In 2013, more than 47 million people traveled from the United States to another country, according to the U.S .Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. Although international travel is up, people still tend to get concerned when a woman announces that she'll be traveling to a foreign country alone. While there have been tragic cases involving solo female travelers in recent history, such as the woman who was murdered in Turkey in January 2013, international travel can be safe and enjoyable if you take precautions and plan well.
One of the last things you want is to arrive at your destination and realize you've left a week's worth of underwear back home. Instead of relying on your own memory when packing, use a packing list, such as a checklist from the Container Store, which features several categories including clothing, basics and hygiene. Check off each item as you pack it; then review your list before you leave to make sure you haven't left any essentials behind.
Since you're a modern traveler, you'll most likely be bringing along a stash of gadgets, including your phone, tablet and a number of cables, such as headphones and chargers. The GRID-IT! organizer allows you to keep all your electronic devices and cables in one location so that you don't end up with a pile of clutter at the bottom of your carry-on bag. When you need to quickly check your hotel reservation, you'll be happy to be able to easily find your tablet or smartphone without having to rifle through your luggage.
Safety is a major concern when you travel anywhere, especially if you're on your own. Before you leave, sign up for the U.S. Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The program will provide you with relevant information about the country you're traveling to, such as security alerts. It can also help you if you end up in an emergency situation, including a natural disaster or if you're the victim of theft. Once you've signed up for the program, get the STEP app, which is available for both Android and Apple devices. Update your information with STEP as needed during your journey. For example, list a new address and phone number if you'll be staying in several different places over the course of your trip.
Identity theft is also a concern when you're out traveling the world solo. A thief can get your personal information and open accounts in your name by stealing your wallet or passport, or by leaning over your shoulder while you use a smartphone. Use a company such as LifeLock to learn as much information as you can about stolen identity—the most common forms of ID theft and how you can prevent them before your trip.
Don't stay home because English is your only language. While it's helpful to learn a few common phrases of a country's language before you head out, it's also easy to forget how to ask "Where is the bathroom?" or "Where is the train station?" when you're lost or confused. The MeNoSpeak books offer a clever solution: Common phrases in English, as well as the language of the country, plus an illustration of the item. If you're literally at a loss for words, simply point to what you need.