Posts in Solo Female Traveling

What It’s Like To Travel Alone As An Asian Girl

Having travelled across Europe and Asia since 2011, mostly solo, I have had my ups and downs before officially becoming a digital nomad nowadays. Most people would say that traveling alone is not easy, and certainly not for everyone. However, I believe going full-time solo is one of the best way to learn, experience and develop yourself and skills set that can be achieved only by being solo travelettes. Below you will find a detailed listing of problems I faced when traveling throughout Asia and Europe, and how to overcome them. I believe many people had the same issues. Hope this article would help women across Asia to travel better and longer.


Everyone was wondering why I traveled alone in Asia

To travel within Asia and Europe is a huge difference in terms of culture, food and so on. However, it is still fascinating for me to see and experience how people treat solo female travellers differs between these two continents. When I was backpacking alone in Europe, most locals were very welcoming and amazed by the fact that I was bold and brave enough to wander by myself. Many people helped me as I was alone and new to the surrounding, regardless of having lived in Europe for years.
Nevertheless, to travel alone as an Asian girl in Asia still seems to remain a strange concept. It’s ok though if you are a white backpacker. Otherwise most people would hang out as a couple or in a group. Even in Vietnam, some locals would feel pity for me as I was eating alone in a restaurant (by my own choice). The good thing was they tried to be my company then. Most of the cases, Vietnamese were just asking me where my boyfriend, family or companions were. My Family, most of my friends and even colleagues who work with me remotely were probably also worried that something bad would happen to me. So far, nothing significant did!
How-to: Despite the time that I really had to work alone or spend some time for myself, I would always approach people around when traveling – who I believe would be able to have valued conversation with. The best thing about traveling alone is to get to know new people easily, but be wise about who to pick. You do not want to waste time with people who dont share the same values. The locals and experienced traveler are the ones to look out for help!


Hidden racism and discrimination

Being an open-minded and internationally oriented person, I always find it hard to tolerate any sort of racism and discrimination, even the slightest ones. I did not experience any major racism when I was living and traveling in Europe. However, it was sometimes funny to face comments (for example, about my eyes or skin colour) or questions like: ‘How come your English is so good?’ or ’Can I take a photo with you?’ (simply because the person never met an Asian before!). This was in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In Asia, the story is different. When I was in Thailand or Singapore, most people would speak Thai or Chinese to me as I looked like a local. This is great as the chance is get ripped off as a tourist is less! In Vietnam, many locals would treat western people nicer than locals, but watch out when they try to charge  you double the real price!
How-to: do not worry about coming from a developing country and learn to be flexible. In Europe, I was warmly welcomed at a hostel in Montenegro and stayed for free simply because of the first Vietnamese person to stay there. People are excited about new things, and perhaps ’exotic’ people too!


Dating and relationship

In fact, many solo travelettes and digital nomad cannot afford to be in a long-term relationship as we dont stay in a fixed location for too long. Despite hating long distance relationship a lot, I got myself mostly into lDR or short-term flings. What other choice do you have when you happen to meet the person that you believed was ’the one’, but to fall for him? It turned out that being in a stable relationship never worked out for me. Therefore, I chose to be alone and attached to family, friends and potential partners.
How-to: Being single and not married before 30 in Asia and especially Vietnam is such a forbidden thing, for real! However, I have met different western people that chose to stay single by 30 or even 40, and are happy with it. It’s important to find the right date, right boyfriend, and right life-time partner. But it has to be at the right place and time. If you cant dedicate enough time and effort for long distances, do not force yourself to be in a serious relationship!


Health problems

We travelettes suffer hell lots of health problem on the road. That could be any issue with with your stomach, back, hair, skin, etc. Staying fit and gorgeous is quite a mission impossible when traveling for many girls, including myself. You simply enjoyed the sun, the food, or the experiences so much that you tend to forget simple things for a girl to do on a daily basis to take care of yourself. In 2016, I moved back to Vietnam due to my health issue, which was the same for my Austrian friend who was working while traveling the world by herself as well.
How-to: there are different ways to maintain your heath and beauty on the road. Drinking lots of water, keeping your skin away from strong UV lights, going for sporty activities instead of relaxed luxury trips are some examples. When I get the time to be back home, I would spend afternoons doing work-outs, having facial masks and hair treatment. Even while being abroad, I try to keep track of these small activities though it’s hard to ‘feel like home anywhere’!


Put aside beauty and shopping

Shopping was more of a hobby than passion for me when I was a teenager. I initially wanted to become a fashion blogger, but turned travel and lifestyle blogger because of getting biten by the travel bug. Shopping was also something I had to cut off since the beginning of my journey as a travelette. I simply cannot afford to pack tons of clothes in a carry-on luggage, which would be the only thing I take when traveling. Plus, I’d rather spend for flight tickets in Europe, which can be even cheaper than a pairs of jeans.
How-to: I tend to dress simple but also nicely when traveling, not just for the photographs but also to make sure I dont look like a wandering backpacker but more like a local. To mix and match, pack and wear different layers help to keep you warm and reasonably fashionable on the road!


