Honestly, not very far. Without it, I don’t think I would have had the courage to book so many trips, even in England, let alone Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. While it’s true that I would’ve likely still booked package holidays with a travel operator, or perhaps plucked up the courage to book a short break to Europe independently, I wouldn’t have dreamt of booking a month-long solo trip to a non-English speaking country such as Thailand all on my own; but, with the support of Tripadvisor’s strong community of travellers, and in particular contributors to the ‘Solo Travel’ forum, I was able to plan and book my Southeast Asia escape with relative ease. So, perhaps the real question is, where wouldn’t I be without Tripadvisor?
A Special Thanks To Tom Yum
My first post in Tripadvisor’s Thailand forum was actually in April of 2014, when I’d not long finished university and was considering teaching English abroad. That didn’t pan out, largely due to a lack of money, but it demonstrates just how long the country and Thai culture has intrigued me. I don’t know why it does, exactly, but I think it all started with a bowl of tom yum soup (also known as tom yam), which I loved, although it did make me cry (hopefully this won’t set a precedent for my trip!). Of course it would be silly to form a positive view of a country and its people just because I enjoyed a bowl of soup*, so what better way than to catch a flight to Bangkok to see the place and meet the people for myself?
One of the most encouraging (and surprisingly effective) replies I got on Tripadvisor about travelling alone to Southeast Asia was from someone in Australia, who wrote, quite simply, ‘Press the button Katherine. Worry about the details after’. The ‘button’ she was referring to was the many online links I’d need to click in order to book my solo getaway; this advice was perhaps more effective than she thought it would be, since I only went ahead and followed it!
With a little help (okay, a lot of help) from Tripadvisor, I’ve booked a trip that I’m fairly confident I wouldn’t have had the courage to do otherwise. I haven’t just used it to find accommodation that’s suitable for a female solo traveller, but also to research the best route from one city to another, and get information on currencies, visas, and more. I’ll be using it throughout my trip to discover must-see sights and top-rated restaurants, and actually, thinking about it now, I remember that it was Tripadvisor that led me to the local Thai restaurant in Wigan that first served me a bowl of Thai tom yum soup – without that, perhaps I’d never have considered Southeast Asia at all. Basically, what I think I’m trying to say (in a rather roundabout way) is, thanks Tripadvisor, not just for making my life far more interesting, but for making me a little more interesting, too (bleurgh).
A Female Solo Traveller In Southeast Asia
If you wish to find out more about my upcoming trip to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, I’ll be writing about it here and on Twitter @ksfahey. Also, feel free to comment, follow and what have you – I hope to write more frequently when I’m actually travelling!
*I read somewhere that we’re subconsciously attracted to people who have the same taste in music. Perhaps the same goes for food, but, probably not.