Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of inquiries via mail and Twitter from women regarding solo travel. Seems like a lot has been considering backpacking, this is what I like. I’ve noticed too that I have more girl readers compared to boys and so as to accommodate my dear readers, I will be having a GO GIRLS TRAVEL TIPS SERIES every Sunday until year 2011 ends.
So without further ado, let’s kick-off the series
Nina Fuentes of Just Wandering:
On safety: If you can survive living in Manila, you can surely survive traveling
around the world.
On traveling solo: Think of it as traveling with the person you love most.
On staying pretty while backpacking: A smile is your best accessory — and it doesn’t take up space in your backpack.
Paula Peralejo of Our Restless Feet:
Sometimes, it’s easy to say just dress like a local and you’ll be fine. But we all know that even at this day and age when we all scream for equality and go against racism, your physical looks can still be a factor in making traveling a breeze. If you’re female with relatively whiter skin and you’re traveling around the country, more often than not, you will still get the looks. It’s nothing bad, it’s just that no matter what you do, you will hardly be taken as a local. Yes, you can always dress down, but at the end of the day, people will still notice you – the woman “who’s not from town”. Most of the time, this is okay. When they notice you, look at them in the eye and smile. But it also wouldn’t hurt to take precautions when traveling, most especially when you’re alone.
Once, I did a solo travel to this place where people often see as an unsafe zone. Fair enough, there have been reports on bombings in this city, so I couldn’t really blame others for questioning why I wanted to visit this city at all. However, that’s the beauty of travel, it takes out all your prejudices and somewhat transforms you into somebody who’s more open-minded and understanding. I would like to think that’s what happened to me. But of course, this is something you cannot just tell your mom or people who deeply care about you.
So to make it easier for me and for everybody else, I did four things I normally don’t do when I travel.
1. I asked for help from the right people. I called the local tourism office of the city and told them I was planning to visit. Normally, I just go on my own but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask for assistance from these people.
2. Instead of bringing a huge SLR, I just brought a small point and shoot cam to avoid questions like “Are you a journalist?” or “What are you taking photos of and why?”
3. I didn’t announce in the social media realm where I was going, or that I was leaving at all. I told the people close to me where I was going, but I made sure to keep mum on Facebook and Twitter.
4. The locals advised me that it’s better to stay indoors at night, so that’s what I did. After watching a cultural show, I went home to my hotel. And as I normally do, I tried my best to dress like a local to avoid unnecessary attention. Luckily, I found out the day before I flew that a friend of mine who’s from another city was also going there for the holiday, so I had a companion.
It turns out that trip was one of my best trips ever. Once again, I have proven that the media can oftentimes make things larger than they really are, and this city known to Manilenos as a scary city is just a normal thriving city, full of wonderful people with a very rich culture. In the end, nobody hurt me, and every single person I met welcomed me with open arms. This is something we don’t hear from the media, but something that happens even in the “most dreaded cities” of the Philippines everyday.
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GO GIRLS TRAVEL TIPS SERIES is my way of saying “thanks” and “go girl, you can do solo travel” to my female readers I hope you many will try and embrace the adventures of female solo traveling.
I asked 10 female travel bloggers for help on topics like safety, solo travel, outfit & fashion, staying pretty while on the road, travel secrets and more girls talk.