I love travelling and like a lot of folks out there, I don’t really like to travel alone. It’s like going to a fancy restaurant and eating dinner alone or going to movies alone or *gasp* going to karaoke by yourself. However, when you relocate and you’re by yourself all the time especially the initial stage where you have not made any close local friends, what can you do?
Food is my number one comfort buddy and I can’t live without great food so eating alone is inevitable especially when I spare no expenses eating like a queen. Yes, I have eaten USD$500 dinners before. Movies come close to second destress method for me so I couldn’t render myself to do injustice to great movies online (although it is free…. In China, the locals never heard of copyrights.) so off to the cinemas I went, even it is by myself. I don’t talk during shows anyways. As for karaoke, I admit I only did it once alone due to the pitiful stares I kept getting from the wait staff. Belting out in the showers at home isn’t the same as wiggling your butt to the beat while screaming at the microphone on a makeshift stage under the tiny disco ball.
Back to travelling… To me, travelling is something I want to share with someone and if I encounter a beautiful sight, I wanted to share it with someone. Not just capture it and share on Instagram. Plus the nagging of my parents that kept pointing out to me travelling solo for a female is dangerous. Sleeping in a strange place alone must be torturous and scary.
How wrong was I.. I was assigned to do a great deal of business travel alone within China. Alone! Although I will be met by business associates at their office, my heart couldn’t stop thumping wildly at the prospect of travelling location to location within China all by myself, staying in a hotel alone, having all my meals alone for the whole 3 weeks! I have travel for business before but I always tag along my male colleagues and we huddled together everywhere we go and do in a foreign country. They always made sure I’m taken care of. *sweet smile*
I was determined to overcome this and not turn it into an adversary. I’m a strong career girl, I can do this! And I did it with effort and time poured into intricate and meticulous planning on my part. I’ll share some of the tips I have learned when I’m traveling solo.
Get Someone to Look at Your Itinerary
It helps to have a second eye to go through your itinerary and pick out mistakes that you will not know until you are physically encountering it. As I was travelling from one location to another, planning flight and train routes, a friend actually was alert enough to point out that I forgot to calculate in my transit time between flights. That would be a disaster and it would either mean I will be running from gate to gate or totally miss my connecting flights or worse, stuck in a small airport with no duty-free shops for hours.
For some, they like to leave it to fate and allow their adventurous spirit to take wherever their heart desires but not for me, I’m most reassured when I know my plans for next day. Of course, I am adaptable and I can always switch my plans for something impromptu if an opportunity arises but it helps if I know I always have a plan to rely on. I put a lot of effort and time on this, planning not only what to do over the weekend when I don’t have to report to work, I planned my activity each evening after my business is done as well as restaurants earmarked to visit. Earlier on I have said food is an indulgent for me, the best time I have during travels is sampling local food.
Plan for Emergencies
Always know where you can get help if you are lost, robbed or in worse situations. Have the emergency numbers handy on you. Be aware of not only your surroundings but the nearest police station, well-known hotel chains and your embassy. Why hotel chains? Because they always know how to deal with emergencies encountered by foreigners and usually they are trained to converse English well enough to assist you.
Talk to the Locals
I find that talking to the locals will give you a greater insight to their country than any other tour agencies. Whether it is a well-hidden local hangout or a local scam to be wary of, only by speaking to a local will you get the most valuable information.
These are helpful tips that made my 3 weeks travelling alone a breeze. This article was first published in Ladyredot.com. For more interesting travel stories by me, do drop by for a visit and don’t forget to leave me a comment, even just to say “Hi!”.