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Solo Travel: 7 Sensible Tips for a Confident Journey

Curious about what it's like traveling on my own, I booked a flight for a trip alone. This blog recounts both my observations from the Vietnam trip as well as the lessons I gained while planning.

Solo Travel

Travelling alone is a good idea

With the current pace of globalization along with the upward trend of solo travel for tourism, the rise of solo travel may reach Asia sooner than you think.

There are things you can learn from traveling alone. If you're on a crossroads thinking of what you want to do in your career, traveling alone may inspire a business idea, since you are inclined to contemplate about things in your life during your solo travel. You might meet someone you can potentially collaborate with in the future. As National Geographic suggests, new experiences opens doors. Be observant and stimulate your knowledge from perspectives from other societies. 




Other advantages of solo travel include:

  • You make your own plans
  • You can do activities at your own pace
  • A way to get to know yourself better and potentially builds personal growth
  • An opportunity to meet new people


The COVID-19 pandemic deprived us from traveling due to lockdowns and restrictions. Most of us had been itching to travel but could not because of certain restrictions.

I've heard about solo travel before and asked myself why not try and do it even at least once in my life. Months ago, personal reasons triggered me to simply book a flight to a destination outside the country.

This story is primarily not for someone traveling alone for a long period of time like those travel bloggers in this Buzzfeed list of Filipino travel bloggers, or for those who are planning to be a digital nomad who will be working in another part of the world for a long time.

My trip was only short. I was only 5 nights away from home but I was thrilled being in a foreign land exploring new culture more than a thousand of kilometers away from home.


Solo travel preparation


Solo Travel Tip - Plan ahead

I made sure my travel documents would comply to non-essential travel requirements for Philippine passport holders. This was January 2023, and travel restrictions aren't fully lifted yet.

I also checked if my destination accepts tourists and what will be its requirements. More on this about my blog about Vietnam travel restrictions

Both articles have overlapping requirements. I simply made sure I have everything - including vaccination certificate and a travel insurance policy to ensure my travel will be smooth and hassle free as possible.


travel documents including passport, airline ticket, insurance policy


My preparation included being equipped with information and tools that made my trip more convenient and safe. Though I was overly prepared, I made sure not to pack too much things and brought only the important items.

Below are tips that I hope will help first time solo travelers who are planning their adventures.


1. Plan and be informed

Travel information is widely available more than ever. Be informed of things about the place you are visiting - the location, food, transportion options and the local culture.

Itinerary planning, researching on possible activities before the solo travel

The feeling of having something to look forward to drives me to take pleasure in preparing for a trip. This time,  since I will be traveling alone, I felt the need to acquaint myself with the surroundings of my destination and my possible whereabouts.

Weeks ahead of my trip, I browsed around Ho Chi Minh City, where I was planning to travel to, using Google Maps & Street Views to familiarize myself with where I was planning to stay, plus the other areas I plan to visit. I also researched my transportation options I can use to go to certain places from my hotel.


2. Make use of technology

This is somewhat related to the first item as technology helps us in getting the information we need quickly. 

Travel-related apps may depend on the destination as some services are limited to certain countries. There is a great number of travel apps that can make your travel easier whether you're traveling alone or in a group.

Travel apps on an iPhone

For my case, the apps that I used the most are enumerated below. 

Travel apps I used to make my solo travel easier:

Google Maps

Every time I travel I use Google Maps. In some countries, Google Maps can even inform you how to commute (e.g. which train station to go to, even where or which specific podium to stand on while waiting for the train).

Google Translate

Not all people can understand English.  Google Translate can help in connecting with local people despite the language barrier. Google Translate, through Google Lens, can even translate printed foreign words to English or a native language. Transalation may not be completely accurate for now, but you will get the message.


Like in the Philippines and other South East Asian countries, Grab is widely used for transportation. Though a lot of locals use Grab in booking motorcycle taxis


Klook was used for booking tours. Also, I use Klook to book a portable wifi rental that I normally use whenever I travel.


Like Klook, I used Airbnb experiences to book tours. Both Airbnb and Klook help travelers connect with tour operators in an effective way. With Airbnb, you can book a few days before the actual tour. You won't be charged until your booking has been confirmed by the host.


A currency converter, it can quickly convert foreign currencies in real time. This helped me during my solo Vietnam trip as some transactions are in VND millions, which can be confusing if you're not used to their currency.


Because Google Maps only work if you have an internet connection, I also have MAPS.ME as a back-up navigation app. MAPS.ME is an offline map in which you can download the map of your destination in advance, while you still have a stable internet connection.

Days before my trip while I was still at home, I already downloaded the map of HCMC because I knew there will be a time that I will not have an internet connection. When I arrived in Ton Son Nhat International airport in Saigon, I booked a Grab Car to my hotel. There is a public wi-fi in the airport which enabled my Grab booking.

