AD – Guest Post | The world is opening up. The 18-month travel ban to Covid-19 is over. It’s finally time to dust off the passport, pack that suitcase and step onto a plane. But, where do you go to first? Beach or mountains? City or countryside?
I’m Alex Starr, digital nomad, solo traveller and author of ‘Plan Safe Travel Solo.’ Here’s 5 places that you should plan to travel to in 2022:
New Zealand: a destination that can re-visited time and time again. The Kiwis are proud of their country – and rightly so. It’s a country that offers it all…
For beauty and spectacular vistas, visit the South Island. Just 2 hours from Te Anau (or 4 from Queenstown), Milford Sounds is simply spectacular. With fiords and waterfalls that have featured in films like Prince Caspian and Lord of The Rings, a day cruise is a must – and the best way to admire the scenery. Remember your cagoule though, as it rains for an average of 182 days/per year!
If you’re more into culture and history, focus your time on the North Island (although if you’re into those film tours, visit Hobbiton, otherwise known as Matamata). Stop off in Taupo for an evening of learning about Maori culture; you might even be invited to perform the Haka!
Touring the islands independently, most people hire a cheap car or campervan, although there are cruises and bus tours for those who want travel companions.
So, how long should you spend in New Zealand? Well, at over36 hours away from the UK, there is no way you can rush this trip. Book in a minimum of 3 weeks.
A popular stop-over to New Zealand and Australia, Singapore is often just used as a way of breaking up a very long journey. Yet, this underestimated destination is far more than that. As one of my favourite Asian cities, it’s a safe and vibrant hub that’s suitable for all ages; it’s easy to imagine living there.
Begin the day by grabbing a Singapore coffee at Baristart, Tras Street, before exploring. If it’s too hot (as temperatures can hit a sweltering 110 degrees), use the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport – or subway/underground to you and me). It’s an easy, cheap, reliable and clean form of travelling around, and an efficient way to hit different areas, like China Town and Orchard Road. Put the Botanical Gardens onto your itinerary; they’re beautiful and peaceful retreats from bustling city life. At night, watch the fireworks of Marina Bay, before drinking a Singapore Sling at Raffles. Could there be a more perfect 24 hours?
Just a few hours away from the sights and sounds of Singapore is Bali – an island everyone has heard of. But, what about the other 17,000+ that form the beautiful country of Indonesia?
For that island hopping experience, I’d recommend Lombok, a less touristy, and rugged destination. Check out Komodo Island too, the natural habitat to the prehistoric looking Komodo Dragon.
The volcanic mainland of Java is home to the eclectic cocktail of cultures capital that is Jakarta. With Javanese, Malay, Dutch, Chinese and Arab influence, there is a uniqueness to the food, architecture and language.
Inland is the stunningly beautiful Borobudur – the largest (and my favourite) Buddhist temple in the entire world. Built in the 7th Century, it consists of 9 stacked platforms and over 500 statues. As a traditional country, remember to pack modest clothing, so that you can be respectful of the local communities.
On the other side of the world lies the dramatic continent of South America.
Bolivia has an extensive array of scenic landscape, spanning the Atacama Desert, the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest. The Uyuni Salt Flats (largest in the world) are a remarkable natural phenomenon. Wildlife is a rarity, but pink flamingos contrast with the stark white surroundings.
Further north is Lake Titicaca, where you can take a boat trip to the floating Reed Islands, home to the Uros Tribe. As the highest navigable lake in the world, it can take a while to become acclimatised.
Altitude sickness is a common problem, as even the capital, La Paz (a cultural delight with the strong belief in Pachamama, the goddess of the earth’s fertility), is 3,640m above sea level. It’s worth carrying around plenty of water, full fat fizzy drinks and a bag of sweets for those moments of altitude sickness.
Petra. Dating from around 300BCE, this UNESCO world heritage site in situated in the south-west corner of a country that crossroads Asia, Europe and Africa. Half-built, half-carved into the rock, this never-ending beautiful city can be a tourist trap, so set the alarm early to miss the crowds.
Nearby is Wadi Rum, a desert site that is rich in Bedouin heritage. Known as ‘The Valley of the Moon,’ it is an area of sandstone and granite rock that is only 60 km east of Aqaba. For those wanting to avoid large cities, this is the best entry point for viewing these stunning sights.
Do you want to travel the world but feel overwhelmed and unclear where to begin? Don’t let fear stop you. Filled with useful advice and tasks, Plan Safe Travel: Solo is a straightforward 5-stage planning process that transforms your dream into a safe reality:
Assess: Set your travel needs, concerns and budget.
Design: Decide trip style, itinerary and accommodation, including how to meet other travellers.
Adapt: Fine-tune your design, by answering important questions.
Prepare: Make practical choices, like luggage, insurance, money and mobile coverage.
Travel: Read safety tips.
For five years, I have travelled as a female, solo traveller. People ask how I do it. Pre-trip decisions instil confidence. Let my knowledge help you experience this world. Use Covid times to plan for lifelong memories. City hopping, gap year, career break, or once-in-a-lifetime trip, create your perfect journey with Plan Safe Travel: Solo.
‘For many years, I suppressed my passion and submitted to the pressures of society. But 8 years of teaching high school English wore away enthusiasm, confidence and ambition. I was stuck in a rut. Confined by systems and norms, life was meaningless, lacked purpose and fulfilment. I’d turned 31 and realised that I was simply existing, not living. Ambivalence was ruling. An ambitious goal of travelling the world was born. It seemed daunting and unachievable, but stubborn and determined, my mind was set. I quit my career, sold my flat and set off…’
5 years later, and life is transformed. Now, I am energised, empowered and, most importantly, happy. As a solo traveller and digital nomad, I work remotely. The world is my home. Over this time, I have learnt lessons through mistakes and hindsight. I always meet people who want to travel, but lack the confidence or knowledge to convert their dream into a reality. So, this year, I celebrate the release of my first book ‘Plan Safe Travel Solo.’ Now, a book exists that helps you to plan your own trip safely.