Today, I’m off to Kuala Lumpur as part of a Malaysia blogger influencer exchange programme with Malaysia Airlines. I’m excited, I’m nervous and so, so giddy, it is strange having such fear as well as happy emotions. I’m a little nervous as I’m flying alone, and most of my time in Malaysia will be just me, myself and I. This will be my first trip travelling solo, I’m excited for the challenge, but also at the back of my mind I’m worried about my safety, enjoying myself, as well as silly things like eating alone. If I was going to Paris, New York or LA I wouldn’t be as nervous, but this will be my first trip to Asia, I have to be honest I’m not sure what to expect, except maybe humid weather.
But even with a few worries, I’m looking forward to a bit of self discovery, and proving to myself that I can travel and experience a new place on my own. It was only when I realised I wasn’t the only one who thought travelling alone was a little daunting that I thought it would be great idea to ask a few of my fabulous well-travelled friends, who do this travelling solo thing all the time for their tips and tricks to making the most of my first solitary outing.
My first friends expert is Kate McAuley, who is basically always travelling the world. I would like to say I’m exaggerating but when I e-mailed to arrange coffee I usually get a response along the lines of I’m travelling for the next month. I think Kate said her next adventures would be in the south of France and Vietnam. What I’m getting at is Kate really knows her stuff.
First up, Kate suggests making a general plan and doing a little research: “I’ve never got into too much trouble while travelling, but it’s really important to be prepared without being paranoid. Travelling alone can make you feel vulnerable, especially if you’re new to it or in a place with a less than salubrious reputation for personal safety.
“Check out the FCO website for your destination and do a little online reading. Reach out to bloggers who’ve recently been where your going – or even better – who live there. They’re usually more than happy to answer questions. I also make sure that I’ve got a snapshot of the photo page of my passport and any relevant visas stored in my dropbox – it makes it a bit easier if your travel documents go missing.”
Learn some of the lingo, this isn’t just reserved for travelling solo, but is a great tip: “English is so easy to fall back on when you’re travelling,” says Kate. “But if I’m in a place where a different language is spoken, I make an effort to learn a few new words. Being able to say hello, please and thank you, even if you pronounce them wrong, is often greatly appreciated (yes, even in Paris).”
The whole point of travelling alone is that you are trying something new, so be bold Kate says: “There’s something about being away from home that liberates the soul and I often find myself doing things that are out of the ordinary. Travel for me is more than just visiting museums and monuments.
“I like to get involved. I’m not talking about taking massive risks, but things such as talking to people on the street, trying new and unusual food, or, as I did last year in Nice, joining a bunch of older gentleman in an afternoon game of petanque.”
Reena Rai, who is a fabulous blogger over at Fashion Daydreams, is a regular solo travelling and mini adventurer, I’m always jealous at the journeys she has planned, added: “Be bold but safety first! As a precaution, I always told friends or the hotel what my plans were, especially if I was travelling somewhere off the beaten track.”
Be Selfish. With that I don’t mean be disrespectful, but that it’s your trip do what you want. Reena states: “The best part of travelling solo is you can be totally selfish with your time. Fancy laying in til midday? Cool! Or trekking up a mountain at midnight to catch sunrise at the summit? Go for it.”
Importantly both Kate and Reena said that it is important to make memories and experience where you are going. Kate suggests: “Take photos, write a travel diary, share your experiences on social media or just cop a squat in a bustling area and people watch. Travelling is a fantastic way to learn how other people navigate their day-to-day lives.”
They also added that being alone is liberating, with Kate saying that you need to “revel in your aloneness”, while Reena added: “The weird thing about travelling solo is that you’re only ever alone if you want to be. I always made friends breakfast or around the pool at hotels.” So even though you travel alone be open to the friends you might meet.
One last tip came from one of my lovely Twitter followers, @, who suggested carrying a book or notepad, she said: “Carry a book/paper everywhere, makes eating solo easier as somewhere to look.” This is a must for me, I don’t like to be attached to my mobile when away so writing can be a great distraction when feeling lonely, exposed or even a little bored while eating.
Do you have any great solo traveller tips? Leave me a comment below and share your experiences.
Also if you have any must-see tips for during my stay in Kuala Lumpur do get in touch on Twitter or Instagram. Plus you can keep track of my solo adventures by following #FashionistaBarbieInKL.