My top 10 apps for solo travelling (Part II)

Venice, Italy

In my last blog post, I talked about the 5 useful apps I use for my solo travelling. As promised, here are the other 5 apps. Enjoy!

Beautiful Swiss Alps from the top
  • Weather app

I trust that most of you have one of the weather apps in your phone. It is so helpful to know the weather condition of the destination you are going to in advance. Some places in Europe, you get 3 different weathers in one day! So I usually check the weather in the morning before I head out. In doing so, I know if I need a water proof jacket, an umbrella or whether I should put the thermal wear. It help you to plan your outfit for the day and know what to pack.

I was at a small osteria in Siena, Italy but the owner is well prepared with foreign tourists. They have an English menu. So no translating app needed 🙂
  • Google Translate

I use this app a lot even when I am not travelling. This app comes in handy when you travel to a country where you don’t know the language and would like to communicate with the local or understand the sign.

In addition, you can also use this app to translate signage or labels, by turning on the camera. I love this when I go to supermarket and want to make sure I get the washing detergent, not the floor cleaning soap 😊 I also use this when I go to restaurant to help me translate the menu.

A view from the top, at Duomo of Siena. I took like hundreds of photos and VDOs, all is saved and safe.
  • Google Photos

Ok, I do not have a camera but instead, use my phone to take all the photos and VDOs. The major problem is that you run out of space and have to start deleting some. So the Google Photo app come in handy, as when you are connected to Wifi, it will automatically upload your photos and VDOs to your account on cloud.

You can get access to the images and VDOs later and it is super easy to use and search for something. There are some other apps like OneDrive from Microsoft or DropBox that you can use to save all the files as well.

Venice, the home of Bank of Venice which is the first national bank to have been established within the boundaries of Europe.
  • Mobile banking apps

When you travel for a long time, you will need to take care of some financial stuff back home or even some cash when you are overseas. With the mobile banking apps, I can manage things easily including paying for bills or transferring money.

Like I mentioned in my previous blog, many banks (in Thailand) now offer Travel Card which is a debit card that you can exchange the foreign currency at a very good rate using the money in your saving account.

You can use this card paying in your preferred currency overseas, without transaction fee. Furthermore you can withdraw cash from ATMs overseas at a low fee. If you live in Thailand, there are many banks start offering this service including SCB, KTB, Citibank and KBANK. I am using SCB Travel Planet card.

https://www.scb.co.th/

Highspeed trains in Europe are very good and fast. If you book the ticket well in advance, you can get an incredible cheap ride.
  • PayPal

I recommend you open PayPal account (free) and link it to your credit or debit account. It gives you conveniences when making online payment such as buying flights, train ticket or pay for hotel.

Why? You do not need to pick up your credit card and enter the 16 digits, which is the last thing I want to do when I am in a public place. It has other benefits such as transferring and receiving money. If you are online shopper, you know that there is a buyer protection as well.

https://www.paypal.com

Beautiful and cold day in La Rioja, northern Spain
  • Weather app

I trust that most of you have one of the weather apps already installed in your phone. It is so helpful to know the weather condition of the destination you are going in advance.

In some places in Europe, you get 3 different weathers in one day! I usually check the weather before heading out so that I know what kind of outfit you need or if I should bring an umbrella.

https://www.theweathernetwork.com

Seville Cathedral in Seville, Andalucia, South of Spain
I hope that this is useful and can help you with the start of travelling solo! Buon Viaggio!

The pleasure of travelling solo and insider tips

La Rioja Map at Plaza de España, Seville

Travelling solo may sound scary for many people, but also exciting for many and that includes me. I have been travelling solo a lot, especially to overseas. Several years ago, I saw a great quote and then told myself that once a year, I have to go to a place I’ve never been. As a result I have been doing it so well.

“ONCE A YEAR, GO SOMEPLACE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE.”

Dalai Lama
I love it when I go check in at the airport knowing my new adventure is beginning again

I still remember the nervousness and excitement when travelling by plane outside of Thailand for the first time. Being a 17-year old, I flew to the US all by myself and my English was not so good. I was just a kid. But that changed my life completely because I have been addicted to travelling since.

Learning a new word up in the sky!

People ask if I am not scared or feeling lonely, those feelings come sometimes. However, when you do travel solo more often, those feelings disappear and just leave you excitement and satisfactions. You just smile to yourself. Travelling makes me happy and richer.

“LIVE WITH NO EXCUSES AND TRAVEL WITH NO REGRETS”

Oscar Wilde

Here I have summed up my tips for travelling alone and hope that can help you to prepare your first or next solo trip. I am speaking from a female perspective and from my direct experience. Here are the 8 things I do for my solo trips.

I always take free maps from the airport to search for places I would like to visit and then put the destination on Google Map
  • 1. Tech-Savvy

I am not talking about owning the latest smart phone or carrying cool gadgets with you, but you should be tech and Internet savvy. Why? You use Internet to search for information to plan the trip from visa application, transportation and accommodation options, attractions information.

