10 Things To Do When You Solo Travel

By Shasta Garcia (shastasjourney@gmail.com)

Solo travel can be nerve-wracking, but an exhilarating experience (all at the same time). I’ve been traveling by myself since I was 15-years-old. I flew from out of Sacramento and met a mission team in San Diego. I did that every year until I turned 18. After I graduated, I moved to an orphanage to serve for four months. I’ve learned a lot over the years of solo travel. A few weeks ago, I went on my biggest trip yet. I traveled to Nashville for a radio conference. I stayed in a hotel room by myself, used Uber/Lyft for the first time, and even took a red-eye flight. 

Here are my solo travels tips: 

1. Do research

Solo travel requires extra research. You can’t rely on anyone else to make plans for you. It’s important to check multiple sources. Google is great, but I prefer searching for the geotag (location) on Instagram. You can see photos from everyday people, instead of professionally edited. I feel like it gives a more realistic expectation of your destination. If you know anyone from that area – you can always get their advice on where to go or what to do. That’s what I did. It helped tremendously with my planning in Nashville. 

2. Pack light

Always pack light – there’s no need to pack two suitcases (trust me, I’ve done this once). When I moved to Mexico in 2016, I packed two suitcases. This might not seem like a lot for a couple of months, but it made life difficult. You may be asking why. Well, I got stuck at the San Diego airport for 8 hours and I was stuck with two suitcases. Even doing little things like going to the bathroom is extremely hard with that much luggage. I haven’t taken more than one bag since then. I only travel with one backpack now and I love it. I’m not restrained while traveling solo anymore. Plus, both of my hands are free to do anything when I just take a backpack. 

3. Bring cash 

You’d be surprised, but some places only take cash. I have been in situations where I wanted something and only had my debit card. Luckily, I’ve learned to carry cash now. 

4. Save locations 

I used Lyft and Uber for the first time a few weeks ago. Before traveling, I saved all of my predetermined locations into the apps. This made ordering my drivers quicker and easier. Plus, I didn’t have to remember any addresses or names of anything when it was already saved. 

5. Share plans

Sharing your plans is a crucial tip for solo travel. I’m a young female traveler and it can be dangerous going places alone. I always try to let my family or close friends know where I am or where I’m going. There are apps like Life360 which act as a tracker. This may sound weird, but it’s comforting to know that someone knows where you are – in case anything happens. 

6. Portable charger

Ok, this is a must! I brought three different portable chargers to Nashville. I used those so much (on the flight, in my car services, even walking down the street). Just don’t forget to pack your phone charger though. By the way, weather changes like serve cold can drain your battery faster. At one point, I was at the Parthenon in Nashville and my phone was at 50%. Within a minutes, it randomly shut off. It was 11 degrees and it drained my phone battery! There’s nothing scary than being on the other side of the country and your phone dies. 

7. Check reservations 

Make sure to double-check your reservations the night before or morning of (depending on your travel plans). If you arrive too early for check-in – ask your hotel if you can leave your bags there while you explore. 

8. Wear layers

Weather can change at the drop of a dime. Check the weather before traveling, but always be prepared. I wore multiple layers to Nashville. It’s better to wear too much instead of too little. I was able to take off my layers when needed but has layers when it counted. If you have a scarf – wear it. This clothing piece can come in handy as a blanket on the plane. 

9. Carry copies

Always carry copies of important things: identification, boarding pass, and emergency contacts. When you solo travel, you can only count on yourself. I usually bring my passport and ID and keep them in two separate areas. For instance, keep my passport in my backpack and put my ID in my jacket. If my backpack were stolen, I would still be able to board the plane or be identified. Also, have a printed version of your boarding pass and one on your phone (in case your phone dies). This works vice versa too. If you lose the paper boarding pass, you’d still have it on your phone. 

10. Plan ahead

Make sure to always plan, especially when traveling solo. Try to have a good understanding of what you would like to do. You don’t have to have every minute planned out, but a rough outline is best. Before going to Nashville, I knew what I wanted to do every day during my trip (even places I wanted to eat). Remember to not cut your plans to close to getting on or off your plane (or traffic while driving). 

Take these travel trips and go explore. Traveling solo doesn’t have to be scary, it can be fun. Things, like packing light and carrying a portable charger, can help you enjoy traveling alone. Trust me. 

If you have any questions or need more tips (you can email Shasta at shastasjourney@gmail.com).

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