How to Prepare When Traveling Alone

Traveling can seem scary, especially if you haven’t had the experience to travel alone yet and not knowing how to set up your trips and stay organized before a trip. This is a guide for beginners. Whether you’re traveling alone for the whole trip or just by transportation, it’s a brave experience and to me, it felt like a good one, especially in knowing that I am using my judgment alone and it’s a closer feeling to independence.

I’ve learned from traveling from getting ready for family trips with my family and I got inspired to plan out things by myself and on trips with friends from my older sister; she always planned things out for some of our trips and I took those experiences by doing what she did (research!).

By the time I turned into an adult, I felt like I was ready to try it alone. I know the experience of being alone in getting to your destination can be scary at first, especially in the first couple of hours and traveling by transportation for those moments. But here are my tips:

Packing and preparing

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First, you need to stay organized and make sure you are prepared in your packing. Think about how long your trip will be and pack according to the length of the trip. Plan an outfit for each day that you will be away and keep mind of the weather.

Think of the important essentials you will need whether that’s makeup, medication pills (if you’re flying, make sure it passes through the Transportation Security Administration. Here is a helpful guide in what you can take.), another pair of shoes, undergarments, new pairs of socks, etc. Don’t take too much but take only what is necessary and depending on long your trip will be, consider the size of the luggage. Sometimes, people just take a backpack with them and sometimes less is more. You can write down what you need before you start packing; it can be useful and not as frustrating.

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If you have your itinerary ready, make sure you have your tickets printed ahead of time and keep them somewhere where you’re positive you won’t lose them and tucked in safe. Keep in mind on the boarding times (usually for airplanes, the airport wants you to be checked in at the gate 2 hours ahead prior and no later than that), so you know when to arrive at the station. Sometimes I like to write down the times on a piece of paper and where I will go at a certain time as a reminder. Sometimes, just having your phone can be enough for that.

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Need help finding a place to stay in? Some things to do?

If you’re lost on where you should stay if you’re not meeting a friend or ideas to do while you go away for your trip if you haven’t devised some plans yet, I made a list of useful websites that you can rely on to help you research what is best for your needs. Writing these things out or booking them and printing out the itineraries ahead of time is recommended.

Going to the airport or station: Be aware of your surroundings and be alarmed for times when waiting.

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When you arrive at the station or airport you’re supposed to be in, make sure you can find your way around and go to the exact gate you have to be waiting in. Since you’re alone, you want to keep a good look at your items since there will be many people walking by. If you plan to use the restroom or grab some food around, it’s smart to not ask a stranger to watch your stuff since you don’t know them and what intentions some people have. Take them with you.

I also recommend you eat before your travel or take some snack or foods (in airplanes, usually a recommended size of liquid bottles are allowed — keep in mind of the 3-1-1 rule as described here) because you will probably be traveling for long hours and if there are no snacks or foods being offered in your method of transportation, it’s best to have something and not suffer from hunger.

If you’re confused about certain times or gates or if you feel unsure about something, go to customer service.

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Waiting on line to ask about my bus trip to Washington DC in the Greyhound station

The best people to ask for anything related to your travel are the people who work there.  However, keep in mind how long the line is and when you have to be in by your boarding time. Usually, this is best before you go to your gate or waiting area.

While traveling in your transportation: keep yourself busy.

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Delaware Memorial Bridge in Wilmington, Delaware

Usually long hours of going to your destination can be dreadful and annoying especially if you don’t have a friend or the need to talk to someone. Make sure you have your earphones or headphones and have a playlist of music you can listen to (there are plenty of music apps you can use from Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud).

You can also pull out your laptop or tablet or have a book to read. You can browse through your internet (let’s hope there is Wi-fi in your transportation!). You can also just choose to sleep during these times, which can help kill time even faster, but set an alarm if you believe you’ll be knocked out for a long time.

My First Ever experienceS of traveling alone

The first times I was alone traveling, I can’t forget! In 2016, I went on a plane going from Italy to the JFK airport for 8 hours alone. In 2017, I traveled one weekend for a total of 10 hours, starting when I lived in New Jersey to taking a bus to New York and then another to Washington DC, my final destination. In those times, I felt really good about myself after doing so and proud, knowing I don’t need to have a companion with me to help me be smart in my traveling and I get to understand the idea of solitude more. There’s something peaceful about having all the hours to yourself while going away far from home anyway, sometimes.

You got this!

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Passing by Maryland through the bus ride

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