What Attracted Me To The Outdoors
I have always loved the outdoors since I was young. It was one of the reasons I took up Geology at university. Geologists work outdoors a lot. My profession lets me travel to non-touristic but beautiful places that I probably wouldn’t have been able to go to if not for my profession.
When I started working, I would go on trips with friends. But the time came when I couldn’t find people to travel with because of their work schedules. That’s when I decided to travel solo and I enjoyed the flexibility. From then on, I no longer ask people to join me. I just go on trips on my own. Traveling solo and going on adventures on my own makes me feel empowered.
How Frequently I Embark On Adventures
Before the pandemic, I try to go somewhere I haven’t been to at least once a month. I usually go on a day hike or a weekend getaway in a nearby city or town. Overseas trips are usually six days long.
Right now, the current situation has given me the opportunity to explore our province more. I go on day trips at least once a month.
How I Pick My Next Trip
Coming from the Philippines, we have limited options of countries that we could visit without a visa. So that is one factor that I consider when I choose where to travel.
Another factor I consider is if it is safe to travel for solo female travelers. Also, it has to be something I haven’t been to yet. After that, I check if the airline has a seat sale, and then I book a flight.
When I travel, I don’t prepare an itinerary. Before the trip, I read up on what places to see and things to do in the place I am going to visit. When I get to my destination, that’s the only time I decide what I am going to do for the day. I usually stay in hostels and there I get to talk to fellow solo travelers. I get recommendations from them and also from the hostel staff.
How I Pack For My TripsI pack light when I travel because it is easier to move around. Before the trip, I plan what I will be wearing for the days that I will be there. This is to avoid bringing a lot of clothes. I only bring a backpack with me and a waist bag where I put my passport, identification cards and bank cards, money, and mobile phone. I always carry with me a travel towel, a power bank, and a mobile phone tripod because I usually travel solo so I could take pictures of myself, a shampoo bar, and a multifunctional travel blanket.
The travel blanket is probably the most useful item in my bag because I use it as a blanket during flights or on the bus, as a cover-up when I am out hiking and I need to change my shirt, and as a shawl when I’m visiting a religious site where sleeveless clothes are not allowed.
Some Of The Most Memorable Experiences I've Had
I have plenty of memorable trips, but the most memorable would be when I went backpacking for six weeks in some parts of Southeast Asia. I’ve experienced a lot of things like going on a slow boat journey in the Mekong River for two days, having thanaka on my face, and feeding the elephants. I learned a lot of things about the countries I visited, and I met a lot of travelers who were doing the same.
Some of the things I would love to do in the future are trek the Everest and Annapurna Base Camp, go on a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and walk around Singapore.
What Inspired Me To Start Blogging
I started my blog when a colleague urged me to do it. Initially, I was only blogging to share my travel experiences with my family and friends.
And then I started getting messages from readers, mostly solo female travelers who have read my blog posts telling me that it helped them in planning for their trip and made them more confident to travel solo.
My blog’s mission is to help other women travel alone confidently. I know a lot of people who are afraid of traveling solo because they think that they can’t do it, that they will get lonely, or that it is scary. I try to tell them that it is not the case by sharing with them my experiences on my solo trips.
My Favorite Memory Of Meeting New People
I usually hike solo when I know that it is safe to do it alone. The mountains in Hong Kong and Taiwan have well-established trails perfect for solo hikers. For mountains that are more difficult like Mt. Kinabalu, I joined a group to do the hike.
My favorite memory of exploring with locals was in Myanmar. When I was in Inle Lake, I contacted a local that was referred to me by my brother. He was his guide when he visited the place the year before. I went on a boat tour in Inle Lake with him. He brought me to so many places like a cigar factory, a silversmith, and floating gardens and villages. He also let me experience putting thanaka, a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from the ground back, on my face. I was also able to try out the necklace that long-neck women use.
In Luang Prabang, Laos, I met a Taiwanese girl in the hostel and we explored the town together. We witnessed the alms giving ceremony of the monks very early in the morning and we climbed Mt. Phousi at night. We also did the slow boat journey along the Mekong River together.
