Updated: Feb 26, 2020
When it comes to travelling solo, it is a new trend that is glamorised and to be frank it is a fantastic bucket list experience that many people have changed into a lifestyle.
Your first solo trip is likely to be a major step out of your comfort zone because you are stepping into the unknown and are not sure what to expect. So, I've made this blog post to help prepare my solo-travellers-to-be for the unknowns of solo travel. By avoiding these mistakes, you're bound to have a smoother and safer experience travelling solo and enjoy all of the positives that come with it.
1. Not checking visa requirements for places that you wish to visit.
When travelling solo, it can become such an exciting thing to do that you overlook important details of your trip.
Checking your travel document requirements is one of the first things that you should do before booking your trip. In some cases, you may need to factor in visa expenses, which vary from country to country.
If you do not have the correct travel documents on the day of yur trip, then you could be turned away from your flight and lose the majority, if not all of your ticket money.
2. Not informing your bank when you're away
Informing your bank when you are away is always a good idea. This way you can avoid unexpected restrictions being put on your card as fraud prevention.
The last thing that you want happening to you on a solo trip is not having enough money. Remember that you will be on your own with no one to reallly bail you out of a bad situation no matter how much they try. So, be extremely cautious and always bring along some emergency cash (see point 6).
Tip: Join Monzo or Revolut which are fantastic travel bank accounts that asre suitable to manage your transactions when going abroad.
3. Booking a room that you're not 100% certain about for more than 3 days
During my travels, I have checked into a number of different accommodations. From hotels, to apartments, to air bnb's and more. While the majority of these accommodations have met my expectations, there have been a fair few that haven't.
One thing I've learned, is to NEVER book in an accommodation that you are unsure of for more than one or two days to begin with. This will save you a lot of hassle and wasted money if you find some issues with your accommodation in the first few days.
Usually, when booking accomodations around the world you're usually tied into a mini contract for the proposed duration of your stay. For example, once you have decided that you would like to stay at the hotel for five days, then even if you wanted to leave the hotel earlier than that date, then it is unlikely that you will get a refund for any of the days lost.
Note: some hotels offer refunds, but the process is painfully long and it happens very rarely.
4. Not putting a lock on your checked luggage
If you don't put a lock on your luggage, then you are asking for trouble. I remember the one time that I travelled and forgot to put a padlock on my checked luggage. Let's just say that was a very long and stressful flight.
get that many people have travelled far and wide without a lock on their suitcase and nothing has happened, but this is just sheer luck. It's always better to be safe than sorry, esecially when going on a solo trip.
Keep your valuables locked away and you can even lock your hand luggage too if you want to be extra cautious.
5. Not making arrangements before doing a long stop over
If you're doing a long stop-over in a country (i.e. layover for 6 hours or more), then it's always best to make sure you have made plans for when you land. If not, then you could end up like me and have a 19 hour layover from hell.
There are usually special tours organised in countries for tourists that are stopping over, so it's worth finding out from your airline if this is something that is offered.
Tip: When having a stopover for 9 hours + it is advisable to get a little hotel room or hostel to relax in. Travelling when extremely tired isn't recommended since you can become forgetful.
6. Not preparing some emergency cash
When you travel solo, it's important to understand that you are all you've got on your journey, quite literally. This means that all losses taken will be endured by you and you only. Nobody will be able to bail you out of bas situations, especially financial ones.... unless you're super lucky and have got it like that.
Bringing extra cash is always advisable when travelling to new destinations solo. You have to plan for the worst case scenario at all times to make sure that you are safe.
7. Not getting a sim card that is topped up or ensuring consistent access to WiFi
Stop making mum and dad worry and get yourself a SIM card that's topped up. This is a great way to stay in touch with loved ones and keep them updated about your whereabouts. I haven't always done this, because I felt it would be a waste of money.
However, nowadays I never travel outside of Europe without getting a local SIM card to stay in touch with family and friends. You never know what to expect from the different places that you visit, so making sure that you are able to contact anyone in an emergency is very important.
8. Travelling with excess luggage
Travelling with excess luggage that you haven't paid for is one the biggest rookie mistakes that you can make as a traveller and is certainly one of the fastest ways to end up having to throw your stuff away.
One time I was travelling and thought that it would be a good idea to pack every single item known to mankind. My luggage allowance was 30kg, yet I had about 50kg or luggage across two suitcase. I didn't expect it to cost the price of flying a human body from one end the world to another. Long story short, I lost a lot of items that I loved and it was a very sad day.
Tip: Stick to your weight allowance to avoid nasty surprises!