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 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“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.
- 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!
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.
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.”