Contributed by Inspiring Grateful Travels
Hi there! By clicking on the link to this article means you WANT to try solo travelling. Amazing step for you! It’s really a very exciting thing to do. I hope these tips encourage and empower you to try one of the best things you can ever do for yourself and your travel life.
Also read: Read This If You Are Scared to Travel Alone
I have travelled solo at least 8 times, once in 2010 and 7 times in the past two years. Of those 7, 6 were international destinations and 1 was here in the Philippines. These solo travels have been one of the most rewarding and learning experiences I have ever had in my life so far.
Solo temple hopping in Bangkok!
Since I started my solo travel life, people have admired my Facebook posts and albums and ask questions like:
- Irene, mag-isa ka lang, hindi ka ba natatakot? Diba delikado mag travel mag isa? (Irene, don’t you get scared of being alone? Isn’t it dangerous?)
- Irene, ang dami mo ng napuntahan, ang dami mo namang pera, paano mo nagawa? (Irene you have so much money, how do you travel so much?)
- Irene, Paano mo nagagawa yan? (Irene, how do you do it?)
When I encourage my friends to try, they give me reasons like:
- Travelling solo is dangerous
- You get lonely because you’re alone
- It costs too much
- No significance in solo travelling
- …And many more
So, just to get these reasons out of your head, here are just some useful tips I can share with you so you can start YOUR SOLO TRAVEL LIFE. These are based on the practices that I do before, during, and after I solo travel just to make one hell of a grateful travel experience.
Also read: Why Travel Solo?
Getting cheap flights
Patience and gratitude (and of course, money) is all you need to book those cheap flights, I promise. Don’t believe me? Well here are my lowest airfares so far.
|Destination||Total Cost||Roundtrip Flight Hours|
|Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia||P633.32||7+ hours|
|Batanes, Philippines||P564.80||2+ hours|
I subscribe to Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, Philippine Airlines, Skyjet and Jetstar promos. So once they send me an email of low cost promos, I browse and if I see a cheap flight, I book at once. When you check dates and rates and don’t see those low costs, don’t give up! Keep refreshing. They do not show all promo seats AT ONCE. Be patient, keep refreshing, be grateful that you’ll book that low cost seat, and you’ll get that flight!
When you’re travelling, let’s face it, you’ll be OUTSIDE most of the day and part of the night. So what you really need is a safe place to keep your things and a bed to sleep or rest on. STAY IN A GUESTHOUSE OR HOSTEL. Why pay for an expensive hotel room when you’ll only be staying there for an estimate of 7-8 hours out of a 24 hour day?
Since a lot of people travel now, there are so many quality guesthouses and hostels around the world. I mainly use Agoda for my bookings because the rates are cheaper. Before I book through Agoda, I usually browse the official website of the accommodation first to check if the rates are actually cheaper. To make sure of its quality, I read reviews on Agoda, Hostelworld, Booking, and Trip Advisor. These are really reliable websites. I usually watch out for reviews from Filipinos, they’re usually lengthy and extremely sometimes brutally honest.
Here are just some of the cheapest rooms I have booked:
|Destination||Accommodation||Cost per night|
|Cambodia||One Stop Hostel||P311.57|
|Vietnam||Hanoi Sports Hotel||P371.08|
|Malaysia||Sri Packers Hostel||P345.60|
They’re clean, they have safety deposit boxes, and they have accommodating staff. With my hotel booking practice of using Agoda and reading reviews, I have never lost any item ever. I have gained more actually, international friends.
What to bring
When solo travelling, especially for 3-5 days, you only need one backpack and one carry-on. Roll your clothes so you save space inside your bag. I usually bring a foldable bag as this is the one I use when I go out. This bag can also be useful at the airport when I shop for duty free items. So what’s inside each bag?
Backpack: Clothes, Slippers, Toiletries, Plastics, Camera and Phone Charger, etc
Carry-on: Flight documents, Money, Camera, and Phone, etc
The most important thing we can lose during a solo international travel is our passport. To be ready, I have photocopies of my passport, important IDs, and birth certificate (3 copies of each). I have one in my carry-on and 2 in my back pack. It’s good if your backpack has secret pockets so you can keep a copy in them. For the money, I keep most in my carry-on but have emergency funds in my back pack (just enough just in case my carry-on is stolen).
Also read: Travel Hack 101: What’s in My Carry-On Bag
Travel research is limitless
There are so many websites, blogs, and information you can find on the internet. So how do you start? For me, these are usually the first things that I search for:
- Free activities to do in <place or country>
- Cheapest travel activities in <place or country>
- Popular tourist sites
- Location and maps
Best lists I have seen so far are from Time and Trip Advisor. Next thing to ask is: What are you interested in? Are you into learning about the culture? Do you want to eat your heart out? Do you want to do adrenaline rushed activities? Once you get your answers, choose items from your research on things that you want to do.
