Here Is One Lesson Every Solo Traveler Needs To Learn

Keara Lou Photo by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash

August 2014 is a month to be in my memories forever. I finally stayed at my job long enough to get a week’s vacation! I looked around for the best place to visit, and I found the place I wanted to go. I planned to relax and lay around the beach, maybe work on my tan while I’m at it. Bali.

I did my research, of course. I wasn’t moving there but going on vacation. However, I still wanted to make sure I knew the most basic customs, so I wouldn’t come off as a dumb American.

Don’t drink the arak. Motorbikes are everywhere. Pay for your visa when you land at the airport. I researched everything I could, but I missed the part about watching the taxi drivers. Not all taxi drivers in Bali are legit.

Landing in Bali

For being so late at night when the plane landed, it was hard to hold in my excitement as I stepped off the plane in Denpasar. Not only was I enjoying my first vacation at a full-time job, but I took it in another country! I took pictures of every little thing, even small artwork at the airport.

After I picked up my luggage, I walked into another room. Tons of drivers, wearing the same dark blue floral shirt, waved at tourists in hopes of giving them a ride. They said they were taxis.

Instead of them approaching me, I approached one of them. I found out my hotel was about two hours away, and I needed to get there before midnight. The driver agreed to take me for the American money I had left from the arrival visa, and we headed out.

It didn’t take me long to realize something wasn’t right

At first, the cab driver seemed like a nice guy. He took me to the first McDonald’s he saw so I could get some food. I didn’t remember when was the last time I ate. Fun fact. McDonald’s in Bali serves rice with chicken nuggets.

But when we got back in the car to drive, he didn’t sound interested in taking me to my hotel. Instead, he wanted me to go to a hotel in a different city. He tried taking me to a shop to go shopping to change my mind.

Once he got the hint I wasn’t changing my hotel reservations, he reluctantly took me to my hotel. We drove in silence for the rest of the way. But he wasn’t done. He doubled the money he wanted from me when we parked. I had to find an ATM quick. I didn’t want to be on the losing end of a potentially lost temper.

I found an ATM not too far from my hotel. In my rush to get the money, I forgot to take my card out of the ATM. My card disappeared into the machine. I hope it tasted good, I guess.

Plus side, my American bank card got eaten by the ATM. I still had my Chinese card, so I wasn’t out of money.

The next day

My hotel had a restaurant connected to it, so I went to get some breakfast there. A woman ran the bar. Turned out, she owned the place. One of her security guards saw the whole encounter with the cab driver and told her about it. Once she saw me, she gave me a lecture about checking my email before flying out.

When she saw my reservation, she sent me an email asking if I needed a ride to the hotel. I never responded to her. Turned out, the email went to my junk mail, so I never saw it.

The first rule of solo travel. Always check your junk mail

When I booked the hotel, the website asked for my email address in case the hotel needed to get a hold of me for anything. I never got an email, so I assumed everything was fine.

If I’d known to go through my junk mail to make sure the owner didn’t try to contact me for a ride, I wouldn’t have gone through any of that. I would’ve seen her email, gladly accepted the free ride, and made it to the hotel without incident.

I’m not so sure I would’ve had the opportunity to try McDonald’s, though. Seriously, Bali McDonald’s was delicious!

The second rule of solo travel. Be aware of taxi scams

Bali isn’t the only place to have a taxi scam. China had its fair share of taxi scams, too. I’d lived in China for nearly a year when I went to Bali and thought I could catch any fraud coming my way. Then I vacationed in Bali and realized that’s not the case at all.

Bali humbled me, but it helped me learn always to watch out. There were three places I’ve been to that didn’t have a taxi scam, and now I know to watch out when I travel.

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I'm a Forever Middle-Child who doesn't have the ability to sit still. I often write about travel, relationships, life, books, food, humor, and life as a fat woman. Women's issues are a passion of mine too. I often write a lot of opinion pieces about what's going on in the world with a little touch of politics. I'll write about anything that comes to mind.

Beaverton, MI

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