I gritted my teeth and wiggled my toes in utter anticipation for the entire journey to Heathrow airport. Hoiking my bag out of the boot, my dad, grinning from ear to ear “You’re going to love it, stay safe and phone me as soon as you land!” One big squeeze and off I stroll, dakine split roller in one hand, backpack flung over the opposing shoulder. “Remember what I told you!” He calls after me. I reply, almost in a whisper “Magical sand of Lake Mackenzie, shooting stars over the Whitsunday Islands.”
After a long, miserable 8 and a half hour shift in retail – mid winter of 2013, I came home, slipped out of my uniform, into my fluffy dressing gown and googled ‘gap year Australia’. I rummaged through a box of keepsakes for the postcards and didgeridoo my dad had sent 10 years prior and was overwhelmed with the sense of wander coarsing through my veins. I put a deposit down on the first website I came across (luckily it was Gap360) and sauntered downstairs to tell my mum that in 11 months I would be in Sydney, Australia.
The fact that I would be travelling alone hadn’t crossed my mind, in all honesty the thought of travelling at all hadn’t crossed my mind until that evening.
My Mum freaked out.
My Dad freaked out.
The questions began flooding in.
“You’re going by yourself?!” “A young blonde woman, travelling alone? I don’t think that’s a good idea” “On your own????” “I would never be able to do that” “Are you sure?” “Don’t you have anyone to go with?”
There are many misconceptions that come with travelling alone, here are some of my personal favourites;
- You will be lonely
The likelihood is, especially when travelling to high-profile destinations such as: Australia, NZ, Thailand, USA and Europe, you are never going to be alone. You end up sharing airport transfers with fellow travelers, rooms at hostels, meals, group tours and you end up travelling with the pals you meet along the way, if only for short periods of time.
- It’s not safe
Research is one of the most important aspects of travelling, whether you’re with a group or alone. Find out about the local cultures, delicacies, wifi? public transport routes and have common sense, if somewhere is particularly dangerous, don’t go. Don’t jump into a strangers car and all that jazz .. As long as you’ve done your research and have your wits about you, travelling is no more dangerous than being at home. 🙂
- You will get bored
If you’re getting bored whilst travelling, you’re doing it wrong! Granted, plane/bus/train/taxi journeys can be boring alone so be sure to stock up on books, mags, good old fashioned word searches and indulge in all that the planes entertainment system has to offer. Whilst bopping about from country to country, book yourself onto every tour imaginable and approach everyone you meet, boredom will not exist.
- You have to be loud and confident
Noooo. On my travels, I met so many people on their own, from all different walks of life. Some were loud and confident, like myself. Others, not so much. The only difference being that whilst some were approachable, others were the approachers. Everyone is there for the same thing, to see incredible places and for the most part, to meet new people!
- Travelling is better when you have someone to share it with
Sharing moments with others IS incredible but so is having the time to gather your own thoughts over a coffee in the random little cafe you found down the road. Being able to say yes to anything you please without having to take another’s thoughts/feelings into account. Having the freedom to travel with anyone, to anywhere and being able to skip the places that you wouldn’t .
“I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it.” – Cheryl Strayed, Wild
Definition of Solivagant – : rambling alone : marked by solitary wandering