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!

Wine, Museum, Picasso and Sunset at Vivanco Wine Museum, La Rioja

Vivanco Wine Museum at sunset

Wine, museum, Picasso and perfect sunset! What an incredible experience all in one at the Vivanco Wine Museum in La Rioja, in the north of Spain. I have been to some of the world’s finest wineries in Australia, Italy and France but the experience at the Vivanco is so unique.

Entrance to Vivanco Wine Museum
Vivanco Wine Museum at sunset

The four-floor wine museum occupies the area of 4,000 sqm in six rooms. It was designed by Spanish architect Jesús Marino Pascual.

Inside the museum
Picasso

I love the museum as it gives you all information from the beginning to the end in producing the finest wine and the process involves a lot of people from harvesting, collecting the grapes, bottle making, the barrel making, transportation, the glass etc. In the museum, you can also indulge in the finest wine related arts including the pieces from Piacasso, Andy Wahol and Dali.

Wine Aroma

The Vivanco Museum on Wine Culture is among the world’s best. The museum was inaugurated in June 2004 by King Juan Carlos I and was a private initiative of the Vivanco family, winemakers since 1915, which transformed their private collection into a museum project.

An octagonal wine cellar

What an educational and pleasing experience and I recommend a visit if you are in La Rioja.

Me at Vivanco Wine Museum

Find out more information and booking your visit at https://vivancoculturadevino.es/en/