Flashback 2018 – Review of the Year
December 31, 2018
2018 was filled with many experiences, and my brain is overflowing with thoughts and feelings which I’m trying hard to put into words in this heartfelt article. I’ll share about my top three favourite trips that I’ve embarked on this year, and the lessons learnt during my trips. This past year has also been about growing my business, and increasing exposure and engagement on digital platforms, such as Instagram. I’ll leave you with some tips on tackling Instagram, and share about a few Instagram sweethearts who have been a great help to me along my Instagram journey.
BEST TRIP OF THE YEAR – JAPAN
Japan has been on my bucket list for years, and I’m extremely glad that I finally made it there. For 3 weeks in November and December, I visited Tokyo, Hakone, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. The city of Tokyo is pretty similar to Singapore, but Disneyland and DisneySea are the highlights during my time over there. I enjoyed Hakone and Kyoto the most because I love nature, and the peaceful and slow-paced lifestyle. In Osaka, I had a blast at Universal Studios Japan, and feasted on so much delicious food at Dōtonbori. I only spent 3 days 2 nights in Hiroshima, but I feel the timing is just nice. Besides visiting the World War II memorial site and atomic bomb site, I took a ferry to Miyajima island. You must not miss out on their fresh, plump and juicy fried oysters.
SECOND BEST TRIP OF THE YEAR – BALI
From pristine beaches to mysterious ancient monuments to incredible rice fields to refreshing waterfalls, there are so many things to discover in Bali. I visited Bali twice this year – spent the first trip in Seminyak and the second trip in Ubud. While the first trip’s focus was on café-hopping, hiking Mount Batur for the sunrise and exploring the exotic Nusa Penida island, the second trip brought me to numerous waterfalls and temples. I also managed to try many tasty local delights. For me, Bali is a paradise I can revisit time and time again, yet never get bored.
THIRD BEST TRIP OF THE YEAR – MYANMAR
From the most sacred pagoda which dazzles throughout the day to the fascinating local culture and heritage, what’s not to love about Myanmar? My trip started in Yangon where I was treated to the local food at the vibrant markets, where I relaxed at the lush green parks and serene lakes and got lost in the maze of golden pagodas. There’s an overnight bus which brought me to Bagan. With pagodas and ruins scattered around the Bagan plains, the sunrises and sunsets here are almost unbeatable. Last but not least, I popped by Inle Lake, and enjoyed wandering around the Indein Village which consists 1,054 pagodas. Myanmar is a country where you should visit and experience at least once in your life.
Lessons Learnt & 5 Tips for Solo Female Travellers
This year, I made some bad choices in travel companions, and realized that my top 5 pet peeves are travelling with those who waste food (I’m not talking about leaving one or two mouthfuls left but only eating two to three mouthfuls and saying that she’s full, yet orders a lot), those who are dirty (shall not elaborate here, but drop me a DM on Instagram if you want to know more), those who are spoilt with a princess-attitude, those who are rude, and finally, those who feel that they are self-entitled.
These “travel companions” made me prefer travelling solo, and I did go on many solo trips this year. So, here are 5 tips and tricks that I feel I should share with other solo female travellers. Hope you’ll find them useful.
1. Choose Your Accommodation Wisely
A budget shouldn’t hold you back from staying at a safe place. You should always read the reviews of the accommodation and check if there’s been any security issues. Ensure that the elevators require key access and that the guestroom levels are not open to the public. It’s also safe to have ATM(s) or cheque cashing facilities within the hotel.
2. Be Confident and Look Like You Know Your Way Around
Even if you are in an unfamiliar location or situation, pretend to look confident, and do not look too obviously touristy. If there’s a need to refer to a map or a guidebook, do not do this on the street. Step into a safe place and find your bearings before moving off again.
3. Do Not Go to Secluded Locations Alone
However much you want to hike nature trails and see ancient ruins or waterfalls that are off the beaten path, you should never go to these places alone. I suggest hiring a reliable local guide. If you’re out alone until late at night, please check with your hotel’s female employees if there are any areas you should avoid beforehand. I usually do not stay out late at night if I travel alone.
4. Always Check In with Someone at Home
Checking in on social media has two effects nowadays. I do not want to let strangers who follow me know my whereabouts because I never know whether they follow with good or ill intentions. It’s best to send a simple message to family or friends back home, and always make sure there is someone that knows your next destination.
5. Do Not Trust People Too Quickly
When you’re travelling in a new destination, and especially when you’re traveling on your own, it can be very tempting to join others. Sometimes, you end up making lifelong friendships. But, that’s not always the case – some con artists have mastered the art of befriending travellers, getting them to leave their valuables unattended, and robbing them before taking off. If you’re just getting to know someone, do not trust him or her to guard your valuables while you’re in the bathroom.
5 Tips for Instagram
Besides learning how to be more independent as a solo female traveller, I had to learn how to gain more exposure and increase engagements on social media (for business purposes). These are 5 techniques for growing your Instagram page.
1. Post Consistently
It’s recommended to post at least once a day. If your posts are shared on a regular basis and picking up good engagement, it is believed that Instagram’s algorithm may place your posts near the top of your follower’s feeds.
2. Geotag Your Photos
Whenever you tag a photo with a location, other people who use the same geotag can see your photo and potentially follow you since you now have a thing, or two, in common.
It’s not called social media for no reason. Of course, you’ll have to socialize with others. End your captions with a question to encourage users to respond, and you have to reply to their comments. You should also leave genuine comments on other users’ posts.
4. Like Photos in Your Niche
Check hashtags or go through the list of followers of your favourite Instagrammers to find users in your niche. You can go through the user’s account and like 5 to 10 posts. You can even give them a follow if you feel inspired by their content. This helps to get your name out there and allows other users to discover you.
5. Use Instagram Stories
Nowadays, photos are excessively edited and content is highly curated, so take your followers behind the scenes of your daily life through Instagram Stories. They are now more interested in connecting with the genuine you through Instagram Stories. With features like polls, GIFs, filters, Boomerangs, and music to play with, you can engage more with your followers.
My Favourite Instagram Ladies
When I started my Instagram journey, I was so lost and clueless, but these two ladies have stood by me with their unwavering support. Besides offering me motivational words and words of comfort, they’ve given me countless suggestions and taught me how to play the ‘Instagram game’. I’m so glad that Instagram connected us, and I can’t believe that although we’ve never met up in person before, we’ve been friends for over a year. So, here’s a huge shout-out to Monica (@monicaspassport) and Anna (@mytravelanthropy).
Without further ado, I wish all of you HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2019 be an amazing year filled with happiness, adventures, surprises, and love!