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Simple But Useful Travel Hacks for a Filipino’s First-time Solo Travel Abroad

First-time solo traveler? Excited? Nervous? Everybody feels the same way as you do. No worries, I’ve got you covered.

On my first ever solo trip abroad, I was confused and at the same time excited. But first time experiences are the best! Along the way since I’ve been constantly doing a solo traveling, I wrapped up with some small helpful tips on how you can conquer solo traveling and be like a pro!

 

Here are some helpful tips for you

 

Research

Some unplanned things and journeys are, I believe, much more adventurous than planned ones. But if it’s your first time to travel solo abroad, you may want to think twice before risking yourself in a new place. Researching everything is overrated but a little bit won’t hurt your brain cells. Researching will save you time and money.

Buy Travel Insurance

One thing that I missed on my very first solo trip abroad. I was lucky then that I didn’t encounter any accidents on the road, otherwise, I am dead. However, on my following travels, I made sure I got covered with travel insurance. If something unfortunate happens to you, at least, you’ve got a backup. You’ll never know what’s coming your way so better be safe than sorry.

Ask Your Friend/Friends

Don’t hesitate to ask your friend/s for advice about the certain place you’re about to go to. The things they did, some guides and basics, foods, places to explore or anything related to that. You can venture your own but if you do have ideas, it can lessen your struggles of traveling alone.

Read a Guidebook

Generally, guidebooks are practical whether traveling solo or with a group of friends. Read some do’s and don’ts in a foreign land. Say for instance, in going to some solemn temples in Cambodia, a tourist must not wear a too short skirt or shorts, or in Singapore, chewing a gum is punishable by law and so on and so forth. Knowing the basic rules and laws can actually save your life!

Read Blogs

There are numerous travel blogs you can find on the internet. I mean thousands of ‘em. Choose the one that’s really interesting, beneficial, and helpful to you.

Prepare

Check all your important documents such as passport, credit and debit cards, return tickets, and visa if needed. Later on, you’ll be thankful enough that you got this beforehand; otherwise, you’re dead, especially when you reach the Philippine immigration. Kidding. Try also to make your itinerary just in case. Make a short plan or list down some things you might want to try. Bucket list, are you there?

Pack Light

Backpack and boots? Kidding. I know this sounds cliché, but believe me, this is an instant life saver. Considering yourself as a complete novice traveler, packing does not come as easy as 1-2-3. Avoiding the luggage trolley, use a backpack which is more handy and easy to carry. Bring only the necessary clothes, slippers or shoes, in case you plan to go clubbing, bring at least one or two appropriate outfit but don’t overdo it. Remember girl, you’re not going to a fashion show!

Bring a Map. Dora, is that you?

For God’s sake, try to bring a map with you, even if you don’t know how to read a map! [face palm] I’m kidding. Shamelessly, I’m one of those people who don’t know how to look at the map. Haha! Okay, okay please don’t laugh at me, but I’ve tried to look at it since traveling solo with zero knowledge about maps will lead you nowhere. Trust me. I got detoured many times. If it happened to you too, never get shy to ask for directions from some people around you. But be polite all the time. Anyhow, here’s the tip: Use your charm!

Don’t be Afraid to Ask

Being shy will lead you nowhere. If you ever lost your way, asking a stranger or a local won’t burn your ass. Traveling solo always means you have to ask heaps of questions to some people you don’t know but girl, that’s alright. Remember, use your charm! So go on, don’t be shy to ask that cute local guy sitting on the bench or waiting for the train. *wink*

Bring your own medicine kit – one of the most important things to bring. You’ll never know what you’re going to eat and stuff in your stomach. Having your own medicine kit will always save your day. On my second day of solo travel in Southeast Asia, I had a very bad stomachache. And to tell you honestly, I was laid myself in bed all day. My second day was somehow squandered but I made sure to make up for it later that night. Hello? Do you want to poop every now and then?

