How to prepare for a solo trip abroad

Lydia Wilkins

Preparing for your first solo trip abroad can be equal parts exciting and daunting. What should you do to prepare, and what should you keep in mind when travelling alone?

Read the news

In an ever-developing world, news travels quickly. We are more connected, and able to talk to people on the other side of the globe in seconds. If there is ever civil unrest, we’ll know about it. Before you choose a location to visit, read the news, just so you’re aware and know what to expect, what to see, what to do. 

For this reason, considering the location carefully is also worthwhile. As we grow older, we may not necessarily be able to travel as far as we wish.

 

Research 

Preparation is key. Knowing the logistics inside out and setting out exactly where to go, what time to change trains, what platform to be on help a great deal. It could also be helpful to have the route written down, just in case you find technology hard to deal with. 

And, now is the time to mention the dreaded ‘B’ word: Brexit. Due to the various changes that are to come, your passport may become invalid. Make sure to check when and if it has run out; you may need to request another Passport. 

If you have to have a supply of medicine, make sure you have enough for when you travel, you may not be able to access the same medicine at a local Pharmacy. 

Leaving enough time between transfers—between airports and getting to a hotel, or arriving at an airport—is also a key way to avoid additional stress. 

 

Read up about the culture and the language

Mijn naam is Lydia; Ik been een journalist. Aangenaam. Or, in other words: My name is Lydia, I am a journalist, nice to meet you. While visiting Rotterdam, learning a small selection of phrases helped. 

Knowing key phrases adds dimension to your travel, it goes beyond being an "average" tourist, and expands a cultural perception. It can also avert the stereotype of the ignorant traveller. 

 


Know your limits

Do you find noisy environments intolerable? Or maybe you can’t walk over a certain distance, or have trouble with your mobility? Knowing your limits is useful. Take this into consideration when booking activities, or if you want to explore the area around you. 

If you sometimes find technology tricky and hard to understand, consider writing down what you need to know. Not sure of the train route? Need to know the address of an Embassy, or an emergency contact number? Sometimes paper can be quicker than an electronic gadget. 

Be sure to pack lightly. It’s not fun to lug around a suitcase and hand luggage that seems to get heavier and heavier as time goes by; the lighter you pack, the better as you are likely going to be carrying it all around by yourself. 

 

Check your finances

It goes without saying; make sure you have enough money, as well as access, to local currency while you are away. It may also be worthwhile investing in a pre-paid debit card from a travel agent before you go. 

It may also be worthwhile considering how much you want to spend on your trip; do you have a budget in mind? Keep in mind that hotels also sometimes charge more for single rooms.