“Is it safe for me to travel by myself when I have to?”

 

While in Bonneville Salt Flats.

While in Bonneville Salt Flats.

A question we heard the most. If we traveled back in time when there were no internet and gadgets, how do you think these people did it? That’s right, by going to these places and confirmed the fact themselves.

Thanks to internet, it is easier to find out about things you never knew about. But still, people who never traveled are scared of the world out there, and I found them always in state of “needing to be reassured that it is okay to travel alone”, over and over again. How do you think those travelers got that far? They ventured, they took risks and, experiences they had gained while being on the road had turned them from scared to brave. We all had our first times. We all had our first scary bus rides. We all had that time when we missed our international train and flight. Getting your first times by getting started in everything; they matter. That’s how you build courage. Nobody was born brave, it is acquired.Here are why I think you shouldn’t be scared to travel, especially by yourself or even with others.
1. Utilize the internet and phone in your hand; research, research and research.

Use Google, it’s free! Type in things you are curious about. Magically, things you want to know about places will show up! Read and comprehend, take notes and keep them close to you. Take only good advices, make the bad ones lessons. There are tons of information available online, use them. If you still want to ask advices from others, at least come prepared. I dislike it when people come to me ZERO, expecting me to shower them with everything, A to Z. Don’t be this lazy and heavily relying on others!

2. The world is not that big. 

Everywhere you go, almost certainly you’ll find things that are connected to your country. Almost instantly you’ll feel less of a stranger in a foreign land when they told you they have met lots of Malaysians traveling to their country, some of them can even speak Malay! A little advice: Choose wisely of where to go on your first trip. Don’t make a war zone as your first. Commone sense, if you chose to start bad, you’ll feel bad. You’ll also feel that the world is a scary place while it is not.

3. You are not really alone out there. 

You know some people chose to feel lonely when they are alone by not trying to make friends and using the excuse “locals are not that friendly or I found other travelers are selfish.” You later realized that the problem is you. Don’t lie when all the time you get out there, you’ll meet thousands of new people on the street who also want to make friends with you! Strike a conversation, don’t be too shy to ask someone to take pictures of you. Next thing you know, you guys are best buds! That’s my case in 100% of the time. Am I magically friendly or pretty? I am not, I just open my mouth and start talking!

4. It’s not that dangerous.

Beware of advices from people who never actually been to Thailand when they told you going there could kill you. Never trust this kind of perception, especially when they also never made research about the place! Unless that one place is obviously dangerous like a war zone, then you should take cautions. I dislike when one person write an unfair list about how not safe one place is after spending ONLY 3 days there. How dare you to trick everyone into believing it at first place?

5. Know how to stay safe.

We heard of people getting pickpocketed in Paris, being ripped off by tuk-tuk drivers in Bangkok, and having to pay for a supposedly free shoeshining on streets of Istanbul. Practice precautions when you are alone or with friends by not making fast decisions when you do not want to get ripped off. Don’t wear flashy clothing and showing your expensive camera and that you have money to afford things. Modesty could save you. Don’t take offers that sound too easy and cheap. Take them into careful considerations. You want to have fun and also save money, but when making fast decision without carefully thinking it through, your dream trip can go down the drain.
Extra point,

6. Women, trust your instict. That’s all that I can say.


Alone or not, traveling, when you do it right, it’ll benefit you and others in ways you could never imagine.

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For 3 years of constant traveling, this never happened to me before

I was already touring Europe in the summer of 2013, I’ve been in and out of European countries, crossing borders without any hassle or being questioned. But it happened to me in the day I was flying on December 31st 2013 from Bangkok to Paris, with a very short transit in Delhi, India. It never occurred to me before that such transit could be so terrifying. The flight to Paris CDG was already delayed for about 1/2 hour, and the security measurement at Delhi Airport was the worst that I’ve been through. It was a madhouse, according to JF. We were standing in line for ridiculous body and luggage check while on a very short transit, competing not just with the passengers bound for Paris, but also 3 or 4 more international flights around same time of departure on that day. After such hassle for over 45 minutes, I was in big relief, thinking that we are ready to board the plane. The walk to the boarding hall was very long. Then I saw another security check at the end of the travelator (the horizontal escalator) to the boarding hall and I said “Here we go again.” They went through my passport then I realized that I am in trouble when they called the lady, some sort of an airport security manager. They were questioning about my face on my passport, I simply looked different because I was wearing headscarf in the photo. They asked me to take out any physical evidence to show that I am the person in the photo in my passport. I took out my expired driving license (no longer driving in Malaysia), my Uni I.D, my My-Kad (Malaysian I.D) and a photo of me and JF from last summer trip. They were being ridiculous when they said “Your driving license is expired. This is not you.” How could one travels with other’s this many I.Ds anyways? For that , I was denied boarding. I was mad, sad and disappointed. I too, like other passengers on that flight, were dreaming of being in Paris for New Year’s day. I felt like I was being harassed. I started swearing upon my religion and God’s name that I am the person in the picture and that I am the bearer of the passport, and the passport is valid for another 1 1/2 year. When I shout “God Almighty, I am Muslim!” They gave back all my I.Ds and my passport, putting their hands down, and gave up harassing me. It was clear they have some sort of prejudice, almost bigots, because they understand very little about a young Muslim woman from a developing country who just wants to travel. That was the day when I felt, even with so much freedom of travel, you must expect the unexpected. Obstacles in traveling are inevitable. It took more than courage. You need not to panic or cause panic, but at the same time, staying rational without having to break down is difficult.

Image

From my Instagram account: The day I boarded the plane, apparently, some travelers must board with hassles.

The view from my seat window of a Dreamliner flight to Paris from Delhi, so much for a dream

The view from my seat window of a Dreamliner flight to Paris from Delhi, so much for a dream.