The ability to travel on your own is a rite of passage for fresh high school graduates. However, chances are you’ve never taken part in the planning process before now. It’s easy to think that traveling, whether for a quick weekend close to home or a month-long trek abroad, looks like it does on TV. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. There’s more to it than just packing your suitcase, booking your transportation, and checking into a luxury hotel. From a phone’s safety features to the necessary documents, there are many details that are easy for first-time travelers to overlook.
Before you start planning your first trip alone, it’s a good idea to go ahead and get your passport. A passport is essentially a form of identification issued by your home country. It serves as your photo ID but also offers you some protection as you travel through foreign lands. Keep in mind that you will still need your state-issued identification as it is generally not recommended to carry your passport around with you outside of the airport. If it is lost or stolen, it can delay your return home. One pro tip is to make a photocopy of your passport and carry that with you at all times, while keeping your passport safely locked away in the hotel safe. You’ll also want to make sure that you have travel documents for each specific trip you take. For example, if you are traveling by train, you’ll need to have your tickets at the ready.
Depending on your destination, you may need gear, clothing, or accessories that you would not normally require at home. Things like skis and hiking boots are obvious, but there are likely other essentials you haven’t considered. If you’re headed out on a road trip, you should know what your vehicle can handle and what it can’t. For instance, a trip through the mountains might require a four-wheel-drive (e.g., Nissan Xterra, Jeep Wrangler), but you’ll also need to account for spending more on gas.
As important as it is to know what you need, it also pays to know what you don’t. It’s tempting to pack a change of clothing for each day of your trip and to bring your cell phone, laptop, tablet, and digital camera, but you probably won’t need all of these things. And if you are camping or will be moving from spot to spot, having an excess of unnecessary accessories will only weigh you down. Adventure Daily offers a ton of great information on camping gear and other outdoor activities.
Safety Tech and Accessories
Safety is easy to overlook, especially in the excitement of planning your first vacation without your parents’ prying eyes. However, safety should be your biggest priority. If you’re taking a road trip, make sure you can easily rely on your phone (but don’t use it while driving). Equip your phone with safety, emergency and GPS apps, or look for settings on your phone that can help make the trip safer. If you’re looking to buy a new phone before you head out, look for one that offers integration features you can run for a safe, hands-free drive. Also keep a fast-working car charger on hand so your phone never runs out of battery.
It pays to be conscientious of your surroundings, especially if you’re going out of your home country. The Points Guy blog explains that as soon as you step across the border, you are stepping into a different set of laws, and depending on where you’re going, into a place where law enforcement may turn a blind eye to crimes against foreigners. Take some time to virtually explore the area so that you are at least aware of common crimes. As a tourist, you will stand out and be an easy target. Always be mindful of your surroundings, avoid traveling alone, especially at night, and plan to carry a decoy wallet, the latter of which may buy you some time if you find yourself in a bad situation.
Your first few trips alone will be full of trial and error. But, soon, you will figure out the ins and outs of both international and domestic travel. Once you do, the world will open up, and you will have access to all it has to offer. Keep the above tips in mind as you learn to be your own planner, navigator, and captain on your journey to world exploration.