I always carry a book to read on the plane as there is not much to do, except reading and sipping free drinks 🙂

Don’t be afraid to embrace yourself with technology and machines. Many services now use just robots, no human. For example, you may have to do all the airline check in, baggage drop off and print the luggage tag yourself, or in supermarkets that you may have to do self-check out.

A train ride from Madrid to Seville

Now it is even easier as there are apps which supply all these to you. You should know some useful apps such as Google Map, Google Translate and they can make your travel easier. I will write about useful apps in the next post.

Mobile with Internet is essential
  • 2. Always carry a mobile with Internet

Ok guys, we live in the 20th century. Internet is like oxygen, you cannot live without it. I always carry a mobile with Internet for the peace of mind. I love walking around the unknown city so sometimes I need Google map to bring me to the place. And sometimes Google Translate to communicate and understand the signage.

My current mobile now is Android phone with two sim card slots. I can have my Thai sim card to get the messages from Thailand and another sim card mainly for Internet. It is pretty useful.

The Colosseo shot by my mobile phone
  • 3. Keep your memories in photos: Camera or good mobile with camera

I am not a professional photographer but I love keeping memories in the photos. I use my mobile to take all my travel photos and connect to my Google Photos account and Microsoft One Drive. The photos are synced automatically to the Drives on cloud. Voila! You got all you photos there and can empty the space on your phone. You may carry an external hard drive to do that as well.

Seville, Spain
  • 4. Know the weather conditions and prepare proper clothes

Check the weather condition of the places you will go to. I usually travel with comfy cotton pants (no belt if possible) and sneakers when flying. When you travel to cold countries, dressing with layers is a key. Bring some heat-tech for the inner layer, then a shirt and your outer jacket or coat. You should bring a warm sweater as well for when you are indoor.

My travelling shoes and pants

In winter, most places will have heaters inside, so if you are staying indoor a lot, two layers will suffice and you can remove the outer one if it is too warm. You don’t need a super ultra heat tech inner wear, unless you go skiing or hiking with snow, otherwise you can turn to be a roasted pork.

Dressing up with layers is the key for winter travels

When you are in the cold country, you do not want to have the hypothermia which is when your body loses the temperature, and that can be very dangerous. Our body usually loses the heat through head and feet. So always keep your head and feet warm, and wear scarf to protect your neck and chest from exposing to the cold.

Boots are invented for a reason, not only for the beauty, but they keep you warm.
  • 5. You are always safe when you know what you are doing

I have been to places, like Milan, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, you name it, where people say they are dangerous with a lot of pick pocketing and scammers.  For me the good thing about travelling alone is that you don’t attract people. They may even think you are from there because you don’t speak in your language to your friend or family, so you are not distracted. Keep your valuables in your bag, out of sight and not to attract the theft.

At Central Bus station in Bologna, Italy, departing to a new destination – Siena
  • 6. Two is better than one

I always make copies of my important documents including passport, visa page, air ticket, insurance paper and keep them in my backpack and suitcase. Now with technology, I usually scan these documents and keep them on emails or Google Drive. Same as cash, I carry some cash with me and keep some at home or hotel in a safe, not a lot of amount though.

Separate cash in several places. Try to get them in small notes as it is use at small shops.
  • 7. Finance: Cash, Debit card and credit card

Bring enough cash to spend during your trip but not too much. Because carrying a lot of cash is not a good idea. If you need more, go to ATM. In Europe, most of the shops and restaurants take card. I use debit and credit card a lot when travelling in Europe, Australia and Japan. Check with your banks for the fee and rates. Try to get small notes from your exchange kiosk or bank and most places will accept them.

At Mercato Centrale in Florence. I love this market! This shop offers you tasting of their products and yes they accept cards!

“NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER ARE LOST”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Several banks (in Thailand) offer a Travel Card which you can use as a debit card when overseas with no currency exchange fee during the transaction. You just need to transfer the money from your saving account to top up in the Travel card. Then buy your preferred currency such as Euro, US dollar, Japanese Yen, UK Pound to put in your card. The rate is pretty good, the same as the currency exchange kiosks.

I will provide some more info about the travel cards in the next blog.

Made new friends in Logroño
  • 8. Positive Attitude

This is a very important thing to bring with you. Be positive, learn new things, embrace to new cultures and surroundings but have precautions in the things around you. Be friendly and open to make friends with locals and learn some of their languages. You will be loved!

My first time watching Flamenco Dance in Seville which is where the dance is from.
Last but not least, always check in with your family and friends. Keep them posted of where you are so they do not worry about you and you feel connected with them wherever you are. This can help you cope with feeling lonely.
Admiring the world’s finest arts at Palazzo Pitti in Florence at my own pace.
Do not be afraid of travelling alone. Step out of your comfort zone, go somewhere you have’never seen. you will not regret.

“FEAR IS ONLY TEMPORARY. REGRETS LAST FOREVER.”

Another skill you will develop when travelling solo is selfie photo taking! 🙂
In my next post, I will write about the useful apps I use for travelling. Until then, ciao!