PHOTO: TIM BOGDANOV/UNSPLASH
While travel is usually seen as a group activity, flying solo has not only become commonplace, but desirable, thanks to movies like Eat, Pray, Love. And a 2019 YouGov survey conducted by travel and activities booking platform, Klook, has found that more than 7 in 10 Singaporeans have either traveled alone or are thinking about it. When asked why, the majority of participants said that they wanted uninterrupted “me time” and to escape from their daily routines.
So what’s holding them back? More than half (55%) of the Singaporean survey participants worry about their safety, while 50% are afraid of feeling lonely. Other concerns include the hassle of planning or booking activities, as well as the cost of adventuring solo.
As a nation of foodies, it’s no surprise 63% of participants said that trying local food is a “must-do” when traveling alone (anyway, some destinations, like Japan, abound in restaurants with bar seats and private booths). The same number of people said that they like checking out local attractions or wandering about without a plan – after all, you don’t need to accommodate anyone’s sleep, toilet, and eating schedules other than your own.
Only about a third of participants named “meeting the locals” and “meet old and make new friends” as a solo travel must-do, which is probably why they worry about safety and loneliness.
Unless you enjoy befriending strangers on vacation, you’ll need to get comfortable with being silent and fending for yourself. Still, the opportunity to recharge and to try new things, on your own terms, will ease the weirdness in no time. If you’re planning to cap off 2019 with a solo trip, here’s what you can do to make it safe and not (too) lonely:
Register your overseas travel with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). This free and voluntary service will make it easier for MFA to assist you should an emergency occur.
Keep others informed about your daily itinerary. We know, you want to emulate Into the Wild, but if you'd like to avoid the fate of its main character, sharing your plans with friends and family will help them locate you were you should you become uncontactable.
Choose safe lodgings. If you're in a hotel or resort, try not to stay on the ground floor, where intruders can easily sneak in. We'd also recommend that solo travelers stick to guest houses or hotels near public transportation, as opposed to an AirBNB in the middle of the woods.
Choose a location where you have at least one friend or family member. At least there will be someone you can call, should a bout of loneliness (or food poisoning) strike.
Sign up for a day tour. Be it a guided museum tour, a walking tour, or a wine tasting tour, these activities will give you opportunities to talk with people without being stuck with them the whole trip.
Attend a class. Book a pizza-making class in Italy. Sign up for a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto. You'll not only get to eat delicious food, but you'll get to chat with teachers who are more than happy to share about their culture.
Bring a book everywhere. This makes sitting alone in a cafe feel way less awkward. (Bonus: you can use it as a weapon when the situation calls for it.)