First-time solo traveller? Excited? Nervous? Traveling solo is not as easy as you think it is. Hey, there is no one you can rely on except yourself. But don’t you worry, everybody feels the same way as you do and I’ve got you covered! Here are 17 tips for solo travellers I follow when I travel solo. I hope you can find it useful too.
Some unplanned things and journeys are, I believe, much more adventurous than planned ones. But if it’s your first time to travel solo abroad, you may want to think twice before risking yourself in a new place. Researching everything is overrated but a little bit won’t hurt your brain cells. Researching will save you time and money.
2.) Ask Your Friends
Don’t hesitate to ask your friend/s for advice about the place you’re about to go to. The things they did, some guides and basics, foods, places to explore or anything related to that. You can venture your own but if you do have ideas, it can lessen your struggles of traveling alone.
3.) Read a Guidebook
Generally, guidebooks are practical whether traveling solo or with a group of friends. Read some do’s and don’ts in a foreign land. Say for instance, in going to some solemn temples in Cambodia, a tourist must not wear a too short skirt or shorts, or in Singapore, chewing a gum is punishable by law and so on and so forth. Knowing the basic rules and laws can actually save your life!
4.) Read Blogs
There are numerous travel blogs you can find on the internet. I mean thousands of ‘em. Choose the one that’s really interesting, beneficial, and helpful to you. Prepare Check all your important documents such as passport, credit and debit cards, return tickets, and visa if needed. Later on, you’ll be thankful enough that you got this beforehand; otherwise, you’re dead, especially when you reach the Philippine immigration. Kidding. Try also to make your itinerary just in case. Make a short plan or list down some things you might want to try. Bucket list, are you there?
5.) Pack Light
Backpack and boots? Kidding. I know this sounds cliché, but believe me, this is an instant life saver. Considering yourself as a complete novice traveller, packing does not come as easy as 1-2-3. Avoiding the luggage trolley, use a backpack which is more handy and easy to carry. Bring only the necessary clothes, slippers or shoes, in case you plan to go clubbing, bring at least one or two appropriate outfit but don’t overdo it. Remember girl, you’re not going to a fashion show!
6.) Bring a Map
Dora, is that you? For God’s sake, try to bring a map with you, even if you don’t know how to read a map! [face palm] I’m kidding. Shamelessly, I’m one of those people who don’t know how to look at the map. Haha! Okay, okay please don’t laugh at me, but I’ve tried to look at it since traveling solo with zero knowledge about maps will lead you nowhere. Trust me. I got detoured many times. If it happened to you too, never get shy to ask for directions from some people around you. But be polite all the time. Anyhow, here’s the tip: Use your charm baby!
7.) Don’t be afraid to ask
Being shy will lead you nowhere. If you ever lost your way, asking a stranger or a local won’t burn your ass. Traveling solo always means you have to ask heaps of questions to some people you don’t even know but girl, that’s alright. Remember, use your charm! So go on, don’t be shy to ask that cute local guy sitting on the bench while waiting for the train. *wink*
8.) Bring your own medicine kit
This is one of the most important thing to bring. You’ll never know what you’re going to eat and stuff in your stomach. Having your own medicine kit will always save your day. On my second day of solo travel in Southeast Asia, I had a very bad stomachache. And to tell you honestly, I was laid myself in bed all day. My second day was somehow squandered but I made sure to make up for it later that night. Hello? Do you want to poop every now and then?
9.) Hello, toiletries!
This is not a bad idea at all, if you are staying at some cheap hotels, guesthouse or hostels, some of them may not provide a basic hygiene kit. This must be available in your bag at all times. You’ll never know when you’ll need it.
10.) Don’t Exchange Money at Airports
This is a terrible deal you can do. You can surely find ways to exchange our currency anywhere but not the airport. Exchange rates at the airport are lower than in other money changers. Money exchange is great at local towns or nearby areas but absolutely not at airports or it will rip you off. You don’t want to be cash-strapped don’t you? Don’t Rely on Your Own Currency Put this in mind. You are in a foreign country. Your own currency and theirs are completely different. In order to avoid confusion, use a money exchange translator or check it beforehand.
11.) Don’t Overspend on Your First Day
One definite thing, if you’re staying for a couple of days or weeks or so, remember that, never ever overspend on your first day. Stick to your budget. If you see something you’d like to take home, buy it on your last day unless you’re very certain that you won’t run out of money. No one will lend you cash whenever you’re abroad. Buying souvenirs can be done on the last day of your trip. You’re not even halfway traveling, are you?
12.) Be Practical
Try cheaper accommodations. Reality check, it’s cheaper and has friendlier atmosphere. It’s okay to check in at expensive hotels, but if you are a budget traveller, just go for cheaper ones. Most hostels provide a good and comfortable accommodation, besides, some of them also offer free breakfast so you don’t need to worry about your food the next day you wake up. On top of that, hostels are really nice. Dude, don’t be a one-day millionaire!
13.) Make Friends with Locals or Roommates
I understand you’re going on a solo journey but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to meet or befriend some people you meet. If you’re in the process of healing your heart, do you know that making new friends is one way to heal it? It worked for me, it would to you too!
14.) Trust No One but Yourself
Being in a foreign land is amazing. It really gets your adrenaline going. Being friendly and nice is already a given fact that you somehow should put your guard down, but trusting someone especially a total stranger is a big no-no. If you’re drinking at a bar or going to a club, avoid accepting drinks from someone. There are some horror stories of a few women who ended up in a displeasing way for not being extra wary. You are a girl traveling alone so take care of yourself all the way. Some bad guys out there might take advantage of you.
15.) Tell Someone You Trust That You’re Going on A Trip
You don’t have to broadcast it to your whole bunch of friends, relatives in your hometown, colleagues in the whole building or office, or on your social media account that you’re buzzing off. But at least tell it to one person you trust. If something wrong comes your way, they know where or how to reach you.
16.) Be Prepared to Face Immigration Officers
Well, here’s the Philippines’ immigration. (I’m a Filipina and a frequent traveller but this doesn’t exclude me from being interrogated by the immigration officers. And yes, it happened to me a couple of times.) Answer what only needs to be answered. Show what only needs to be shown. Be polite. Be confident and tell the truth. Prepare your documents. Though immigration officers can be scary at times, it’s still up to you. You can handle that. In my experiences of ins and outs of a foreign country, I must say, Philippine immigration is one the most strict ones that can sometimes be annoying as hell.
17.) Set the Clock
This is the moment of truth, set your alarm and prepare all your traveling essentials so it will be handy as you leave on your most awaited day! [Just imagine it’s your wedding day!]. Leave home at least 3 hours before your departure time. Traffic is your worst enemy here. Unless you’re taking the helicopter to the airport, then you can still snore and drool away. Bottom line, have a blast! It’s your first time out of the country! Spend the most out of it. As they always say, life is too short to be boring. Create worth-keeping memories and once-in-a-lifetime adventures.
Hey guys, this is just an experience of mine during my trips. We all sure have had some unexpectedly bizarre but fun circumstances. Do you have anything to add? Can you share yours? We’ll be glad to hear from you!