Solo travel? Talaga? Seryoso ka? Hindi ba malungkot? Bakit?
(English translation- solo travel? Are you serious? Isn’t it sad? Why?)
I get these type of questions when i would attempt, or go on “solo-travel”.
No, it doesn’t bother me, it’s not sad, and I feel like life trained me well for this. 😄
Growing up, family trips abroad helped in knowing what to expect, and what to do at airports.
But my personality, and earlier experiences also played a part in being comfortable with solo travel.
For one, I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert.
I was also a painfully shy child, and was often the loner type in school. Had moments of eating lunch alone, while other girls would eat in groups. Or I will just stay with my Best friend, and sometimes when she is not there, I learned to be alone.
Come what my teen awkward years, where the pressure to be part of a group was so intense, that I would be a follower and join groups of friends/girls. But time and time again I would wander alone in a bookstore, or in shops when I can.
After college, I found myself in the travel industry as part of the cabin crew with Emirates.
That meant leaving my shell, and flying alone to Dubai to be based there. (Read more about Dubai HERE)
Being part of the crew meant being surrounded by people most of the time (working with different crew on each flight), but there were lots of alone time too, because not all of the time will you have the same schedule as your friends.
Each month we were given a roster or schedule with different flights, and different days off.
Doing the grocery, having lunch/dinner, sight-seeing, and having coffee alone was something that eventually felt natural.
Even on flights/layovers, if the crew are not in the mood to go to the places that I wanted to go, I learned to travel and be on my own. And that’s ok 🙂
When I resigned, I missed traveling a lot and only got to do so once, or twice a year.
One day, before turning 27 I decided to try solo travel (gift to myself), and booked a trip to Singapore.
As it was my first time to do solo travel, I had to arrange and plan everything… But I loved it!
Playing an active role in planning an itinerary is like online shopping of experiences. You learn more about places, and you get to choose.
I made sure that the trip was short so that I can manage my expenses well, and have only a few days of feeling risky if that makes sense 🤣
Got to visit different places (China town, Buddha tooth relic temple, Marina Bay sands, Ion Mall, Bugis Street, and Arab street).
Tried authentic Hainanese chicken rice at hawkers in Singapore (Must try!)
And met up with an aunt and friend based in Singapore.
I learned that exploring on your own does not lessen the joy of discovery, and having new experiences.
It opened my mind to doing this sort of trip again in the future.
A few years later, I tried solo travel again in Seoul (just last week!). 🙂
Sure it can be more expensive at times cause you don’t have someone to share your meals (and the expenses) with, but as an adult I believe that we shouldn’t let being single, or being alone/not having kasama a limitation to our travel goals and desires.
It was still fun, exciting and worthwhile.
So go out and see the world! 🙂 If you are waiting for a sign this is it!
If you have a partner then by all means go with him/her.
But in case you find yourself alone, do not fret and just do it. It is still fun and exciting 🙂 not to mention relaxing (no one rushing you).
Aside from my tips from an earlier blog post (TIPS FOR FIRST TIME IN SEOUL CLICK HERE ),
here are my 7 tips for Solo Travelers specifically for women:
1. Get a credit card
Being on your own means you only have to rely on yourself for your expenses.
Sometimes it helps to have a lifesaver, especially during emergencies like cancelled flights due to force majeur- the airline will not pay for your hotel for the extended days in a place. If your money is only good for your planned 5 days in a place, you will be stressed to the max without any extra money for your food and extra night/s at a hotel. A credit card will definitely be handy the moment you run out of cash.
2. Research well on the country and the places you want to visit
Being informed about the weather, open and closing times of museums/restaurants, directions, etiquette and culture will help you make your trip safe, comfortable and efficient.
You dont want to waste 2 hours of your time somewhere because you are lost, nor do you want to be freezing in Japan for example because you assumed they would also have a 28c temp in November.
You want to have a positive experience, and the way to do that is to research ahead of time, minimum at least 5 days.
Know a little about the culture and language, so that you are respectful and they will respect you in return/be nice to you, specially if they see your effort in speaking their language (at least learn the basics hello, good morning, please and thank you).
3. Get/Rent a pocket wifi and download helpful apps in that country
It will help you be an independent traveler- helping you with directions, navigation, language (translation), and in keeping your close friends and family worry-free with your updates on your whereabouts.
4. Join an online solo women travel group
The members are usually from all over the world. They are very supportive of your adventure, and can give you tips from a local perspective. They might even help you out on emergencies or give you very good recommendations.
5. Do not tell the complete travel details (keep your booking reference to yourself) to anyone except to your close family, or significant other
Your flight can actually be cancelled or changed by someone else just by calling the airline and pretending to be you by giving your booking reference number or flight details.
Also, to avoid robbery it is sometimes better to post updates late in social media.
6. Buy Travel insurance
This is a helpful tip from my colleague who used to work at a travel agency.
He shared a story wherein his friend caught chicken pox on the 2nd to the last day of the trip in Japan, and she had to be confined in the hospital for about a week. Because of the insurance, she didn’t have to pay a dime to the hospital. Her visa which was only supposed to be for 15 days, was saved from further hassles as somehow the insurance also played a part in fixing the hiccup.
7. Have fun, be carefree but use your instincts as your guide
This is your trip, no one to follow, and no one to please but yourself.
So have fun on your solo trip and do what you want to do while keeping safe 🙂 This is not the time to be conscious about eating alone, or feeling conscious taking selfies. Keber! Make the most out of your trip, and if you meet someone interesting, then good for you. If not, it’s ok! Don’t let anyone pressure you about having new friend at a new place. 🙂 You are ok, with or without a new friend there.
Lastly, listen to your instincts. Anything that doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. It will save you and keep you safe.
That’s all for now.
If you have any solo tips to add, questions, or solo experiences yourself, feel free to leave a comment below 🙂