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I took a gap year before starting college, which meant I spent a lot of time traveling on my own. Before heading out on my first ever solo expedition, I decided to channel all my nervous energy into overpacking so that I would feel as in control and prepared as possible. But traveling alone isn’t as intimidating as you’ve been led to believe, and packing smart is so much better than shoving everything you own in a suitcase (believe me). If you’re warming to the idea of taking a solo trip or if you’ve already got one planned, knowing what to pack can make the process seem a lot less scary. So here’s our list of essentials for the solo adventurer. Happy Travels!

1. Documents Folder

  • When traveling on your own it’s nice to have all your documentation in one place for convenience and your own peace of mind. Grab a paper folder, plastic pouch, or even a large envelope to store your emergency contacts, any reservations you’ve made, and a copy of your identification right within reach.

    Looking for a Documents Folder that will last forever? Check out… bit.ly/PeaksZipCase

    Interested in a cheaper option? Try these out… bit.ly/WovenDocumentEnvelopes

 Here I am on a guided Street Art Tour of Bogota, where I met friends I’m still in touch with today!

Here I am on a guided Street Art Tour of Bogota, where I met friends I’m still in touch with today!

2. Itinerary

  • The last thing you want to do when you’re a solo traveler is wait until the last minute to plan the details of your trip. Before departing be sure to make a simple list of places you’re interested in visiting, whether they’re museums, restaurants, or cultural sites, so that you’re ready to go the second you step off the plane.

  • Traveling alone, but interested in being part of a group? Look into group classes or tours you can take in the area to help meet some new people!

3. Phone Charger/Portable Charger

  • It’s a simple truth that having a fully charged phone will make you feel instantly more at ease no matter where you are. If you’re the kind of person that checks their phone a lot and plans on using your phone to take photos and check yelp, a portable charger might also be a good idea so you can maintain your battery when you have a full day planned.

    Here’s the best all around option I’ve come across ….. bit.ly/AnkerPowerCore_20100

    But if you’re looking for something more portable, here’s the best super small charger on the market… bit.ly/POWERADD_Slim2

 Who snapped this pic? A stranger I trusted because they had a camera bag

Who snapped this pic? A stranger I trusted because they had a camera bag

4. Camera

  • While most folks these days use their phone in place of a camera, don’t let that stop you from bringing your camera so you can take all the snaps you want on your solo adventure.

  • Pro tip: if you’re not planning on bringing your own camera but still want a well composed pic, just hand your phone to the tourist with the DSLR and bag of lenses instead of settling for a selfie.

5. Cash

  • It’s never a bad idea to take a little bit of cash out before heading on a trip. Whether you want to try that authentic food truck that doesn’t take cards or you’re planning on tipping a busker on that famous street corner, you’ll be glad you took out a couple bills. When carrying cash it’s always helpful to carry a bag or wear clothing with zippered pockets so you can keep it safe.

 Remember, wearing sensible shoes doesn't have to mean you're sacrificing style...though as you can see from my feet on the left, in my case, it definitely did.

Remember, wearing sensible shoes doesn't have to mean you're sacrificing style...though as you can see from my feet on the left, in my case, it definitely did.

6. Sensible Shoes

  • Shoes can truly make or break a trip. They can either give you the support you need to tour all six of those museums you want to see in a single weekend, or they can give you a blister within an hour and turn your trip into a tour of spots to sit in a city.

    If you’re looking for sneakers with style and support, look no further than…

    bit.ly/Keen_Womens_Sneaker or bit.ly/Keen_Mens_Sneaker

7. Water Bottle

  • No matter the season or what kind of destination you’re heading to, a water bottle is key to keep you hydrated on your trip! Bring an insulated bottle + you’ll be able to enjoy ice cold beverages without the tourist trap price!

    You can’t go wrong with a Hydroflask bottle… bit.ly/Hydroflask_21oz

8. Snacks

  • One of the unexpected joys of traveling alone is you can get to take yourself out on dinner dates and don’t have to compromise when it comes to what kind of food you want! But throughout the day you might be more interested in taking in the sights than sitting down for a full meal, so be sure to pack some non perishable snacks to keep you going (and save you money) while you explore.

    A few of my favorite snack options are Luna Bars… bit.ly/LUNA_LemonZest and PopCorners… bit.ly/PopCorners_KettleCorn

 You can’t go wrong with a backpack. It’s the perfect way to carry all your other travel essentials, like that water bottle I mentioned earlier.

You can’t go wrong with a backpack. It’s the perfect way to carry all your other travel essentials, like that water bottle I mentioned earlier.

8. Backpack

  • If you don’t want to lug your suitcase around but you still want to have your essentials on you, a light backpack is a perfect option! The optimal bag will give you space for your wallet, key documents, some snacks, and extra room for a jacket or maybe a souvenir or two. And the best part about a backpack is it’s hands-free, so you’ll still be able to take all the pictures as you want!

    Here’s one of the safest backpacks on the market to give you some extra piece of mind… bit.ly/PacksafeBackpack

9. Sealable Plastic Bags

  • Whether they’re quart sized ziplock bags or the fancy clear pouches you can buy at the drugstore, sealable plastic bags are the best way to carry loose odds + ends in your bag. They’ll keep your toiletries from spilling, your chargers from getting tangled, and all your snacks in one place!

10. Hand Sanitizer

  • There’s no nice way to say it; cities are dirty. If you’re planning on visiting any kind of indoor attraction or taking any form of public transport, hand sanitizer is a great way to make sure you stay healthy during (and after) your trip.

 While it might not seem like it, bringing that one hat or sweater can make all the difference.

While it might not seem like it, bringing that one hat or sweater can make all the difference.

11. Weather Gear

  • Debating whether or not to bring that one weather appropriate accessory? Be it a hat, a jacket, or a pair of gloves, do yourself a favor and pack it. I recommend light accessories that you can layer when you need them and fit in your bag when you don't

12. Clothes + Toiletries

  • I know, it’s a broad category. But clothes and toiletries are pretty personal. Only you can judge how many outfits you think you’ll need or how much conditioner to pack. As a general rule, pack mostly casual + comfy clothes with a change of something fancier. Ladies, don’t forget to bring feminine hygiene products just in case, and men if you’re not a fan of stubble, be sure to pack a razor.

13. Journal/Notebook 

  • Believe me, you’ll want to remember all the little moments from your trip, from the fear you felt when you first stepped off the plane to how at home you felt by your final day. Bringing a journal or notebook on your travels means you’ll have the perfect place to store your experience and a great way to look back on your adventures and share them with others. Recording your memories doesn’t have to be hard;  just take a few minutes each night before you go to sleep to write down names of places or people you saw throughout the day and any other stories that come to mind.

    While there are a ton of personalized travel journals on the market, I’m still a fan of a classic Moleskin journal. This one comes with custom travel tabs and stickers… bit.ly/Moleskin_TravelJournal

These tips are mainly for traveling within the U.S as packing becomes a lot more involved when traveling abroad. If you’re a world traveler interested in a more extensive packing list, check out these links...

 

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