Traveling abroad is hectic, stressful, and oftentimes extremely expensive in nature. Doing it alone, however, can be even crazier…but even more rewarding. Exploring new territory can open your eyes, expand your mind, and change your entire perspective on life. To step into uncharted grounds, especially if you’ve never left your home turn before, can undoubtedly be daunting. The pros definitely outweigh the cons, though, and most of the time the risk is worth it. Sometimes the best way to get out of our comfort zone is to do it on your own.
1. Do Careful Research on Your Corresponding Country
Going abroad alone opens countless doors, some of which can be potentially treacherous if not properly researched. It is for this reason that you must research whichever country and/or countries you plan to visit. Going to Europe? Find out where the nearest American Embassy is located in case of an emergency. Make sure that you make connections prior to travel (i.e. find out who speaks English and where they are located). Of course, bad things have the potential to happen anywhere, even in our beautiful country of America. Don’t be naïve and think that you’re untouchable; ignorance is the quickest path to a bad experience. Instead, simply plan ahead with an “abroad blueprint,” if you will.
2. Bring Enough Currency (and Always Conceal It!)
It’s no secret that pickpockets and thieves of all sorts run rampant abroad. As scary as it is, Americans abroad are often prime targets for theft. Don’t be scared, though, I’m here to help! It is absolutely imperative that you not only bring enough cash (and get it converted to your particular destination’s currency), but that you stockpile some American money, too. There is nothing worse than having your identity, credit cards, and cash being stolen with nothing to fall back on. I recommend storing a few hundred American dollars in a safe, hard-to-locate hiding spot (preferably one with a lock or code-based keypad). This way, if the worst-case scenario does happen, you won’t be entirely out of luck.
3. Health and Wellness
Falling ill is obviously the last thing you’d want to happen, especially in a foreign country. As I mentioned above, bad things have the potential to happen anywhere. It is for this reason that you should pack certain medications before you go abroad. Get sinus infections often? Have your doctor prescribe some antibiotics for you prior to boarding your airplane. Ibuprofen, cold medicine, and bandages are other necessities that never hurt to have on hand. Also, it should be noted that certain countries highly suggest – or even require -that you’ve received certain vaccinations before entering their turf. It’s always a good idea to talk to your primary care physician before traveling; they’ll provide you with any necessary health information.
4. Get an Abroad Cellular Plans (These will literally save your life)
Oftentimes it costs an astronomical amount of money to take your American cell phone abroad (and I’m talking of upwards of $2 for every thirty seconds of a phone call). Unless you wake up everyday and piss money, you’re probably going to want to devise a cellular plan ahead of time. The cheapest, most reliable option is usually to get a phone in whichever country you’re visiting. Cellular plans abroad are relatively inexpensive and come with large data packages to boot. Another option is to bring your smartphone and have the SIM card switched out once you get abroad. However, it should be noted that certain phone services do not come with unlocked SIM cards, and these bad boys will set you back a few hundred dollars merely to have unlocked abroad. So, as mentioned above, unless you’re a Kardashian or a family member of Bill Gates, you may want to do a quick once-over on your wireless plan before jet setting.
5. Don’t be Fooled by the Media (but also, Don’t be a F*cking Moron):
Have you ever seen the TV show called An Idiot Abroad? Don’t be that guy. Certain shows and movies downplay the importance of being travel-savvy whilst abroad. Sure, that works for the entertainment industry, but in real life you’ve gotta be resourceful, alert, and constantly on you’re A-game. Things go wrong in life simply by nature, but some things are definitely avoidable. Just remember the basics: don’t drink anything you didn’t pour yourself, look both ways before you cross the street, and always have a little bit of cash on you. Just think with your head instead of various other parts of your body (hint, hint) and try not to make a fool of yourself.
Now that you’re schooled on solo abroad etiquette, go kick ass and make a great name for America.