Solo travel can be exhilarating, but packing for your trip can quickly become overwhelming. For instance, all travel sites will tell you if you’re traveling in a warm climate, pack shorts, t-shirts, sunscreen, and a beach towel. Pack sweaters, scarves, gloves, and warm boots if traveling in a cold environment. Meh. Sure, they are right, but they copy ideas of lists that drive clicks. I won’t. Just remember this: Whenever you go, wherever you go, as a solo female traveler, at least you won’t have to share your suitcase with anyone else. 😉 Now, let’s get personal…
My friend, Laura, has always been an adventurer. She loves traveling and exploring new places. She is used to packing light but has never done it for a 24-hour trip.
She always makes a checklist of all the essential items she needs for her trip – she is thorough and organized.
Laura starts with her clothing. Since she travels in a warm climate, she packs shorts, t-shirts, and a light jacket. She also throws in a beach towel and some sunscreen. She chooses versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits.
Next, she packs her toiletries. Laura opts for travel-sized products and even uses refillable travel bottles for water. She stores them in a clear, zippered bag to comply with airport security regulations. Very smart.
But here’s the catch: a warm climate is often tricky – like a baby suddenly waking from a deep sleep on date night. Sometimes it rains, gets chilly or windy… you name it. Weather is unpredictable. And not only weather: airlines, other means of transportation (for instance, accidents or workers’ strikes), sudden (or hidden) costs for accommodation, etc. – they all can level your carefully planned checklist.
I am SERE trained – I know you are unlikely to find similar conditions in real life, but here are my tips for packing for a 24-hout trip as a solo woman traveler. Also, be prepared for some hard truths.
- Make a checklist: Yes, you should start here. Add your essentials: garments, medication, protein-rich bars, water, and cash.
- Pack light: Stick to the essentials and avoid overpacking. Choose versatile clothing (Amazon associates link, but next time, I will tell you what I wear) that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits.
- Choose a small bag: Opt for a small, compact backpack that can hold all your belongings for the trip. This will make it easier to carry and navigate through crowded spaces.
- Roll your clothes: Instead of folding your clothes, roll them. This saves space. Unlike other sites tell you, this method does NOT prevent wrinkles. Roll each item tightly and stack them in your bag. Or try a travel storage vacuum bag. It saves loads of space. I always use them. They wrinkle, too.
- Pack only essential toiletries: It’s a 24-hour trip. You don’t need anything. You can always brush your teeth with salt or baking soda and moisturize with olive oil. You will not perish if you skip your beauty routines for a day. Don’t be a diva!
- Dailies and tampons: Pack extras for your travelers in need. I cannot tell you how many women I met who did not pack a daily tampon or a Tampax (or OB). These are the true essentials.
- Wear bulky items: If you’re bringing bulky items like a winter coat or boots, wear them instead of packing them. It’s not pretty, but practical.
- Pack a spare set of clothes: Accidents always happen, so it’s always a good idea to pack an extra set of (dry) clothes like undies, socks, etc., in case of unexpected spills or mishaps. Choose lightweight and wrinkle-resistant options. Your pretty black dress does not fall under this category. Quick-drying clothes are always a good idea (and, yes, again, an affiliate link, but I do wear many of these clothes when I am out and about in unpredictable conditions.)
- Include essential electronics: Although you can survive 24 hours without Netflix and your Insta, I cannot argue this. If you need to bring electronics, such as a phone, charger, or headphones, pack them in a separate compartment or pocket for easy access. Yes, you NEED your cellphone for emergency numbers.
- Remember documents: Before leaving, double-check that you have all the necessary documents, such as your ID, passport, tickets, and other travel-related paperwork. Place them in a secure and easily accessible pocket. It may also help if that place was water and theft-proof. In all honesty, nothing (and I mean nothing) is theft-proof, so remain vigilant.
- Bring snacks: Just protein bars and water. Come on, if you are famished, there are always places to find cheap sandwiches and water. Yeah, you are in survival mode. Cope.
- Pack a reusable water bottle: Ditto. Hydrate.
- Consider the weather: Check the weather forecast for your destination and pack accordingly. Bring appropriate clothing, such as a raincoat or a hat, to stay comfortable in different weather conditions.
- Don’t leave some space for souvenirs: Contributing to the local economy when you travel is terrific. Dine out, leave tips, and buy cosmetics in situ, but don’t worry about buying souvenirs that much. Only if you can. There are duty-free shops and opportunities everywhere when you travel abroad.
Ladies, any self-defense tools, like knives and pepper spray, are forbidden when you are abroad. Carry a vuvuzela or a super-blast horn. And whatever they tell you, it never works saying “no.” Never.