One of the great advantages of studying abroad, especially in Europe, is that you have the opportunity to travel to other nearby cities and countries. From where I stayed in Spain, I could get to over half of Europe in a three-hour flight or less. But sometimes it’s hard to make plans with people in advance, and finally, I decided that if I wanted to see the things and places I wanted to see, then I would have to venture forth solo.
But every trip has its struggles. In my own three solo trips, I made several faux-pas that caused unnecessary stress for myself. Fortunately, this stress can be avoided by following these four practical tips:
Print hard copies of all your tickets.
I loved using Apple Wallet for bus and train tickets, and many countries’ transportation lines have their own apps where you can buy and access tickets. But if you’re stuck without service or a dead battery and you’re unable to scan a QR code or show your ticket on your phone to get on the next leg of your trip, you’re stuck. Which brings me to my next tip.
A rainy day in Rome
Always have a back-up power source (or two) for your phone.
Twice when I was traveling alone, my phone died or almost died when I needed to access information about where I was staying. Seeing your phone battery on 7% can put you into a panic quickly, so always have a charging cord and wall outlet with you. Better yet, invest in a portable charging bank – a good one. This way, you’ll have a quick, reliable back-up for your phone when you need it most.
Don’t put all your eggs (or dough) in one basket.
Splitting up your cash is a smart strategic move when traveling alone. Keep some in a protected travel-pouch (next to your all-important passport), some in another wallet on your person, and leave some in your luggage if you leave it at a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb for the day. Or, you could go old-school and slip a few bills into your shoe. Then, if you unfortunately get swiped by a pick-pocketer, you’re not out of all your resources.
A small regional airport in Spain
Know your cellphone plan.My Spanish cellphone plan included service in most European countries, but I was frustrated when I couldn’t get it to work on my first trip to England and Italy. It wasn’t until I got back that I went to the cell provider and he told me that all I had to do was restart my phone every time I entered a new country for it to work. Moral of the story: ask your cellphone provider and double-check your plan before you travel. It’s easy to become overly dependent on your phone, but make sure that when you actually need to use it, it will work for you.
Don’t let the prospect of hitting bumps along the way deter you from traveling by yourself! Following these four tips will keep you out of many preventable predicaments so you can focus on enjoying your time and making lifetime memories.
|At Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London|
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