Treat yourself: travel during this season of love

By Gwendolyn Han,

The season of love is soon upon us once again.

And singletons out there, before you rush to avoid the rouge-tinted fanfare, spend the upcoming Valentine’s Day by celebrating love… for yourself and friends!

There’s no better time than Cupid’s Day to love and treat yourself. Have some fun, splurge a little, and best of all, do it while you travel.

We spoke with The Occasional Traveller, a Singaporean blogger who knows all about having fun and treating herself (and her girlfriends) on her travels.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Jaclynn, the voice behind my blog The Occasional Traveller. The name was inspired by the fact that I have a full-time job and only travel when I can find the time to get away.

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Lagos Fort, Portugal

What is The Occasional Traveller?
I started the blog as a way to inspire and remind myself not to get too caught up with work, and to travel more. These days, The Occasional Traveller has become a resource for busy professionals to plan their own trips, whether they are short getaways or longer holiday trips.

You’ve travelled a lot. Where would you recommend for a girlfriends getaway?
I would recommend popular spots like Bali and Phuket. Depending on your budget, they have a ton of private villas perfect for chilling out with your girlfriends. Having your own villa also means you don’t have to worry about disturbing other guests – a group of girls can get quite loud and excitable! I’ve stayed at The Bell Pool in Phuket and The Villas in Bali Seminyak and both were great!

Bali Mengwi Taman Ayun Temple

Bali Royal Temple of Mengwi

Potatohead Bali

Bali Potatohead Beach Club

Which would you say is your favourite?
It has to be Bangkok for cheap shopping! I always make sure to visit Chaktuchak Weekend Market, Terminal 21 and Platinum Mall. Bangkok’s F&B scene is also really diverse, from cheap street food to cute cafes and affordable fine dining.

We once dined at Gaggan – which was named Asia’s best restaurant – for just a fraction of what top restaurants would cost in Singapore. There are also many affordable spa options available; my girlfriends and I frequent Health Land Spa & Massage and really do enjoy their services.

You’re quite the shopper! What are some of your best buys?
My favourites would have to be my Rutz boots from Lisbon. They’re special as they’re fully made from cork. I also bought a silk scarf with a really beautiful, intricate illustration of St Paul’s Ruins from Macau. This is also available for purchase online.

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Rutz Chelsa Boot

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Silk Scarf of St. Paul in Macau

You’ve also had lots of experience travelling solo. When did you first start?
I started travelling solo in 2011 between jobs, and because I decided it was too much of a hassle having to sync my schedule with other people. I think it was one of the best things I did, and I try to take a solo trip every year if possible.

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Cabo da Roca, Portugal

What is the best part of about it?
Travelling solo allowed me to discover where my true interests lie – there’s no obligation to see something you’d find boring when you’re on your own, so you start to get a sense of what makes you tick. For example, I realised that I’ll make the effort to find a good scenic viewpoint and can walk for hours looking for street art in alleyways, and less concerned with getting a seat at a Michelin-starred restaurant or spending too long in a historical museum.

Because I know my likes and dislikes better, it’s also made me a bit more decisive. I’m more assertive now as a person and in planning what I want to do on a trip.

It can be daunting to travel to a foreign land by yourself. Which is the most ‘solo-friendly’ destination you’d recommend?
Dublin is a pretty great place because people are really friendly. It being an English-speaking country also made it a lot easier to communicate. The city itself is compact and walkable, and the rest of it is quite accessible by train.

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“Could I hitch a ride please?”

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Bear Gully Beach, Gippsland Australia

All that walking and exploring can get a little tiring after a while. What do you do to relax?
I love to get a good massage when it’s cheap. Many Southeast Asian cities such as Bangkok, Bali and Phuket offer this for really good prices. It’s also a nice way to pass time during flight transits if they are available near the boarding area.