Ana Santos, Nikka Sarthou and Nina Terol-Zialcita, of Writer’s Block Philippines, contribute to this issue’s Survival Guide (You Go, Girl) a very practical take on girls traveling solo. Mostly borne of painful experience, we hope it helps spare you trouble. Yes, guys, too.
Here are some excerpts from the contributors page of Travelife and some unpublished tips on traveling solo.
What for you is the holiday destination?
Ana: Amsterdam! I want to see the infamous red light district and learn why Amsterdam is considered the world’s most sexually liberated city. As a journalist and sexual health advocate, part of my trip is documenting attitudes toward sexuality and women’s issues, traced back to a nation’s history or religion.
Nikka: That would be Amanpulo where I can bask under the sun, frolic in the sand, and cool in clear, blue waters. I just want to immerse myself in one of the Philippines’ most beautiful destinations. Nothing spells holiday like your own private paradise.
Nina: Greece, because I would love to see the birthplace of democracy and philosophy, where empires rose and fell, and the Mediterranean Sea. Besides, I can imagine the great photo opportunities!
More (unpublished) travel tips about flying solo and surviving the experience:
- Since you’re traveling alone, make sure that someone else knows your itinerary and check in with them frequently to let them know that you’re safe–especially when traveling cross-country or moving from one destination to another.
- Check your hotel for free WiFi, and maximize Skype whenever you need to get in touch with family and friends from another part of the world.
- Try not to draw too much attention to yourself through your clothes or expressions. You never really know what can provoke someone else to pose a threat to you. And when someone DOES cross the line, keep your cool and DO NOT engage them–especially if you cannot speak their language. While in the Paris metro, a small bald man rushed up to me and whacked my head with a rolled-up newspaper or magazine. I didn’t know why, since I didn’t even notice him during the trip, but I chose to not engage him and just let him walk away (after making sure that I didn’t get pickpocketed or violated). I didn’t want to provoke any more hostility on his part, and since I came out of it pretty much unscathed, I just charged it to experience–and a good story to tell. ~Nina, during her side trip to Paris when she went to the European Journalism Institute in Prague for a scholarship
- Allot a budget for your trip, including shopping money and emergency cash, just in case. The first time I went back to the States after ten years, I realized that I forgot to bring a camera. Since I wanted to document my trip, it was necessary for me to purchase one there. Good thing I had extra money with me so I can do so. Having a credit card would also be helpful for emergencies, but keep in mind the conversion rates before you make that first swipe. ~ Nikka, during her vacation in the U.S.A.
- Always carry some loose change. You’ll never know when you’ll need it for emergency phone calls, metro or bus tickets, vendo snacks and drinks, and others.
- It is important to list down the toll-free numbers of your credit card issuers and keep them handy. In Rome, on the way to the Vatican, I was pickpocketed and had to call my two bank issuers to report the loss using their landline number. I could have saved on roaming charges if I had known the toll free numbers. ~ Ana, during her European tour
- Always bring a medicine kit wherever you go.
- Adjust your beauty practices depending on your destination.
- Your hand carry should always always have your basic toiletries, night clothes, underwear and an extra set of clothes because you never know if you baggage would be delayed or lost.