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How to Avoid 12 Solo Travel Hassles: Planning ahead will be key to solving many problems and mis-adventures before they happen.
How to Avoid 12 Solo Travel Hassles: Know Before You Go:
Tip One: Read your visa very, very carefully before you leave home. Even tourist visas may include “Special Endorsements”, such as a requirement for registration within 14 days of arrival in-country. If you have such a restriction, see if that can be changed while still at home. (When I arrived in India at midnight, I was really surprised to see that everyone ahead of me was admitted while I waited I was surprised to learn I had a “visa problem” requiring a supervisor’s intervention. The likely culprit: On my visa application, there was a question: Are you, or have you been employed by the government or police? Many years before after graduating from college and grad school, I had worked in a routine civil service agency. Apparently, this gave the misimpression that I was some kind of “government agent”. If you find yourself in such a case and plan to return, see if the consulate/embassy can issue a new visa for you without such a visa restriction.)
Be aware of the start and end dates for your visa to avoid overstaying. A number of countries charge a daily fine in such a case.
Tip Two: Before going abroad, get an emergency number, and email at home and abroad from family, friends or financial relationships. You may not need to use it but a car wreck or such accident can mean you need more funds from home.
How to Avoid 12 Solo Travel Hassles: Plan Your Flights Carefully!
Tip Three: Check in on time for your outbound flight. The earlier you check in the less likely you are to find good seats gone or that your flight is oversold and leaves without you.
Tip Four: Avoid flights through major airports if you can. On a prior trip from Washington, DC to Canada, I sat on the runway in Newark outbound. I had flight delays on return. None were for bad weather. The best thing to do? Do not route yourself through busy airports. On another long weekend in the Caribbean, we sat so long on the runway that I could see my holiday evaporating before my eyes.
Tip Five: Even for safe destinations or to return home, do not leave late in the day. I found this out as flight delays meant I missed the last flight of the day and just barely arrived home at 2 AM after catching the last train until daybreak. Consider the destination when you set your timing. For example, I come from Washington, DC, which although a nation’s capital, it is not a late night city. As a result, when I flew solo to the Amazon Brazil to arrive around midnight for a Christmas adventure, I was concerned that I would be wandering around a largely empty airport looking for a taxi. The reality? It was like a beehive of activity with incoming passengers as I might have imagined at noon!
Tip Six: If you have a tight schedule, know when the last flight or train/alternate option runs.
Tip Seven: If you have a flight connection, it matters where you go through passport control and customs. If you are in-bound at a major New York City metro airport, you may find huge lines so say goodbye to catching your next flight.
Tip Eight: If you plan to catch a domestic and international flight the same day, flight delays may leave you sleeping in the airport. Why is that? Short flights tend to use small planes. Bad weather or other delays or more likely to cancel your initial flight so that you miss the large overseas jet.
How to Avoid 12 Solo Travel Hassles: Pack Strategically!
Tip Nine: When you pack, be sure to see what you can take on board as changes are constant. Weight can be a problem not just measurements. Worse yet, new small jets may not have room for roller bags with large wheels. You will likely not be charged for gate checking but may miss your next flight when you wait to get your bag back.
Tip Ten: Before you lug your skis and boot bag abroad, see if it is cheaper to rent at your destination. Ski packages with lift tickets are often a better value than paying a la carte. If you are still, like me, a fledging Intermediate, note your binding settings before you leave home. If not, you may find one ski that won’t come off and one that won’t stay on! (Mark your skis and sports equipment since as I have found, you may be really surprised to find someone else has identical gear.)
Tip Eleven: When you pack, consider weather changes. For winter, take cleats/crampons for ice in the far north but also waterproof boots for slush. To pack light, be sure to wear the clunkiest pair to save space in your bag.
How to Avoid 12 Solo Travel Hassles: Don’t Let Your Electronics Fail You!
Tip Twelve: Be sure your data plan won’t cost you more than a previously-owned Mercedes! You can turn off international roaming and revert to airplane mode. However, if you aren’t always at hot spots for Wi-Fi, you will miss critical flight updates and delays. In some cases, getting a short-term plan before you travel can be worth it or getting a local phone rental or SIM card. (Do also print your boarding pass out even if you intend to use electronic check-in. Why? If your device fails at security or at the gate, you have to go back to a kiosk and may miss your flight.)
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