I’ve been receiving quite a few questions regarding traveling through different countries on my own. Ranging from what to pack to how I deal with language barriers. I thought I would write up a list of tips I’ve found to be helpful while it is fresh in my mind. If you haven’t seen on Instagram, I’ve traveled through Tokyo, Kyoto, Dubai, and now Patras Greece. This is my first solo trip and I am beyond grateful I took the leap. You can read all about that experience.
Tips For Traveling Solo Internationally
- Start booking. The first tip before all else is to book the initial part of the trip. It’s seems like a simple step, but often people will talk themselves out of the idea of solo traveling or get too scared. By taking that first action of booking a flight or hotel, you’ve conquered the initial hurdle.
- How to deal with nerves. It is normal to become a bundle of nerves before boarding the plane, just know many of us experience those jitters as well. Researching and studying maps helps alleviate some of that stress by preparing yourself for what to expect. Once at the airport, sit back and enjoy the plane ride. When you land, you’ll know exactly what to do. If you are still a little jittery, take everything really slow, remember to breathe, and remind yourself there is no rush to get anywhere.
- Three things to do at the airport before leaving. Once landed and cleared through customs, log onto WiFi. It’s time to get directions to the next place you’re heading. Nearly all international airports have free WiFi. It may take a moment but, make sure you log on and pull up Google Maps with the location you are heading. The nice thing about Google Maps is that it will track your directions even without WiFi once you leave the airport. Just make sure you keep the app open. Secondly, pull out at least $50-$100 cash from the ATM. Countries like Japan, strong rely on cash and don’t accept credit cards. Having foreign currency on you is always a great back up for those just in case moments. Lastly, sit down and take a moment to collect yourself before heading out. This moment to pause really helps calm any nerves and helps you get grounded before the next trek.
- Dealing with language barriers. What I’ve noticed is many countries know at least a small bit of English. Enough to get by and understand what you are saying. Also, most public transportation and machines have a second translation in English. The only times that may not be the case is on city buses and suburbs. I then, observe what other people are doing, and follow their lead. For instance, a conductor on the train was speaking and I saw all the people look frustrated and then proceeded to get off the train only to wait across the platform for another train. I automatically knew, this train isn’t running and I need to take the next train across the way. I observed, took note, and followed the lead of others. If reading situations is not your strong point, never be afraid to ask for help. You’ll be surprised how helpful most people are. There are also translators apps you can download and use if needed.
- Why you should travel lightly. I pack only two carry-ons. Most people think I am crazy, but I do it with intention. First it saves time and money from having to check a bag. Secondly, it takes away the issue of having my luggage lost. Lastly, the most important reason, it makes it easier to travel between destinations. Some places do not have elevators or escalators, and you’ll be in situations where you’ll have to lift your luggage. My biggest tip is make sure what ever you bring, you can carry it up and down stairs. At some point of the trip, you’ll be faced with that obstacle. Believe me! I have seen other women struggle hauling large suitcases without anyone helping them.
- Mix up your living situation. There will be different parts of your travels where you’ll want to have company and other times where you crave solitude. Keep a mix of living accommodations to satisfy both needs. I suggest finding luxurious hostels or capsule hotels for those times where you are craving a community and people to talk with in the evenings. I also suggest finding hotels when you need that downtime to yourself. I find great deals on the app Hotels Tonight (first time users use code: ELAUNER for $25 off your first booking) and Orbitz. Hostel World is great for finding low budget accommodations.
- Check in with one person. As a solo female traveler, it is much safer than you’d expect but it is still advised to have at least one person you trust to know where you are. Send that person updates thorough your travels so they know everything is okay and exact addresses just in case of an emergency. Along that note, trust your gut instincts. If you are nervous or aren’t comfortable about a situation– remove yourself immediately. No need to do anything that doesn’t feel right.
- Read up on local customs and traditions. Each country has their own way of doing things, from how they recycle to what’s appropriate to wear. Do a simple search to see what to expect and how to respect the local customs.
- Don’t put too much expectations on yourself. This trip is for you and no one else! So keep that in mind if you feel like you aren’t doing enough or what other’s may expect you to do. Who cares, they are thousands of miles away. The thing that matter is that you are getting the experience YOU want.
- Pocket WiFi. If you aren’t the best with directions, then try taking tours. Otherwise your other option is renting or buying pocket WiFi. This allows you to have WiFi on you at all times for directions, calling, messaging, and anything else you may need. Make sure you get the unlimited version if you are planning to use it often.
- Pack a first aid kit. I wrote this in my article on what to pack, but wanted to re-emphasize the importance in packing a first aid kit. More than likely, you won’t find the brands you use daily abroad. That includes feminine care and over the counter drugs. To prevent any discomfort, back a small dock kit full of what you may need. Including bandaids, feminine products, pepto bismol, aspirin or any pain relief. You’ll be so happy you did this!
- Cut down on drinking. As a safety precaution, it’s best to stay sober or at least only have a drink or two at a time. Being by yourself in a foreign country is enough of rush as it is, no need to become intoxicated. By cutting down on drinking it also prevents any dangerous situations such as being lost, being taken advantage of, or stolen from.
- Treat yourself. It is important to treat yourself and celebrate the time you are taking to travel the world! This is a moment to remember and there are many ways to celebrate. That could be with dessert, a movie, a massage, or an upgraded room. You are living your best life and took time to invest in yourself. Bravo!
- Bring a journal. More than likely, you’re going to learn more about yourself traveling internationally on your own than ever before. Keep track of every lesson or experience in a journal. You can go back a reread these moments years later and smile at everything you accomplished and discovered.
If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them in another article! I hope this helps and enjoy traveling the world!