Why Solo Female Travelers Need a Travel Admin Day (and What to Do on One)
When I was a young solo female traveler on my year-long round-the-world trip, there was one BIG thing I wish I had done for myself. Have a regular Travel Admin Day! I made so many mistakes from double booking accommodations to missing buses and flights. There is so much that goes into successful solo female travel and it’s easy to miss stuff by yourself. Take a beat to learn from my mistakes and let establishing a Travel Admin Day make you a better solo female traveler!
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What is a Travel Admin Day?
A Travel Admin Day is a scheduled day during your trip that you dedicate to managing your travels. You’re not out sightseeing and having fun. You’re not working on an online business or blogging or doing client work or working remotely for an employer. You are just managing the nitty gritty details of your travel. Because let’s be honest – there are a lot of nitty gritty details! Especially if you are traveling long term on a gap year or round-the-world trip. The overwhelm of those details is one of the biggest things that keeps young women from becoming solo female travelers. So we’re going to say no to overwhelm and yes to empowerment by setting up a Travel Admin Day!
Why do solo female travelers need a Travel Admin Day?
When you’re traveling by yourself there is nobody else to take care of things for you. I think this is one of the great things about solo female travel! You develop a lot of skills, build your confidence and become the independent badass of your dreams. But… that transformation doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll have a lot of missteps along the way and even once you have a ton of experience under your belt, you’ll still make mistakes sometimes and you’ll still have bad days. Building an Admin Day into your schedule helps keep you from forgetting important things. There’s nobody else to remind you that you’re out of toothpaste or that your bus leaves at 8am tomorrow.
This is especially important when you’re traveling long-term, whether you’re taking a gap year, a round-the-world trip, or traveling full-time as a digital nomad. You might be able to plan every part of a one-week vacation in advance, but there’s no way to have every aspect of long-term travel prepared before that first flight. You will need to check in periodically to manage your finances, your itinerary and your belongings.
How to start using a Travel Admin Day
Even if you’re already on the road in the middle of a trip, it’s super easy to start using a Travel Admin Day as a solo female traveler. Just pick a date and put it on your calendar! (I highly recommend setting up a Google Calendar or ical reminder that will push to your phone, so you don’t forget or blow this off.)
How often you break for Travel Admin Day is up to you. Do you want to check in on your travel plans once a week, every other week, once a month, etc.? You could also plan not around time but by place. Make your Travel Admin Day your last day in a city before moving on to the next one. Or make Travel Admin Day your first day in a new destination to help you get your bearings. You also don’t have to pick one pattern and stick with it come hell or high water! You can mix it up as much as you want and pepper in Travel Admin Days whenever it feels like you need one. Just make sure you’re checking in at least once a month (or once per trip if you’re traveling for shorter periods).
You also don’t have to make Travel Admin Day an entire full day. Your travel management tasks should be the first thing you take care of on Travel Admin Day. But if you find you only need an hour to take care of business, you can absolutely move on to other work or doing something fun.
What to do on your Travel Admin Day
Record your expenses
Personally, I recommend recording your expenses as you make them, whether that means carrying a mini notepad and pen in your day bag or installing a note app on your phone. But if you don’t, you want to make sure that keeping track of your travel expenses is an important part of Travel Admin Day.
Check your budget
Whether you’re recording expenses every day or only on Travel Admin Day, you want to periodically check your actual spending against your planned travel budget. This will help you make adjustments if you need to. Or you might find that you have some extra cash to splurge on a fancy dinner out! This is a great thing to do either weekly or monthly depending on how you budget and what works best for you.
If you use travel credit cards or you have things at home you’re still responsible for like a storage unit, you’ll need to stay on top of those bills. I’m a fan of automating payments, but even if you automate, you still have to check in once in a while and make sure those auto payments are actually going through.
Update travel dates with your bank
Notifying your bank and credit card providers of your travel dates ensures you don’t get a flag for suspicious activity on your account, but you can typically only notify them of 90 days at a time. If you’re traveling for several months or more, you’ll need to check in periodically to update them on the next leg of your trip.
Did you hang onto your Netflix and Hulu expecting to want more down time? If you get on the road and realize you’re not using your subscriptions, put them on hold or cancel them. Travel Admin Day is all about taking a step back and reflecting.
This is a must-do if your Travel Admin Day is your first or last day in a city. The airport is the worst place to exchange currency. It’s much better to head to a bank, so you can get the best rate. But that also makes it more of an errand and that can be inconvenient to squeeze into a fun travel day. That’s the beauty of Travel Admin Day — things that would be difficult to take care of during a packed itinerary now have their own dedicated space in your schedule.
Arranging your next flight, bus or train ride is a prime activity for Travel Admin Day. You generally want to book flights 2 months in advance.
Research transportation options
Trains and buses vary by region — in some places, you need to reserve a seat in advance, while in others, you may be able to simply head to the bus station and hop on the next available ride. (The latter was how I traveled most of the Balkans in Europe!) You can research transportation options before your trip, but keeping up with it regularly ensures you don’t have to memorize too much at once.
Double check flight (or bus or train) times
When you book transportation in advance, and especially when you’re traveling quickly between a bunch of different destinations, you have a lot of departure and arrival times to keep track of. This is extra important for solo female travelers, because one of my best tips for staying safe is to always arrive in a new city during daylight. (Trying to get your bearings after dark is tough!) You also want to make sure you don’t miss a departure (which I have definitely done more than once — oops). A critical part of Travel Admin Day is double checking your flight, bus or train times for your next departure.
Get a local bus or metro pass
This is a good errand to run when your Travel Admin Day falls on your first day in a new city. Get a bus or metro pass set up right away. Sometimes navigating a new local transportation system can be overwhelming and if you’re trying to make it to a tour or reservation on time, that’s just added stress. Take care of it on a dedicated admin day.
