How to: Travel Alone (what to bring and what to do!)

What to bring:

  • 3 copies of passport (always cary one copy safely in your pocket)
  • 1+ copy of each credit card
  • credit card (safer than debit)
  • original passport (or whatever ID required for the country)
  • the equivalent of about $50-100 USD cash in a money belt on your person
  • money belt (avoid getting in and out of it in public- it is supposed to be secret!)
  • detailed directions to your destination, including all train stops, bus stops, and ticket shops
  • emergency phone (not absolutely required but a REALLY good idea)
  • local dictionary (not required but useful when asking for directions)
  • walking map for how you get from the train station to your destination

What to do:

  • pack as light as possible
  • do not have any valuables visible
  • blend in (avoid looking like a tourist as much as possible- at least look like a ‘local tourist’)
  • eat in safe places
  • avoid large crowds while carrying luggage
  • do NOT carry anything in your back pocket
  • buy luggage locks and USE THEM!
  • for smaller zippers, use plastic zip ties (use nail cutters to snip them off- just don’t lock those in a pocket you zip-tied)
  • NEVER leave your luggage, even for a minute
  • never carry more than you can easily carry yourself!
  • travel in daylight- avoid arriving at night (if you must, walk straight to your hotel)
  • walk with your eyes ahead (looking down or around or looking nervous makes you a target)
  • get to know the locals and ask advice, but be careful with who you trust
  • dress appropriately (especially in conservative countries… but anywhere, be careful with shorts!)
  • do NOT get drunk when you are alone!
  • keep in touch with someone at home (in case you don’t make it to your destination)
  • register with Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (or equivalent if you are not American www.step.state.gov/step/)
  • trust your instincts! AND HAVE FUN!
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9 comments on “How to: Travel Alone (what to bring and what to do!)

  1. Great post! Here are the points that I most wholeheartedly echo based on my own solo travels:
    – Detailed instructions to your destination (print them out and stick them in a folder in your bag before departing).
    – Don’t carry anything in your back pocket.
    – Walk with your eyes ahead, with confidence, when you’re alone.

    And I would add one to the “what to bring” list:
    – A head lamp! Dorky? Yes. Useful? Totally.

      • It really came in handy in Peru/Bolivia while camping, and (less intuitively) in hostels, if I wanted to read at night without keeping the whole room awake with a ceiling light, or to get up to go to the bathroom.

        Also, in Bolivia, there were some hotels that only provided electricity/lights for 2-3 hours per night, so after that you had to find your own light!

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