Visa issue

Many travelers from Asia cannot travel to most of the countries in the West, unless you are from Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, etc. Even if you can, it’s only possible to stay under 30 days, or 90 days maximum. I was only allowed to visit something around 50 countries around the world with my green Vietnamese passport. However, the whole situation changed as I started my bachelor in Finland. This gave me access to visit not just 26 nations in Schengen area, but a few more within Europe (e.g. Russia and the Balkan countries). It was such a great privilege and chance for me to see the world.
How-to: You can always easily apply for a visa to other countries in Asia, as long as you ensure a stable income and well planned itinerary.

How I Travel 17 EU Countries At 22 On Low Budget

After 4 years of experiencing all the ups & downs of student life whilst traveling on and off around Europe, I was questioned by many friends about how I afforded time and money to travel every now and then. Thus I decided to write this post, realizing I was blessed to have such an amazing opportunity to travel to 17 European countries without spending so much.


My journey started when I decided to move from Vietnam to Finland to pursue business bachelor at the age of 18. Coming from a middle-class family, I had to save, work part-time and do my university study at the same time, especially in one of the most expensive countries in Scandinavia. Nevertheless, I took advantage of my 4-year Schengen visa and traveled as much as I could.

1517499_667650409945387_744604126_nOn 2011 I moved to Rovaniemi – the hometown of Santa Clause village located in the north of Finland, where snow, reindeer, and as low temperature as -20 degree is no surprise. Studying abroad while living far from home for the first time in a totally different culture was a huge shock and challenge for a young girl coming from a small country.


After few months, a classmate invited me to Italy together to explore the country, where spent 11 days somewhat one-third of the savings I brought to Finland for half a year of living. Though the cost was high, I enjoyed Italy so much and knew I had to travel more. Later on, I luckily figured out how to travel cheap so I can see more of Europe without cutting on my other expenses.


In 2012, I decided to move to Helsinki where connections to other cities are better. Here you can easily take a cruise with Tallinn/Sijia line, which offers 0-Euro or discount ticket to customers sometimes to Tallinn (Estonia), Stockholm (Sweden) and Saint Petersburg (Russia); or cheap flights (Norwegian Airlines) to Scandinavian countries like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.

In 2013, I used some of the savings from my summer job to visit Estonia (Tallinn), Lithuania (Vilnius), Latvia (Riga) and Poland (Warsaw, Krakow). This trip was designed by a friend of mine who is a well-experienced traveler, thus we saved a lot by traveling by cruise, Eurolines Bus, and Baltic Airlines. We stayed overnight on boat, buses and at our friends in Warsaw to save the accommodation expense.


Fascinated by the gorgeous classic European architecture of Poland and how sweet Polish people are, I decided to go back there in summer 2014 for an internship with AIESEC – the world’s largest student organization. Working as a freelance blogger in Szczecin for SzczecinAloud enabled me to stay in a residence, eat in restaurants, and attend festivals for free. Here I’d travel to different parts of Poland and Germany (Berlin) with Polish train, buses, and airlines which offer 1-euro ticket sometimes.


The last autumn 2014, I decided to take another huge step of my student life and take the 6-month Erasmus Program in the Netherlands (Groningen), which changed my life completely and opened up my world with so many new connections with people from all over the world. Here I got supported with my home university’s Erasmus grant and worked also as a freelance blogger for GroningenLife, which helped me cover part of the expenses.


Like in Poland, it’s easy to travel within different cities of the Netherlands (Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven, etc) with the 7-euro day ticket for a group of 10 people with NS train, which allow you to go to any part of the Netherlands within 24 hours. Here I started using Couch-surfing and Blablacar a lot to save, which I also did in Belgium (Brussels and Antwerp).


After 6 months in the Netherlands, I met amazing people from all over the world especially Germany, Spain, and France. This was why I decided to take another big challenge and designed a root to 6 different cities in 5 countries (Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic) in 2 weeks. In these places, I’d stay with friends, at hostels and move around with Ryanair, Norwegian, BlaBlacar and take free walking tours.


Through my journey, I’d worked as a volunteer, promoter, and freelancers on and off. I slowly developed different personal travel blogs, leading me to the marketing & freelance writing field which I never knew I’s enjoy this much. Since January 2015, I started working online for LittleLives – an education technology company based in Singapore. This work allowed me to travel after graduation to Greece, where I again couch-surfed in Crete & Athens.

The journey so far has been incredible, and I am looking forward to being seeing the rest of Europe before heading back to sweet home Asia!