By Amanda, originally published atLVV TRAVEL
La Vida Viva is about the life of travel through the lens of Amanda and Daniel — a couple of twenty-somethings who got hitched and quit their corporate jobs to explore the world.
Soyou’re considering traveling alone for the first time — GOOD FOR YOU. If you’re totally green to travel and have no idea where to start then we’re to help. If you’re already a pretty experienced traveler then why not read on and see if you can pick up any new ideas or tips. Here, you’ll find the bare essentials you need to ask yourself and consider before taking off on your adventure.
OUR 10 TIPS FOR TRAVELLING ALONE FOR THE FIRST TIME
1. What’s my budget?
This is definitely the first thing you need to consider. If you have $500 for an entire trip then flying halfway across the world is probably not going to be realistic for you, sorry. Consider what you can realistically afford, taking into consideration: flights, internal travel, accommodation, spending money and insurance. How much money do you have now and how much can you save by the time the trip comes?
Tip: For fellow Aussies: rather than a ‘travel card’, I recommend the Citibank Plus account which is a zero fee account, doesn’t charge you for international transactions and no fees for Citibank ATM withdrawals internationally. The exchange rate is always really good too. Definitely a money saver whilst abroad!
2. Where’s my destination?
This is definitely one of my favorite things to do — Googling countries, places to see and things to do. Your time and budget will dictate what places are or aren’t available to you. If you’re limited on time, perhaps pick a place that isn’t 40 hours and 3 stopovers away. If you’re on a tight a budget then pick lower cost of living countries (eg in South East Asia).
If you don’t have your heart set on any particular destination then start with what you enjoy doing and what you want to get out of your trip. Perhaps you want to go to France and learn some French, or try out skiing in Canada, maybe hike through Perú, volunteer in Thailand or eat your way through Japan. Don’t forget to ALWAYS consider local travel! Some of my favorite places are right at home in Western Australia.
3. Do I have a passport?
If you don’t have a passport, get this process started ASAP. If you do have a passport then make sure you have at least 6 months validity from your returnflight. Many airlines won’t let you fly if you have less than 6 months before your passport expires.
4. Solo travel or travel buddy?
OK, so we’re going to slide this one in here in case you’re reconsidering whether you want to be traveling alone for the first time — like, completely alone. There are definitely pros and cons to both but I’d say this something very personal and is up to you. Traveling alone for the first time can mean your first time without your family and parents being there to help. If you’re feeling really anxious about this then perhaps going with a friend might be a good start. Personally, I love traveling solo although I have my two favorite travel buddies (Daniel and my best friend, Fin). If picking a travel buddy, just make sure you guys are on the same wavelength when it comes to budget, interests, expectations and time.
5. Book flights or find alternative travel
This is also one of my favorite things to do. Sometimes, this may even come first if you’ve scored an awesome deal. Some awesome websites to use are:
- Skyscanner: find prices for an entire month or the cheapest month. You can also search for the cheapest flights to anywhere in the world!
- Secret Flying: finds error fares and other awesome deals very regularly. I have their Facebook page favorited so that all their updates are first up when I log in.
- Hopper: a phone app that sends pricing alerts for a specific flight during particular dates of your choosing. Makes price spying a lot easier.
- Rome2rio: a transport search engine that gives you all your transport options between destinations. Sometimes the scenic bus route can save you bucketloads and there’s no risk of airport delays.
6. Travel insurance
I am a firm believer that if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. Since I started traveling without my parents, I have NEVER traveled without travel insurance. I know that terms and conditions are boring to read but do yourself a favor and get familiar with your policy so you know what you’re covered for and the limits of the cover.
We like World Nomads because it can be added on at any point during your trip so if you haven’t added it and are already away, go get it now!
Tip: You should get travel insurance as soon as you book flights because you’ll be covered if you need to cancel your trip due to certain unexpected events.
Extra TIP: Always keep original receipts and email yourself copies for big-ticket items such as cameras and laptops. Keep ATM receipts for any cash withdrawn/exchanged in case you need to make a claim.
Read more: Check out this review of World Nomad’s Travel Insurance if you’re still unsure.
7. Do I need a visa?
Many people traveling alone for the first time don’t realize that you can’t just rock up to any country to get let in. A visa is effectively a permit allowing you to enter a country. I lovewww.visahq.com because it takes 10 seconds to check if you need a visa, what the process is and the cost involved. However, I never use the visa application process through the website because it’s always way more expensive than doing it myself. Some countries require you to apply before you travel and others you can obtain a visa on arrival but will need to bring a photo or other documents.
If traveling to the USA, you may be eligible to apply for the ESTA visa waiver which needs to be done before you arrive in the USA (if you don’t think you have a squeaky clean criminal record then I suggest you applying for the ESTA before you book any flights).
Tip: For any Vietnamese descendants traveling to Vietnam, you may have access to a 5-year visa exemption. This means that you can avoid having to apply for a 30-day visa each time you travel to Vietnam (and the costs involved). Checkhere for more info.
Read the rest of the story at LVV Travel