Do not over research
Yes, there is such a thing. When you read too many information about a certain place or activity and you go to that place, somehow when you know so much about it, it loses its mystery or edge. When you research a tourist site or activity, try limiting yourself to the name of the place, a brief history, and location. Do not over read articles that describe too much. It’s still best that you experience it first hand with awe, mystery, and excitement.
LAST TIP when researching! Before going to a new country, try learning at least 5 new words or phrases in their language. Learn how to say: THANK YOU, EXCUSE ME, HELLO/GOODBYE, SORRY, and WHERE IS. You can find YOUTUBE videos on easy pronunciations. It’s really fun to do! And you really feel the culture when you do it. Sobrang nakaka-overwhelm (It’s so overwhelming) when you do it and they answer back.
Before leaving, make sure you leave a copy of your flight, accommodation, itinerary, and other information with your loved ones. You and your loved ones should have a copy of these information as well:
- Emergency numbers and addresses in <country> (police stations, clinics, hospitals, etc near your accommodation)
- Philippine embassy address and contact in <country>
- Immigration or airport or tourist information numbers
Have copies of these in your carry-on and backpack.
Being SOLO in SOLO TRAVELLING
Yes, you are alone. It’s a risk. Instead of dwelling on the negative, be more positive. Look at it as a good risk! It’s exciting. It’s thrilling. It’s amazing! Of course, you have to be alert, common sense and caution is still key to absolute safety. When you’re alone, you can:
- Read a book or magazine
- Listen to music
- Write in your travel journal
Eating solo at Taipei’s Michelin Restaurant, Din Tai Fung! ALL MINE! YUMMY!
I’m only usually alone at the airport so these are just some of the things I do. When I get to my accommodation, I usually talk to people there (staff or other guests). Make conversations. Sometimes, when I venture off on my itineraries alone, I’m too amazed by the sites to feel lonely. I’m in a different country! I’m in a different place! It’s an amazing time, a great moment!
Don’t want to be alone? Go on tour groups
This is really the best activity I do whenever I travel. I usually research the cheapest group tours – keywords on the internet usually are PUBLIC or SHARED tours. I get to meet so many people from different countries. They’re usually on solo travel too, couples, or best friends. I learn so much and it really boosts my confidence. Ask engaging questions. Make good conversation. I get to practice my English. I also learn how to adapt and adjust. Everyone I’ve met so far is really nice.
When I get home, I get new friends on Facebook. And some of them already invited me to their homes when I visit their country. Up until today, I am still in contact with most of them. A few of them, I have already toured here in the Philippines.
ONE THING TO REMEMBER! When I go on tour groups, I am always the FILIPINO. Make a good impression. Advertise the best tourist sites in the Philippines. Show them what our country can offer them. In those moments, you somehow represent the Philippines. Despite all of the problems in our country, we should still be proud of the best things that we have. Promote and empower tourism in our country. It’s one of the most noble things you can do for your country.
Take the right amount of pictures
When solo travelling, I become observant of people. Most arrive at a tourist site, take a picture then leave. During tourist shows, people watch the show through the lens of their recording camera. I think WHAT THE HELL?
People fail to really experience the best sites in the world. People are too busy taking pictures of their food, of temples, and posting it on their social media websites. Instead of experiencing the place they are actually in, they are stuck online waiting how many likes their photo or video will get. Experience the place first! Take pictures later.
Basket Weaving at Local’s Home in Siem Reap. I was happily doing 1 round when my tour guide took a photo of me.
Pray and be grateful
Be grateful for all the people that you will meet. Be grateful for all the places that you will see. Pray for your safety. Pray for amazing feelings. Be grateful for exciting adventures and mysteries. Be grateful for travel blessings and opportunities. Prayer and gratitude, I assure you, can make your travel more meaningful.
Share your grateful story
There’s this popular quote, “Travelling: It leaves you speechless then it turns you into a story teller”.
We have so many travel bloggers in the world today. They tell stories of the places they went to, food that they ate, etc. She posted the sushi she ate in Japan. He posted the temple he saw in Siem Reap with #blessed. We can all be story tellers but can we be story tellers that people will remember?
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
Also read: 5 Ways to Be a Better Traveller
Let the fear in for 5 seconds. Just 5. 5…4…3…2…1…then let go.
Many people post pictures of food, of tourist sites, of plane tickets.
What can people get out of it?
What is the value of your picture?
What is the value of your travel?
I feel that the most important thing we can share is the feelings that we felt during that travel. Try telling your travel stories in the most engaging, most exciting, and most grateful way. Scare people, entice, excite, engage people, thrill people. Make them see what travelling can really offer.
Share your grateful travel story today
I hope this guide is of great use to you when you plan your first solo travel or maybe your next travel. Travel is a great privilege. Make the most out of it and always be grateful!