GOING ON A SOLO TRIP?
grab your passport—we’ve got you covered.
Your Tickets are booked, your hotel reservations made, and you’re thisclose to your very own Eat, Pray, Love moment. But traveling is hard enough in itself, what more if you’re going solo. Our handydandy guide covers every- thing from what to bring to why you shouldn’t stay away from the street food, so pack your bags and get ready for an adventure. Your trip is going to be epic.
Traveling internationally? Don’t just double check if you have your (valid) passport with you before heading to the airport, but also make sure it passes all the criteria for whichever country you’re going to. Keep in mind that you may not be allowed to enter or
exit certain countries if you’re flying less than six months before your travel documents expire. Some countries also ask you to leave a certain number of blank pages on your passport before you’re granted entry, so know what the requirements are. If you’re traveling anywhere that requires a visa, be sure yours is valid and, if it’s on an older passport, bring both expired and valid passports with you. Keeping it domestic? If you’re flying, you’ll still need an ID (preferably government issued). In both cases, to be safe, make photocopies of everything.
Check out of checking in
Chances are you’ve overpacked. We recommend traveling light (i.e. making do with carry-on luggage), which lets you skip not just exorbitant fees, but also the long wait and lines at the baggage carousel. Don’t pack anything you wouldn’t wear back home, and you’ll probably only need as many outfits as the number of days you’re on vacation, plus an extra ensemble. Some people swear by doing laundry in their hotel rooms (though some establishments frown upon the practice), and if you plan on doing the same, think about taking quick-drying fabrics and bringing a laundry line along. As for toiletries, decant liquids and gels into 30 ml bottles, label them, and make sure they all fit in a quart-sized packing cube or dry bag.
Be a girl scout
A phone charger is a millenial’s figurative umbilical cord, so don’t forget yours. Bring along a power bank and a travel plug adapter, and you’re golden. Other things that will come in handy when traveling include a mini-sewing kit; hair ties or rubber bands; a large scarf, malong, Turkish towel, or sarong; a few meters of string or twine; a collapsible water bottle; a compact eco bag; a large Ziploc bag or two; and some duct tape. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, especially if you’re doing the backpacking thing. Trust.
Cash it in
When traveling, cash is king. Have enough on you to pay for everything plus enough to cover an extra day or two. Don’t keep all your money in one place, and put your wallet in a bag you can keep in front of you (read: not a backpack), or one of those scarves or belts with hidden pockets. You can even employ the classic Pinterest hack of rolling up cash in an empty lip balm tube.
Tit for tat
If you have to exchange your pesos for the local currency, try not to hand over all your cash at the airport, where rates tend to be much higher—exchange just enough to get you out of the airport and to your hotel, and look for options from there. Certain banks also allow you
to withdraw cash from international ATMS using your card, but be aware that fees can range in the hundreds of pesos for this service.
The local cuisine is one of the best parts of traveling. For all the flavor with none of the tummy trouble, head for the stalls with the longest lines—if it’s good enough for the locals, it’s worth trusting and it’s good enough for you. Dining solo? Don’t be afraid to take a seat at the bar—it helps calm the anxiety of being at a table on your own. It’s also worth remembering that servings at some restaurants are large enough for two people, which translates to two meals for you.
drink to that
Be wary of strange people offering you mixed drinks or open bottles of beer. Watch how your drink is being made, and keep an eye on anything you order or consume. If you fall into a scammer’s trap, you might be asked to pay much, much more than you bargained for, or be charged for things or services you didn’t avail of— so if the thought of this terrifies you, don’t be afraid to shell out a little more at a reputable establishment; it’s a small price to pay for your peace of mind.
A basic rule: follow the law, whatever your destination. It could mean the difference between the best vacation ever or needing to call a lawyer. Another thing to keep in mind: Much like visas, there are countries that require visitors to present proof that you’ve had certain vaccinations. This means they retain the right to turn you away at the border without them, so get your shots from your trusted doctor at home. Travel insurance is also an often-overlooked aspect of any vacation, but if you travel more than once a year, it’s worth considering shelling out for.
the bottom line
Don’t forget why you traveled in the first place. It’s easy to lose sight of what made you pack your bags and discover the great unknown—and all on your own, at that!—with all the planning and researching and worrying you’re bound to do, but don’t stop reminding yourself to keep an open mind and heart to everything you’re going to experience. Take the time to really take things in, and not just document them for the sake of the ‘Gram. Traveling can only make you a better person: it’s an education that broadens your horizons. Get to know the locals, the culture, and the destination itself, because there’s so much to learn. Few experiences can compare to seeing the world on your own, and even if you only planned to discover a new town, city, or country, you’ll realize that, along the way, you’ll discover yourself, too.