Although it wasn’t the original plan, I just came back from going to China by MYSELF! My childhood best friend and I were supposed to go and celebrate our 30th birthdays’ together, but alas, her work got in the way (ugh adult problems). While I was initially disappointed, I quickly had to switch gears and look at this as an adventure (seeing as we didn’t have time for someone else to get a Visa expedited – I didn’t have much choice). We were going with a tour group so I knew I would be ok.
China was my second trip overseas and the first without my family. It was a lot of firsts and I learned a few things along the way. Here are my top 10 tips for you future solo travelers.
- Make a packing checklist. Seriously, put EVERYTHING on it. Even things you think you will remember. I had a list and put “makeup” but didn’t put “makeup brushes” and sure enough they did not make it on the trip.
- Bring your own snacks. Whether you have a layover or need something to eat in between meals, it’s nice to have a familiar filler.
- Pack light. If you are anything like me, you might want to bring home more than just photos for your family and friends. Leave room for souvenirs.
- If you are going to a country that speaks a different language, download an ap that has a foreign language dictionary that can work without wifi. That way, no matter where you are, you can ask where the bathroom is!
- Bring a plug converter with multiple options. On my trip, the plug for China didn’t actually work in China but another country’s did.
- Embrace the culture. You have to put aside how “America does things” and realize that other countries have different traditions and histories. Travel is for expanding your mind and learning to be more excepting of other people.
- Bring a journal. Even if you can’t write in it every night, make notes so you can go back and fill in days that you miss. You will be seeing so many things and encountering so many people, it is easy to forget something.
- Buy travel insurance. It’s less than $100 more and it is completely worth the peace of mind.
- Print out all your documents and keep them in a folder. In mine, I had a copy of my passport, travel visa, all flight information (I had four flights total), every hotel with the address and phone number, travel itinerary and a copy of my travel insurance policy. I would add one more thing to the list next time and have my emergency contact’s information – just in case.
- Make friends! Being alone makes you less intimidating for people to talk to and a smile and openness will go a long way. You may never cross paths with these people again, but they may just change your life forever.
Good luck and safe travels!!!