Ashleigh’s Tips for Solo Travel

Ashleigh's Tips (1)

So I recently went to Ireland by myself.

I had an absolute blast, but I have found something interesting over the past few months; whenever I tell people about my holiday. “On your own? Wow that’s so brave!” is honestly the sentence every single person uses.

This boggles my brain. Why is solo travel so weird to some people?

I’ve always been conscious of solo travellers, and have always wanted to do it. So many people I know have solo travelled, so the idea was never new to me.

Don’t get me wrong, there were moments where it was kind of intimidating to be on my own, but I loved every second of my trip away and never felt regret or scared. I’ve always been someone who thrives when alone, and I have always enjoyed my own company. I knew, before going, that I wasn’t going to get lonely. I didn’t. I loved it.

There’s nothing better than living to your own schedule- going where you want, seeing what you want to see, spending as much time as you please somewhere. Eating when and what you want. Sleeping when you want. Choosing where you want to stay. All that without having to worry about or consult with anyone else. You choose the adventure, quite literally! The freedom of going solo is more than I can describe, and I revelled in it.

I’m only fairly new to Solo travel so there are still many things I don’t know, but I thought I might pass on some tips and tricks to those yet to venture into that world so that you have a bit of leg-up in your research and planning!

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  1. Do your research for literally everything before you go. Even as small as walking routes, best restaurants, weather etc. I was pedantic about my research in Ireland and had a very smooth experience with only a few hiccups.
  2. Make sure you stay in the ‘safe’ suburbs. This is for yours, and your parents and family’s peace of mind. Especially as a solo female traveller, this is essential.
  3. Do your hotel research, especially for hostels. Be really picky with your hostels; always remember the price you pay always reflects what you’re going to get. The $30 beds are $30 for a reason (learned the hard way)
  4. Shower Shoes are essentials. Never travel without.
  5. If possible, ask for a top bunk bed in a hostel. Safety combined with practicality. And try to not get the bunk straight next to the door.
  6. If you can choose your seat on an aeroplane, go for a bulkhead or emergency row. You’ll thank me for this after 14-20 hours in the air.
  7. Pack a change of shirt in your carry on (plane/train). Long haul flights are bearable if you can change out of that sweaty, crusty shirt you’ve been in for an ungodly amount of hours. Trust me this is one of the best travel hacks I’ve learned. Armed with a pack of camping wipes (shower wipes), and some deodorant, you feel so much better when changed.
  8. Before you go, work out your sleeping hours on the plane to try and match the timezone you are travelling to. It doesn’t get rid of Jetlag, but it definitely helps a lot.
  9. Check if your destination has particular cultural customs around certain days of the week– i.e. in Dublin, nothing is open beforeΒ 11amΒ on Sundays. I didn’t know this and spent my first day in Dublin walking around confused because nothing (and I mean nothing) was open.
  10. Airport Shuttles are your best friend. The busses are usually 10 times cheaper than taxi’s/uber or the dedicated train. Most shuttles have different routes and you’re guaranteed that one will stop pretty much right at where you need to go.
  11. Take as little suitcase/luggage as you can. As a solo traveller, if you’re hauling a lot of luggage, not only is it hard for you to manage and cart around, but it also paints a massive target on your back to undesirables. Little luggage means you will spend less on things to bring home, and will make you very economical in your packing. If you’re going on day trips/short tours, this will also help you to stick close to your weight limit.
  12. Always take spare baggage locks and luggage straps. I can guarantee you’re likely to need them, even when you think you wont. You will. And you’ll curse yourself at the end of the trip trust me.
  13. Take your time packing; don’t leave it to the last minute. This allows you to think logically about what you’re packing; you wont over pack and you wont be frantically trying to clean clothes at the last minute. Also helps with tip 15.
  14. Study the weather for a while leading up to leaving; this will help you pack the right type of clothes. Be super critical and watch the weather for a number of weeks, especially in the lead up. I ended up changing out a few of my clothing choices the day before I left for Ireland because I was a bit too optimistic when originally packing. This was a good decision because I needed those extra leggings and jacket let me tell you!
  15. When packing, lay out all the clothes you intend on taking, and the go back the next day and halve it. Consolidate your clothes as much as possible. Pants can be worn a few days before washing. You don’t need as much as you think because…
  16. Wash your clothes on the road; hotel bathroom sinks are there for a reason.
  17. If a hotel offers a laundry service, use it. Sinks are good in a pinch but not practical for washing some clothes items (Aka jeans. Trust me don’t try it). And the chance of fresh laundered clothes is precious. Don’t waste it.
  18. Most hotels hold luggage if you’re too early. I’ve never been to a city/country where hotels don’t have luggage holding facilities.
  19. When booking, make sure you tell your hotel/hostel what time you are intending to arrive. If it’s still a bit up in the air until the day of, give your best estimate. Just common courtesy. Also by letting them know what time you intend on arriving, it increases the chances of your room being ready for you when you get there.
  20. Don’t carry around a big bag/backpack- try and live out of a very small shoulder bag (with cross body strap) during the day. Always keep your big bags at your accommodation. Which leads to…
  21. Be careful when carrying around big souvenir store bags/wearing souvenir clothing; this tells everyone you’re not from around there. You become more of a target for undesirables.
  22. Always remember to use your street smarts and always be over cautious.
  23. Bring a water bottle with you everywhere; staying hydrated is important.
  24. If staying in a hostel, take in other’s behaviour and match it; if everyone keeps to themselves, do so. If people are open, make friends.
  25. Do mini tours while at your destination with local tour guides/companies; they can show you things you wouldn’t have seen otherwise and you can make friends while there. (Shamrocker tours are bomb if you’re ever in Ireland.)

