If you are planning to travel alone, and especially if this includes overseas travel this can be a very scary proposition. You may also have family and friends try to talk you out of traveling alone and tell you it is too dangerous or it is not safe.
Traveling alone to explore a new destination is an amazing experience. But before you travel there are things you should do such as doing your homework to know all about your destination. You must also check out all the legal and visa requirements to be sure you have no issues with your travel plans. And finally, have at least the first few days of your travel planned out.
Here are some of our top tips on ways you can prepare to have an amazing journey when you are traveling alone.
Do Your Homework
If you are planning to travel alone, one of the most important things you can do is do your homework before you travel to your destination. When planning an international trip overseas here are the basics that you should do before you travel:
- Read Up On Where You Are Going – Read up and learn about where you are traveling to. Know a bit about the culture, people, history and places you will be visiting. One of my favorite travel guides has always been Lonely Planet Guides. A lot of their travel guides have great history and information on the culture. Reading up on your destination can also include reading some books and novels that have even been translated by some local authors. If you do this it will help to make your trip more meaningful.
- Read Blogs From Those Who Live or Travel There – Today there is so much information online. Read some blogs from those who live where you are traveling to (an insiders guide) or those who have recently traveled there. These blogs are usually filled with a lot of great information and ideas.
- Watch YouTube Videos – There is a lot of YouTube videos about the places you will travel to. A lot of these YouTube videos can give you some great insight into the history, culture, and people.
- Check Out Documentary Programs and Movies – Documentaries and even some Hollywood movies have some wonderful historical or other cultural insights where you can learn more about the place you are traveling.
- Pick Up Tour and Travel Brochures – Some travel agents have some free travel brochures. These brochures will usually have some general information and basic itineraries. This can be a wealth of information on where to go or what the major sites are in some areas.
- Local Travel Agencies – At your local destination you may want to participate in some local tours. Do some research online to have a potential list of what tours you may want. I would probably hold off on booking any local tours until you get to your destination unless you are under very difficult time constraints. Once you get to your destination you may find there are other tours you want to take that you did not know about.
Do your homework about the places you are going to visit as doing this before you travel will be much easier than trying to do this while you are traveling, especially if you are going to some really remote places that may not have access to good internet and other information.
Also doing your homework before you travel will help you to go to your destination armed with insights and knowledge. These insights and knowledge should help to make your trip so much more meaningful.
Know Your Legal Requirements
International travel will require a passport and in many cases a visa. Some countries will allow you visa-free entry for a certain period of time. But all these requirements will change depending on the passport you are holding and the country you are visiting.
Here are some ways you can check out the legal requirements for the places you are traveling
- Check Embassy Websites – A lot of Embassies have their own websites This should be the first place you check as their information should be the most up-to-date.
- Visa Services – There are also a lot of online Visa Services. Some of these may be in the country you are visiting or others can be in your home country. These websites should also have a lot of up-to-date information, If possible I would double-check their requirements with the actual Embassy website.
- Travel Agencies – Many travel agencies also offer a visa service They can help you understand the visa requirements and help you get the visa you need.
- Blogs – Many blogs have information about visas and other requirements. Many of the blogs will usually link to the Embassy and relevant sites. Check out these links to make sure the blog has the most up-to-date information. If you are traveling to Vietnam you can read our blog entitled Vietnam Travel Visa, What You Need to Know Before You Go by clicking here.
- Airlines – If you cannot find out any of this information through the embassy or other ways, you can also try to talk to your airline to find out what they have as the visa and other requirements.
If you do not have a proper visa the Airlines will usually deny your boarding onto the aircraft. The purchase of an airline ticket does not guarantee the airline will allow you to board the plane, especially if you do not have a valid visa. Airlines will normally check this when you are checking in for your flight. If you do not have a proper visa they will not allow you to board the plane and you could lose your seat and ticket. Also, some airlines may also want to make sure your visa is valid for the entire trip. This is why you need to check this before you travel to any new destination.
Plan out Your First Few Days
It is always best if you can have your first few days and nights all set up and planned before you travel This is important in case the hotels are overbooked or in limited supply. You do not want to end up on the street or sleeping in an airport as you did not plan things correctly.
For the minimum you should have an idea about the following:
- How You Will Get From Airport to the Hotel – You should know how you will get from the airport to the hotel If you are not sure how you will get from the airport to your hotel, ask your hotel. Many hotels will offer a taxi service to pick you up upon your arrival. This service is usually always more than a local taxi, but it may also be the safest option. I have used my hotels to pick me up at the airport a few times especially in places I was not sure how to get to my hotel or not sure how safe it is for me to get a taxi or other local transport from the airport. Most hotels will also be able to give you some information on the best way to get from the airport to your hotel.
- Your Hotel Room – Even if you are not sure if you want to stay in the hotel for just one night or several nights, it is best you have a plan when you arrive at a new destination. You should have at least an idea of where you are going to stay for your first night. If you really want to change your hotel then you do it the next day,
- How and Where You Can Get Local Cash – When you get into a new country one of the first things you will need is some local cash. Many airports will have an ATM that will allow you to use a western bank card. Most airports also have a money exchange counter. In some countries, the money exchange can end up taking a lot of commission and other fees. Just be prepared for this But chances are that you will need to have local cash upon your arrivals for taxis, local transportation, and other tips. This is something you should investigate and have an idea about so there are no surprises on your arrival.
Traveling is a great way to explore and see the world. But before you go anywhere it is best if you have some knowledge, plans, and itineraries lined up. This will help you to ensure you have a safe and memorable journey.
For some more ideas about traveling alone, you can read our blog How To Travel Alone and Make Friends, What You Need To Know by clicking here.
How Can I Travel Alone and Make Friends?
When you are traveling to a new place and you do not really know anyone, it may seem overwhelming to think about traveling alone, especially if you are a woman traveling alone. This can be especially true for a country like Cambodia that has had a violent and a checkered past.
I have traveled alone to Cambodia many times and have always felt safe. But whenever you are traveling alone to any country, especially if you are a woman traveling alone, there are some precautions that you should take.
You can read our blog Is Cambodia Safe For A Solo Female Traveler to Travel Alone by clicking here.
Do I Need a Rabies Shot To Travel Southeast Asia?
I have lived in Asia for many years (Thailand, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong). And I have traveled throughout most of Asia one time or another. One thing I have learned is that it can be common for some dogs to be wandering the streets. Many of these same dogs could come up and bite and infect you with rabies.
Travelers to Asia and especially Southeast Asia should be sure to get or ensure their rabies shots are up-to-date before they travel anywhere in southeast Asia. The reason is that rabies is still a common problem in many of these areas and if you are traveling out in the countryside, getting a shot may be difficult or almost impossible to obtain.
You can read our blog Why You Need a Rabies Shot to Travel Southeast Asia. by clicking here.