Postgraduate student Thong Pei Qin, 27, has travelled solo to nine different countries in the past decade.
Next week, she plans to hit the road again and add 10 more countries in Europe to her tally, including Switzerland, Croatia and Romania.
Ms Thong is among a growing number of women preferring to travel alone, say travel agents here, often without tour packages.
Ms Seah from CTC Travel says that readily available information online and the fact that many women have friends around the world have contributed to this trend. “We expect the number of women travelling alone to increase by 15 to 20 per cent annually,” she says.
Postgraduate student Thong Pei Qin travelled to Moscow alone and visited St Basil’s Cathedral. PHOTO: THONG PEI QIN
Having travelled with family, friends and colleagues in groups of various sizes, Ms Thong, who is doing her master’s degree in Theatre Directing at the University of Essex in London, says she has found travelling alone to be the most stress-free.
“When I travel alone, it means I have time to myself to read, write, sketch and take photographs at my own leisurely pace, without having to worry if I am slowing anyone down or affecting someone else’s itinerary,” says the single woman. “The only person I have to answer to is myself.”
She adds that she likes the feeling of independence and excitement that comes with travelling alone.
“Being able to go with the flow wherever your heart takes you, whichever way the wind blows, at one’s whim and fancy, is a huge draw of solo travel,” she said. “The notion of meeting strangers who might turn out like-minded can also be rather romantic.”
Ms Susan Tan, 42, agrees. “When I travel alone, I don’t have to accommodate other people. When I want to do things, I go and do them instead of waiting for everyone,” she says.
The chief financial officer of a trading company says she has travelled by herself more than 20 times in the last eight years, including trips to Italy, Switzerland, Japan and Dubai.
Ms Tan, who is single, says she began travelling alone when her friends were not able to join her on trips, and found that she enjoyed it.
While many might think it is not safe for a woman to travel by herself, she says she has never had any dangerous experiences. “I think it’s getting easier for single girls to travel on their own. Plus, my holidays usually revolve around eating, shopping and beaches, so I don’t really encounter any danger.”
Ms Thong, who prefers off-the-beaten-path holidays, says she takes several precautions when on her own, including dressing to appear inconspicuous, keeping a whistle in her pocket, picking up Muay Thai to fend off attacks and avoiding dark and dodgy areas.
“Other than that, whatever is meant to happen will happen and I can’t do anything about it, so there is no point worrying at all,” she says. “If I do not try, I will regret not exploring an exciting place on my own.”
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This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on May 26, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.