On Solo Travel: Safety and Security

Why travel alone?

Solo travel is one of the greatest forms of self-discovery and it opens you to a lot of opportunities. It’s a great way to express yourself and allows you to be at your best. While it’s a wonderful experience to get to travel with your family and friends, or maybe with your special someone, there are also a lot of reasons and benefits when you go out and travel alone.

Traveling by yourself will take you out of your comfort zone, and help you adapt to an entirely different environment, thus enabling you to be comfortable with what may be uncomfortable. There’s nothing more fulfilling than being able to complete a successful trip despite all the worries and misadventures that you had when you first set off. It also gives you the kind of freedom to go and be wherever you want to be, or do whatever it is that you want to do – at your own pace.

There is also a lot of room for personal growth and development. Whenever you go on a trip, you learn how it is to become better organized, plan ahead more efficiently, as you only have yourself to depend on.   It can give you a healthy morale boost that just might also help in making you more confident when it comes to decision making, and one good result that could come out of it is that, you become more aware of  what it is that you actually want to do, and would enjoy doing. In effect, it enables you to be more focused on the objectives of the trip and channel all your energies toward achieving them.

Yes, I know it can be scary at first, especially when you’ve never done something like it before; and for most people, there are a lot of concerns that come to mind when preparing for a solo trip – with safety and security usually on the top of the list.

How to stay safe when traveling solo:

“Is it safe?”, “What if I need help?”, “What if I get lost?”, “I’m a female traveler, are you sure that’s OK?” are just some of the usual questions that I get from my friends when we talk about solo travel. But when you think about it, these concerns are actually also present when traveling in groups. “Safety in numbers” may not always be true. The reality is this: there will always be a certain amount of risk when you travel, so it’s up to you to ensure that you are prepared for it.  Trust your instinct, be alert and vigilant.  It is very helpful to be familiar with the destination way ahead of time:  prevailing weather, terrain, culture etc. as these will help you deal with deal with rough patches that may crop up.

Everyone should keep in mind that safety is always a priority, regardless of whether it is a long distance trip or an everyday commute to and from work. As such, it is very important to always maintain a certain level of caution no matter where you go. I’ve met a lot of people who also travel solo and here are some safety tips to keep in mind  in planning to travel solo:

  • Do your research.
    • Always check the weather forecasts. You wouldn’t want to be stuck on the road during a severe typhoon right?
    • Be sure to always check out customer comments and reviews when looking for accommodation. With almost all companies utilizing social media nowadays, it’s much easier to review details and ratings of each establishment. Read and be informed. When in need of comfort, safety and convenience, choose a reputable hotel.
    • Always check the map and transportation schedules before leaving your hotel room. You are solely responsible for executing your actions, so you’ll need to stay on top of things.
  • Make sure that you plan ahead. Prepare an itinerary so that it would be more convenient to track your trip’s progress and schedule.
  • Don’t run out of cash. The hardest part of traveling solo would probably be having no more money left, and having no means to replenish your stash. You can avoid this by including the projected budget in your itinerary so you have an idea on possible expenses and costs. This can also save you from the risk of being “overcharged” by some people who take advantage of uninformed tourists (i.e. vendors, transport service providers, you name it!).
  • Do not attract unnecessary attention. Your best bet is to avoid appearing like a tourist. You wouldn’t want to be the target of pickpockets just because they easily spotted you while you were walking with a map.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Avoid wearing fancy stuff and expensive jewelry.
  • When traveling at night, make sure that you stay in open and public spaces. Blend with the crowd.

@chasing_potatoes trying to blend with the crowd at Rizal boulevard, Dumaguete.

  • Don’t get too intoxicated. If you can’t resist the urge to drink alcohol, might as well drink in the safety of your own hotel room. Getting wasted in a public place is definitely a big ‘’No” as this can make you an easy target for thieves and unscrupulous characters.
  • Always have a backup plan and know how to improvise. Learn how to adapt. Always remember that things may not always go as planned. However, this shouldn’t stop you from ensuring that you have alternatives and options readily available.
  • Keep your family members or a close friend posted on your whereabouts. Make sure that you regularly stay in touch; or you can also provide them with a copy of your itinerary so they can easily keep track of your schedule. (Remember that dude who always has a “Mom, I’m safe!” sign? Yep, you get the idea. :D)
  • Don’t be reckless. The best way to avoid an accident is not to create one. Stepping outside of your comfort zone does not necessarily mean that you should throw caution into the wind. Be smart.
  • Trust your gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. You’ll be by yourself when it comes to decision-making so you have to be your own best counsel. In order to do that, I always ask myself three things whenever I’m in doubt – “is it moral?”, “Is it ethical?”, and “is it legal?” If your answer is “No” to any of these, I highly recommend that you stop and re-consider your course of action.

Traveling solo can be a rich and exhilarating experience. But you need to remember that some potential risks may not be as apparent or obvious, as compared to traveling  in a group. Safety should always be your top priority. Know where you’re going and make a conscious effort to be responsible for your actions.   Of course, this is not an exhaustive list.  These travel and safety tips were drawn from my own personal experience as a solo traveler.  You can certainly make these richer and eventually more comprehensive with your own unique experiences.

