When I started traveling in 2013 out of the country which the first was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I told myself that I would fly to a different country once a year. It happened again in 2014, so I was able to visit Hong Kong and Macau and my first official solo travel out of the country started in 2015.
What Inspired Me to Solo Travel?
When I went to Palawan in 2014, I’ve met a lot of European backpackers who were into long term traveling. Most of them were solo backpackers and that’s where I got the idea. There was a solo female traveler from the UK who went to the Philippines for a month. There was a male solo traveler from France who came to the Philippines and is now a professional scuba diver. Also, I keep on reading several travel blogs about going solo and solo backpacking so why not give it a try?
Related Article: How a Painful and Traumatic Health Threat Forced Me to Travel More?
How I Prepared for Solo Travel?
Before traveling solo to a different country, I tried first traveling alone in some places in Cebu. I went to Moalboal last December 2014 and stayed in a hostel there. I was able to meet other backpackers from different countries. I was able to get along with the people working at the hostel. I tried eating alone in a restaurant with an egg and tuna sandwich with buko shake. Snorkeled at the beach for a sardine run and talked to the locals. I also experienced being stranded for another day just because I ran out of money and there was no money on the ATM in Moalboal, so I hired a motorbike to let me drive to another town to withdraw money from the ATM. So I was able to stay another day.
I also went to Malapascua Island and remained in a hostel filled with Spanish people which the original plan was to stay overnight. I only had P300 left, but then I decided to stay another night because I didn’t like to go home that time. So I asked the hostel owner for a volunteer work, and he requested for a business card design. He approved my design and boom! I got a free night to stay.
Why I Pursue Solo Travel?
I’ve been asked a lot of times why I travel solo. Don’t I have any friends to go with? Or a boyfriend? The main reason I travel solo because my friends are not available right away to travel with me. They still need to ask permission from their manager/team leader for approved vacation leaves. They can only go for 3 to 4 days which I could not travel that short. I changed my mindset to go for five days to a week or even more. I could say that there are lots of advantages in traveling solo compared to travel with a group.
Related Article: How to Prepare for your First Solo Trip in Japan
Travel Fund Preparation
It took me several years to save money since I started working online in 2009. For three years I was just working a lot at home. Traveling to different provinces and countries was out of my mind. At the same time, I am the breadwinner in the family who pays the bills for the telephone, electricity and other personal payments that I needed to pay monthly. I was also building my emergency fund. I worked on my savings, time deposit, and stock investment.
I am such a simple person, not materialistic and not a shopaholic. Although I admit, I spent my money on electronic gadgets like laptop, DSLR camera, an old Android phone and iPad mini as my investments for my virtual assistant job.
Prepare your bank accounts with online banking, debit cards with Visa/Mastercard and your PayPal account. These are helpful when buying airline tickets.
Related Article: How I Saved 100K Philippine Pesos to Travel to 5 Countries in 2015?
I’ve been working on this for how many years. Due to the unexpected family crisis, I was able to use all of the money for my father’s medication. Also, my travel fund was affected so I wasn’t sure if I could pursue my first Japan trip, but I made it because of my Canadian employer’s help. I will blog more of this soon.
Finding Cheap Airline Tickets During Promo Airfare
As a person living in Cebu, Philippines I am subscribed to two affordable airline companies here in the Philippines to get updates on their latest promos. My flights were always round trip so in 2015 I was just traveling in and out of the country. I just can’t imagine myself how many times I paid for the Philippines travel tax, which is expensive every time you fly out of the country.
- Airfare ticket: P8, 000 plus
- May 21 to June 4, 2015 (14 days)
- Although I missed my flight going back home.
- Airfare ticket: P12, 000 plus
- June 4 to June 8, 2015 (4 days)
- Since I missed my flight back home, I booked a flight to Hong Kong and enjoyed my 4-day trip before going back to Cebu.
- Airfare ticket: P3, 000 plus
- July 7 to August 4, 2015 (supposed to be a month trip)
- I wasn’t able to use the return flight to Cebu by August since there was a family emergency that I needed to fly back home.
- Airfare ticket: P4, 000 plus
- July 12 to July 17 (5 days)
- I was able to fly in between for the month of July 2015 in Thailand.
- July 17 to July 25 (8 days)
- Back to Malaysia from Thailand.
- Airfare ticket: P4, 000 plus
- July 25
- I had no choice but to go back home due to a family crisis.
- Airfare ticket: P5, 000 plus
- September 15 to 17 (2 days)
- I just went back to Malaysia to visit Penang island.
- Airfare ticket: P1, 000 plus
- September 18 to 23 (5 days)
- The primary purpose is to watch the Maroon 5 concert.
- Airfare ticket: P2, 000 plus
- September 23
- I already booked this ticket early 2015.
- Airfare ticket: Almost P5, 000
- November 28 to December 7
- I booked this flight in August 2015.
Staying in a Youth Hostel
As a solo traveler, you need to find the cheapest accommodation, and that is a hostel. Hotels are pricey, and it’s better to book it when you’re with friends and share the expenses. Hostel prices vary. In Cebu, I paid like PHP 275. In Singapore, it was PHP 350. In Japan, there was PHP 650 and PHP 950. At least, I have to prepare around PHP 500 to PHP 1,000 for the accommodation.
With hostels, I was able to meet other solo travelers. You can travel with other solo travelers discovering places together or as a group.
Couchsurfing is also a great alternative to getting a free accommodation. My very first Couchsurfing experience using the platform was in Penang, Malaysia in September 2015. I had an unplanned flight to Hong Kong in June 2015 after Japan that time, so I asked a friend on Facebook, who is active in Couchsurfing if she knows some friends who can adopt me for a few nights.
Using the Couchsurfing community, you can meet locals who are willing to show you around. I will have more stories about my experience.
My first volunteer work out of the country happened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which I stayed for almost three weeks that gave me a free accommodation during my stay. I was able to visit other cities as well.
Solo travel is a beautiful experience because I met a lot of different people. It forces me to approach the locals for help and befriend other solo travelers as well. Solo travel won’t be an epic journey as there will be mishaps, misadventures and the idea of getting lost. It will test you how to deal with everything that is happening around you. Should I be angry? Should I be mad? Should I laugh all my mistakes? Should I cry and lose hope? You can’t blame someone, but yourself.
The next topic, I should blog is what are the lessons I learned during my solo travel. One blog post is not enough, so I’ll write more about my solo travel experiences.
Any solo travel experiences you want to share? Would love to hear it. 🙂 Do you have any other preparations I forgot to mention?
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Roxanne is an aspiring digital nomad. A virtual assistant since October 2009. She is a hobbyist blogger, photographer and travels a lot.