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How to Travel Solo (As an East Asian Woman)

  • July 9, 2019
  • By simplycloverliving
  • 2 Comments
How to Travel Solo (As an East Asian Woman)

Solo female travelling is on the rise. We are proving to the world that we are capable of not only coming back in one piece, but to have so many adventures to share.

Since my divorce, I have solo travelled to “dangerous” or “honeymoon” destinations like Egypt, Peru, Nepal, Bali, Honolulu and Greece. I can honestly tell you, I had the best times of my life! So much so that, I have to admit I almost prefer the freedom of solo travelling.

What is dangerous? Depends if you take precautionary measures!

Granted, you don’t have to travel solo everytime you get on the road, but that sense of accomplishment alone definitely warrants you to try it at least once!

We as fellow ladies share many similar struggles, and there are plenty of information on women travelling to bash those stereotypes. But I don’t find too much information regarding my specific challenges as an East Asian woman. By highlighting some of my experiences, hopefully it adds another layer of perspective.

Disclaimer: I can’t speak for everybody, I am a Chinese Canadian who border on having an identity crisis with different sets of values. These are my general observations during my encounters that might resonate with you. I hope my tips will help inspire you to get out there and experience the world!

Although we do have some distinctive experiences among cultures, but almost everything is universal at the same time. That’s what makes the human experience is so interesting. We have our differences but we are fundamentally the same.

The more we learn about the world, the more we can pick and choose what works for us. How cool is that? It’s like absorbing many superpowers and using them at will!

So without further ado, here are some challenges I come across when travelling solo as an East Asian female, and what to do about them.

Challenge #1: Cat calling

  • A lot of ni hao, konnichiwa going on when I am walking on the street.
  • Mistaken as a prostitute or sugar baby. (Dependent on the countries)
  • “Where are you from?” Disbelief that there could be Asians living in non-Asian countries like Canada.

Action Tips:

  • Ignore them and keep walking. That applies to every type of cat calling by the way.
  • Use it to your advantage: I pretend I don’t understand them when solicited, and that helps to be left alone.
  • Educate the people who are geninuely curious. Most people are just unaware.
  • Even if they do judge, we don’t have to give them a reaction. If you are too busy having fun, who cares about those small remarks anyways.
  • Keep your eyes peeled, trust your instincts, and get away from people and places that feels off.

Some experiences can leave a sour taste in your mouth, but we learn to roll with it!

Challenge #2: Asians are a collective society, it’s againist the norm to travel solo

Solo travelling can be an uncomfortable concept for your family and friends to grasp. Their concerns for your safety are absolutely legitmate. However, there might also be unfounded biases and worries based on hearsay instead of facts.

Action Tips:

Reassure your loved ones by using due diligence:

  • Research your destinations regarding their safety index, cultures and customs.
  • There are certain countries that are safer to travel in a group versus solo. Choose accordingly.
  • Tell someone where you are going to stay and where you are going to go, even if it’s the hotel’s receptionist.
  • Have travel insurance.
  • You can still surround yourself with people when solo travelling, whether it is in a hostel, group excursion, or dine in a busy restuarant.
  • Activities like hiking, scuba diving, swimming in oceans should NOT be completely solo. So hire a guide!

Jump but with a professional!

Challenge #3: Targeted for Scams/Pickpockets

There are so many types of Asians out there, but there is a small group that has money. Sometimes, I get mistaken for being rich (I wish!), so they might quote you a higher price when shopping/taking transportation, or assume you have more valuables.

Action Tips:

  • Dress modestly and avoid bringing any valuables out and about. Blend in with the locals.
  • Research your prices ahead of time, online or ask around, so you know what price to pay.
  • Walk like you know where you are going. Research your route ahead of time to reduce the amount of time you need to look at maps.
  • Hide your valuables and separate your money and distribute it in different parts of your clothes and bags.

Have as little on you as possible. Out of sight, out of mind.

Challenge #4: Targeted for Submissiveness

Due to stereotypes, Asian females sometimes can be seen as less assertive, and have problems saying no.

Confession: I still struggle with this one!

Story time: I was on a ferry in San Francisco coming back from Alcatraz. This guy sat right next to me and started to caress my legs! I should’ve said something, instead, I just walked away.

Action Tips:

  • Depending on the situation, speak up if you feel violated and uncomfortable. We have to protect ourselves.
  • Sometimes, it is safer to stay quiet and run away if you feel speaking up might jeopradize your safety.
  • Choose which one you feel might work best in your particular situation.
  • Therefore, it is a balacing act, and it takes practice.
Meeting peole during solo travel

Hello from underwater in Crete! A swimming holiday is a great way to meet like minded people with the same interests!

