YOU will never see Ms Adrianna Tan in a guided tour group.
When it comes to holidays, the 20-year-old Singapore Management University undergraduate prefers to veer off the beaten path.
And more often than not, that means getting on rickety buses and braving 24-hour train journeys like she did in Thailand in 2004 and in India two months ago.
As you read this, Adrianna is on her way to India for the third time, to tour the north-east for a month.
And yes, she will be hopping on the Indian trains. The recent Mumbai train blasts have not scared her off.
'The trains in India are very efficient and with the security on high alert, I will be careful, but I'm not going to let fear control me,' said Adrianna.
She is among the growing number of Singaporean women travellers who have been bitten by the rough and tough travel bug.
Adrianna spent more than $2,000 on her last India trip, where she spent two months exploring Darjeeling, Rajasthan and Sikkim.
'I considered that an expensive trip because my friend and I stayed in nicer hotels rather than in guesthouses, which are much cheaper,' she said.
She usually spends between $800 and $1,000, which includes the cost of the flight, transport, food and a bit of shopping.
Budget airlines have made adventure cheaper for these intrepid young women travellers.
Adrianna, who has a part-time sales job, is able to squirrel away part of her salary for her trips, which she takes during her school breaks.
'There is so much diversity in Asia and with such good airline deals, it's a good way to travel,' she said.
Likewise, Ms Natra Haniff, 31, a freelance marketing consultant, also took the budget route on her recent trip to Laos with a friend.
She spent less than $1,000 for a two-week overland holiday from Thailand to Laos.
'We didn't plan anything. We thought we'd just get there and wing it,'said Ms Haniff.
The trip was particularly memorable because they got stranded in the middle of nowhere in northern Laos after their small bus, which was packed with 45 people, livestock and sacks of rice, broke down.
'It was a seven-hour trip that turned into 27 hours,' she recalled.
'Halfway through the journey, the engine started smoking. Everybody screamed, took their chickens and rice, and jumped out through the windows.'
Fortunately, the bus didn't blow up and they hitched a ride on a truck to the nearest town.
Ms Haniff has also travelled down the Mekong in a speed boat, wearing, of all things, a crash helmet.
'It was the most bizarre thing ever. We got into the boat and they gave us this motorcycle helmet and a life jacket.
'The Lonely Planet guidebook said not to take a speed boat as it was not safe. I realised why. It was going so fast,
I thought we would flip over at any moment,' she said.
While she survived the ride, she said she would think twice about doing that again.
'While you're on the road, you can't take safety for granted,' she said.
Security is a big issue for women travellers.
Earlier this year, 21-year-old student Katherine Horton, a British tourist, was raped and killed in Koh Samui by two Thai fishermen.
Women The New Paper spoke to say they are aware of the perils, but they always take precautions.
When Ms Debby Tan packs her holiday gear, she always remembers to tuck a can of pepper spray into her backpack.
She has never had to use it, but the 24-year-old freelance photojournalist would rather be safe than sorry.
Ms Tan spent six months travelling around Indonesia by herself, exploring remote islands in East Java like the Maluku and Madura islands.
She has also travelled around India, taking a 36-hour train ride from Chennai in the south to Kolkata in the east.
She said that while most of her travel experiences have been warm and positive, she did have a particularly frightening moment during an overnight stay on Madura Island.
'The place didn't have any taxis or rickshaws. This guy wanted to come into my room, claiming he could help me with transport to jetty,' she said.
She locked the room and rang her friend in Singapore.
'I told her what was going on and said I would call her the next morning to let her know I was safe,' said Ms Tan.
'That night, I slept with the lights on, the television on at full blast and my pepper spray next to me.'
She added that women travelling alone must always keep family and friends updated on their locations.
To this day, she will never know if the man was just a pushy salesman or a creep, but it was an unpleasant experience, nonetheless.
'I am not going back there again,' said Ms Tan.
Another big concern is falling ill on
Getting diarrhoea is common enough, so most of these travellers
say they always carry a first aid kit
with Po Chai pills, Panadol and rehydrating salts.
But packing up on medication doesn't always save the day.
During a solo backpacking trip across three Central American countries in 2004, Ms Maggie Ang suffered a
The 26-year-old education officer with the Singapore Zoo ended up in a hospital in Honduras for three days.
Said Ms Ang, who spent $800 on medical bills: 'I had a 40 deg C fever
and I was delirious. It was horrible. I was so weak.
'It was at that moment that I wished I'd had somebody with me.'
The Nanyang Technological University graduate added that the trip was her first time travelling alone and she didn't speak a word of Spanish at
Despite the perils, the travel siren's call is too much for Singaporean women to resist.
Simply because roughing it out can be rejuvenating - even if it means sitting in a bus for hours with livestock as fellow passengers.
Said Ms Ang: 'Every time I travel, I feel like a different person. I become more accommodating.
'I always hope to bring a little of that new 'me' back to Singapore.'