Your Ultimate Solo Trip Prep Guide: Part 1

(Buckle up, this is a thorough one! I promise it’s worth it – it could save your life.)

I might as well tell you this right off the bat: I have a problem.

This problem could be described as an addiction to planning. I get twitchy when a situation lacks structure. I hate having unanswered questions. My love of lists and color coding and all things organization annoys my friends and aggravates my family (but it has gotten me multiple jobs). I’m definitely not what you’d call a free spirit.

Excerpt of a color-coded list I made of things to do in Austin, TX. Where I lived for two years. Yes, I’m that Type A.

However, it turns out neuroticism is a pretty good trait to have when you’re planning long trips overseas. The lists I’ve put together and the recon I’ve done has saved me when I had no internet access, rescued me from hours of hassle, and kept me from losing my luggage. (And it could actually save my life, though I haven’t yet had to use it in that way.)

Now I want to share my method for avoiding disaster overseas with you.

Before every trip, I put together what I call my Master Packet. This packet includes information like the address of the nearest hospital to my AirBnB, the location and contact information of the closest U.S. embassy, the customer service phone numbers for everything from my bank to my travel insurance company, the address of my AirBnB and the host’s contact info, copies of my credit cards and passport, and many other pieces of info you don’t want to be stuck without if you don’t have wifi or data.

I know this may seem like overkill. However, when you land in Spain and suddenly discover that your T-Mobile international plan isn’t working (and will not work for the entire two weeks you’re there, though you won’t find that out until you’ve spent a collective six hours on the phone with their customer service who finally just tell you “We don’t know what’s wrong – good luck”), you’re going to need offline access to your AirBnB’s address so you can tell the taxi where to take you. (Seriously, screw you T-Mobile.)

Convinced yet? If your interest has been piqued, this is an example packet I put together as a dummy for friends and family to fill in with their info:

Having all this on hand before you leave means you don’t have to waste hours sitting in your AirBnB or hotel room in the place you were so excited to get to, Googling where you want to get breakfast, lunch, dinner, or what sights you should see. You’ll already have all that information right at your fingertips, customized to you and your tastes.

I put all of this info in a Google Doc on Google Drive. This gives you access to it anywhere, whether it’s from your phone or your laptop. You can also elect to be able to see it offline. I also put a hard copy of it in my carry-on, an abbreviated version on the very top of the contents of my checked luggage if I’m checking a bag, and I leave a copy with my parents at home (as well as linking them to it online).

I’m happy to send this packet template to you or post a downloadable file here if you’re interested!

How do you prepare for your trips? Are you as Type A as I am? Let me know in the comments!

Travel | Re-Pack | Repeat