5 Travel Tips for Solo Travellers

5 Travel Tips for Solo Travellers

For some of us, travelling alone is the only way to enjoy some overseas exploration without killing a travel companion out of frustration. For others, it’s a no-choice decision made because nobody else was free.

Whatever your reason for hitting the road on your own, there are some undeniable perks to travelling solo. You can go at your own pace, can do only what you want to do, don’t have to worry about being woken up before you’re ready and can interact more with friendly locals instead of staying in your bubble of travel companions.

On the downside, you might be putting your personal safety at stake when you travel solo. But that’s a small price to pay for a life-changing journey of self-discovery. Here are some tips to help you survive and thrive on your own.

1. Research the country that you will be visiting

Without travel companions, family members or a tour guide to chip in, all the research for your trip falls upon you. We’re not saying you need to create a spreadsheet fleshing out every detail of your itinerary. But no matter how spontaneously you want your trip to be, you should check the following before you arrive:

  • Do you need a visa? – If you’re a Singapore passport holder, you won’t need a visa to travel to most countries, but there are some exceptions such as India, Iran and Russia. You should also check if you need to submit an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) application.
  • Can you drink the tap water? – Unless you’re a camel, you’ll need to drink water soon after you land. If the tap water isn’t drinkable, you’ll need to buy bottled water, fill up your water bottle at a drinking fountain or use a travel water purifier.
  • What safety precautions do you need to take? – If you’re travelling to a country like Japan, you probably won’t have to take too many safety precautions apart from using common sense. But in more “dangerous” places, you might have to be extra careful to avoid pickpocketing, theft, scams or sexual harassment.
  • Which neighbourhoods should you avoid? – It’s especially important to know which neighbourhoods to avoid if you’re staying in a residential area through Airbnb or similar home sharing sites. You don’t want to inadvertently stay in the city’s most notorious ghetto.

2. Familiarise yourself with emergency numbers and your country’s embassy

Hopefully, nothing bad will happen on your trip (choy!). But just in case, you should know what to do if you get into a pickle.

First of all, if you are travelling to a non-English speaking country, other than the usual “hello”, “excuse me”, “sorry” and “thank you,” do memorise key phrases that you can use in an emergency, such as:

  • Where is… (the toilet, the police station, the hospital)?
  • I need to buy a ticket
  • Help!

Next, put emergency numbers on speed dial, including the police, emergency medical services, fire department and Singapore embassy.

3. Always be mindful of your surroundings

There are few countries that are as safe as Singapore, where it’s common to see people happily walking around with zero awareness. Enjoying a leisurely stroll at 2am and crossing the road with headphones on while staring at your smartphone might be common here, but you should not try that overseas.

As a solo traveller, you’ll need to be even more mindful of your surroundings as you don’t have the relative safety that comes from travelling in a group.

Be wary of pickpockets and snatch thieves. Always ensure the contents of your bag cannot be accessed. If you have a shoulder bag, for example, you’ll want to keep your arm over the opening.

When out and about at night, stick to brightly lit and heavily populated areas wherever possible. Limit your alcohol intake and never leave your drink unattended.

Interacting with the locals is one of the most rewarding things about travelling solo, but do research local scams and be wary if anyone tries to invite you to go anywhere with them. The last thing you need is to end up embroiled in a scam at a “tea house” or “jewellery shop” that your new “friend” has invited you to check out.

4. Take note of the transport situation

Getting around is a lot harder when you don’t have a group of friends to split taxi fare with. In addition, in some countries it might be safer to use public transport than to get into a taxi or Uber alone, especially if you’re a woman.

Luckily, you should be able to find a great deal of information about how to get around on websites like Wikivoyage. Start your trip on the right foot by checking in advance how to get from the airport to your accommodation. You can also download maps of subway or bus networks beforehand to make life easier for you.

If you’re at a destination where the best way to get around is by car sharing services like Uber, Grab or Lyft, you might want to consider buying a SIM card with mobile data.

5. Buy travel insurance

You cannot do without travel insurance when you travel overseas, especially if you’re travelling alone as there’s no one to look out for you! A good travel insurance plan will ensure that your medical costs are paid for if you fall ill or get into an accident, and will also compensate you for travel mishaps like lost luggage.

Not sure where to look? Here are five travel insurers that can keep you safe as you travel.

Bubblegum – MoneySmart Financial now has its very own insurance plan, with Covid-19 coverage to boot! Best of all, it’s one of the most affordable plans available that covers adventurous activities such as hot air ballooning or scuba diving, and you can buy it in 5 minutes through MoneySmart or the Bubblegum Insurance app.

