If you are traveling alone, then you are going to be enjoying a proper ‘adventure’. However, it’s worth creating a simple travel checklist before you go because as a solo, you are more at risk than when you’re travelling in a group or part of an organised tour.
Here are 7 key things I recommend you add to your travel checklist.
A Simple Travel Checklist For Solo Travellers
1. Draw up a will
Yes. I know.
Kicking off this list by asking you to draw up a will is probably not what you had in mind. I don’t want to be morbid but it’s really important that you think about this.
Although the risks of something bad happening are generally low, as a lone traveller you still need to be more prepared. Solo travel is inherently more dangerous than traveling in groups, particularly in certain parts of the world.
Your family and friends will probably be concerned about you while you’re away. So if something does go wrong they’re the people who will be responsible for sorting things out e.g. getting you back home, letting people know what’s happened, dealing with your financial obligations and ultimately making funeral arrangements.
It therefore pays to get your affairs in order. Leave a copy of your will with a family member or trusted friend and appoint an executor.
2. Get the right insurance
Make sure that you purchase the right insurance for your trip. You want this insurance to start the day you purchase it, not the day you leave for your solo travels. This ensures that you are covered for the trip should you need to cancel it due to illness, an emergency, strikes (yes they really do happen!) or any other unexpected reason.
When you purchase your insurance, be sure you check the excess and read the terms and conditions to know exactly what you are getting for your money. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a situation and be hit with an unexpected excess fee or discover you’re not covered or only partially.
This is particularly important if you are over 50, have a prior health condition or are travelling to a remote location that may be deemed more dangerous than other places. If you are taking an expensive camera, smartphone or laptop with you, or expect to carry a lot of cash then check that they’re covered too as many insurers typically exclude or limit the cover for these items.
Similarly, take extra care over your insurance if you are booking a sports or adventure holiday because many general insurance polices don’t cover extreme sports, including skiing.
3. Budget before you go
As soon as you know you are going on a trip, start to draw up a budget. Use the free travel budget calculator on this site to help you plan and track your expenditure.
Plan how much you want to spend each day and multiply that by the number of days you will be travelling. Then start to put away this amount in your bank account or better still, a separate savings account.
The cost of living varies dramatically around the world so you will need to research online for up to date information. Check out forums, websites and travel blogs to get a feel for how much money you are going to need.
It’s wise to keep some money, say an extra 10% of your total budget, to one side for emergencies or as ‘just in case’ cash.
4. Vaccinations are worth it
Vaccinations are (surprisingly) often overlooked which is why I’ve added it to my travel checklist.
If you need to get vaccinations for the region that you are traveling to, find out what you need and get them done in time so they are in your system before you go away.
You will probably have been vaccinated during childhood for many common Western diseases, but these won’t offer you any protection against infectious diseases abroad.
Your doctor or the local health clinic should be your first port of call. They can advise you about what you need and may even be able to provide some vaccinations for free or top up any that have expired.
However, if you’re visiting a tropical area, you may need specific vaccinations so find out if there is a private clinic nearby or a vaccination service at your local hospital. This can work out expensive, especially if you need a series of jabs. But isn’t it worth it for the peace of mind, not to mention your health?
With scary diseases like Ebola, Zika Virus and AIDS on the rise around the world as well as the ongoing presence of TB, Hepatitis and Malaria, it’s better to be safe than sorry. After all, the only things you want to bring back with you are positive memories of your trip not a debilitating disease!
5. Ensure travel documents are in order
Passports and visas will need to be up to date with at least 6 months left on them after your return date so check them as soon as you decide to travel.
If you need to renew them, then do so as early as possible. If you’re going abroad, contact the local embassy of the country you’re visiting to find out about any visa requirements and whether you need to get them in advance or if it’s possible to pick them up at the airport when you arrive.
Visa requirements will differ according to your nationality, your country of residence and the country/countries you’re visiting. If you are travelling to a politically sensitive region then your ancestry and any places you’ve visited previously may also play a role.
For most people, tourist visas are simply a formality or security measure and can be free or low-cost, and restricted to short stays of up to 90 days. Increasingly though they are being used by governments to control who comes into the country in which case you may be refused or expected to pay a hefty price.
Weigh this up when you are planning your solo trip as it may be easier to go via another country first or not visit a particular country at all for the time being.
It’s also worth noting that passport offices experience peak times which can differ from country to country. In the UK it tends to be between the months of May – September when everyone wants to get away for the summer holidays.
The bottom line is not to leave your travel documents until the last minute as there will be delays in the process. This means that you could be left without a passport and therefore you won’t be traveling!
6. Keep a record of critical information
Before your trip, make a list of the most important contact numbers and addresses on your phone. You may want to make a note in a more physical format like a notebook too just in case the battery on your phone dies.
These numbers should include, at the very minimum; your friends, family, and the embassy in the area that you are travelling to. Also include the details of any medications you’re taking as well as any allergies you have and your blood group in case you take ill and need urgent medical attention.
You should also keep a record of your insurance company name and your policy number just in case you need to make a claim.
7. Tell people where you are going
Finally, it is important that you tell people where you are going. You may be travelling solo to get away from it all for a while and enjoy some ‘me time’. That’s fine but your loved ones will worry so give them your itinerary
This way they will be able to get in touch with you if needed. It also ensures that if anything goes wrong, you will be easy to reach.
So that’s my essential 7-point travel checklist, short and sweet. Have I missed anything out? Please share in the comments below.