21 books to read before travelling to PortugalFebruary 14, 2018
Female solo travel guidesFebruary 19, 2018
Carmen is from the Philippines, but currently lives in Qatar. Her first trip was in 2006, but it wasn’t until she finished college that she traveled more. She has been to more than 50 countries across 6 continents (except Antarctica). After 5 years of traveling solo, she is now married and mother to two beautiful kids aged 3 years old and 2 months.
Tell us about your first trip alone overseas? What emotions you felt, scared, happy, excited, was it a mixture of everything? How old were you? Where did you go?
My first trip overseas was to Seoul, South Korea when I was 18. I was one of the delegates of my country to a ‘Youth Camp for Asia’s Future’ in 2006. It was an all-expense paid activity and we stayed there for one month. However, my first trip overseas completely alone was to Dubai, United Arab Emirates when I was 22. My cousin helped me get a visa to travel and visit her. It was my first time traveling alone so I was excited and, at the same time, lost. Everything was new to me. I was exposed to a broader horizon that I never thought I would experience in real life.
How have your experiences traveling alone been compared to travelling with someone? Do you have a preference for alone or travelling with someone?
I have traveled alone, with friends, with groups, with family, with siblings, with my husband, and with kids. I have experienced them all. Each one is a different cup of tea. Traveling alone for me means freedom and control. I can do whatever I want, go wherever I want, whenever I want, and however I want. Traveling with someone means compromises and adjustments.
I guess preference depends on which stage a person is. When I was single, I preferred traveling alone. However, I am a married woman now with kids, and I love traveling with them. It’s a whole new perspective!
What are some favourite resources or products that you love and can’t travel without?
Aside from the basic essentials, I can’t travel without my iPhone, scarf, ziploc bags, lipstick, and extra money.
What are your thoughts on traveling alone as a women and the issue of safety?
Just a reality check: No country is completely safe. With everything that is happening all over the world, you would think there is no safe place anymore. Maybe, media portrayed a major role on how we see and perceived other countries. If we always have this way of thinking, we will miss out on a lot of things. Would you skip traveling to a certain country just because of terrorist attacks, political upheaval and violence? Each country has its fair share of problems and issues. However, there is always good in every country.
This is where preparation comes in. Do your research! As a woman, we need to be smart, MORE cautious, MORE careful, MORE vigilant, and MORE aware of our surroundings. But don’t let the issue of safety stops you from traveling alone!
Tell us a story about your best travel experience (with or without someone else)
I try to have a best experience in every country. But for me, my best travel experience and also the most memorable one is the first time I saw snow. I know this sounds so simple and nothing to a lot of travelers. But coming from the Philippines and a meager family, I never thought I would be able to travel overseas. I spent my first White Christmas in Frankfurt, Germany in 2010. I was so excited, thrilled and ecstatic. I will never forget that feeling!
What are your top 3 favourite countries you have traveled too?
Japan, Hungary, and Singapore
What are your least favourite experience or country traveled too?
Tourist traps in Bangkok – As much as I love Bangkok, nowadays there are a lot of tourist traps. The first time I went to Bangkok almost a decade ago, there were not a lot of traps or scams. And I go there at least once a year. Maybe I became complacent and not do research anymore just because I have been there before.
On one of my travels to Bangkok, I brought my husband and my brother with me, and decided to roam around the city. When we reached the Grand Palace, a stranger told us it is close. We almost believed him but there were a lot of tourists there that it was impossible for it to be closed. We didn’t know that there are separate entrances for tourists and Thais. This stranger took us to the Thai entrance. Of course the policemen stopped us. Not trusting him, we told him that we will check the other side. And voila! It was open! Upon coming out of the Grand Palace, he was there again telling us that he will take us to the Lucky Buddha Temple for a cheaper fare. He endorsed us to a tuktuk driver. Suddenly, we found ourselves in gem shops and low quality tailor shops. They would not even let us leave without buying anything. But we were assertive and told them we will not buy anything. After two stops, we started questioning the tuktuk driver and said we didn’t want to go anymore. He honestly told us that if he takes us to those places, he will get a fuel coupon! Scam! We admired his honesty so we just went along with it without buying anything and only spent 5 minutes in each store. Never again!
One more famous tourist trap is the overpriced taxis! Nowadays, taxi driver are refusing to turn on the meter and even take a longer route! This happens in some countries. So, I always use uber if available!
"This is where preparation comes in. Do your research! As a woman, we need to be smart, MORE cautious, MORE careful, MORE vigilant, and MORE aware of our surroundings. But don't let the issue of safety stops you from traveling alone! "
Let’s play a game, give us the first word or sentence that pops into your head around these words. (Think experiences on the road).
FUN – traveling with kids
TRAVEL – luxury
FOOD – sushi
MEN – off limits
EXERCISE – running after my kids
INDIA – Taj Mahal
AMERICA – Statue of Liberty
PACKING – pack to unpack
JOB – motherhood
ALCOHOL – big no no
DANGER – stay away
TAXIS – overpriced
BED BUGS – pest control or change room
LOVE – Paris
FAMILY – Singapore
NEW FRIENDS – social connection
OLD FRIENDS – Facebook friends
SWITZERLAND – Swiss Alps
" I wasn’t the most confident of people. Traveling alone helped me improve my social skills and build my confidence. I became that person who initiate conversations and tells travel stories without fear of being judged. Traveling has turned me into the confident person I’d always dreamed of being."
What has traveling alone taught you?
Self Confidence – I wasn’t the most confident of people. Traveling alone helped me improve my social skills and build my confidence. I became that person who initiate conversations and tells travel stories without fear of being judged. Traveling has turned me into the confident person I’d always dreamed of being.
Patience – I used to hate waiting around for anything like late transportation, delayed/canceled flights, lost luggage, travel mates or group tours taking their time. I just didn’t have the patience for those stuff which is a terrible quality to have when traveling. So instead of losing my temper, I accept my situation and do what I can to resolve it. I realized that I can handle most situations, and that there really aren’t a lot of things worth getting upset and frustrated about.
Lastly what advice would you give to someone who is looking to travel alone but is too scared?
JUST DO IT! You’ll never know until you do it. You will be amazed on how much you can accomplished by yourself. You can start by going to places alone that you usually go with others such as a restaurant or the movies. Then go to a familiar place on a weekend for your first solo trip. Choose somewhere where they speak your language if you’re uncomfortable, find an easy vacation spot, do your research, and then GO FOR IT!
I like to pamper myself so I stay in a good hotel. I have never experienced staying in other accommodations. Now that I travel with kids the more I invest on a good or better hotel.
Your preference on how to travel, by which modes of transport?
Flying! I love traveling by plane. It’s all about the comfort, convenience and pampering. I travel business class when I can and the experience is out of this world. Five star airlines usually offer superb inflight experience.
"JUST DO IT! You’ll never know until you do it. You will be amazed on how much you can accomplished by yourself. "
How would you describe your travel style in under 50 words?
My travel style depends on who I am with. If I am alone, I can be adventurous and risk taker. If I’m with special someone, traveling is laid-back and relaxing. If I am traveling with the kids, traveling includes amusement parks, zoos and lots of children activities!
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