Bubblegum logo

Total Premium

S$24.79

30% OffTotal PremiumS$35.41
MoneySmart Exclusive
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Med. Coverage (Overseas)
S$150,000
Trip Cancellation
S$5,000
Loss/Damage of Personal Baggage
S$3,000
Total Premium
Total PremiumS$35.4130% Off
S$24.79
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Valid until 27 Nov 2022
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Allianz – This is a basic travel insurance policy with Covid-related medical and evacuation coverage, and is suitable if you’re looking to have the main bases covered. Their platinum plan being the most comprehensive covering leisure activities and cruises.

Allianz Travel logo

Total Premium

S$50.05

23% OffTotal PremiumS$65
MoneySmart Exclusive
YEAR END LUCKY DRAW | Best Medical coverage
Med. Coverage (Overseas)
S$500,000
Trip Cancellation
S$10,000
Loss/Damage of Baggage
S$5,000
Total Premium
Total PremiumS$6523% Off
S$50.05
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Get up to $70 Cash via PayNow AND up to $20 iShopChangi e-voucher (no minimum spend**) within 1 month* while enjoying 23% off all plans when you purchase through MoneySmart! PLUS, a chance to win over $35,000 worth of prizes in our year-end Lucky Draw! T&Cs apply.

Valid until 30 Nov 2022

FWD – This insurer is known for their affordable insurance plans. Their travel plan offers Covid-19 coverage, but you’ll have to purchase a rider to get it. You can also obtain coverage for a range of outdoor activities.

FWD logo

Total Premium

S$19.44

40% OffTotal PremiumS$32.40
MoneySmart Exclusive
Online Promo
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Med. Coverage (Overseas)
S$200,000
Trip Cancellation
S$7,500
Loss/Damage of Baggage
S$3,000
Total Premium
Total PremiumS$32.4040% Off
S$19.44
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Valid until 30 Nov 2022

MSIG – All plans offer are pretty comprehensive, but for higher coverage, you’ll need to pay more. It’s good if thorough protection is your top priority.

MSIG logo

Total Premium

S$40.20

40% OffTotal PremiumS$67
MoneySmart Exclusive
YEAR END LUCKY DRAW | Most Comprehensive Plan
Med. Coverage (Overseas)
S$250,000
Trip Cancellation
S$5,000
Loss/Damage of Baggage
S$3,000
Total Premium
Total PremiumS$6740% Off
S$40.20
MoneySmart Exclusive:

【Faster Cash Redemption | Travel Insurance】
Get up to $20 Cash via PayNow AND up to $20 iShopChangi e-voucher (no minimum spend**) within 1 month* while enjoying up to 40% off when you purchase through MoneySmart! PLUS, a chance to win over $35,000 worth of prizes in our year-end Lucky Draw! T&Cs apply.

Valid until 30 Nov 2022

Starr – Their plan offers coverage for cruises, snow sports, scuba diving and golf. They also come with free Covid-19 coverage for medical expenses—upgrade to the higher 2 tiers to enjoy coverage for all medical and trip related expenses.

Starr logo

Total Premium

S$30.55

35% OffTotal PremiumS$47
MoneySmart Exclusive
YEAR END LUCKY DRAW | Free Covid-19 Coverage
Med. Coverage (Overseas)
S$500,000
Trip Cancellation
S$10,000
Loss/Damage of Baggage
S$5,000
Total Premium
Total PremiumS$4735% Off
S$30.55
MoneySmart Exclusive:

【Faster Cash Redemption | Travel Insurance】
Get up to $20 Cash via PayNow AND up to $20 iShopChangi e-voucher (no minimum spend**) within 1 month* while enjoying 35% off when you purchase through MoneySmart! PLUS, a chance to win over $35,000 worth of prizes in our year-end Lucky Draw! T&Cs apply.

Valid until 28 Nov 2022
Travel Insurance Premiums Covid-19 Coverage Emergency Medical Cover Trip Cancellation
Bubblegum Travel Insurance $20.06 Yes $150,000 $5,000 
Allianz Travel Insurance $43.12 – $101.20 Yes $200,000 – Unlimited $5,000 – $15,000
FWD Travel Insurance $22.50 – $39.60 Add $15.45 – $28.93 $200,000 – Unlimited $7,500 – $15,000
MSIG Travel Insurance $36.60 – $68.40 Yes $250,000 – Unlimited $5,000 – $15,000
Starr Travel Insurance $22.10 – $34.45 Yes $200,000 – $1,000,000 $3,000 – $7,500

Note: premiums are calculated based on a single 7 day trip to Thailand for one person.

Not sure which travel insurance plan to choose? Check out MoneySmart’s travel insurance wizard to compare travel insurance plans at a glance.

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