One Saturday morning a couple of years ago, I filled a luggage with my clothes and other essentials. Next, I filled up my car with gas. Then, I drove north. For days, I was traveling solo – going from Manila to Pampanga to Baler to Isabela then back to Manila. It was a trip not without anxiety yet it was truly liberating. Although that trip wasn’t like the solo travels taken by most, it gave me a taste of how it is to be alone on the road and to go to places foreign to me. 10/10, I would do it again and I highly recommend you give it a shot as well.
I’m no expert when it comes to traveling solo and that trip I took was just about a week or two. Still, it was a good start. It was fun. I had some peace and quiet by the beach. I talked to some locals and made a few acquaintances. I ate good food in solitude.
Now, fast forward to today. More and more people are doing solo expeditions. Some travel solo for a few days while others last months going nomad. You might be considering it too. You should because there are lots of discoveries in trips you take alone. However, before you book that solo trip, you should keep in mind a few things not only to stay safe but for maximum enjoyment.
We tapped the knowledge and experience of Gael Hilotin, also known as @thepinaysolobackpacker.
Gael has been traveling solo (most of the time) since 2012. She has over five years of experience traveling on her own and she shared with us a few insights and things to remember when you take ‘that’ trip of your life.
Over the course of her solo travels (she’s not stopping yet), she has visited all 81 provinces of the Philippines. She has also traveled to many countries abroad and has immersed herself in many different cultures. With what she has experienced, she learned a lot of things and she shares them here.
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Start somewhere close
Even when Gael started traveling solo, she admitted that it was scary at first. However, she felt that her destination was doable so she highly recommends that you start somewhere close to home first.
Travel alone in places near you so you can build your confidence to travel on your own even overseas. The important thing is to start doing it. Go out of your comfort zone. Then, slowly you can travel to distant places until you can travel abroad on your own.
Appreciate the ‘perks’ of traveling solo
Although Gael travels with friends already nowadays, she said that she still misses traveling solo so she still does it every now and then.
Because of the perks of traveling solo. For starters, she said that when you travel solo, “walang hintayan.” (You don’t have to wait for anyone.) So, if you want to go anywhere, anytime, you can just go.
She also mentioned that in case you get lost or make a mistake, all you have is yourself to blame but you can’t get mad at yourself so you just move on to continue enjoying the trip.
Moreover, there is a lot more spontaneity when you travel solo. You also tend to appear more approachable since you’re not in a group. It opens the opportunity to connect with more people, local and fellow travelers too.
She’s the #summer kind of #girl. More photos from #TripofWonders yesterday at Kodengareng Keke #Island. Discover more of #Indonesia on: FACEBOOK: /Indonesia.Travel INSTAGRAM/TWITTER: @indtravel #Makassar #WonderfulIndonesia #travel #adventure #travelblogger #insidesoutheastasia #pesonaindonesia
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Respect differences, follow the rules
Wherever you go, you should be respectful of the local culture no matter how different it may be to your personal beliefs. Follow the rules to avoid any trouble.
Whenever you can, get a guide and seek their help so you won’t get lost.
In any trip, your safety should be one of your top priorities.
Why do you travel?
Before you embark on your solo travel, you should know the answer to the question, “why do you travel?”
For Gael, she travels to meet different kinds of people and to learn about different cultures aside from your own. Going out there gives a wider perspective of the world instead of just getting stuck to your own point of view.
This will fuel the motivation to keep you in taking that step to seeing the world.
Are you just doing it so you can post your adventures on social media?
Are you doing it to move on?
Are you doing it because you’re bored?
According to Gael, whatever your reason is, you should know that it is enough to go out there.
The Pinay Solo Backpacker’s Ultimate Tip
According to Gael, traveling solo is easier now than when she and other solo travelers were starting. At present, there is more information available online that you can use as a guide when you decide to take that trip. Moreover, there are tools or apps like PayMaya that make travel easier. “With PayMaya, which is accepted here and abroad, you can book flights, seat sales, and accommodations like AirBnB even without having a credit card. With it, traveling solo is safer since you don’t have to bring a lot of cash,” shared Gael. Aside from being an app, it also comes with a physical card that you can connect to your account and use for face-to-face transactions at stores, restaurants, transport systems or malls. Since it is prepaid, it is easy to manage finances with PayMaya as you can only spend what is in your e-wallet. Additionally, you can view the details of your transactions in-app and through real-time text notifications so you have visibility if your payment pushed through or not.
Gael Hilotin aka The Pinay Solo Backpacker says travel is made a lot easier with PayMaya.
Now that you’re all set to take that trip, Gael’s ultimate tip is to, “check the weather before going.” She cannot emphasize enough to put safety first. If there’s a typhoon or anything that can risk your safety, don’t push it. You can always reschedule anyway.
Take that step!
Personally, I’d be taking these things to heart when I go on a solo travel again. Wherever you are going, be it the beach or the mountain, I hope that it’s sunny. 🙂