Travel writer and fashion blogger Tey Cindy shares a concise guide to get you inspired on planning a safe and fulfilling trip!
Why Travel Solo?
The thought of leaving home and the people you love to travel to a foreign land all by yourself can be intimidating. Why do that, right? A friend once told me it sounds like suicide to her. But trust me travelling alone is something everyone has to try at least once in their lifetime as they make the most rewarding trips.
Becoming street smart: The main difference between travelling in a group and alone is how circumstances will force you to interact with locals rather than mingling with the group you already know. Whether it is asking for directions or a hand to take a picture, you’ll find yourself actually dealing with challenges on your own. From this, I discovered a buried amount of independence I didn’t know I possessed.
Engaging your soul: Alone, it is easier to make new friends. Conversations in different languages or accents (did you know that ‘fart’ means speed in Swedish?) with interesting and boring people alike will shape you to become a more observant person as you learn to read body language, move out of your comfort zone and learn to fit in with a new culture. Alone and far from home, I also find it easier to dive deep in time and find profound meanings in moments regardless of my surroundings.
Enjoying freedom: This is a priceless advantage most of us have but not everybody knows how to make full use of it. Travelling solo earns me all the richness from experiences by doing nothing, everything and anything I love with absolute freedom, the way I want it – no compromise, no delay and no one to hold me back! Most importantly, travelling solo shapes us into global citizens with international mindsets.
Common question: “Isn’t it dangerous? I want to try but I’m scared! How do you do it?”
Estimate the size of your goal: Your trip doesn’t have to be huge, very far or very long. What’s more important is a realistic plan and something you are comfortable with — a place you are excited about and look forward to visiting.
Mark it down: Set your goal with dates marked on your calendar. Without it, one tends to think one has lots of time. Once you’ve pinned down the dates, stick to it!
Select your territories: Create a bucket list of places, consider safety issues while doing so, and arrange them according to time and budget. I like to begin by narrowing it down between Asian and Western countries. When I have more savings, I usually go for the latter.
Save up and book your flight: The power of money here is that usually once you purchase, you don’t turn back. Make a rough estimate on the total cost you’d need, devise a saving scheme and be disciplined. My strategy was to save at least a quarter of my monthly pay in separate savings account. You can also get a part-time job to speed up the savings process. Purchase your tickets two months before your scheduled trip.
Set up your itinerary: This is the part I dread most as it can feel like there is so much to do. The best way to get started is to look up existing itineraries by travel agencies, which will have the main bulk of your work done. I use a travel app called TripIt to build my itinerary, get flight alerts and organise my hotel bookings all in one. When I come across new suggestions from other resources, I simply add them into my TripIt account. Other handy apps are Google (offline) Maps, Uber and Yelp.