As a solo female traveler, I never like arriving in a destination without knowing where I’m going to sleep that night. I also prefer advance booking to ensure I can get the kind of accommodations I like — I never want to be stuck in a mixed dorm and would always rather be in a female-only dorm or a private room. If you’re traveling during peak season for your destination, you want to book accommodations about 2 months in advance. During the off season, a few weeks is probably sufficient.
Book day tours or attraction tickets
You don’t always have to book tickets and tours in advance, but sometimes it’s a good idea. I think it’s a really valuable budgeting tool if you’re visiting a more expensive destination, like London. When I stayed for a month in London, having all my tours booked in advance meant my entertainment budget was accounted for and I didn’t have any room to get carried away with impulse purchases.
Research things to do
Even if you’re not booking in advance, researching your next destination is a valuable way to spend Travel Admin Day. You can’t plan everything in advance. Regular Travel Admin Days mean you can break up all your research on things to do as a solo female traveler into easier, more manageable chunks.
Research places to eat
You should also be researching places to eat in advance. Dining alone is a big anxiety for many solo female travelers. Knowing more about your options and getting recommendations from other solo female travelers will help you feel more comfortable going out by yourself!
Ask for tips and recommendations online
There are some great Facebook groups out there for solo female travelers, female digital nomads and specific destinations. You can also seek out relevant subreddits and other online forums for travel advice. Get tips on everything from the safest neighborhood for you to stay in to which taxi companies are legit.
Pay it forward to other solo female travelers by reviewing your accommodations and the attractions you’ve visited. This is the kind of thing that can be so easy to forget or blow off, but when you have a dedicated Travel Admin Day, you can be a better traveler!
Check your packing list
Review your packing list! When you’re a solo female traveler, there is nobody else to remind you that you left your shampoo in the hostel shower. Stay on top of your packing list and be prepared to make changes to it. (I made so many changes to my backpack in my first six months of round-the-world travel.)
When you check your packing list, you might remind yourself of items that have been broken, lost, stolen or just plain used up. Long term travel can’t be fully supplied in advance – at some point, you will need to restock your toothpaste. Travel Admin Day is a great catch-all for those types of errands from replacing broken phone chargers to stocking up on cough drops and contact solution.
If your Travel Admin Day falls on your last full day in a city, do yourself a favor and get packed up right away! No need for last minute scrambles.
If you’re traveling for more than a week or two, you’ll need to do laundry. When you have a dedicated Travel Admin Day, you won’t feel like these chores are taking away from fun experiences. You’ll already know when they can get taken care of.
Make a grocery list
Self-catering for your travels? Use Travel Admin Day to plan your meals and make a grocery list.
You could also set aside some time for meal prep, but I would recommend only doing this if you have rented a private residence for yourself. In a hostel, you don’t want to take too much fridge space away from other guests or tempt inconsiderate dorm mates.
Scope out the hostel kitchen
If Travel Admin Day is a way for you to get your bearings, take some time to explore your hostel or rental’s kitchen. You want to know what equipment is available to you, whether the facilities look clean and in good condition, and whether there are any communal ingredients up for grabs — things like salt and olive oil are sometimes stocked by the hostel themselves for all guests to share, or sometimes former guests will have left behind items they couldn’t use up on their own. Kitchens can vary wildly — some are great and sometimes I’ve been rudely surprised by a “full kitchen” that was no more than a microwave, a hot plate and two pots.
Talk to friends and family at home
I am a huge proponent of a communication plan for long-term travelers, especially if you have anxious parents. That means committing in advance to when, how and how often you’ll talk. If making time for this sort of thing stresses you out, put it on Travel Admin Day!
Maybe a Zoom call is tough to arrange with time zones and busy schedules, but you can still send postcards. Going to the post office is the kind of thing that fits well within Travel Admin Day, but might be hard to find time for otherwise. You can also skip the post office and make your own postcards with your personal travel photos using Postagram.
Fill out your absentee ballot
This is a one and done Travel Admin Day task! If you are traveling long-term, you can still do your civic duty and vote. Ask a hostel mate or employee to act as your witness, then head to the post office to mail in your ballot.
Do your taxes
This is another one and done task. If you’re traveling during tax season, you’ll need to set aside time to get those taxes submitted. TurboTax has an absolutely painless online process, even if you’re self-employed.
Submit an insurance claim
Illness, injury, theft, heading home for a grandparents’ funeral… if you need to deal with your travel insurance company (because you did get travel insurance right???), Travel Admin Day is a prime time to take care of it.
Check a country’s entry requirements
As we continue recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, entry requirements can change rapidly. It’s one of the biggest things keeping girls like you from traveling internationally — it’s so hard to keep up! That’s why having a regular Travel Admin Day is so important now. Do they require vaccinations, tests, or quarantine? Use your Travel Admin Day to stay on top of your next destination’s requirements.
Apply for visas
Some visas you have to apply for from your home country, but for others, you can take care of that paperwork on the road. When the time comes to submit a visa application, you’ll be glad you set aside a dedicated time for it.
Clean your email inbox
Emails piling up during your trip? Check in on a regular basis to clean them out!
Edit travel photos
I am so guilty of taking more travel photos than I know what to do with. The longer you travel, and the more places you go, the more those pics pile up. Having a regular Travel Admin Day gives you a regular time to edit and organize your photos.
Create calendar reminders
The less frequently you hold a Travel Admin Day, the more you’ll need to fill in some necessary tasks on an ad hoc basis. For filling in those gaps, a simple calendar reminder push to your phone can help ensure you don’t forget anything.
Whether you’re new to solo female travel and wondering how to handle everything by yourself, or a veteran solo female traveler trying to refine your skills, a Travel Admin Day will level up your travels!