As I’m sure you can imagine, telling my family and friends that I was off on a solo travel adventure was met with considerable concern.
A bright-eyed but relatively naive 18-year-old, I was fresh out of high school, and a number of relatives who believed the trip was irresponsible launched a full-scale campaign to stop me.
Fortunately, such efforts were in vain, and my parents really got behind me, encouraging and supporting my goals for a solo adventure. And it was the best learning experience / adventure of my life.
I traveled solo from 2007 – 2012, through Europe, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. Not only does travelling alone completely push you out of your comfort zone, challenging your insecurities and helping you overcome your fears, it forces you to interact with those who you wouldn’t normally interact with.
But before you start your solo trip, you need to know about all those things that you must have with you when you are travelling.
9 Things You Should Always Have With You on a Solo Trip
Copies of Documents
While it’s important to carry all travel documents with you during a solo trip, it’s equally as important to have made photo copies of these travel documents in case they’re lost, damaged, or stolen.
Take photo copies of everything from your passport, to your hotel confirmations, and keep them in a folder in a different place to where you keep the originals.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep photos of your documents online on Google drive, Dropbox or any other cloud space for easy access anywhere.
Never underestimate the importance of traveling with a solid first aid kit – in fact, this should be one of the very first things you pack.
According to a recent survey, a massive 80 per cent of us are not equipped to deal with minor medical emergencies in our own homes – let alone when we’re out on the travel trail.
This means we are making thousands of unnecessary emergency visits to hospitals and GP’s for relatively minor, simple to treat conditions such as grazes, blisters and splinters.
You generally don’t have to be a doctor to help yourself, or others, in an emergency, though you do have to have the first aid skills and tools to administer the care required; you need to be traveling with a first aid kit.
Obviously though, it’s important to call for a medical evacuation if required. Make sure this is covered under your travel insurance policy.
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An Emergency Contact Card
If you are travelling alone it’s a really good idea to keep an emergency card in your wallet, just in case of an urgent situation.
Include the contact information for someone back home or a close friend, and mention any pertinent information about your health, say allergies etc. you have.
If you’re traveling in a country with a prevalent language barrier, it might be a good idea to have a translation of your card in the local language. You can easily use something like Google Translate for this.
Knowledge of Local Transport
Using local transport in a new country is usually the most cost effective way to get around, especially when you are going backpacking and want to maintain thin pockets.
And depending on the country you visit, local transport has a way of offering a more immersive experience and exposure to everyday local life than private transport ever could.
So make sure you research the best methods of pubic transport before visiting a destination. This might mean taking an iconic double decker bus in London, bullet train in Japan, the railroad in Spain, or the MRT in Taiwan, etc.
Look into local transport cards, as it may be more cost effective to buy a months pass than it would be to purchase individual tickets for every ride. For instance, London underground has an Oyster card which you can top up and use every time.
If you are a woman who is planning to travel alone, it can be important to carry a few things for your safety. While solo female travel is very safe in general, it’s not a bad idea to travel with thing like a whistle, or swiss knife which could come handy in an untoward situation.
Just be sure to check that whatever you take with you are (a) legal in the destination you’re going to, and (b) travels in your checked luggage if it’s something like a knife, or pepper spray, so it doesn’t get confiscated at the airport.
An Unlocked Phone & Local Sim Card
International roaming can be really expensive, so a great way to save money on your phone is turn off your data roaming, and buy a local phone number.
It’s important that you’ve made sure your phone is unlocked however, as many phones you buy directly through a specific telecommunications provider will only work with their company’s SIM cards.
Also, make sure that you have an additional handset or a fully charged power-bank. If the battery of your smartphone drains out then, this extra phone will come handy.
And make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect your phone while traveling. Considering the expense of phones these days, and the inconvenience of losing your boarding passes, photos, and contacts, it’s imperative to keep your phone safe overseas.
A Portable Charger
When travelling, you never know when your electronics might start complaining that the battery is running low. For this reason, it’s great to travel prepared with a backup for recharging.
An external battery charger usually comes with USB ports for charging more than one device. Pick that you are comfortable with and include it in your travel accessories.
Contact Numbers of Local Emergency Services
Travelling can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life. But you can’t ignore chances of unanticipated situation.
Most countries have two or three-digit emergency contact numbers which can be dialled from any phone. It’s easy to remember these numbers, but important that you write them down, as stressful situations usually strain our memory.
If you’re doing a lot of country hopping, you can usually rely on neighbouring countries to have similar emergency numbers. For example, most countries in North and South America follow 911 as their universal emergency number. Similarly, European Union has 112 as a common emergency number.
A Travel Insurance Policy
Travelling can be expensive. Then there is a possibility of unforeseen emergency situations like last minute cancellation of the trip, cancellation of connecting flights, medical emergency when you are travelling etc.
This can put a strain on your tight travel budgets and schedule, so it’s essential that you always carry a travel insurance policy, especially on international trips.
Travel insurance helps you financially in the case that you need any type of emergency assistance. A good travel insurance policy will cover assistance in the case of lost luggage/document, cashless hospitalization in the destination country, coverage against fire and theft at your house while you are travelling, and some even cover life and healthcare monitoring services for your family back home.
Safety, comfort and convenience are the three most important areas of a trip. Take a few additional precautions and consider packing smartly to have a hassle-free tour. Happy travelling!
Leave us a comment: What are your solo travel essentials?
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