Hello, toiletries!

This is not a bad idea at all, if you are staying at some cheap hotels, guesthouse or hostels, some of them may not provide a basic hygiene kit. This must be available in your bag at all times. You’ll never know when you’ll need it. Don’t Exchange Money at Airports This is a terrible deal you can do. You can surely find ways to exchange our currency anywhere but not the airport. Exchange rates at the airport are lower than in other money changers. Money exchange is great at local towns or nearby areas but absolutely not at airports or it will rip you off. You don’t want to be cash-strapped don’t you?

Don’t Rely on Your Own Currency

Put this in mind. You are in a foreign country. Your own currency and theirs are completely different. In order to avoid confusion, use a money exchange translator or check it beforehand. You don’t wanna end up like me being broke of my first solo trip abroad on  How I squandered my Bali trip

Don’t Overspend on Your First Day

One definite thing, if you’re staying for a couple of days or weeks or so, remember that, never ever overspend on your first day. Stick to your budget. If you see something you’d like to take home, buy it on your last day unless you’re very certain that you won’t run out of money. No one will lend you cash whenever you’re abroad. Buying souvenirs can be done on the last day of your trip. You’re not even halfway traveling, are you?

Create a Budget

Setting a budget can help you save your single penny. Also, try to keep track of your budget so that you won’t miss some and won’t mess up. To be more advanced, check their currency to avoid confusion and getting broke in a foreign country (depending on the country you’re traveling to)

Try Cheaper Accommodations

Reality check, it’s cheaper and has friendlier atmosphere. It’s okay to check in at expensive hotels, but if you are a budget traveler, just go for cheaper ones. Most hostels provide a good and comfortable accommodation, besides, some of them also offer free breakfast so you don’t need to worry about your food the next day you wake up. On top of that, hostels are really nice. Dude, don’t be a one-day millionaire!

Make Friends with Locals or Roommates

I understand you’re going on a solo journey but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to meet or befriend some people you meet. If you’re in the process of healing your heart, do you know that making new friends is one way to heal it? It worked for me, it would to you too!

Trust No One but Yourself

Being in a foreign land is amazing. It really gets your adrenaline going. Being friendly and nice is already a given fact that you somehow should put your guard down, but trusting someone especially a total stranger is a big no-no.  You are a girl traveling alone so take care of yourself all the way. Some bad guys out there might take advantage of you. Be friendly but be cautious.

Tell Someone You Trust That You’re Going on A Trip

You don’t have to broadcast it to your whole bunch of friends, relatives in your hometown, colleagues in the whole building or office, or on your social media account that you’re buzzing off. But at least tell it to one person you trust. If something wrong comes your way, they know where or how to reach you.

But hey, wait, there’s more! Well, here’s the Philippines’ immigration. (I’m a Filipina and a frequent traveler but this doesn’t exclude me from being interrogated by the immigration officers. And yes, it happened to me a couple of times.)

Answer what only needs to be answered. Show what only needs to be shown. Be polite. Be confident and tell the truth. Prepare your documents. Though immigration officers can be scary at times, it’s still up to you. You can handle that. In my experiences of ins and outs of a foreign country, I must say, Philippine immigration is one the most strict ones that can sometimes be annoying as hell.

Lastly, Never Miss Your Flight!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQB25GIj_Zk/?taken-by=escapesanddiaries

This is the moment of truth, set your alarm and prepare all your traveling essentials so it will be handy as you leave on your most awaited day! [Just imagine it’s your wedding day!]. Leave home at least 3 hours before your departure time. Traffic is your worst enemy here. Unless you’re taking the helicopter to the airport, then you can still snore and drool away. Bottom line, have a blast! It’s your first time out of the country! Spend the most out of it. As they always say, life is too short to be boring. Create worth-keeping memories and once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

These are just simple tips coming from a non very expert traveler me. But I hope this would help!

