I went on my first solo travel journey as a junior in high school. Though it was just a quick hour-long flight to Providence to visit my older sister, I quickly became obsessed with traveling alone. Though I still haven’t gone on a trip solo from start to finish, I’ve done the traveling leg by myself a dozen times. For those that haven’t traveled alone, here are five tips on what to expect and how to travel solo like a pro, and how to learn from my past mistakes.
1. Share your itinerary.
The most important part of traveling alone happens before you even start packing. Because you’ll be traveling alone, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to have at least one person know when you’re supposed to be leaving and arriving from each location. If worst case scenario happens and something happens while you’re traveling, someone will be able to get in contact with the airline and make sure you’re alive. I always send my itinerary to my parents and whoever I’m traveling to see, so that at least two people know where I should be and when.
2. Get to the airport at least two hours early.
Not traveling with someone is both a blessing and a curse—but definitely a blessing when you can get through checking your bag and security without having to worry about someone else. However, make sure you’re still getting to the airport at least two hours early—take it from personal experience, sprinting through an airport to make your flight on time isn’t what I would call a good time. You can’t count on a flight to be delayed, so get there early; you can catch up on sleep while you’re waiting to board.
3. Make sure all your belongings are accounted for.
No one will be with you to grab your coat if you leave it on the plane, and you can’t count on strangers looking out for you. Traveling alone means staying on top of all of the things you bring with you—I would recommend making a mental checklist before you get on and off the plane. Do you have your purse, wallet, carry-on, boarding pass and passport? Take it from me, leaving your purse and wallet on a plane and not having money or identification for your trip SUCKS. Don’t be like me, and use the time you’re waiting to deplane to make sure you have everything you need for a fun trip.
4. Budget accordingly.
Again, no one will be with you to rein in your spending. Airports are notoriously overpriced, so don’t get sucked in to the souvenir section or go ham in the food courts. Stick to one coffee and a sandwich, and think about all the cool things you can buy once you get to your destination. Definitely make sure you pack a reusable water bottle in your carry on so you don’t have to shell out $5 for a water bottle you’ll throw away once you get on the plane.
5. Pack your carry on accordingly.
Speaking of, make sure your carry-on is packed so you can entertain yourself during your travels. One of the downsides of traveling alone is that you don’t have anyone to hang out with during one of the most arduous parts of the journey—traveling itself. If you don’t like making friends on flights, then make sure you packed all that you need to keep yourself occupied. I always have at least two books, my laptop, a portable charger, a reusable water bottle and then misc. items that aren’t super technological based—like a coloring book or something else. Anything is better than being bored in an airport for hours.
Did we miss any of your traveling advice? Let us know! Happy travels, collegiettes!