I’m about to embark on a solo 25-day trip to Europe and NY. As a solo traveler I thought I’d share a few travel tips that have made packing and navigating new places so much less stressful for me over the years.
- The first, and you would think an obvious one, is … make sure you have your ID, and an up to date passport if necessary. Some countries require that you have six months remaining on your passport before it expires. Check the requirements at your destination.
- Pack lightly & efficiently, but always leave room for a souvenir or two. I always take carry-on (yes, even for a month-long trip), with another bag that fits under my seat. I utilize packing cubes, roll my clothes, stuff my shoes with small items, and always have a couple of those free shower caps you get at hotels for dirty shoes (or wet bathing suits) when your re-packing later. I also pack a great nylon tote that lays flat in my carry-on that I can use on the way home if I happen to buy too much. I will often check a bag on the way back since I’m on way home and have clothes, etc.. that I’ll need if my luggage gets lost.
- When I’m packing I also group everything I’ll need for the flight in a small zipper bag…i.e..chargers, eye mask & ear plugs for sleeping, sanitizer wipes, reading glasses, compression socks & my collapsible water bottle (I’ve found if I don’t have a water bottle I don’t drink enough water when I’m traveling…and this one folds flat.) This way I only have to grab that one little bag, and maybe my book, to settle into my seat instead of rummaging through everything. Also, everybody’s bags look the same nowadays, so I started putting stickers from my traels on my bag (starting with one from home) to differentiate mine from every other black AWAY bag.
- I take my meds out of those bulky bottles and put them in little prescription bags and label them. I use a box cutter to take off the label and put it in with the meds so if they ask at TSA what they are I have the prescription right there. Make sure you have enough prescription meds for a bit longer than your stay, in case you get stuck somewhere … and don’t forget vitamins/Emergen-C to keep your immune system healthy.
- Bring some small portable chargers to keep you going all day. I have the Magsafe portable battery pack that just sticks to the back of my phone and also a little stick charger that works great. I recharge everything overnight, so I’m ready to go in the morning. (…and don’t forget an electrical travel adapter if you’re going to a foreign country)
- Do some planning at home before you leave, so you know what main attractions and restaurants you want to see and how to get to them from your hotel/airbnb. I do quite a bit of extensive research into the places I’m going, but not a ton of actual reservation plans. In doing so I can enjoy the beauty of strolling, exploring and sometimes getting lost, knowing I can get back to where I’m staying … and knowing I don’t have to be anywhere at a specific time, unless of course it requires reservations. The best part, IMO, of traveling is wandering aimlessly, seeing new things, meeting & chatting with people, and having some great food!
- When you do have reservations at attractions/restaurants utilize the calendar on your phone. I, obviously, put in the time, but I also put in directions on how to get there, so I’m not scrambling to figure out the address and trying to figure out what metro stop to get off on.
- While you’re wandering aimlessly, turn off your WiFi and switch to ”low power mode”. As you walk around your Wifi is always searching for service, so by turning it off you’ll save on battery usage. I only use WiFi at my hotel/airbnb and maybe a coffee shop in the morning.
- Take screenshots of maps showing the location of your hotel/airbnb and the closest public transportation stop. I learned the hard way, after getting lost in London at 9pm in the winter, by going the wrong way when I emerged from the Tube (the battery on my phone had died too…more bad planning!). If you do get lost at least you have an idea and reference point if you need to ask for directions. Because I got so lost in London, I now take numerous screenshots of maps (and keep my phone charged), so there’s no question how to get back to my place, whether walking or taking public transportation.
- Book an “Eatwith” meal. You have a meal cooked by locals in their home. It’s so unique and feels so immersive in the culture where you’re visiting…and so much fun to dine with strangers and find out their stories. I’m looking forward to the one I’m doing in Barcelona this Saturday!
- Get a credit card that doesn’t charge for international purchases. I have the Jetblue Mastercard and, in addition to giving me award travel points, it also has no international transaction fees. Also, don’t forget to notify your credit card companies & banks where you’ll be traveling so they don’t decline any purchases.
- Make sure to check your cell-phone traveling plan. I happen to have T-mobile, with unlimited text & wifi for international travel and super cheap for phone calls, if necessary.
- Download Whatsapp onto your phone. It’s free to message on this and I use it for my friends and relatives that live in Europe.
- Drink lots of water before, during and after your trip.
- Bring some snacks. Most flights don’t have food nowadays, so be proactive and pack a few healthy things.
- Keep your passport and any valuables in your carry on, if you are checking a bag.
- Take those free walking tours. You’ll meet people and get a lay of the land while getting some exercise. Usually you just tip the tour guide whatever you think is reasonable.
Bon Voyage! Hope this helps next time your packing and planning a trip!
You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!