None of your friends want to visit China with you? So what. Go by yourself. No, really. Go alone. I did it and so can you. It wasn’t the easiest trip I took. The language and cultural barriers were tough, yes. People stared at me like I didn’t belong even more so than I felt. Travelling to China while black added an additional layer to my entire experience. I was like an alien on another planet. But it changed me for the better during a difficult time in my life.
Find out how you can survive a solo trip to China with my 6 tips below.
1. Grow a thick skin
Children are going to point and laugh at you. Adults are going to stare and teenage girls are going to take pictures. My roommate's friend did not have a thick skin. In a flurry of angry French she would curse at anyone who elbowed her or looked at her wrong. I learned to deal with it and get my elbows out myself.
2. Do your research
Call me captain obvious but you should really do your research before you go. Deep research. Watch every YouTube video, read recent articles on the political climate. Do everything you can to know everything you can about visiting and living in China. I recommend reading Stones: Dispatches From East And West, by Peter Hessler. It was a book that made me fall in love with China and also showed me the realities of the country.
3. Get a VPN before you leave
Even for websites you’d never think would matter, you need a VPN. It changes where your location is in the world. So websites that are banned in China like Google and Facebook are accessible to you. It’s hard to install one after you leave, so get it before you go!
4. Get a SIM Card
I usually purchase a SIM before I leave for a destination so I have cell service once I touch down in a new place. But in China the cell service can be shoddy, so it’s best to purchase a SIM card at the airport. In Shanghai there was a stand right at the exit where I was able to purchase a SIM card.
5. Take Public Transport
Cabbies weren’t very helpful unless I was with someone who spoke fluent mandarin. In Shanghai every Subway stop as listed in English and Mandarin. It was also the best way to get around in the city fast.
6. Keep Cash on You
I knew people who carried around the equivalent of 1,000CAD on them at all times while in Shanghai. Major cards aren’t usually accepted in Shanghai and cash was always king.
Did you know these are China essentials? Comment down below if I missed anything or if anything on my list surprised you!