Five lessons learned from my first solo trip abroad
In June 2016 I took my first solo trip abroad. I traveled to six cities (London, Paris, Brussels, Eindhoven, Utrecht, and Amsterdam) and four countries.
This was my first solo trip abroad and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my adult life. On my plane ride back, I was inspired to write this post to help other brave and adventurous souls out there. Here are my five top tips to ease your solo trip abroad.
I would not have survived without it. I used it for EVERYTHING. If you’re traveling abroad, I recommend bringing with you a smart phone (locked or unlocked), put it on airplane mode then turn on Wi-Fi.
If your phone is unlocked and you are staying longer than a few weeks, you can procure a local sim card with a data plan and use that in addition to Wi-Fi. I recently switched to a Project Fi phone (a phone that allows me to use my US plan internationally at the same cost) and I am excited to try it on my next trip.
This is an obvious one but I forgot to buy one before leaving and I had to buy a cheap one upon arrival. It worked, but it was inefficient and left me stranded on multiple occasions. Plan ahead, buy a high quality adapter that has more than one charging port available to enable you charge multiple devices at the same time.
I learned the hard way on this one. My phone was constantly used for directions using google maps, my phone battery died very quickly. The record for me was 4 hours, my fully charged phone was dead in 4 hours! The sad part was it died before I got back to my hotel room and I was lost! I did have an external battery that I brought with me but it was weak and did not provide a long enough charge. In addition, it was hard to recharge it simultaneously with phone as I had only one adapter port. It is a must have device and I will never again travel without one.
Maps (Google maps and train maps)
Google maps for offline use was probably the most important tool in my toolkit. I used it to navigate the trains and streets of London, Paris and Brussels like a local. Okay maybe not quite like a local, nonetheless I easily found my way around.
In addition to google maps, I downloaded a pdf or jpg of the train maps to supplement google maps especially when there was no internet.
Minimalist packing made traveling from country to country uncomplicated and hassle free. Yes, I had to do laundry a few of times while traveling. That tiny inconvenience was worth all of the freedom traveling with my backpack brought me. Oh, and if you’ve never used packing cubes before (pictured below), you don’t know what you are missing!
In conclusion, all minor inconveniences aside, I had an amazing time and I love solo traveling. I don’t know when or where my next solo trip abroad would be, but I know it will be soon!