Do you ever wonder about traveling abroad solo, but are trepidatious? It can be overwhelming, and a little scary, but there are steps we can take to prepare ourselves before we go. There’s empowerment in preparation. Once prepared, I feel comfortable and safe. I actually exhale.
Here is what I do before an international excursion
Very important – don’t snooze on this. If you don’t already have one, apply months in advance. If you have one, confirm that the expiration date is at least six months out from your return date. (This may prevent you from returning to the country.)
Make two copies of your passport. Keep one at home in a safe place and carry one with you. (I always carried a copy in a lanyard around my neck along with extra cash and the telephone numbers of people I could call in an emergency. Who has telephone numbers memorized anymore?)
Carry your passport with you while you’re out; do not leave it in your accommodations. Always place it separately from your passport copy. Losing both at once would not be good.
I strongly suggest this to feel safe and supported while traveling (U.S. citizens or nationals are eligible). STEP is a free program through the U.S. Department of State that allows you to enroll your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Prior to your trip, you’ll receive updates about your destination country and during your trip; the Embassy will be able to contact you if there is an emergency in that county. This will also help friends and family get in touch with you if there’s an emergency at home.
Before traveling, locate the Embassy in each of your destination countries. The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is one of their top priorities. Know where it is in relation to your hotel, apartment, etc. and keep its phone number on you. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.
For travelers from outside the U.S., visit Embassy Worldwide to locate embassies by country located around the world.
Alert your bank of the places you’ll be traveling to eliminate the risk of your card being declined (probably during the most inconvenient time).
I prefer to purchase foreign currency ahead of my trip from my local bank. It avoids costly fees and gives me peace of mind. Although in most places, you can use your debit card to obtain local currency. I always check exchange rates ahead of time; knowledge is power. I prefer XE.com.
I always carry currency from both the country I am traveling in and the United States (my home country).
Call your carrier ahead of your trip and let them know where you’re going. Check out any discounted international plans they may offer to avoid unexpected and super expensive phone bills. Some carriers offer a fixed rate per day for certain countries so you can talk/text for a 24-hour period, although only allow for limited data. (Save your picture uploading for later.)
Depending on my destination, I also check for VISA and vaccination requirements.