culture today because we’ve got trust issues, but at the end of the day each one of us is an individual having a solo experience on this planet. There are benefits of solo travel that can positively affect our relationships with others. Check in with your loved one(s) and make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Pets? It can be hard to travel when you have pets. They are like children! But you have options such as family, friends, pet sitters, and boarding. Make arrangements for them ahead of time.
- Work? Put in a request to take time off and tie up any loose ends so that you can enjoy stress free travel without work on the brain.
Banking: Set a travel notice for your bank indicating the locations and dates you’ll be away. This will help avoid any hold-ups due to fraud protection while using your card abroad.
With a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you’ll have no foreign transaction fees, receive double points on travel and food related purchases, and get a generous welcome bonus. If you regularly spend money on food, transportation, and lodging, a travel credit card helps you earn miles or points toward trips faster. (Please responsibly assess your finances before obtaining a credit card)
Research. Research. Research! This is the most important step. You can’t do enough research when planning for a solo trip. A trick to feeling safe and secure while you’re away is to know what you’re getting into. Read reviews, travel guides, and comments about the places you’re visiting. Compare tour companies and hotels. Use a search engine to find answers to all your questions until you are blue in the face. You’ll thank yourself later.
Things to Consider:
- Weather/Geographic Landscape
- Language, Culture & Customs
- Communication/Mobile Electronics
- Tours & Activities
It used to be that travel agents secured better prices for travel and knew useful inside information. They can come in handy, for example, when you’re planning luxury travel and want everything taken care of from beginning to end. But today, brick and mortar travel agencies are almost obsolete. Planning a trip on your own is the way to go. You can plan as little or as much as you want and go at your own pace. It’s best to be as flexible as possible so create a loose itinerary that can be deviated from.
Pick a Destination: If you’re feeling a little nervous about going somewhere alone like I was, start domestic! Taking a trip close to home is a great way to ease into traveling by yourself. All of the fears you might have about loneliness and safety are entirely valid. Those fears can be intensified when thinking about being in a truly foreign place. Starting somewhere in the same country or state as yours will make you feel like you have less to balance. The goal of the first trip is to get over the jitters of being alone.
Determine Length of Stay: For the first trip, start with a three to four day getaway. This is enough time to have a meaningful experience, but short enough so that if you’re freaking out you won’t have to endure for too long. Odds are you won’t feel that way, though. When you get back, you’ll be ready for a longer follow-up!
Book Hotel(s) and Flight(s): There are a couple ways to plan a trip – you can do it on your own or it can be arranged by a travel agency. Which option you choose may depend on your time and budget, but the Internet has made planning the details of a trip pretty seamless today.
PACK AND GO
Pack Your Bags: You’re ready to go! For packing tips, click here.
Keep an Open Mind: Remember to keep an open mind. Don’t let any initial discomfort or fear deter you from doing what you set out to do. At the end of the day, if you do the preparation and the research, exploring a new city is much like walking around your own. Except there will be new foods to try, new things to see and do, and new people to meet!
Be Open, Have Fun, and Walk The Streets