(As featured in Singapore’s Travel Guide magazine)
“Serial solo traveller and blogger Kevin Tsai gives us a peek of his inspiring jet-setter lifestyle.”
– While I can claim to be a serial solo traveler, I honestly cringe at the term “jetsetter,” as well as “expat” and being described as such! These terms are just so… pretentious and conceited most especially when people refer to themselves that way. I prefer the universal term ‘traveler’.
– Yes, I’ve been to 32 countries so far (not 31 as I previously thought, sorry for the typo) before age 30 but just to be clear:
– There isn’t a single country of the 32 I’ve been to that I did not fund from my own earnings. I did not rely on any free blogger press trips or financial assistance from my family or any donors either – FYI to all the western beg-packers out there
– This is my own, personal goal. Two years ago I didn’t think it would be possible at all, but we here now. Just to be clear, it’s NOT a contest and it’s not intended to be bragged about either. Why? There are others who have been to 50, 100, 150 or all 197 countries! It’s no different from losing 10 inches off your waistline or making a million dollars. It’s ultimately pointless to constantly keep comparing yourselves to others. Different people, different specific targets and goals – just set yours, focus, and achieve them! 🙂 )
What’s the most fulfilling thing about travelling alone and sharing your experiences online?
I think it’s about sharing helpful tips as well as crucially essential information that will make or break a trip, based on my own adventures and misadventures.
You’ve set foot in *32* countries under the age of 30. Where to next?
Sometimes I’m still in disbelief that I managed to travel to *32* countries so far, in spite of the limitations that come with only having a Philippine passport. Nonetheless, I am planning to move to the US soon for a few months to spend my 30th birthday in New York! I’ve always wanted to visit NYC and New Orleans, and I’ll take this opportunity to travel to Central and South America for the first time too.
What are your top 3 must-visit locations for first-time solo travellers (and why)?
Taiwan was the first country I travelled to solo in 2011 and I loved it so much that I’ve been going back at least once a year every year since then. I highly recommend Taipei, along with Bangkok and South Korea for their street food, countless shopping options, affordability, safety, convenience of transportation (Seoul and Busan use four languages on their metro system announcements!) and sufficient level of English by the locals when the need arises.
“If you don’t allow yourself to fulfill your smallest desires, who else would you expect to accomplish your own goals and dreams?
The moment you realize you can be fiercely independent and self-reliant is the moment you become stronger.
You are all the company you need.”
What pieces of advice would you give to those who are thinking of travelling solo?
There is absolutely nothing to fear or be conscious of. Someone once told me that doing things alone is sad. I disagree. What’s sad is not letting yourself do the things you want, simply because you don’t have anyone to do it with. I enjoy watching a movie alone; I’ve dined at a three-star Michelin restaurant and even went to Tokyo DisneySea completely by myself! Just because I didn’t have anyone to accompany me, doesn’t mean the movie would be less entertaining, the food would be less tasty or the rides would be any less fun. Being fine alone does not equate to being antisocial. If you don’t allow yourself to fulfill your desires, who else would you expect to accomplish your own goals and dreams? The moment you realize you can be fiercely independent and self-reliant is the moment you become stronger. You are all the company you need.
Off the top of your head, what was your most memorable experience during one of your solo travels?
Despite some visa-related roadblocks along the way including being temporarily detained by airport officials in Sofia, Bulgaria, my recent trip to Europe was still positive overall. It started with my first time flying business class on a long-haul flight and I indulged in every luxurious second of it. Then I was lucky enough to see the northern lights in Iceland. Toward the end, I thoroughly enjoyed Athens, Greece for its marvellous mythological monuments, delicious yet cheap restaurants, efficient subway and wonderful shopping finds.
Born to a Chinese-Filipino family in Manila, Kevin Tsai is a multilingual travel industry professional who was based in Tokyo for two years. He has recently fulfilled his goal of travelling to over 30 countries before turning 30 in 2017. Follow his adventures at @thetravelguyshops on Instagram. thetravelguyshops.com
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Thanks for reading! In case you were wondering which 32 states I’ve been to, here they are in alphabetical order, as of July 2017. I generated this list conveniently from my CouchSurfing profile.
8 Hong Kong
24 South Korea
29 United Arab Emirates
30 United States (and Guam)
31 Vatican City
The 32 states are spread across 5 continents, and I’ve been to 9 out of 10 of Southeast Asia. I have the stamps (photos for other Schengen states and Vatican City) to prove I’ve been to the above states. 🙂 Technically I have also been to Oman and Spain, but they don’t count since I only stayed inside Muscat (a few hours) and Madrid airports (2 days in a lounge lol) on a layover going to Frankfurt and Marrakesh, respectively.