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Have you traveled solo before? I’m not referring to a short business trip, but a real trip where you covered the country in free and easy style. The reason why I’ve been MIA for a while is because I was out in Taiwan for 8 days fulfilling my 2015 New Year Resolution, that is, to travel solo.
Solo Travelling in Taiwan: An Immense Success
It was so liberating! Why didn’t I do it earlier? The fear of getting lost or being in helpless situations was unfounded. I was enjoying myself to the max, spending as much or as little time on each activity/place as I wanted to. I was in full control of the places I wanted to go or not.
Needless to say, my first solo trip was an immense success. There wasn’t a single moment of loneliness. My itinerary was packed to the brim and I was always “busy”, “exploring” and “experiencing”.
Life on those eight days was so meaningful.
There were times when my path would cross with other solo travelers or local residents, and we would enjoy our activities together. Like the senior Taiwan auntie whom I’ve met during my hike in Maokong.
We chatted for a while and I decided to alter my trail and accompany her to a temple. Who would know that such serendipity encounter would eventually reward me with a fantastic panorama view of Taipei City?
Is Solo-Travelling Common?
I’d initially thought that it was common to travel alone. In fact, I was embarrassed that I didn’t dare to do it until this year, when I’m already in my late 30s. However, many whom I’ve met during my trip were surprised that I was a lone traveler.
“You are travelling alone in Taiwan?”, a sales promoter asked in an astonished tone.
“Oh…why? Taiwan is safe, right?”, I replied innocently.
Another kind male photo-taker also asked, “Why are you here alone? Your husband didn’t accompany you?”
“Oh well, he couldn’t take leave from work. Thanks for helping me to take nice photos for him to see.”
With all these surprised look and questions, it seems like solo-travelling is not as common as I’d initially thought? What do you think?
Is Solo-Travelling Safe?
It is important that we have the presence of mind and remain vigilant especially if we are solo female traveler. I exercised caution from the country I chose (Taiwan is a safe country), to the places I stayed and visited.
Places to Go
Even though I love mountain hiking, I’d crossed out most of the beautiful mountains that I would love to climb. The only few which I’d attempted were low-rise mountains, that were popular and frequently visited by tourists.
In other words, if the route or place appears to be deserted, even for a 10-minute journey, I would skip.
Some online reviews would recommend visiting certain places during off-peak hours because of the crowd. For me, I would disregard the advice and go when everyone is there, even though it could be a chaos. I may be playing it too safe, but I don’t want to take any chance at all. I imagine that it would be easy to kidnap me because I’m rather petite. Heh. Not that I’m very kidnap-pable…but what if? Heh heh.
In any case, these items can help you knock out bad guys should a worst case scenario happen.
Another thing I did was not to dress too “beautifully”. Haha. I didn’t bring any dresses or heels. It was tee-shirts, shorts, leggings, sandals, sports shoe and slippers for me.
TIP: As a solo traveler on free and easy, it’s important to stay mobile. Try carrying a backpack instead of a hard-shelled luggage and you’ll have your hands free to do a lot of things. I’ve been using this lightweight backpack for 2 years and super love it! This 44L backpack saved me money too when I’m flying with budget airlines as I didn’t need to buy extra checked-in baggage. I’m highly-recommending it to you!
I didn’t want to attract unnecessary attention. I’d also chosen Taiwan because I’m a Chinese and would merge in with the locals. Once I’ve gained more experience, I’ll venture to more distant countries. But right now, it’s important to gain more experience as a solo female traveler.
On hind sight, I think it is better to stay in a hostel environment (or a decent hotel if your budget allows). My first 4 nights were spent in a hostel-environment, while the last 3 were spent in a private apartment (via Airbnb).
Although the hostel was more cramp and provided little privacy, I thought it was safer for a single female traveler.
For the hostel I stayed in, females and males sleep in separate sections with each area being accessible with an electronic security card. The place was manned 24/7 whereas the private apartment I’d stayed in the last 3 nights was manned 0/0. So if I’d needed to turn to someone for help, the private apartment would provide none.
And the best thing is, the hostel cost half the price of the private apartment. I’ll explain more when I do my little Taiwan travelogue in subsequent posts.
There were kind strangers who offered to help me take photos or who struck up conversations . However, I’m not sure if all were without motives. When they probed too much about why I was travelling alone, I would tell them that my partner couldn’t take leave from work. It was my intention to let them know that I’m not a SINGLE solo traveler. I would also never accept any drinks or food from them.
Carry Safety Devices
As a woman, we need to take extra precaution when travelling solo. Make sure you carry an emergency alarm especially if you’ll be out late at night, or visiting secluded places. This personal alarm can be hooked to your bag and make a striking loud noise when you pull the trigger. Use it together with this police-strength pepper spray and you should be a lot safer.
Throughout these eight days, I stayed connected with my partner. We would whatsapp each other every hour or so. It was fun sending him photos of the new places I was at, and certainly great for him to experience live reporting of good food and places (since he couldn’t be there).
TIP: Read about my great experience with this affordable WiFi Pocket Device
Why Travel Solo?
Now, I’m not solely advocating that one should travel solo. I actually thought it’ll be good if you can acquire the courage/ability to do so. So that you are not limited by the availability or interests of others when you decide your next vacation.
For instance, I’ll be travelling with my partner early next year. While I await for that “couple trip”, I could squeeze in a few more trips on my own and it wouldn’t disrupt his work commitment.
Would I do it again?
Of course! In a heartbeat.
I’m already on the lookout for air tickets to the next destination, probably in a month’s time. If my schedule allows, I would really love to travel at least once every two months.
My Detailed Travellogue…
Things to Buy in Taiwan?…
What to Avoid Buying in Taiwan?
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