What about you? How do you feel about traveling solo? Have you tried you traveling by yourself before? Please feel free to share your thoughts! 😊

Advertisements

Maldives DIY: Solo Backpacking on a budget

*Disclaimer: With a ~30k all-in budget including airfare or possibly even less. (I’m not kidding!)

Whenever we travel, two things almost always come to mind: first, “do we have enough budget?”, and second, “do we have enough time?” (i.e. not enough leave credits…relate much? Lol 😜). But in reality, it really just comes down to what your goal is. So my question is this – “How bad do you want it?”

I wanted it. I really did. That’s why two months ago (April 16 to be exact), I decided to book the most spontaneous trip of my life (so far) — I booked a flight going to Malé. With thorough planning and research, I’m glad that I was able to pull off my first solo backpacking trip outside the Philippines.

 

Why go to the Maldives?

I really can’t think of any reason not to. I mean, wouldn’t you want to have a first-hand experience of its fine, white sand beaches, turquoise-colored waters, or spend the day basking in the sun in all your glorious awesomeness?  Try to picture that in your mind.

1467012898033[1]

Lovely view. Makes you want to jump out of the boat right?

I’m pretty sure this has been sitting in your bucket list for the longest time, and that is exactly why I am telling you this now: “traveling to the Maldives does not need to be as expensive as it used to be”.

And I’m writing this up in the hopes that this can help you plan your trip to Maldives, and cross out that paradise from your bucket list, without it having to cost you an arm and a leg.

 

Maldives: A Quick History

The Republic of Maldives is a sovereign archipelagic nation located in the Indian Ocean. It is known for its unique geography, consisting of 26 natural atolls and has around 1190 island and sand banks that are situated on top of a vast underwater mountain range. (Reference: http://www.visitmaldives.com/en)

Fact: The English word “atoll” was derived from the Maldivian word “atholhu”. 

1466936914747[1].jpg

A dock just outside the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport

The capital city is called “Malé”, and is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The capital is home to a wide range of attractions like the Republic Square, the Islamic Centre, Friday Mosque, Medhu Ziyaarai Shrine, Sultan Park, National Museum and the famous Tsunami Monument.

1466936976488[1].jpg

Shaheed Hussain Adam Building: The headquarters of the Maldives police service in Male

Tourism in Maldives has flourished throughout the year, and it used to be expensive only because tourism used to be restricted to the luxurious Maldives resorts.

1466938709140[1].jpg

Over-water bungalows of Cocoa Island Resort on Makunufushi Island. Price ranges between Php 43,123 – Php 96,263 per night, based on average rates for a standard room. (Trip Advisor, June 2016)

These are the resorts that you normally see in the pictures (like the one above) with over-water bungalows that were built on uninhabited islands. These are often referred to as “private islands” with only the guests and the hotel staff as inhabitants, and with no contact with the local folks.

If you’d like to read more about the history of Maldives, you can click here.

Continue reading

Jomalig Island: A Golden Paradise

Jomalig (pronounced Homalig) is a small municipality on the namesake island in the province of Quezon, Philippines. The island is known for its gorgeous aquamarine waters, natural sand ripples, and fine golden sand – it is in a class of its own and truly offers a magnificent experience. If you’re the type who likes to laze around on a beach, then this one is definitely for you.

1465347985229

 

How to get there:

When going to Jomalig, I would recommend making Real Port as your point of reference, since it’s the easiest route to reach the island. There are two ways to get to Ungos Port in Real from Manila:

By Bus:

  • You can catch a Raymond Bus bound for Infanta at the Legarda Terminal. Buses usually leave every hour. Travel time takes about 4-5 hours.
  • Fare costs about Php 220.00
  • Tell the bus conductor to let you off at Ungos Port.

By Van:

  • If you choose to ride a van, there’s a terminal which is right across the Raymond Bus Station.
  • Fare costs about Php 250.00 per person (10 pax), or Php 2,500.00 for the entire van.
  • Tell the driver to drop you off at Ungos Port.

Continue reading

Cheers To New Beginnings!

After so much dilly-dallying, I finally decided to put up my own space where I can write about the things I love — anything about food and the destinations I’ve been to.

I’m currently exploring and trying out new things and I’m actually planning a few backpacking trips soon, so expect some photos of the places that I will be visiting.

Kingdom of Dreams

Inside the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon, India.

Please feel free to leave a comment or two if you have any suggestions. Any recommendations about where to eat or travel is very much welcome too! LOL

Have a wonderful day ahead!

Be Spontaneous. Be Happy.

Do something different every once in a while.

It’s about time that you break away from your routine. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Always try to see things from a different perspective. Take risks . Travel and explore the world. Be grateful about every blessing, no matter how small.

Start accepting things when they are less than perfect and learn to appreciate the good in everyone.

Create your own happiness and smile more often. Be genuinely kind and happy. You’ll be surprised how far it takes you.

Lastly, do things because you want to. Life is too short to not do what you love.