Challenge #5: Communicating with Fellow Travellers

Sometimes, there can be barriers to communicate well with others during our travels, not just from the differences in language, but from the different value systems as well.

Disclaimer: This is my very general observations of the different values systems of the west and the east, there is always variations within these cultures and individuals.

Western Values:  Fun conversations, banter and creativity.

Chinese Values: Productivity, results oriented,  *nutritious conversations.

*A literal translation from Chinese, meaning conversations that have a point.

Confession:

  • My personal struggle is to have more fun conversations. I came from a schooling system that rewards copy and pasting, less so in creativity, therefore thinking outside the box is my weakness! However, I make up with my analytical abilities, so we all have our own values that we bring to the table.

Action Tips:

  • Look for common ground to make a connection. You are there to travel, so that’s one thing already in common.
  • Ask questions and be curoius with other cultures besides our own. People like to talk about themselves!
  • Compliment people on something they wear, a quality you see that you admire. Nobody dislikes that. Don’t overdo it though, one or two things will be enough, otherwise it becomes creepy.
  • If you can tell a story related to the topic you were talking about, it will be more interesting and memorable.
  • On bantering:
    • Create an imaginary situation and roll with it.
    • Say the opposite of what you mean in a light hearted manner. It doesn’t always have to be a direct answer.
    • The more jokes you listen to, the easier it is to understand them. Even if you can’t create one, you can at least laugh to show that you have a sense of humor.
Meeting Friends During Solo Travel

After meeting these ladies in a hostel, we hung out and shared a villa together in Ubud, Bali!

Challenge #6: Very Few Representation in Outdoor Activities

The very steoreotypical Asian female travellers avoid the sun and physical activities (hence outdoor activities). But we all know that is not always true and it is changing!

Action Tips:

  • In an activity that might lack people with a “similar background”, it can get uncomfortable at first. As I travel more and enjoy the same interests, the more I realize, we are all the same. There is no “others”.
  • Sometimes, we box ourselves in with the stereotypes out there. We don’t know what we don’t know, so read, try, see different things and meet different people to see if you like it for yourself.
  • I encourage more ladies to do more outdoor activities. We need more Vitamin D!
Solo Travelling Hiking with a group

Hiking the Salktantay Trek to Machu Picchu Peru with a group of like-minded hikers from all over the world!

Get Out There

Yes, it does suck that we have to take these extra measures as an Asian female. But each individual also has their unqiue challenges they have to deal with as well, no matter what their background.  A lot of the challenges mentioned above are universal as well.

We could only do our best to prevent mishaps from happening, but we can’t control whatever that happens to us. Is it better to try then regret not having these experiences at all? Trust me though, the rewards of going out there and trying solo travelling for yourself is so worth it!

Voila! Here are my two cents. No way is this a comprehensive list of everything that could happen on the road.

Have you tried solo travelling? Are there any tips you would like to share with our community to help us travel better? What other challenges is stopping you? Comment below and we can all learn together!

 

 

By simplycloverliving, July 9, 2019
  • 2
2 Comments
  • Emily
    July 10, 2019

    I LOVE THIS! This topic has been on my mind since travelcon, and then I came across an awesome article about smashing asian traveler stereotypes by a Chinese Canadian! In case you haven’t read it, here’s the link: https://hownottotravellikeabasicbitch.com/confessions-asian-travel-blogger/amp/

    I’m so happy to see your post, because I can definitely relate. You never got called “Jackie Chan” or “Bruce Li” though?! Oh man, Spaniards love that one…anyway, thanks for putting out into the world this super important but super neglected topic and with solutions, too! Happy travels 🙂

    • simplycloverliving
      July 10, 2019

      I absolutely agree with you how importanct this topic is, Emily! Thank you for sharing the article. Yes it’s so relatable and so on point! Ever since the diversity panel from TravelCon, I reazlied how neglected this space is, and hopefully we can fill that gap.

      No, I haven’t been called those things yet! Now I just see it as amusements though! Until the world becomes truly globalized, we might still come across these remarks. We just have to keep going out there and proving to the world that are we all unique individuals and we don’t always fit into a certain image!

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About Me
Hi, I am Clover
I show the intimidated how to turn adventures into reality by exploring: - Adventurous Travel - Right Mindset - Financial Independence
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