5 Overlooked Solo Travel Tips: Now that restrictions are starting to ease, it’s time to make travel plans for 2021.
Here are how my tips came about:
- They come from what I found from trips to 68 countries and all 50 US states.
- On one stop, I found cholera.
- At another, civil war.
- At a third, I was robbed at high noon.
- I just missed being dinner for leering crocs!
5 Overlooked Solo Traveler Tips: Tip One: Packing:
- Only take a carry-on bag!: Carry-on bags shrink more! China Air had a limit of 11 pounds. There is little space even for travel to the cold north. Think then about:
- Pack less and purchase local dress if needed at street fares. Even in warm spots, you may need to cover up to comply with local customs. In SE Asia, men must cover their knees. Women cover their legs to enter temples and royal palaces. Some places loan cover-up’s. Other dress codes are in mosques and churches. You can donate items that wouldn’t work at home.
- Socks: Pack socks even in the tropics. I found that out on a hot porch floor to enter a Buddhist temple. In the Amazon rainforest with brambles, socks are key. They help in malaria zones to keep the mosquitos away.
- Sweater/Pashmina: Pack a wrap for arctic air conditioning.
- Essentials: If you check bags, carry on 2-3 days of must-have’s if your bag is “gate checked” and temporarily left.
- Personal Items; While top hotels have lots of high-end toiletries, many still don’t have conditioner.
- Coffee alert: Unless you are a fan of black coffee, take your own sugar packs or my favorite options, powdered hot chocolate.
5 Overlooked Solo Traveler Tips: Tip Two: Bank Cards:
- Bank charges: Before leaving home, find out if your bank/credit cards have high fees for use abroad for ATM’s and shops.
- Fees for “foreign” deals at home: If you buy Internet plane tickets from a foreign airline, your bank may charge you an added fee. Why? It may be in a foreign currency.
- Pre-paid cards: Get a prepaid credit card. You may be able to take a small amount of local currency for arrival. In case of theft, you have limited losses.
- Notify your credit card company of your trip. I found this out on the first day of a trip abroad for work. My colleague’s credit card was declined. I had to pay for 2 for everything! It worked out after a few days but was a hassle.
- Consider taking a card with a lower limit in case of loss or theft.
5 Overlooked Solo Traveler Tips: Tip Three: Passports and Visas:
- Passports and visas: You save money getting your own visas. However, be sure they are valid if bought on the Internet.
- Visas: See if you need single or multiple entry. This is an easy mistake to make but quickly comes up with combined tours. Visas may vary from day of issuance to a set term. Be sure it is good your whole stay.
- Passport: It may need to be valid for 6 months after you return not depart!
- Copy the first page of your passport and visas in case of loss.
5 Overlooked Solo Traveler Tips: Tip Four: Smartphones/Tablets:
- Watch electronics: Add a password. You don’t want your data to go to identity thieves!
- Before you leave home, check out your data plan to avoid a huge bill!
- Use airplane mode and block roaming.
5 Overlooked Solo Traveler Tips: Tip Five: Contacts:
5. Emergency contact: Set up a contact ahead of time.
- Epidemics: When I was traveling Asia alone, it was during the swine flu epidemic. China had a quarantine if anyone on their flight had a fever. Later it was just those nearby. I called my tour group from home. They had a US-only phone! That would not help!
- Cash; On one trip, I met a tourist who was robbed. He had to get a need passport. Since the thieves had his money, he needed a wire. On a weekend, he found no one at home in the US to help! It did work out but do plan ahead.
- Injury/Illness: Even healthy millennials can have a car wreck or skiing mishap. Do watch out driving and on mopeds or when you cross the street! Get travel insurance, and be sure to check your health insurance before your trip.