So, in case you didn't know, I'm finally back in Vietnam after 3 years. It was the first country that I visited as a solo traveler.
And while this time I kinda get used to doing everything alone when I travel, I understand as someone who comes from Southeast Asia region, some people just ask you a lot of questions about your journey.
Some ask questions out of curiosity, some do it because they're inspired to do it too, while the others have a little concern about the idea of traveling alone. And that's totally fine with me. While I think I've had a fair share of experience getting the benefits of traveling alone, I understand that not everyone has been exposed to the idea.
This time, I'll share with you some questions frequently asked about traveling solo in Southeast Asia. The questions that I often get asked, especially as a woman traveling alone around the region.
How I Get Around Southeast Asia as a Woman Traveling Solo
Well, if I have to label myself about what kind of traveler I am, then I think I'll fall into the category of a flashpacker. I'm definitely not a backpacker, because I don't think I'll enjoy myself staying at a hostel, sharing my room with strangers.
I mean, I stayed at some capsule hotel that required me to share some space with other travelers, but it's definitely not something that I commonly do in my travel.
Budget-wise, I definitely like to do anything for the cheap. But I don't mind to get some luxury as long as it's worth it.
While some people prefer to have a short trip once in a while, with my ability to work remotely, these days I prefer to arrange a trip in a longer period with a few stops along the way.
So, how do I cope as a woman traveling alone around Southeast Asia region?! Here are some questions asked that you might be interested to see the answers!
Frequently Asked Questions: Traveling Alone Around Southeast Asia as a Woman
These questions have been asked by some people I know for way too many times. From my friends back home, people I've met along the way, and even sometimes my parents who were supposed to get used to my antics. 😛
1. Is it safe? Aren't you afraid?
Nowhere is 100% safe. Everywhere is prone to any danger that might happen. Accept that fact first, be cautious, and change your mindset in a more positive way. Like, if I kept thinking about the possibility of bad luck when I travel, I might never even start!
Am I afraid? Yes and no. But I'm trying to be more cautious about what I can and can't do. For example, when I went trekking around Bako National Park, I chose not to go too far because I doubt that I had the capability to finish the track at the time.
One thing that I know is that the first thing that I should have in mind when I started traveling is not fear. It is how to overcome it.
2. How much is your budget?
First of all, stop asking this question. It's almost as rude as asking your colleague how much they get paid for their salary. Other than that, I think the budget differs. Mine might not fit yours, and vice versa.
While I'm more comfortable with staying at a budget hotel and do anything that I want according to my mood… You may have that FOMO syndrome and be ambitious to visit all the places in each city's must-do lists.
That being said, budgeting shouldn't be a big issue when traveling around Southeast Asia. Almost everything is affordable to travel around, you just need to do some in-depth research about which destination is more suitable for your traveling style.
For example, maybe you want to compare the budget for traveling around Thailand and Malaysia. Or perhaps you want to focus more on the activities offered in Indonesia and the . And while Singapore is listed as one of the most expensive country in the world, you can still travel on a budget in Singapore.
Know your traveling style first, and do your own research about how much money you should have for the way you travel.
3. How many clothes do you usually bring when you travel?
I really wish I were someone who could suggest you travel light and only bring the necessary or whatever. But I'm not.
I bring as many clothes as I want, as long as it doesn't exceed the baggage facility for the flights I take. I always make sure to have a checked-in baggage facility for my flights, because I know I can't travel light.
If I fly with budget airlines like AirAsia or Malindo, I usually purchase a 20-kg for checked-in baggage, and a 25-kg in return to Indonesia. So far, it's always enough for me, and I never exceed those weights. I mean, better be prepared than sorry.
Paying extra for excess baggage is a big no, no. Especially since I know how expensive it could get when I have to pay it at the airport.
4. Do you usually buy travel insurance?
If I gotta be honest with you, this Indochina trip is my first trip where I buy travel insurance. I usually don't. 😛
I know, it's better to be safe than sorry… But so far, when I travel alone, I rarely get the situation that may require any insurance. I always travel safely, and I always get to the airport on time so the chance is thin for me to worry about spending more money to book another ticket or whatever.
However, the reason I started to purchase a travel insurance for this trip was probably that I'm 30 now and becoming a bit more sensitive when it comes to any possibilities. Also, it's my first time to travel longer than a month that I think I should totally get insurance, just in case.
5. What do you do with dirty clothes and laundry?
Since I usually stay for 2-3 nights in each place, I usually have some time to do my laundry. For underwear, I usually wash them by myself at my hotel room using the shower cream and dry it at the shower or hang it where it's exposed to the sunlight so it could dry off when I go out.
As for the clothes, it really depends on where you go because apparently each country has its own style for laundry service.
But in countries like Indonesia or Vietnam, laundry service is more common where you can just get it done based on how many clothes or how many kgs of the laundry you have in total.
6. How do you deal with money? What currency do you carry, and do you usually withdraw money from the ATM?
I'm Indonesian, so it's easier for me since I can get SGD, MYR, or THB easily in the money changer in my home country.
However, when I visit some other countries like Vietnam or Cambodia, I always have USD with me to be exchanged by the time I arrive in the country. Except for Cambodia, since I heard they use USD for almost all transactions anyway. I'll update this later once I reach Cambodia since I'm yet to go there.
As for the ATM, yes… It's probably the privilege of being an ASEANer because I have a saving account in one of the banks that have branches around the Southeast Asia region: CIMB Bank. We can withdraw money anywhere we can find the bank or ATM, free of transaction fee and just pay for the currency rate.
7. How do you usually get around?
I usually use Grab in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam. You can just download an app that can be used in those countries to get around.
Other than that, I usually stroll around by walking. I usually take a free map in case I get lost and can't get the internet connection to check Google map. For the latter, I could assure you that anything map-related, it works better on Android phone than iPhone.
I use both, and I can never rely on iPhone to navigate my journey without getting lost.
8. How do you cope with loneliness?
You'd be surprised by how I socialize better when I travel alone. I could easily connect with fellow travelers or even my taxi driver when I travel with no one.
I think that's the thing about traveling solo… You're basically open to a lot of possibilities, including the possibility to cope with loneliness.
Whenever I go somewhere new, I usually post a public trip on Couchsurfing to connect with either locals or fellow travelers. More often than not, I'd connect with someone through the app so I don't spend the whole time being alone on my trip.
9. What about traveling during your period?
Well, that's exactly why I usually give some spare time to stay in each place. That way, I could give myself a little break in case that time of the month comes.
I currently use a menstrual cup during my period, so it's super handy to carry when you travel around. However, please know that menstrual pads are still the most common thing women use for their period.
Therefore, if you usually use tampons, then you may get a hard time getting them in some countries like Indonesia or Malaysia. Better pack some from home if that's the case.
Are You Ready to Travel Solo Around Southeast Asia?
Well, those are the questions I often got from some people when they know that I mostly travel alone around the region. Honestly, there's nothing much to worry about traveling in Southeast Asia as a woman.
Just be mindful and be open to anything without losing yourself. So, are you ready? Or do you have any other questions about women traveling around Southeast Asia?
Hit me up with the question in the comment section below, and cheerio! 😀