Making the Leap To Full-Time Travel
It was very difficult for me to quit my job and get started traveling full time because of the financial security that my job provides. In 2018, I quit my job to pursue the lifestyle of traveling full time. But because of the pandemic, I had to go back to working again. I am very hopeful that things will be better this year and that I will be able to get work from home, a job that I could do while traveling.
Steps I Take To Ensure Safety
Before going on an adventure, I read as much as I can about the place I am going to visit. I check what places must be avoided. When I go hiking, I check if the place is safe for solo hikers. Also, I informed at least two of my friends about my adventure. I tell them how long I will be gone and I keep in touch with them every day just to let them know that I am doing okay.
One thing I learned from a friend is to share my location on Google Maps with a family member or a close friend while on a trip. That way, that person can see my actual location. In case of an emergency, they will know where to find me.
Some Major Challenges & My Travel Plans For The Next Few Years
One of the major challenges I face while traveling solo is transportation. There are some places I want to visit that can only be reached by private transport or by driving a motorbike. I don’t know how to drive and if you are alone and you rent private transportation, it is more expensive because you have no one to split the costs with.
Over the next five years, I plan on traveling full-time. And I want to do slow travel- stay in a country for 2 or 3 months before moving to the next. I want to live in Thailand and explore the country. Hong Kong is another place on my travel plans. I want to do more hikes there. I am also planning to go back to Vietnam and go on a road trip in Hai Van Pass and Ha Giang Loop and go trekking in Sapa. I want to visit Europe and live in Spain for a year. I also want to explore South America.
What Role I Believe GAFFL Serves In The Lives Of Solo Adventurers
I haven’t tried GAFFL yet but I think that it is very helpful for solo adventurers when looking for companions to explore a place.
Travel Apps I use on my trips are Agoda and Booking.com for booking hostels. Always check the reviews before booking. To book an experience, I use Klook. I love this app because they join-in tours, perfect for solo travelers. I also use Google Maps a lot because I try to walk to get to a place like a restaurant if it isn’t very far from where I am.
One Of My Most Exciting Adventures
One of the most exciting outdoor experiences I had was when I hiked Qixing Mountain in Taiwan. It is the highest mountain in Taipei. It was raining that day but I still went on with my hike. There weren’t too many people doing the hike that day. When I reached the summit the wind was so strong. After taking a selfie with the marker, I had to go down immediately because I was afraid that I would be blown away by the strong winds.
My Advice To Aspiring Solo Travelers
My advice for first-time travelers is that it’s normal to feel scared. But you will be okay once you reach the place and meet new people.
Also, always trust your instinct. If something feels off, better avoid it. And never ever go to a place without booking accommodation, even just for the first night. I’ve experienced walking around Hanoi Old Quarter in Vietnam at 2:00 AM looking for a hostel because the hostel that I was planning to stay at was fully booked. I didn’t book prior because I thought that I could just go there and get a room.
It's okay to travel alone. Don’t wait for your friends to be available. If you want to go somewhere, just go on your own. Many people think it is scary and that you will get lonely, but you will actually meet a lot of people who have the same interests as you, especially when you stay in hostels.
Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Started Traveling Around The World
I’ve learned through my adventures that you need to be cautious when someone gets too accommodating and friendly to you.
I had an experience once where a local was super friendly to me and offered to show me around a temple. I really didn’t need someone to show me around but he kept telling me that he wanted to show me this and that, and I didn’t want to be rude so I followed him. I thought he was just being nice. When I was about to leave the temple, he told me that I need to pay him for showing me around. And he was asking for a big amount. I said I never asked him to show me around and I didn’t know I had to pay. I ended up paying him but not the amount he was asking me. I was traveling on a set budget and I didn’t want to spend above that.
Lastly, take time to enjoy the place you are visiting. Don’t rush things just because you want to tick off a lot of things on your list. Travel to relax and get to know a place, not to get plenty of stamps on your passport.
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