Travelling alone is like marmite, you must have an acquired taste for it and not everyone quite gets the ‘hype’. While I may hate marmite, travelling alone has held a certain affinity in my heart. It’s a terrifying and terrific all at once. After taking two trips to Hong Kong and Georgia #allbymyself (Did you sing that part too?), I’ve learned a few harsh and some hilarious lessons, so here are my top ten tips to get the most of it: 

  1. Keep your expectations realistic: When I made my first weekend getaway to Hong Kong, I had all of these expectations of staying out all day and all night and explore the city 24/7. Well unless you do not get tired after 8 hour flights and have the running routine of David Beckham, this one won’t be easy. Don’t get me wrong, pushing yourself is part of the back-packing routine, but explore on your own pace and do not get wrapped up in thinking you HAVE to see every tourist spot that shows up on Google recommendations in a day or two. You really can’t have it all and that’s okay.
  2. Interact with Locals: This one isn’t easy because more often than not, there’ll be a language barrier. However, I’ve found some interesting city facts in cab rides and found acquaintances in back alley’s of Lai Kwai Fong. Wherever you can, whomever you find, strike a conversation that brings more meaning to your trip and gives you insight on the local culture and history.
  3. Be defensive: Not every stranger will be perfect and not every street you cross, safe. Keep your guard up and keep pepper spray to say the least. And lastly, always carry your phone. Even if you’re on a social media detox and are on a run from your problems, having a phone means you can get 911’s help if you’re in a tricky situation.
  4. Don’t overdo the picture thing: I get it, snap-chatting every moment of your expensive vacay seems like the only plausible outcome (been there, done that!). Sometimes it’s okay to not be obsessed with taking a picture with every step you take, quite literally. Some sights are meant to bring you peace and comfort in that moment and saved as a memory and not a Facebook album.
  5. Stock up your room with chips and chocolate: Trying new cuisine is great, but quite often there are more misses than hits. Especially when you’re alone, stock up your hotel room with back up food so after a long day of exploring you can not go back and scout for food you may not like. With that said, do not shy away from experiencing different food every chance you get.
  6. Google the S*** of your destination before arriving: The last thing you’d want to be on a vacation alone is; unprepared. Google the essentials at least, languages locals speak, currency and how much of it you could need, transportation modes, safety precautions and local culture limitations. Also, realistically you’d also check out data packages, weather and things like that, but the first five are complete essentials before you land at your destination.
  7. Limit your packing: You know the best feeling in the world is to wear the same dress two nights in a row at your local pub without judgement. Because guess what? No one would find out! (Except your Hotel lobby, but who cares?) The bottomline is pack moderately and efficiently and if you’re back-packing; then really cut down on essentials you’ll need.
  8. Have a ritual: My travel rituals include buying a perfume at the Duty Free because I’d like to remember my vacation with that scent forever. Also, I make notes of anything, anyone or any place that strikes me as special and evokes a special feeling. That makes my ritual so personal and sort of a present to the future me from the present me.
  9. Go with the flow: You know the first time you make a trip like this, it comes with certain aspirations and goals you’d like to attain and it doesn’t always quite work out that way. Both the times I travelled, I had all intentions of escaping my problems, exploring incessantly and living in the moment. But it came with challenges and some failures too, but if keep sweating the small stuff you take away from the big picture. And the big picture is, YOU GOT THIS.
  10. Broaden your horizons: When you travel different continents and cities, the culture shock would depend on your upbringing, your belief and faith systems. Wherever you come from and whatever you do, when you’re committing to this solo getaway, keep your heart and soul open to experiences and situations that are outside your comfort zone and broadens your perspective in life. This is the single most hands-on way to learning everything there’s to know about life.

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Heena Mak

I believe in changing mindsets, changing the world, not with the power of a sword, but with the power of a word...

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