Though Grab is generally safe, I took extra care by checking the map if the Grab driver was actually driving me to my hotel. I didn't have internet this time as my booked portable wi-fi can only deliver the device to my hotel. This was the time the offline map was helpful.


Plan on having a mobile internet connection

Because these mobile services need internet connection, I suggest to either have a local sim card or a pocket wi-fi on hand while you're in a foreign country. I use a mobile phone which is locked by a telco provider in the Philippines so renting a pocket wi-fi was a better option to be connected while on the go. 

I booked a pocket wi-fi through Klook in advance – weeks before my trip. When I got to my hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, the staff at the reception handed me the device. I was connected wherever I go from then on. On my last day, I lift the pocket wifi at the hotel reception and the wi-fi provider picked-up the device.


3. Pack light

After figuring out I only had a few set of clothes and some reserves, I fit all my stuff in one luggage and a back pack. Having only 2 bags helped to move around without having so much stuff with me.

There were times that I needed to go to the restroom at the airport and I knew it would be difficult if I have so many bags to go with me inside the toilet.


In addition to my travel documents, my essentials included:

  • A charging port which centralized the charging of all my gadgets
  • A powerbank
  • Vitamins
  • First aid kit
  • Book to have something to read when internet is not available (e.g. in the airplane)
  • Other items that made my trip more enjoyable and comfortable like ear phones and neck pillow


luggage in HCMC airport


4. Learn some basic local language

Especially if the locals in your destination do not speak English (or even if they do), it would be a great idea to learn the local language’s common phrases like hello, thank you, sorry, or how much (especially if you’re planning to shop and plan to bargains)

A local store in South East Asia


5. Buy a travel insurance policy

It helped to ease some edginess since I have a travel insurance policy with COVID-19 cover that can cover my medical expenses in case I am diagnosed positive while traveling outside my home country.

Also, there are added benefits in having a travel insurance policy like coverage for your luggage and personal effects so I believe getting travel insurance is worth it adds up my peace of mind.


Person who is travel planning, reading her travel insurance policy


In addition, most travel insurance policies include an assistance hotline indicated in the policy. Normally, the hotline should be called in case the insured is hospitalized, to enable cashless medical expense settlements. In some cases, the assistance provider included in the travel insurance policy does not only include access to medical services, but can also act as a travel concierge that can help on some travel mishaps.

To be able to use the travel insurance policy is the least that I want to happen. But knowing there is something to safeguard me in case the worst happens makes me feel more confident in exploring the world.

The policy I took out is a single-trip travel insurance plan by  Starr Insurance Philippines




Safety tips for traveling alone


6. Stay connected with family and friends


Laptop computer and a mobile phone reminding you to stay safe


Share your itinerary to your family and close friends

Since you’re traveling solo, you may have created an itinerary that may serve as your schedule in doing your planned activities. You don’t have to strictly follow your itinerary, but it is good to have when you run out of things to do.

Your family and close friends back home should have a copy of your itinerary so they would know your whereabouts.

If you are traveling for a long period, you may want to research the nearest Philippine embassy and take note of their contact number.

It is advisable to have a way to contact emergency services if you have to, whether it's a tourist services by the government, your travel insurance policy or the nearest Philippine consulate or embassy.


Stay connected

Update your family and friends regarding your wherabouts. Nowadays communicating is as sending a message through your mobile phone. This is also why it is best to have your own internet connection when you are traveling alone.



7. Trust your instincts, use common sense

Listen to your intuition 

Pay attention to your gut feelings. Leave the situation if you feel something is not right.  You do not need to follow what's in your itinerary.


Keep your money and IDs in a safe place

According to AARP, a website that publishes travel information, you may want to stash your money and passport in separate places.

I kept my passport in a secure place in my hotel room. I only brought a printed copy of my passport in my travel wallet, in addition to having a digital copy saved in my mobile phone.


Things to avoid when traveling alone

  • Never get drunk
  • Avoid wandering around at late at night
  • Don't tell everyone you are alone
  • Don't get too distracted






Final thoughts on my quick solo travel 

You don't have to do activities alone. It is good to join organized group tours. Listening to other nationals give us a different perspective about things in life. During my HCMC trip I joined a some tours and most people I met are from developed nations like Canada, Japan, UK. It felt good talking to them and I believe I represented the Philippines well.

Mentioned in this article is mostly preparation and being on the safe side. However, it is also important not to be too stiff. It is good to be aware of your surroundings but also remember that you took an a solo trip to explore (your destination as well as yourself) and find enjoyment out of it.

I have read countless safety precautions about traveling alone. But during the actual trip, when I got to my destination, I realized that some tips are exagerrated. The key is to have a right balance as not to hold yourself too much. You also have to go out of your comfort zone. 


HCMC, Vietnam



Will I travel alone ever again?

As of now, I don't see myself doing it again in the near future.

But if there will come a time that I would really need to, I know what to expect.

Travel soon! 🧳