In a country of 7,107 islands, it is unfortunate to note that so little of it has been explored by its own citizens. It's easy to think that since Rizal, Mindoro, or even Cebu are so near that it would be easy to visit these places...someday. If the only thing that is stopping you from traveling locally is a companion for the trip, consider going solo.
Traveling alone is one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges you can choose to take on. It gives you the freedom of choice: where to go, how to get there and what to do will be up to you. Traveling alone allows you to be more introspective, so that you discover new insights regarding your own nature and that of others. As a lone traveler, you also become more curious and active in your new environment allowing you to see everything with new eyes. While risk is always a factor when traveling, oftentimes there is danger to a group of unprepared travelers rather than a single prepared one. With this in mind, here are some things to consider when going on a solo trip.
As You Plan Your Trip
The beauty of solo travel is that it offers you the chance to be spontaneous, but planning the trip beforehand can go a long way:
Choose a destination appropriate for your travel experience. If you have never traveled unaccompanied before, you can plan to visit a place you have previously been to with companions and see it with fresh eyes traveling alone. Solo travel newbies can also plan on visiting a destination where it is not unusual for locals to see new faces, such as Baguio City.
Do your research. Study the location and transportation maps of your destination ahead of time. Contact people that you know who have been to your planned destination--they might be able to provide you with personalized tips. Find out everything you can about where you're going, particularly the cultural norms, values and rules of etiquette of its residents. For example, Sagada locals find it inappropriate for ladies to walk around sightseeing in an extremely low cut shirt whereas it is acceptable for skimpily clad individuals to stroll half naked along the beaches of Boracay at any time of the day.
Learn some phrases in the local dialect. Even if you're unable to master the pronunciation, locals will appreciate the effort. Memorize key phrases such as:
"Leave me alone!"
"Where is the toilet?"
Driving to Get to Your Destination
Have your car checked. Before leaving for your trip, make sure that your car is in good shape: check your vehicle's oil, brakes, transmission fluid, coolant, and tires. Have a mechanic check out your vehicle about a week before you leave. Make sure that your spare tire is in good condition, and that you have the necessary equipment to set it up.
Getting There via Public Transportation
Lie low. Avoid attracting unnecessary attention to yourself. Do not wear flashy or skimpy clothes, and avoid displaying valuables.
During Your Trip
Keep in mind the following guidelines as you travel around in the destination of your choice:
Look confident. Empower yourself by moving with confidence: walk with your shoulders squared, chin up and eyes straight ahead.
Ask and you shall receive. If you're lost, ask discreetly. Local police officers or barangay tanod are always ready and willing to help. At the absence of an officer in uniform, ask tricycle or jeepney drivers--they know their way around and are good sources of information.
- Spread your valuables out. Don't keep all your documents and money in one container. If your accommodation is equipped with a safety deposit box, use it. Keep a secret stash of cash in an unlikely place, such as in the inside of your shoe, as an emergency fund.
- Speak out, be noisy. The best thing you can do if someone touches you inappropriately is to yell, shout and make a fuss. Don't worry about what the locals will think, if anything they will help you ward off the aggressor. If you find yourself in a situation where you're alone with an attacker, use every tool you have: scream, spray him with pepper spray, pretend to throw up on him, kick him in his privates, and run for help. To avoid getting into a sticky situation, check out this article as well.
- Above all, trust your instincts.
Though caution should always be taken during any travel excursion, the kindness of strangers and the ease of solo travel in the Philippines surpass that of even the most popular international tourist destination. Traveling alone is a chance to step outside of one's comfort zone, meet new friends, and gain new perspectives. Stay safe, travel smart and don't let your fears prevent you from enjoying the voyage.
Read the full story, Going Solo: A Guide for Traveling Alone, on TravelBook.ph.