Following my recent post about traveling with your better half, this post is all about traveling solo. Many people are a bit timid when it comes to traveling alone. Most people never tried it or even gave it a thought. Some of the readers here have traveled alone before, so I do hope they will find the tips below useful. However, I believe that many of you who are going to read this post belong to the first group. Keep on reading for some tips that will make such an experience fun and safe.
Do proper research
It is true for any kind of vacation you’re planning, but even more so when you’re traveling by yourself. You won’t have companions to rely on if you get lost, nor anybody who will help you enjoy the times you get a little frustrated. This makes booking in advance the much safer option.Travel agencies nowadays offer a variety of deals and packages, that are suitable for many kinds of travelers including the solo or budget one. Plus, you can find so much free detailed information valuable for you research on their websites.
Travel to places you are likely to meet like-minded people
Sometimes we are so fascinated with a certain place we heard of, that we want to go there at all costs. If we’ll take Boracay for instance (the dream destination of almost everyone I know), you are most likely to meet a lot of party people. If you are sharing the same passion for partying as they do, you will find you place. But if you don’t it can ruin your whole trip, as you will find yourself a bit out of place. Instead plan a vacation that you are likely to meet people who share the same interests. If you’re into hiking and nature, Sagada is going to be great for you, if you’re you always wanted to try surfing, Baler or even Siargao (which is more difficult to get to for most people) will be good choices.
Make new friends
Traveling alone doesn’t mean being lonely. Spend time in communal areas, say hi to people, invite them to share meals with you (it’s so much better than eating alone anyway), and share your knowledge. Great places to do so are resorts and hotels which have dorms, so don’t be afraid to share a room with tourists you don’t know yet. If you made some research or had some fun experiences during you trip, tell them to fellow travelers. You’ll be surprised how many times tourists find themselves lost, and are thirsty for advice. More times than not people will like to join you for parts of your trip, and sometime these friendships last forever!
Share expenses with your new friends
Now a lot of activities you’ll want to take are better with company, and not only for the reasons mentioned above. Many tours, boat rides, guides you’ll need or want to hire have a fixed price. For instance, an island hopping trip in most places will cost you somewhere between 2,000P to 3,000P, and this price is good for six. There is no reason for you to spend so much yourself, nor abandon anything you wanted to do on your vacation for financial reasons. This is another great opportunity to talk to new people, tag along to tours they want to take, and even invite people to a new group you created.
Don’t let other people you meet make all the plans. Initiate according to what interests you. You will find out that people are more keen to join people who lead, especially if they are looking for things to do and don’t quite know exactly what. By doing so, you are less likely to compromise for things you don’t want.
Take Day Tours
As it might seem very romantic to make everything from scratch, sometimes it’s just cumbersome and unnecessary. In most places you will find tour operators who offer many day tours in the area, plus you can find online travel agencies who offer great deals, and a lot of professional information. group tours offered can lower the stress from you, freeing you from being the organizer and coordinator.
Make Time For Yourself
People often forget the feeling of being alone. They want to be surrounded by friends at all times. Traveling solo is a great opportunity to reconnect with yourself. Bring a good book and music (also the best way to pass time while on the road), enjoy gazing at sunsets, swim, or whatever. You will find it very refreshing and relaxing.
Up until now we only discussed the fun part of solo traveling. But in order to enjoy all of the said above, it is better to take some precautions. For those who never traveled solo, it might sound a bit strange, but if you travel solo, you are a target. All sorts of conmen prey on people who travel alone for a simple reason, it is easier to rob, trick or do whatever to a person who is on his own. Therefore keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings, and that is especially important for foreigners who stick out more and less knowledgeable of the Filipino culture. Keep reading for practical safety tips!
It is never fun to carry everything you own on your back while you are trying to have a leisurely vacation. When you are alone though you won’t have the luxury of leaving your belongings somewhere while your trustworthy partner is keeping an eye on them. Choose carefully the things you need to bring with you.
Never Look Lost
There will be a time you won’t know exactly where you are, or how to get to where you want. Let me advise you this: never, ever pull a map or a tour guide in the middle of the street or a crowded place. This is the strongest signal you’re in trouble, and there is a great chance to draw unwanted attention. So what should you do? This is a great time for a coffee or lunch break. Sit down and enjoy a coffee while you reorient yourself. Stepping into a pharmacy is also great. In those places you will find what I call “trustworthy
locals”. These people have no bias against you and most of the times will assist you and donate some local info.
Get your Information from “trustworthy locals”
You can also ask them how much you should pay for transportation and such. With the information you get you will be more successful in paying normal rates, than if you just go straight to the trike/habal-habal/taxi drivers, who are the first to know you are not from around, and usually try their luck to overcharge newcomers.
Don’t Flash Your Belongings
It’s better to leave your expensive jewelry at home. If you travel with a laptop leave it in your backpack, keep your expensive camera or cellphone close to you and in a discreet manner. You will prevent unwanted attention.
Watch your drink and your drinking
Don’t drink too much when you are going out. Keep in mind that you are alone and don’t have your people to keep an eye on you. Also don’t leave your drinks unattended, as some people might do something funny to it like slipping some drugs in. Don’t freak out as it is very rare, but better be safe than sorry.
You’re ready to go!
That’s it, you can travel solo now. Those are my tips to you, the same ones that helped me while I go around by myself in the Philippines, and you will find them helpful too, no matter if you’re Filipino or not. So keep safe, and most importantly of all have fun!