Do you have anything to add? Can you share yours? I’ll be glad to hear from you!

This article has originally been posted on  Crowsdource.ph and originally written by me

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Born, raised, and forever loyal to the Philippines. Catherine is a teacher who writes and a writer who teaches. She writes every day. She's in love with Africa, beaches, and books. Her favorite books are " There Is No Me Without you, One woman's Odyssey to Rescue African's children, and "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace. One School at a Time". And her ultimate dream destinations are Madagascar and Hawaii. Check out more of her stories on her blog.

16 Comments

  • Andi

    Wow, this is indeed helpful! I’ve been traveling for months now but I’ve never done it solo. I always go with a my circle of friends because I am afraid going solo. There are a lot of reasons why I am afraid and hesitant and this post is really relatable. I hope one day I’ll have the guts to do solo.

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    These tips are useful for anyone who is out to explore solo and for the very first time. All the points are well stated and are absolutely necessary. From carrying a medicine kit to a map each tip has to be followed meticulously.

  • The Travel Ninjas

    This is so helpful. You’re like a new traveler’s best friend. All these tips are great. We think “don’t be afraid to ask” is maybe the best. We’ve found many great “hidden” experiences and avoided lots of bad times just by asking locals and other travelers. You’re right. It’s actually really easy. Most people love to share info like this.

  • MICHAEL SORIANO

    This is a great help for people who are travelling.. 🙂 I’m quite guilty about that research thing and reading.. hahaha I’m quite lazy which gives me trouble sometimes when I visit different places. 🙂

  • Jane

    Wow! Wished I read something like this before my first solo trip. Everyone who wants to travel solo, be it within the country or an international trip, should really read this. I’m guilty on not asking strangers for any advise or directions. :3 I need to get over that. ?

  • Christina

    Great recommendations on this list. I find most apply to non-solo travelers as well. Especially the part about asking questions, we have saved ourselves hours of wandering simply by asking locals where we are supposed to be heading. The map is not always as it seems hahaha so it helps to have someone give you directions.

  • Elisa

    I am not Filipina but most of your tips could apply for any solo traveler. I don’t agree with that tip “Don’t Trust anyone but yourself”. It is a good piece of advice for the bar and drink offerings situation but not for the rest of the life situations in my opinion. Generally speaking people are kind and want to help

  • neha

    the visa tips might be specific but rest of the tips that you have given here are as useful for anyone who is planning to travel abroad. not sure about not trusting others.but we should definitely be on our guards.

  • Vinuta

    Cathy, amazing tips. I have not yet started my overseas travel, so these tips will really help me. Hope to do solo trip out of India.

  • Airish Abella

    Omg! I’ve never tried traveling alone. Haha baka maloka ako! But I’m glad you did! ♥ Actually gusto ko rin yan ma-try. But as of now, hindi ko pa siguro keri. Anyway, true naman na dapat talaga mag research and magbasa ng other blogs! We also do that. Most of the time when we travel, DIY lang talaga. Hindi na kami nagbobook ng tour. Aside from the fact na mas mahal, limited yung time and hindi mo mapupuntahan yung gusto mo. Btw, if you’re looking for dresses you may check out this link: https://goo.gl/glwHDg Hope to hear from you soon! x

    Love, Airish
    Gorgeous Glance
    http://www.airishabella.blogspot.com

  • Marge

    When I traveled solo the first time I met another Filipina solo traveler and she always carries a map with her. It did help us go through places. I didn’t appreciate the importance of map though until I went to Taiwan and used a map to learn how to use the MRT hahaha… I must admit it was very useful.

    These are all good tips and I think people who are about to go solo for the first time could learn so much from it.

  • Indrani

    This is a very universal kind of post… suits all solo travelers around the world.
    The tips have been documented well, very helpful and useful.

  • CARMEN

    I wish I had known these tips before I traveled solo. I was young and naive then. I learned the hard way. Great tips! Knew them by heart now.

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