As the best travel blogs so frequently showcase, there is so much in the world that you need to get out there and see. And, as travel restrictions are beginning to lift post-coronavirus lockdown, plenty of itchy feet are about to get scratched. For solo travellers, though, it can be a daunting experience; especially so if you’re a first-time traveller. If you believe that you are ready to take it all on, then this guide will help you to find out everything you need to know.
Get Your Passport Ready: If you haven’t already, the first thing that you need to do is try and get your passport ready. Make sure that you avoid any stress that is not entirely necessary by getting your passport long before your departure date. Don’t book a flight or even make any arrangements that you are not going to be able to change until you have your passport. Some international flights will require you to have your passport number when you make the booking or when you are doing your online check-in so it is vital that you do everything you can to take this into account.
If you have gone ahead and paid for your trip already, then it is possible for you to get your passport expedited. This means that you can get your passport within two weeks. When your passport comes, just make sure that you make a digital copy and a paper copy of the identification page. You will then need to give one to your parents to keep safe. It’s also helpful to take a photo on your phone as this will give you access to your documents whenever you need them. You will need your passport more than you think, more than for just the flight.
A lot of hotels require you to take a scan of your passport identification page. You should never be alarmed by this as it is completely normal. Some may even hold your passport as collateral, as this will help you to make sure that your stay is completely paid for. Some countries do require that you have your passport on you at all times, but this isn’t advised if you know that there are pickpockets. This is one of the many reasons why paper copies come in handy. If you have an encounter with law enforcement, then it’s very easy for you to navigate the situation. Simply show them a picture of your passport and visa on your phone and then explain that the physical copy is at the hotel.
Your First International Trip: You might have been dreaming for quite some time about seeing elephants in Thailand or even visiting the pyramids in Egypt. On the flip side, maybe you don’t know where you want to go, but if you are overwhelmed, then there are important things that you need to ask yourself. You need to find out if you want to stay close to the country you are in right now or if you would rather go far away. On your very first trip, it’s okay for you to start somewhere close and then go further away later. If you can, make sure that you have a phone as this will help you to stay in touch with your family when you are out and about; HalfCooked have plenty of options.
Visa: If you want to go ahead and book your trip, then you need to make sure that you are not going to need a travel visa. Your visa is a document that is issued by the countries that you visit. This will give you permission to travel in the country for a set number of days. In most of the UK and Europe, you won’t need to have a visa. If you do need a visa and you show up for your flight without one then you will not be allowed to board the plane.
Accessing Your Money: Gone are the days when you need to have a travellers’ cheque or cash to travel to another country. Thanks to the internet, it is now much easier for you to manage and even access money while you travel all over the world. Even so, it’s important that you check in with your bank to see if it is possible for you to set up a travel alert while you are abroad. This will tell your bank that you are travelling. It is also possible for you to find out about any international fees, and whether they have partner banks in the destination. This will help you to save on foreign ATM fees.
Your debit card will most likely work everywhere on your trip, but on the flip side, it’s vital that you have a back-up plan. Take some cash, a debit card and then a credit card with you. Always try and leave one card in your hotel room in case your wallet gets stolen. This will probably happen far more times than you’d like when you travel the world.
Avoid Becoming a Victim: If you want to avoid becoming a victim, then you need to think about theft and pickpockets. Do your best to keep an eye on your belongings at all times and keep your bags close to you. In situations like this, a cross-body bag or even bum-bag can help you. It might not be the most fashionable bag out there, but it is a much better option if you want to try and deter thieves. Never carry a backpack on one shoulder or even leave your bag on the ground because if you do then you may find that you end up losing it.
STEP: It is possible for you to register with the Smart Traveller Enrolment Program in the US. This is otherwise known as STEP. This way, if there is a natural disaster, you know that the US Embassy is going to get in touch with you. If you are not used to travelling, then you may be unsure as to whether or not you need travel insurance. When you travel, you will be susceptible to disease and various other injuries. You may become ill with malaria or even staph infections. When you have home insurance, you can rest assured knowing that if the worst does happen, you will be able to cover yourself. If you have an emergency such as lost luggage, then you will also know that you are covered so you won’t have anything to worry about there. Those not from the US should consider the right insurance policy to cover them in all eventualities; especially of note in times of coronavirus.
Transport: A lot of international trips will require you to fly. Getting to your destination can be tricky from the airport, so it helps to figure out the options which are most suited to your needs. Bus rides are a very cost-efficient way for you to travel and it also means that you get the chance to chat with the locals too. Some countries even have ride-sharing apps as well and this can help you to take the direct route if possible. If you can you should try and take a look at your options before you go ahead and book your accommodation. Hotels might always be an option, but don’t overlook things like the guesthouse, hostels or even Airbnbs. This will give you the chance to connect with other travellers and locals too. It’s important to know that hotels are much more cost-friendly. You can easily use a site to compare and this will tell you everything you need to know; and there are a myriad of travel apps that can help smooth things over.
Book in Advance: How far in advance should you think about booking your trip? A lot of experts say that if you book your trip around 56 days before the departure date then this is the best way for you to get a solid deal. Booking on a Tuesday will give you the best rate. If you are under the age of 26 then you can easily get flight discounts if you want. Make sure that you look at student sites when booking your flight because if you do, then this will help you to book the best price. Make sure that you look up the exit flight for each country if you can as a lot of countries won’t let you board the aircraft if it is a one-way flight.
Booking your accommodation in advance is also an option. The idea of arriving in a new country without any idea where you are going to be sleeping is not good and it may even be enough to make you anxious as well. Customs forms always require you to put down where you are going to be staying, so try and keep a business card from your accommodation provider with you in case your phone dies. If you do this then you will soon find that it is easier than ever for you to stay safe when you are travelling to another country.
Of course, it’s very easy for you to get the best result whenever you travel out of the country but at the end of the day, you need to do your research and you also need to stay with a reliable hostel or hotel provider. If you do then you will be able to stay much safer while also having a good support network.