Traveling Alone for the First Time? Take Care of Yourself and Your Finances
Traveling alone for the first time is a big deal, especially if you’re also paying for your own travel expenses. On top of packing for a solo trip, you’ll want to make sure that you’re keeping an eye out for your personal and financial safety — two of the biggest things that can go wrong if you are traveling alone.
Financial Safety While Traveling
Financial safety is something critical that you probably haven’t thought about if this is your first solo trip. It’s important to look after your finances before, during, and after a big trip. Let’s talk about the things that are important here.
Before your trip, make sure that you’re booking travel, lodgings, and other services with reliable vendors. Traveling on major airlines will be easy enough, but if possible try to book local travel through an established service such as a car rental agency, a taxi company, or a ridesharing service like Uber.
If you’re having trouble funding your own travel, a travel loan may help. If you’re young, you may not have much credit history to back up your loan application. However, there are ways to get personal loans without a long credit history. Just make sure that you pay the loan back in a timely fashion; don’t let your travel plans devastate your credit score.
It may be tempting to put all of your travel expenses on a credit card, but be careful about this. Credit cards often come with high-interest rates compared to other forms of debt, meaning that you could end up stuck with huge debt that you can’t get rid of. Security is also an issue when using credit cards. Fortunately, as long as you stick to reliable retailers and alert your credit card company that you have plans to travel, you should be fine.
On the other hand, traveling with cash can also be risky, as a lucky pickpocket could easily rob you of your entire traveling budget. If you do travel with cash, only carry what you need for the day with you. Leave the rest in a safe place, hidden in your hotel room. Otherwise, if you travel with a card, make sure to keep your receipts so that you have a personal record of all the transactions you made.
After you get back from your trip, make sure to check all of your financial statements — that means debit cards, credit cards, and checking accounts. Make sure that it was indeed you who made all of the charges listed. If you recognize any suspicious charges — charges that you never made — call your bank or credit card company immediately to report the fraud.
Personal Safety While Traveling
Most of the time, traveling is perfectly safe. Most people that you will meet are very kind and completely unthreatening. However, it’s still good to take some personal precautions whenever you travel, both to protect your health from other people and from the environment.
When booking hotels, make sure that you get a room with good locks. Ideally, the door will automatically lock behind you, but always make sure that your room is locked when you leave and after you get back. Some hotels rooms have safes. If yours does, you can store valuables in it while you’re away.
Always make sure that someone knows what your plans are for the day, where you are going to be, and when you plan to get back. This can be someone local or a friend or family member back home. The point is, if something were to happen to you, it’s critical that there’s someone who can contact the authorities on your behalf.
Speaking of the authorities, memorize any emergency numbers at your destination before you leave. Not every country uses 911 — many countries in Europe will use 112 or 999, such as the United Kingdom.
It’s often important to visit your doctor before traveling alone. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, if there are any conditions that might prevent you from flying — such as a chronic illness — ask your doctor before booking your trip. Second, be aware that some medications which are allowed in your home country may be considered controlled substances in another. Check with customs before bringing these medications into a foreign country. Finally, some countries have diseases that may not exist in your home country, so it’s important to get vaccinated before you leave.
Traveling alone for the first time can be an immensely rewarding experience. Make sure that you’re watching out for your financial security and your personal safety so that you can have the best trip possible.