Solo travelling: Ups and Downs

Everyone will tell you there are ups and downs about travelling alone. I find it so interesting how some people cannot stop raving about how amazing it is to travel solo, while others tell of their completely disappointment when travelling all by themselves.

It is surely very dependant on a person’s personality, but I know that every single person is capable of travelling – or doing anything for that matter – alone. There’s just the matter of doing it or not.

Honestly, I completely surprised myself when I made the decision to do this trip to Australia alone. I’ve never travelled alone, although I always told myself I would one day. I certainly did not think Australia would be the destination. All I knew for sure – back then – was that when I was going to travel alone, it was going to be in a relatively safe country, especially for women. Well, what better place than Australia?

As I was preparing my trip, I didn’t feel nervous about going alone. Again, this surprised me. Why wasn’t I beginning to feel anxious? Why didn’t I feel scared? Well I’ll tell you why. Because I knew I was capable of doing this. I was confident, excited, and determined. I was going to live out on my life long dreams of visiting Australia. Nothing was going to hold me back.
Honestly, I think that’s what pushed me to decide to make it a solo trip. I didn’t want to be held back. I wanted to live this and experience this at its fullest. As the young folks say, “You do you!” So that’s what I was going to do. This trip was going to be all about what I wanted to do, when I felt like doing it.

Inevitably, there always comes a time – whether you’re travelling alone or even in a group – where you just don’t feel like doing anything. OK, maybe not everyone feels that way, but I know I’m not the only one. I’ve experienced it every single time I’ve travelled. And the good part is, I’ve always been aware that that’s what I needed, and so I took the time to actually do nothing.

It sounds a bit silly. Planning to do nothing. But I think it’s important, crucial even, to respect that your body can’t be in super intense mode 24/7 during the entirety of your trip. Your body needs rest. Your body needs self care. And your body will always let you know what it needs, you just need to listen.

For me, the hardest part of travelling alone so far is not giving in to that little voice in my brain that tries to disguise itself as my body telling me to slow down. That little voice in my head that tries to bring me down, that brings up thoughts of loneliness and the feeling of being homesick.

And of course, after that starts happening, I can’t stop but think of the “Cons” about travelling alone.
1) I don’t have anyone to share these experiences with

2) I don’t have anyone here to laugh with me

3) I don’t have anyone to suggest we do something new

4) I don’t have anyone to kick me out of bed right now

5) I don’t have anyone to watch my bag, but I really need to pee

6) I can’t go out now, it’s dark and I’m alone

Etc, etc…

I’m fortunate to be able to communicate with all my family and friends from home via Facebook and e-mail and all that junk, because I made the decision to purchase an Australian pre-paid phone plan for a month, and it came with 8.5 GB of data. This helped me in many ways, namely because I am constantly – ok, not always in the outback, but everywhere else! – able to connect with someone, and because I got some beautiful and touching messages from old and new friends alike, showing me that those “cons” I kept thinking about were insignificant compared to the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is this: I have always dreamed of visiting Australia. And here I am, doing it!!

Best tips I received about staying positive and looking at the pros of travelling alone:

  1. Concentrate on living in the moment
  2. Be aware of what you’re experiencing – not everyone has such an opportunity!
  3. Make new friends, new connections, even if they don’t last
  4. This won’t last forever, before you know it you’ll be back home – so don’t leave with regrets!
  5. Focus on the fact that this will probably be the last time you see or experience these things
  6. You’re not forced to stay in one place; you can always change your plans
  7. You are not completely alone, everything you share on social media lets everyone back home feel like a part of your trip
  8. Live fully for those who cannot
  9. You do you
  10. Let your mind wander. Let your soul wander. Feel. Live. Breathe. Be you. Be that moment. Live that moment. Live you.

I had a really hard time the first few days. I couldn’t connect with anyone, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. There was a super cloudy day in Sydney one day, and I know most people feel the same way on a dull day, but I just couldn’t get out of the rut I was in. I missed everyone from home. I missed joking and talking and telling stories with someone who actually cared. I had no energy and I had no motivation. It was my “down” moment.

But now, my down moment is over. I have taken the time to rest, to ask for help and support, to take care of myself. The next morning, I woke up and I was proud that I had gone through that. I was aware now that this happens when you travel alone. It will always be a struggle, but it will always pass, if you let it.

That last full day in Sydney was spent relaxing at Bondi (pronounced bawn-die) Beach all morning – I love to do things early in the morning! – then spending some time at the hostel before heading out for a nice walk to visit the Public Library and the Sydney Opera House.

While I was at the hostel mid-afternoon, a fellow roommate had asked if I wanted to join him back at the beach to do the Bondi to Coogee walk. I had told him maybe, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. And the more I talked with that guy, the more I realized how different I was than most backpackers. You know what? No, I don’t want to go do that walk. No, I don’t want to get absolutely plastered every single day/night. No, I don’t want to go home and feel like all I’ve done is party during this entire trip.

You know what I want? I want to be a tourist. I want to travel like old folks do. I want to visit museums and libraries. I want to go to every single zoo, aquarium and animal sanctuary. I want to learn new things. I want to love this trip. So fuck your stupid drunken beach walk, Joey.

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