As I think I’ve said before, even though I have been the sole planner of many an international trip, this was the first time I traveled completely on my own and for completely my own interests.
1. Solo travel is wonderful. Even though I am lucky enough to have not one but two people with whom I travel well and happily, traveling solo is when it is completely about your own wants and needs. Need to catch up on a few winks? Want to stop in a park and watch a bocci game? No guilt. You are responsible to no one else! Heaven. There are few situations when we don’t have to think about anyone else when we make our choices.
2. Pack light, but check your bag. Pack light so you can easily lift your bag into the overhead on trains, carry your bag up and down many stairs, and always have one hand free. However, check your bag when ever you can! Why carry it if someone else will? Don’t be one of those people on the plane who seems to be stuffing everything they own into the overhead bins because they think they can’t live without it.
3. Mark your bag. Mark your bag so it is visible when it appears on the luggage carousel or with all the gate checked bags so you don’t have to stand there blindly wondering which bag is yours, while someone else mistakenly walks away with it. I have a something bright on each handle, and I use baby blue diaper pins to secure the zippers. I’m sure some immature people may laugh, but I’ve got my bag in no time and no one is walking away with it. ——AND, as a side to this, I love my yellow camerabag/purse…It was easy to keep an eye on when security inevitably and repeatedly pulled me out of line to test me for everything as I set off the alarms for no clear reason. I can’t seem to get through Heathrow without setting off alarms. So while I’m being isolated, hand searched, scanned for explosives, and my shoes are being xrayed, my bag is 20 feet away sitting on the other side of the baggage scanner. And while I have no problem being thoroughly searched as I’d question what’s in my boobs if I were security also, and it breaks up the monotony, I don’t want my bag left for anyone to take or scavenge through as they please. So as this is going on I can see my bag because it is BRIGHT yellow. AND, I could easily point it out if someone was running down the street with it. AND, when you are meeting people who don’t know what you look like, being able to say I’m the woman with the yellow bag makes it easy!
4. Pack a light recyclable bag. Packing light and checking your bag having been addressed above, you do need to pull a few extra items out of the checked bag…just in case. In my purse I carry my camera, ipod, camera, financial documents (which aren’t in my security pouch), and prescription medicine. In the extra bag I would add the plugs and chargers for the items I have in my purse, anything extra I need for the plane, and a baggie with one washable top, socks and underwear…just incase you are one of the few who has a delayed checked bag. For this trip I used a cotton shopping bag. When I reconnected with my checked luggage, I simply placed the bag with its items inside so I never had to worry about more than two items.
5. Plan to wait at the airport. Do not make airport changes or wait times too short. That way there will be less likelihood that your bags won’t make it to the next plane. If you have to hurry to your plane, your bags won’t make it. Just accept the time for what it is and people watch.
6. Taxis can be your friends. If you have an extended flight or have two connections of transportation, end your travels with a taxi to your hotel. Relax. Just make sure you know what the fair price is, and advise your driver accordingly.
7. Local phone. While not necessary, it is definitely handy. I struggled with this decision for several days, and final relented. Had I not had a phone, the people who I was fortunate enough to encounter in my travels, would not have been able to connect or reconnect to me. Consequently, I would have missed out on some great adventures.
8. Chip credit card. Even though they USA financial companies are stuck on chip and signature cards, this can be great, depending upon in which country you are traveling. I did not go to the ATM machine once in Sweden as no charge is too small to use your card. In fact, it seemed to them and me, that cash was annoying suddenly! However, always have some emergency cash, as there could be a situation in which you really need it.
9. Bring paper copies of your important documents. I had all my documents on my ipod/computer, but when my ipod crashed, I had no worries as I had printed copies with me. Fortunately, Apple was about two blocks away and they fixed the issue in just a few minutes and for no charge! That convenience might not always be available.