Above all, remember to have fun and enjoy your holiday. Rejoice that you’re brave enough to travel on your own! Not a lot of people will.

Some pictures of my Trip to Ireland are below for any curious souls πŸ˜‰

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Review: Gilded by Christina Farley

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Gilded by Christina Farley

or: … WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next. But that’s not Jae’s only problem. There’s also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae’s heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his ownβ€”one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae’s been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she’s always been looking for.

So here’s the thing. I’ve been lucky lately; my increasingly picky reading habits have meant I’ve been able to avoid bad books for most of the year. As Β a result.. I got lazy.

This book has been on my ‘to read list’ for a while (a few years), and I was after something to listen to as I did mundane jobs which didn’t require any thought. The audio book for this was on special so I thought, what the heck, lets give this a try.

Oh my god

This book was bad.

Like, I think I lost brain cells.

But the disappointing thing is, the idea and concept of this book was so interesting and held so much potential. But my god was it poorly executed.

Jae was whiny, annoying, stupid (for someone who was supposed to be a good student she was the dumbest heroine I’ve ever come across), and did the opposite of what she was supposed to do. Even though everyone told her not to. And she ended up wondering why things went down poo river.

UM HELLO JAE? WAKE UP AND USE YOUR BRAIN!!

I’ve honestly never felt so little care and empathy for a main character. I didn’t give two figs what happened to her. At one stage, I was praying for the villain to succeed just so the story would end. She was so unlikable it was insane.

And lets not even talk about the insta-love or the stereotypical western heart-throb and all the problems this brings up.

I was so keen for a story that really got into and fleshed out some traditional Korean folklore. I didn’t get that. I was keen for a PoC heroine having to deal with her American upbringing versus her parents culture. I didn’t get that (just a lot of whiny monologues about how mean her dad was for not letting her run around Seoul and go back to America. Love, you’re 15. Do what your dad says.)

I’m both annoyed and confused how this book went from such high potential to such a train wreck.

This book, for those who were wondering, was written by a white woman, whose sole claim of knowledge on Korea was the fact that she worked there for a few years in the international community. For living as long as she did in Korea, you think she would have gotten a much better understanding of the culture, and not have written it so poorly. She seems so keen to write to a stereotype, she didn’t even bother to attempt to make it realistic.

As a white woman who lives in the southern hemisphere, even I know with my limited knowledge of Korea and it’s customs and rich culture, that this book is wrong. Going through the comments on Goodreads has shown my opinion is reflected a lot. There’s a distinct divide; there are those with Korean (and other Asian countries) heritage expressing the issues with this portrayal, and then there’s the other group of non-asians who are lauding it.

Even if you could ignore the cultural riot going on, it’s hard to ignore the frequent poor story telling and sentence construction. The voice actor for the audiobook did the best she could, but she struggled very obviously with the poor construction.

I honestly don’t know how the good reads rating is so high, especially when you scroll down to look at the comments.

Its safe to say that there is no way I will be even following on with this series;- I have no desire to see what other cluster-poo adventures that Jae gets up to.

Please find other great books on PoC to consume instead.