Traveling alone can be scary, but if you know what to do and how to act then your time abroad should be smooth sailing. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
o When riding in a taxi, always research to see how much the fare should be before you get in the cab. Make sure you settle the cost before you leave so that if the amount is considerably higher than the amount that you know to be true, take a different cab.
o Make multiple copies of your passport, visa, and credit cards. That way if your wallet does get stolen, then at least you have a spare in a secure location. Also if you upload these copies to a service like Dropbox, you can access that information anywhere in the world.
o Keep to open and public places, especially at night. Even if that means taking the long way back to your apartment, hostel or hotel.
o Arrive at your destination during the day. At night the city can be poorly lit, and if you’re walking around aimlessly you could potentially become a target.
o To avoid attracting unwanted attention, dress as conservatively as the other people around you.
o Avoid heavy drinking. You will already be a little disoriented when arriving in a new city, and putting alcohol into the mix can be even more disorienting. It’s also widely known that drunk people are more easily pinpointed.
o Don’t be afraid to ask locals for help!! If you ask nicely, most locals will be more than happy to point you in the right direction or show you where to go on a map.
o Always have your documents on hand, whether that means they are literally in your hand, or in an easily accessible pocket. When walking through terminals, you have to show your ticket or passport multiple times, and you don’t want to dig through your purse or pockets looking for them.
o If you miss a flight DON’T PANIC!!! You will need to locate your airline’s customer service counter or the gate agent where your departure was scheduled for and ask for assistance.
o If the airline lost your luggage DON’T FRET!! Look for the airline baggage office that is normally located right around the baggage claim. They will hopefully be able to tell you when you can expect your bag to arrive.
o There are signs everywhere in the airport and there are always helpful workers to ask questions to if you are lost.
o Bring a book, computer, iPad, kindle or something to keep you busy, that way the time will pass a lot faster and you’ll forget that you’re by yourself.
o Leave a detailed itinerary of your flight details at home, that way a family member or a friend can track your progress to make sure you got to where you are going safely.
o Carry some foreign currency before you leave in case your plans change and you need to take a taxi or a bus when you get there. Even if you want to buy a bottle of water when you get there, having some money is always a safe bet.
o Learn about the culture before you go abroad, that way you know about any social norms that are foreign and you can adapt to when you arrive. For instance wearing shorts and a t-shirt is totally normal in the U.S. but in certain cultures showing too much skin is frowned upon.
o Familiarize yourself with current events that are occurring in the city that you are going to. You don’t want to end up getting lost in a bad part of town that you could have avoided if you had researched the city.
o Research the climate, seasons, and weather patterns of the place you are visiting. You will be more prepared and comfortable if you have the right types of clothes.
o For women, wear cheaper jewelry that doesn’t mean as much to you. In case something were to be lost or stolen, you wouldn’t want it to be a family heirloom that means a lot to you.
o You should dress inconspicuously. You don’t want to stand out from everyone else by wearing something flashy and extremely cute, because other people may notice that and pick you out from a crowd from the way you are dressing.
o You should also try and dress similar to the local attire. You don’t want to offend anyone or cause unwanted attention by showing too much skin. However, you don’t want to offend anyone’s local customs if you wear their traditional clothes the wrong way.
o Be confident! And walk with a purpose! People will be less likely to approach you if you look as if you know where you’re going.
By: Caitlin Banbury
Caitlin is a senior English major and Education Abroad Peer Ambassador at UK. She studied abroad in Italy for an academic year (one semester each in Rome and Florence) with the partner program API.
For more information about the program that Caitlin completed, follow this link to the program page.