Going solo: things you should know about traveling alone (and why you should)

As I walked along the narrow path to work on a typically hot, wet and hate-filled Monday morning (and I’m late, no less), the sun suddenly revealed itself majestically and set the field of wet grass ablaze, a sea of dazzling diamonds on each side of the pathway. I stood rooted to the spot in awe, and before I realised what was actually happening, the moment was already gone.

So anyway, what’s this got to do with solo travel? Bear with me now, it all comes together nicely at the end.

solo travel 1


Solo travel as a fun, relaxing activity is a lie invented by the Internet. Or rather, it is more important than being just a simple, hedonistic pursuit. My main objective is that by the time you read the last sentence of this article, you would think that solo travel is at least as important as the colour of that dress or the need to tell others what websites you read.

Because if you have ever felt:

  • like you were stuck in the theme song of Friends, forever waiting for the chorus to happen with no avail, or
  • the need to congratulate yourself for not having punched anyone in the face after a hard day of work.

Then it is time to invest in a little bit of solitude.

solo travel 2

Solo travel is about devoting time for yourself, creating and experiencing things without filtering them through the lens of others. It is about creating an opportunity for authentic self-awareness and improvement,  which is a hard thing to do especially in Singapore, where we live in an insane concrete jungle that forever piques one’s achievement against another’s in a mad race to be above average.

David Bowie once said this of his Singaporean fans:

These children who are doomed to ride the up escalator forever.

David Bowie

So if you are planning to travel solo for the first time, you should understand that it is not exactly an easy journey, but if you do it right, it can be an extremely liberating escape from that upward moving escalator and a really royal way of saying “See ya later, alligator!”.

So if you are contemplating your virgin solo travel experience, the following pointers might just help you out (or not, I actually never know).

1. You will have at least 4 panic attacks on your solo travel

Bring along your favourite fragrance to help sooth those panic attacks
Bring along your favourite fragrance to help ease those panic attacks (Source)

Travelling alone means that there is no one to remind you of things to bring or help out with the planning and that can often be extremely stressful. Use a travel app like “Pack the Bag” to make sure you’ve brought all you need for the trip.

It’ll also be nice to carry some things from home that will keep you calm and rooted after throwing a basic fit in the hotel room or having a heated argument with yourself in the shower for not bringing enough conditioner. For me, its usually a relaxing hand balm or a fragrance. It could be Pokemon pyjamas for you, but hey, nobody’s judging.

2. Spend. The. Money.

Benesse Art SIte - Naoshima, Japan
Benesse Art SIte – Naoshima, Japan (Source)

This is closely related to point (1), traveling alone is stressful enough, forget about comparing prices, you might want to spend a little bit more for a comfortable flight or a unique hotel experience such as the Benesse Art Site – if you are planning on visiting Naoshima, Japan. 

3. Disconnect and go offline

Don't let me catch you doing this
Don’t let me catch you doing this (Source)

Limit the amount of time you spend on your mobile phone going through other people’s content. Instead, invest your time in making real interactions with the locals and letting your own experiences (in other words your own private content) formulate your thoughts. Don’t you dare take that flat lay of your meal, no matter how fusion it is.


And also, as difficult as it is, don’t be too eager to share your photos online. Because if you get too caught up with trying to show off your experiences, no matter how awesome they are, you will be seriously missing the point and I’ll get around to explaining why later in the article.

4. Use this chance to do something you’ve always wanted to try

Woman doing yoga on the shore - half figure sitting

One of the most rewarding part of my solo trips was having the downtime to explore new hobbies. I discovered illustration and jogging during my week long stay near Ueno Park in Tokyo and it has since helped in soothing the tensions of my daily life and reducing the intensity of those “punching someone in the face” fantasies.

5. Plan attractions with a light hand (except when it comes to food)


Don’t try to cram too many places to visit, the whole point of traveling alone is to take things slow and free up time for authentic, unplanned interactions and discoveries.

But when it comes to food, you’ve really got to research the details carefully as good restaurants are often hard to find and not as eye catching. Spontaneously stumbling upon a restaurant serving amazing food is as rare as a typically-named Kanye baby. And we all know how a shitty meal can spoil the day.

6. Most importantly, be safe

Pickpockets love tourists
True story (Source)

Stay vigilant at all times, put your money in several locations and always keep hard copies of important documents and itineraries. ALWAYS check the timings of the last bus/train or last whatever, and always keep a mobile charger with you. And lastly, if your Airbnb owner looks like someone who collects mannequins in his basement that come alive at night etc., don’t take the chance. 


So, going back to the grass fields burning bright with sunlight on that hot Monday morning; the beauty was as blunt as it gets, the moment was as intangible as it was fleeting, but ultimately, what mattered most was that no one else paused to look at it; it was a moment of wonder I experienced as an individual.

Taking the time to travel alone is an important and luxurious investment in yourself, a useful way of improving/clarifying who you really are. But most importantly, it allows you to make possessions out of beauty and experiences in a way that belongs to you and only you.

And that is why you should travel solo.