Time to Plan! Lesser-Known Tips For The Solo Traveler
Disclaimer: Part of attentive travel is respecting laws and regulations. Until the coronavirus pandemic has passed, please regard all travel restrictions and do not plan to take vacations until they have been lifted, even as a solo traveler.
Traveling is an incredible experience, whether you do so with a friend, with family, or completely on your own. In the case of the solo traveler, though, it’s important to take some extra precautions. And right now, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, extra caution is even more important.
While it’s perfectly reasonable to globetrot on your own, it doesn’t change the fact that you won’t have someone close by to watch your back, be there when you need help, and provide advice when you’re in a jam.
While you’re waiting for travel restrictions around the globe to loosen up after the pandemic wanes, you can use this extra time to really research your dream destinations. If you are able to work during the crisis, save more travel money than you normally would and use the extra funds to truly splash out on a fantasy trip. Want to see the Baltic? Take a sailing cruise instead of a train tour. Thinking about South America? Look into visiting the Galapagos Islands. You have the time on your hands to really plan out the adventure of a lifetime.
Once you’re going to set out on your adventure on your own, here are a few less-obvious solo traveler considerations that should be kept in mind both before and during your travels.
Bring Plenty of Entertainment
Let’s start with a lighter one. If you’re a social butterfly, you can always count on sparking conversation on a plane, a train, or at a local supermarket. Even the most talkative solo traveler, though, is occasionally going to be alone.
Whether you’re spending a late night in a hotel room, going on a solo hike, or you’re simply in an area where you don’t speak the local dialect, sooner or later you’re going to find yourself trying to pass the time on your own. When this happens, it’s nice to have a solid store of travel-friendly entertainment on hand. This can include things like:
- An e-reader that is loaded up with plenty of good books.
- A cell phone and earphones along with a subscription to a streaming platform.
- A good audiobook…or ten.
- A solid list of podcast subscriptions.
Whatever you prefer to have on hand, make sure to bring things that can help you pass the lonelier moments of your travels in comfort.
Always Know the Rules
While traveling is fun, it can also be very complicated. Even with something as simple as a short trip for spring break, it’s important to understand all of the legal rules that may impact your journey. For instance, things like traffic laws can vary from state to state, while air travel has its own set of important rules to follow.
The complications grow exponentially when you take a trip over international borders, as you’re then dealing with other government structures and officials that will view you as an outsider. While this is a significant consideration when you’re traveling in a group, it’s especially important for a solo traveler to address. They should make sure that they understand things like the rule of the road, alcoholic restrictions, and any other legal considerations for each destination in order to avoid being detained in a foreign country while traveling alone.
Consider Local Cultures
Another area that shouldn’t be overlooked is local cultures and customs. When you give up the strength that inherently comes with traveling in numbers, it’s particularly important that you do what you can to avoid offending or upsetting local civilians with your conduct.
This can be simple things, such as making sure to accept seconds at dinner when they’re offered by a Fijian host. It can also have significant importance as well, such as following the dress code when visiting Saudi Arabia. Large or small, it’s important for a solo traveler to show a thorough and honest respect for the local culture that they’re visiting.
Set Reminders for Your Medicines
While any traveler should remember their medicines, it’s especially important for someone who is traveling alone to set up a solid system to remember taking essential medications on a daily basis. As you shift from time zone to time zone, deal with travel logistics, and simply take in the extremely distracting sites of a beautiful foreign land, it can be easy to forget to take your medicine on schedule.
If you have an important prescription, such as thyroid medication or an insulin shot, it’s critical that you set reminders in your phone (or whatever scheduling system you use) in order to remember to take your meds at the right time each and every day.
Practice Proper Hygiene
Falling ill while on the road is always a bummer. But it’s particularly important for those who are alone in their travels to avoid getting sick at all costs. You don’t want to be bed-ridden in a hospital on the other side of the world for weeks on end without anyone else in your life being aware of your situation.
With that in mind, always make sure to follow hygiene best practices as you move from place to place. This is a traveling consideration that, while always true, has been given particular gravity through the recent coronavirus outbreak that so readily spread across the globe. Always properly wash your hands when you can and bring hand sanitizer along to help when water and soap aren’t handy.
Traveling Solo Safe and Sound
While there is always a laundry list of considerations for solo travelers to keep in mind, there are some things that are easier to lose sight of as you prepare for your travels. From handwashing and taking your medications to following the rules of travel, respecting the local culture, and having a good book or movie on hand when things are slow, these are a handful of the easier-to-miss items that can significantly impact the safety and overall quality of your adventures abroad.
This guest post was authored by Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer, mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader. And then dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons, without getting groans and eye rolls in response.