Single?  Travel!

Single? Travel!

My group recently collaborated on an article about travelling with kids and although I have been asked to give my contribution, for the life of me, I could not come up with anything!  The answer is quite obvious: I am single with no kids.

But the thought of writing about travel excited me because it is one of my life’s passions.  I say this without exaggeration because travel has changed my life.  It has definitely made a big impact on how I developed into the (what I believe) multi-faceted person I am today.

Therefore I am writing this to share my point of view on travel.  I hope this will resonate with other single ladies like me (as well as those happily attached who continue to live the single life).

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One:

Leave the budget travel to the backpackers.  If you are single in your 30’s (like moi!), the likelihood is you have a stable job and some extra money.  What differentiates you from some young travellers is that extra spending money.  Although I am very budget-conscious, I also believe in spending extra for experience.  I’ve had my fair share of budget travels and I have travelled with friends whose food choices are limited to the local KFCs and McDonald’s.  Those made for great memories too!  But in your 30’s you might have reached a level of sophistication that makes you seek more out of travel than the usual stamp in your passport, city tours, and pictures in the usual sightseeing landmarks.

Our tastes vary but I’m sure it’s not hard to find that special something that will up the ante of your travel experience.  Why not try to…

Stay in a heritage hotel!  What better way to experience a city than to stay in a place that is part of its history?  Heritage hotels are usually historical buildings (old palaces, government buildings, private homes, and the like) that were repurposed as hotels.  The next best thing for me would be boutique hotels that offer something unique, luxurious, or authentic to the country you are visiting.  Some surprisingly come at very decent prices.

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Hotel Monaco, Washington DC, housed in the neoclassical Post Building built in 1839
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Medieval farmhouse along the River Thames converted to a Four Pillars hotel
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Serene Angkor Village, Siem Reap
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Going color-crazy in Udaipur, India

Make a reservation to the restaurant of that chef you have been admiring for years … and try his/her tasting menu!

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MORIMOTO is the man!
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At the bistro of one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Mario Batali
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Bukhara in New Delhi.  One of the world’s best restaurants.  A favorite of Putin! (they say)

Get great seats to that play/ballet/opera/football game you have only dreamt of watching.

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Getting a little culture with Madama Butterfly.  Metropolitan Opera.

Two:

Shop for the unique.  I love to shop and I love to look for bargains – and I consider this a talent.  But my habits when in Manila are quite different when I’m abroad.  I avoid the outlet stores and global retail stores whose merchandise I would normally find back home.  Yes, the reduced prices are usually tempting, but I don’t travel to look for bargains anyway.

Instead, I make an effort to find local designers because fashion is also my passion.  I also look for clothes and accessories that are unique to the country – and these may not necessarily be made by local designers.  If you do enough research and go around enough, you will find good sources of these items that may be hand-made, has special beading or embroidery, use indigenous fabric, etc. that are usually made by local artisans.  My finds are not necessarily expensive.  In fact, there are great bargains to be had if you know where to look.

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Shopping in Hanoi

I don’t limit my hunting to clothes.  I also look for work by local artists and craftsmen.  So I make a point to visit art galleries too.

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Gallery hopping in the Dominican Republic. I did not buy this painting but I brought home 2 small ones.
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Searching for a thangka in Nepal.  Found one that fit my home just right.

And because I am a thrifty person by heart…I cannot resist flea markets!  I always try to find one when I am abroad. The appeal of flea markets for me is not just the curiosities I will find but the kind of interaction I can experience.  If you are used to flea markets, you will know that the sellers are usually very accommodating.  You can ask where the item is from, from what era, how it was used, who used to own it, etc…

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Brooklyn Flea
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Chatting up this adorable seller at a flea market in Barcelona.
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Bag from the 60’s.  One of my flea market finds in the US.

All of these for me make for the ultimate shopping experience.

Three:

Meet people.  When you are single there will always be a time when you are confronted with the option of travelling alone.  The older you get the harder it will be to find someone who is in sync with where you want to go (Morocco anyone?) how much you want to spend (no to the tasting menu?!?!?), or have the same free time as you.  It just happens!

But every stumbling block is also an opportunity and one of the best things is really the opportunity to make friends.  If I can’t travel with anyone, I will go out on my own and find other travellers who are happy to share the experience with me.  With the travels I’ve made (enough but not a lot), I have gained friends from different parts of the world.

One of the easiest ways how is to join a travel group or organized tours.  It’s always fun to go around town with other people – especially if you need someone to take your pictures (hehe).  Travel groups and tours can vary in size, specialization, and profile of travellers.  I’ve experienced going around town on a food trip with only 2 other people.  You can’t help but talk, laugh, and share about your lives – really great way to meet new friends!

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Robin in BKK.
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Tu and David in Vietnam
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The Travel Factor crew in Nepal
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The Brits in Harlem!

I have many other thoughts to share but those can wait until my next posting.  My main message is really for single ladies to go for what they want.  Want to travel but have no companion? Travel anyway!  You have extra money? Splurge on that boutique hotel/spa!  Want a special memento?  Get that hand-embroidered gown!  You have the power to live the life you want in your own terms.

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