Tips & Tricks For The Solo Traveler
You do all kinds of things on your own -- so why not travel solo? Whether you are going to Brazil, Bangkok or Barcelona, you can have the time of your life even if you aren't going with friends and family. Here are tips to stay safe and healthy and still get the most of your solo travels, no matter where you may roam!
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Taking care of your money and documents
- Always carry copies of your most important documents -- like credit cards, passports, tickets -- separately from the originals. (You might want to email them to yourself so you can access them online.) Consider bringing an extra credit card -- again, packed separately from the one you usually use.
- Let your credit card company know where you are going before you leave. If they receive many charges from foreign locations, they are likely to think your card was stolen, and not accept them.
- Find out what your daily ATM card withdrawal limit is while abroad, and make sure your pin number works in the countries you are visiting. You may have a 6-number pin, for instance, in a country that only accepts 4 digits -- which means no cash for you!
- Carry a little spending cash in your pocket or otherwise away from the rest of your cash and credit cards. That way, when making small purchases, you won't be showing off your money -- or displaying where you keep it -- to shifty types.
- Keep your handbag/pack closed and in your hand at all times. Almost every tourist destination is also a pickpocket haven -- plus, sometimes groups of people (even kids) will work together to distract you or pull a con.
Use the internet to your advantage
While you're away, make use of the web to get information about local attractions, manage your photos and to check in with everyone at home. Here are some ideas:
Instead of trying to glean a museum's hours or a tour schedule from materials printed in a language you don't really know, check the web. Most major attractions around the world offer information in English on their sites.
Sign up for a free web-based email account -- such as gMail or yahoo mail -- so you can stay in touch with friends and family from any Internet cafe or computer. (gMail also offers integrated web chat so you can talk to other users in real time.)
Offload the photos from your digital camera somewhere online -- to a Flickr account or to a photo processing service, like those offered by Snapfish, Kodak or Shutterfly. Not only will you free up space on your camera's memory card, you will also be preserving your photos in a safe place. (You can even order prints while you're still abroad, and have them waiting in the mail for you when you get home!)
Set up any email, photo or other web-based accounts before you leave to make life simpler -- and choose a memorable but not obvious password (like not "madrid" for your trip to... Madrid).
Should you bring along your cell phone? That really depends on whether of not it will even work internationally. Find out before you go -- get some detailed information here.
Here's some more smart phone advice for the world traveler:
- US-based cellphone accounts usually will not allow you to make calls from foreign countries, in order to avoid fraud. If you plan to bring your phone, contact your cell provider before you go.
- Watch the rates! When outside of the US, you can get charged crazy high amounts for roaming as well as calling and receiving calls.
- If you have an iPhone with data plan, be certain that you change your phone's setting so you're not charged a roaming fee every few minutes as the unit updates itself. How to do it: Settings > General > Network > set Data Roaming to OFF.
ON THE NEXT PAGE: How to avoid getting sick, Minding your meds, and a few more tips from the trenches!