Basic traveling tips for traveling solo

I remember when I started planning my first trip. I had no idea what I was doing. It was my 30th birthday present to myself. Traveling to New York and Seattle were on the list. So, I used a travel agent. That was the first and the last time. I soon realized that I have a better chance of finding the hotel I would love to stay at, the time frame I want to travel in and much more affordable rates than most agents do. So how do I do it? In this blog post, I share my basic traveling tips for traveling solo.

WHERE WILL YOU GO?

Decide where do you want to.
No use in saying you want to travel if the destination does not suit your personality.
Once you have selected the country, decide whether you are going to stick to one city, or explore more.

WHEN SHOULD YOU GO & WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?

Decide the length of your trip and remember to consider the travel/flight times as well. Once you have decided on the destination and duration of your journey, you can start working on your budget.

YOUR HOME FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS/WEEKS:

Now the fun part begins; start planning on accommodation.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am not one of those people that can just arrive in a country, stay in a motel or backpacker.
Well, maybe I could, but I have been pretty much blessed staying in some amazing hotels over the years.
Personally, I must know everything about the hotel; I read at least 20 reviews on it to ensure that my accommodation isn’t crawling with insects or filled brown water when I shower or have a bath.
My go-to site for booking accommodation the past 4 years has been booking.com. I have become a pro in seeking the best deals at some of the best hotels over the years. Alternative sites I have stumbled across were Agoda or TripAdvisor.
I generally plan my accommodation way ahead, and use the “free cancellation” option just in case I find better deals or change my mind.

GETTING THERE:

Once I have done that, I book my flights. For long-haul flights, I choose Emirates. I rather stop over for 1-3 hours in Dubai than sit on a plane that is disgusting and has bad service.
Should I need to book internal flights in a country I visit, I would typically look for flights on Skyscanner.net or use Star Alliance partners so that I can earn Voyager / Avios.

TRANSPORT DURING YOUR TRAVELS:

Now the next step would be is to do your homework on the easiest way to get from the airport to wherever you’re staying and how exactly to get back.
I generally start by asking the hotels what they suggest and how much their hotel transfer services are and do some research on blogs and the web. Taxi services in huge cities are pretty much easy, and most of these taxi drivers can speak English. Just ensure that they put on the meter the minute you get in. Alternatively, I found all major cities have Uber, which is great!

LET’S TALK ABOUT MONEY:

Regarding the money situation; through the years I have learned that using my cards works out the same, if not much cheaper, than forex exchange. I normally withdraw money the minute I land at the airport, so I can have the country’s currency as I step out of the airport. However, with Cambodia, it works a little different. Their currency is so weak, it means nothing, so they use US dollars for everything.
But most importantly, tell your banks you will be traveling internationally.
No matter how long you’ll be gone, it’s a good idea to let your credit card companies know you will be overseas; that way any transactions that you make aren’t flagged as fraudulent and your card is less likely to be blocked. Trust me; I have been there. There’s nothing worse than having to sit on the phone with your credit card company instead of enjoying your vacation, especially during Festive Season or Public Holidays.

BEING CONNECTED:

Staying in touch or being connected during the holiday season I normally keep down to the minimum, however, since I am a solo traveler most of the times, I do like to be connected, not just when I have Wi-Fi connection. Especially when I want to find out directions, research a place, restaurant, etc. while I am on the go.
Buying SIM cards are rather easy, particularly in Asia. I normally get mine at the airport and have paid mostly under R100 ($10) for data connection that lasts me my entire trip, much cheaper than the data and cell phone rates we pay in South Africa.Capturing moments of my trip is essential, especially when I would like to share more about it on my website and Instagram. I have learned many tricks over the year, but I think the most important one is to ensure that the pictures are uploading on iCloud or even Dropbox, so you have a backup of it when you get home.Last but not the least, the most important aspect of your trip is to enjoy yourself.Emerge yourself in the country you visit, learn as much as you can about the history, culture, food, and people. No money in the world can give you as much as traveling to new countries do.

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