It seems like traveling alone is the cool thing to do these days: All your Facebook friends have either done it or want to do it. If you’ve already gone on a solo trip, then congratulations, you brave, awesome girl! If you’re still in the process of planning your own adventure for one, allow us to help you turn your Pinterest travel board into a reality with these tried-and-tested tips!
1. Choose the right destination.
Not all places are created equal in terms of safety. If it’s your first time to venture out alone, pick a country along an established backpacker trail (Thailand and Laos, both on the “Banana Pancake” trail, come to mind) to meet fellow solo travelers. If you’ve got more cash to burn, book a flight to a country known for its safety, like Iceland or Canada. Looking to travel locally? Check out Palawan, Cebu or Dumaguete, all relatively safe provinces where you’ll have no problem finding fellow wandering singletons.
2. Tell people about your whereabouts.
It’s hard to trust people (and your immunity from Murphy’s Law) these days. Whether you’re exploring Binondo or Berlin, it’s still super important to inform someone you trust whenever you’re going somewhere far away from home, especially when you’re alone. As your parents will say, if something bad happens to you while you’re alone in a strange land, at least they will know kung saan ka nila pupulutin.
3. Don’t be shy!
You’ll be surprised to find out how ridiculously easy it is to meet people when you’re alone. Say hi to that fellow at the bar, chat up your fellow travelers during sightseeing tours, and strike a conversation with that cute dude on the seat beside yours while on a ferry ride. If you get an attack of the nerves, remind yourself that you have nothing to lose by trying to make friends. The worst that could happen is they’d brush you off and your ego would be a bit bruised.
4. Google Maps is your best friend.
It’s fun to get lost in a new place, but not knowing where you’re going can be scary, especially when you’re alone in an unfamiliar land. Ditch the old-fashioned map when you’re on the road, turn on your phone’s GPS, and check out your location every few minutes using Google Maps. It’s a lifesaver, especially when you have absolutely no idea about your whereabouts.
5. Keep track of your valuables.
Traveling alone is fun, but it can also be stressful at times. Don’t give yourself another headache by losing your important stuff: spread your cash out in different hiding places so you’ll always have backup in case you misplace your wallet; store your passport, tickets, IDs, cards, and other valuable documents in your room’s safe; stash a few photocopies of your travel papers in your luggage in case of an emergency.
6. Pack light.
Traveling alone means being responsible for carrying around your luggage everywhere you go. If you don’t pack as light as possible, you’re going to have a bad time. Avoid carrying too much stuff by planning everything you’re cramming into your bag, from your outfits to your gadgets (do you really need to bring two pairs of boots for a five-day vacay?). If you’re traveling long-term, curate a small but versatile wardrobe that can carry you from a hike in the mountains to a night out on the beach. Stick to classic cuts in neutral shades and jazz up your outfits with colorful accessories. Finally, remember that most hotels and inns offer laundry services for a minimal fee—you can always wash your dirty clothes instead of wearing a new outfit every single day of your stay.
7. Stay in hostels.
Venturing to a new place by your lonesome doesn’t mean having to spend all your time there alone! Your trip wouldn’t be complete without meeting a few other wandering souls, and hostels are some of the best places to meet fellow solo travelers. Chat up the girl occupying the bunk bed above yours and hang out at the common room. Before you know it, you’d have scored yourself a bunch of awesome new friends who are as passionate about exploring the world as you are.
8. Learn the language.
English may be the universal language, but the fact remains that not everyone around the world can understand it. Pick up a few basic phrases in the local language when you’re traveling abroad, and try your darndest to pronounce those tricky words properly: the locals will appreciate that you took the time and effort to learn a slice of their dialect. The same thing goes for when you’re traipsing around the Philippines: trust us, Bisaya is super handy to know!
9. Drink responsibly.
Making walwal while traveling can be super fun, but please, do so responsibly! This isn’t like partying in your favorite club back in Manila where you know everyone: this time, you’re with strangers who, no matter how good-looking, could still take advantage of you. Learn to hold your liquor, don’t leave your drinks unattended, and don’t accept drinks or rides from just anyone.
10. Trust your gut.
If it feels wrong, then it probably is. Don’t underestimate your instincts, especially during sketchy situations. If you think someone’s following you, or if you feel like that tour guide you just met is being a bit too chummy for your liking, trust your gut feel and stay far, far away. Better praning than sorry.
11. It’s okay to divert from your original plans.
So your original plan for the day didn’t quite work out, and what was supposed to be a jam-packed sightseeing day turned into a 10-hour shopping spree at the local flea market. Don’t stress out about it! When you’re traveling alone, the most important consideration is YOUR happiness. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, whether you’re shopping, sightseeing, or scuba diving, then you’ve got the right itinerary. Besides, you can always use your “wasted” day as an excuse to visit the place again!
PHOTO: Unsplash/Pixabay; GIFS: Giphy