We are all at the age where traveling alone is the desirable and adventurous option, with students venturing on their first solo travels around the world. It all seems overwhelming at first, with no parent or chaperone to hold your hand and guide you through each step of the journey. In order to have the safest and most efficient journey, there are some rookie mistakes that all students traveling alone can avoid. It’s also important to remember that there is a first for everything, and with experience comes confidence for future endeavors!
- Check for student discounts before booking anything, and carry around a school ID just in case!
You’re paying a lot to be a student, so take advantage of it! There are many venues, transportation services, and even restaurants that give discounts to current university students. Especially when booking a place to stay, do some research on the benefits of choosing a student hostel over a regular hotel. By carrying your UT ID around during travel, you can always ask if student discounts are available before any purchase.
- Have a separate bag/pouch for all important documents (passport, vaccination card, ID, PCR test results, boarding passes, etc.).
Although it might seem tempting to throw all your documents into your backpack or carry-on, take the extra time when packing to set aside all the papers you need in one place so that it is easy to access. During baggage check-in, multiple security checks, and boarding the plane, they will ask for the same documents over and over again. So keep everything in one place to avoid misplacing everything and for quick access.
- Pack a simple carry-on (a compact but spacious bag like a backpack works the best, with separated compartments with zippers).
There is a reason why adults always advise packing lightly. Other than the large baggage that you can check in before your flight, airlines usually allow one to two carry-ons. It can be anything from a small suitcase to a guitar case. I recommend bringing a backpack since it has multiple spacious compartments separated by a zipper. It is easy to stay organized when you know that each pocket holds a different item.
- Wear easy-to-remove shoes and comfortable clothes in general.
When going through security, you have to remove your shoes, hat, belt, watch, and other small items that you might not be conscious of. It is smart to wear easily removable shoes, like sandals or slip-off sneakers, to save time. I know some students might want to dress up for their first trip alone, but trust me when I say value comfort over looks. You’ll have to move around a lot at the airport, so comfortable clothes and shoes are a must.
- Be flexible and open-minded to changing some details, regardless of the original plan.
Nothing can be planned to perfection. Be prepared for some last-minute changes, and don’t feel discouraged when some things don’t go exactly as you wanted! Always think about different possibilities and have a basic outline of a backup plan. It’s less stressful when you’re open to new ideas and embrace the spontaneity of going with the flow.
- Have anything that makes you feel safe and comfortable (pepper spray, alarm, comfort items, etc.).
Although traveling alone is perfectly safe, it’s always nice to go the extra mile to feel secure. Whether that means stocking up on security items (those approved by airport guidelines) or bringing along a comfort plushie, it’s smart to have a grounding item that makes you calm during your trip. Of course, anything that makes you happy is qualified to tag along.
- When traveling internationally, bring cash to exchange to different currencies instead of using a credit card.
Many people don’t usually think about this during their first solo trip. However, when traveling internationally, banks charge a certain percentage of whatever you spend with each card swipe. To avoid this, many people opt to use cash and use an ATM or currency exchange booth to withdraw cash from cards. To prevent the heavy taxing and convenience fees, I recommend having cash already to exchange after your flight.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up!
If something goes wrong, if you have questions, if someone does anything to make you doubt anything, make sure to speak up. No one will be there to speak for you, so take the initiative and get things done the right way. The people working at the airport are there to help you have a comfortable traveling experience, so don’t be scared to strike up a conversation!
Keeping these eight tips in mind, I hope that your first solo trip is a bit less hectic than it would have been. Traveling and flying alone is an exciting new adventure that will be forever remembered. So have fun, be safe and go explore the outside world!
Featured Image by Reo Lee