The year was 2013, I hadn’t felt completely happy in a while. There was something missing, something big. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was so I carried on working and living my unfulfilling life. I tried to fill the void by trying new things, I joined a gym, I tried ballet classes. For a short time I even volunteered as an events assistant for a theatre and film school, but I needed more.
I can’t quite pinpoint how I came to the decision. It’s almost like I woke up one morning and knew that I needed to travel. First I thought I would travel to Paris, just because I loved the idea of living in a romantic foreign city. Then I quickly remembered that I couldn’t speak any French! Then my mind wondered to over to Australia. It’s hot, it’s a popular backpacking destination and they speak English, I was sold. Luckily I was already pretty good at saving money so it wasn’t long until I had enough saved to quit my job. I jetted off to Sydney for an experience of a lifetime.
My journey was an incredible eye opening experience which taught me a lot about life and about myself.
How to travel
This might sound like an obvious one, but travelling in itself is a skill. After carrying around a huge backpack I quickly learned what items I needed, which turned out to be not much at all. The rest was simply weighing me down. I learned to trust my instincts as I explored unfamiliar places. I was able to be lost without any worry, just excitement! Soon enough I became comfortable moving from one destination to the next. Before travelling solo I had never needed to read a map and why would I? At home I either knew where I was or I would rely on someone else to direct me. When you only have yourself to depend on, it’s amazing how quickly you can learn.
How to manage money
Living with my parents did make saving a lot easier, I paid rent, I paid for my car but ultimately I hadn’t experienced life where I cover all of my expenses. During my first month of travelling I would spend my money freely, until I realised that I wasn’t on holiday and I didn’t want to go home yet. I learned to research the best hostel deals and book in advance for peak times. I worked a number of jobs while I was travelling, from working in hostels for free accommodation to working in Boost Juice with free smoothies at the end of my shifts, yum! As much as I wanted to only spend my money on activities and exciting things, I learned to keep money safe for emergencies and ensure I always had enough for the essentials, travel, food and shelter.
How to enjoy my own company
At home I never even imagined taking myself out for breakfast, but while I was travelling I learned to love my own company. I would very happily spend days alone, touring round cities, taking photographs, taking myself to the beach, to restaurants. Everyday I could wake up and ask myself “what would you like to do today?” With no one else’s agenda to consider and no other obligations to worry about, I was free to do as I liked. Of course I did meet a lot of people during my travels, friends I would work with, live with, explore and party with. Yet we were all on our own journey and at any point new friends could come and go as they pleased, as could I. Essentially I was on my own.
I’m more capable than I thought
Travelling solo gave me more time than I ever had before. With this time I pursed only the things I was interested in and which made me feel free and alive. I thought to myself, if I can travel alone then I can do anything! I done my first skydive and realised that I’m more daring than I ever thought. Tracked across Tongariro Alpine Crossing and realised that I’m fitter than I ever knew. Approached strangers and made friends easily and realised that I’m more outgoing than I ever believed.
Life is about the journey
At home it seems like I always have something to worry about. Things which honestly don’t matter and don’t have a real effect on my life. When I’m somewhere else other than home, reality seems so far away and I’m able to slow down. I learned to appreciate my journey and I stopped worrying about where I was going. To let go of my relentless need to have a plan and I started being present in life. I enjoyed unexpected events and I loved not knowing where my next destination would be.
We set our own limits
Once you accomplish a big goal you realise how easy and exciting it is to achieve your dreams. You become more open minded and willing to take risks. Personally, travelling solo was a huge accomplishment and one which has given me the drive to turn any of my dreams into a reality.
When I moved away from home and explored another part of the world I opened my mind to life and all of its opportunities. Solo travel was a great learning experience and an introspective journey. I’m home right now and excited to be planning new trips. I hope to learn a little more with each adventure.