By Kate Arnold
When travelling solo there are a few things that you need to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible and ensure you have a great (stress free) time. Here are a few of my essentials for travelling solo.
1. A Money Belt
My money belt has been used so much it’s just about falling apart. Having somewhere to store larger amounts of cash, a spare bank card and my passport, on my body and where I’m less likely to be robbed is crucial to me, especially when I’m travelling alone. I know it can get a little sweaty, especially on those hot summer days in Europe, but just the thought of having to replace my passport in a foreign country is horrifying. In my opinion the security is worth a little discomfort.
2. A Combination Lock
If you’ve ever stayed in a hostel you’ll know they’re not always the safest environment for your belongings, which is why they often provide lockers for you to store your things and more often than not it’s BYO lock. A combination lock is handy because there’s no chance of losing the key (although there’s always the risk of forgetting the combination, I recommend you set the combination to something you’ll easily remember or store that information in your phone).
3. An Offline Map App
When I travel I generally don’t bother getting a sim for that country or pay the extra money for roaming on my phone. Pretty much wherever I stay will have free wifi and there’s usually a McDonalds or Starbucks around that I can go to get online if I need to. The biggest downside to not having data to use on my phone is not being able to use the Maps app. So when I go to a new city I always go to the App Store and search for an offline map for the city I’m visiting. There isn’t one for every city in the world but all the major ones are pretty well covered. My go to is Ulmon CityMaps2Go which allows you to search and pinpoint locations without wifi and they have an app for cities such as London*, Paris*, Tokyo, Brussels, Singapore, Venice, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam*, Dubai, Los Angeles*, Prague, Vienna, San Francisco*, Florence, Munich, Chicago* and more. These maps also contain a map of any public transport in that city, for example the Underground in London and the Subway in New York, which will also help you greatly in getting around. Also all Ulmon apps are free and most others are free to download as well.
* denotes the apps that I’ve personally used and can recommend (though all Ulmon apps, in my experience, follow the same format).
4. Emergency Money
When I travel I carry an Australian $100 note, folded up and hidden in my phone for emergencies. If there’s a time that I need money and my bank cards aren’t working for some reason (or I’ve lost them) I have some money that will get me out of most situations, whether I need to take a taxi somewhere or go to a doctor or pay for a night in a hostel that money is there and I can find a bank or a currency exchange place to get the money converted easily. I’ve never had to use it so far but it gives me peace of mind having it.
5. Reading Material
When you’re travelling alone there’s a lot of downtime in airports, on planes, trains and buses that needs to be killed. In transit is a great place to get some reading done. Bring along a paperback that you won’t mind leaving in a hostel or donating to a charity shop or library. If you have an e-reader then you can load all the books you want on there and you’re good to go. You could also look into e-books or audiobooks that you can read/listen to on your phone. I use an app called Borrow Box, which I use through my library membership and allows me to borrow e-books and audiobooks for free, which is a great, budget-friendly alternative to having a Kindle or an Audible membership.
There you have it, a few of my essentials for solo adventures. What are some of your travel essential? I’d love to hear about them.