It’s been more than a month since I visited Seoul, South Korea and since then I still go back to that experience. As you may know, this was the first time I traveled solo and for me, it was a big leap. In the past I used to to travel with friends or with a few officemates for work. During those times, I would separate from the group and go explore on my own. Last month, it was a different story it was just me, my bags, and whatever stuff I had written on my trusty notebook. Looking back at those experiences, I’d like to share some of the tips that really helped me a lot during my travel.
1. Pack light
I can’t stress this enough. One of the things that really got to me was packing clothes for each day of my stay. In the end, I was lugging around a bag filled with dirty clothes and not enough space for the gifts I had bought for my friends and family. Pack light, a few shirts and shorts, pants, and underwear. If you’re staying for more than 5 days, use the laundry in your Airbnb or wash your own clothes.
2. Bottle of water
Living in Manila, I am so accustomed to going inside restaurants or eateries and asking for a glass of water. But when I visited Hong Kong back in 2012, I was blown away when I was given house tea instead of water. The experience was totally alien to me. Since then, my trip to Indonesia, going back to Hong Kong, and South Korea, I never fail to bring with me a bottle of water. Usually a 500ml bottle would do and when I visit museums there’s usually a drinking fountain nearby for me to top up. Bringing a water bottle also saves me money, I don’t have to buy mineral water from convenience stores, and I don’t have to lug around plastic bottles everywhere.
For backpackers and budget travelers, accommodations eat up the biggest chunk of all your planned expenses. To prepare for my trip, I searched far and wide for accommodations, no blogs went unturned, and definitely no Hostelworld and Airbnb listings were exhausted. It actually pays to really sit down and spend a few hours looking for accommodations. Practicality wise, you don’t need a 3-5 star hotel if you’re shopping everyday, all you just need is a comfy bed and a really nice bathroom, all the rest are just luxuries. But if you must spend, spend it on places that offer free pocket wifi or wifi services.
4. Download maps and transport apps
Google maps has been my go-to app ever since I started traveling. It gives me directions, it allows me to save cities for offline use, and it has a 99% accuracy rate looking for that hole-in-the-wall restaurant or experience. While abroad, especially countries or cities with really complex public transportation systems (buses and trains), transport apps of subways really help out a lot. In Hong Kong I used the official MTR app, while in Seoul it was the Subway app. Though some blogs have suggested Naver for your Seoul transit needs, if you know Hanggeul then go for it, if not, best stick with Subway.
5. Transport passes
Which leads me to this next point. Some countries have the equivalent of our Beep card, BUY THOSE! Immediately! The moment you land, best to buy those transport cards like Octopus or T-Money, these cards save you the hassle of buying tickets every time, plus they save you at least HKD10 or KRW1,000 for every trip. But if you’re staying in these cities for a short time, day train/bus passes might be a better option. But personally, I prefer buying top up cards, I get to control how much I put in and I don’t have to worry about wasted rides.
6. Pack extra clothes
When I went to Hong Kong it was cold, in Indonesia it was a bit warm, in Seoul it was sweltering hot. Every time you go somewhere, always bring an extra change of clothes, either to layer on or to change after a really hot and sweaty day. Scarves and beanies are the best for cold weather and dry fit shirts are best for warm to humid ones. Don’t just ask me if you look fashion forward in your travel, I really wouldn’t know.
And that’s about it. Based on experience, these are the 6 most relevant tips I can share with anyone. But I guess the most important tip in all of this is: be safe and always have a presence of mind. Good luck in your next adventure and if you have any more tips to share, just comment down below.