When I first started travelling alone, I was terrified. Gone was the excitement and bravado of having taken the plunge and booked a flight, read the guidebooks, bought a backpack. I was just a woman in her late twenties, sitting on a plane – alone – hurtling towards the other side of the world at an alarming speed. NO job. No house. No boyfriend. No kids. No ties. On one hand, this is extremely exhilarating – its true freedom and I’m really lucky to be in this position. But I was terrified of this lack of structure. This year I am turning thirty and I was afraid I would have nothing but an empty bank account to show for it.
Of course, fast forward three months and this feeling only rears its ugly head every once in a while, usually when I am completely alone somewhere that I’m not that into, hangover or just a bit sick of doing the backpacker thing. I’m so used to being on my own now and I am glad I took the gamble as it has forced me to speak to people in various situations I might not otherwise if I was with a friend – at the bus stop, in a bar, in the bathroom (seriously!) I have met some truly great people -however fleeting these meetings might be – because I am alone. Of course there are drawbacks to being alone: someone to hold your bags when you need the loo or want to go for a swim would be welcome!
When I first started travelling I was so worried about approaching people but the longer I spend wandering about, the more I realise that everyone is in the same boat (sure in Australia most people seem to be travelling in groups) and are more than happy to meet new people. And are those who shun new experiences and friendships really worth your effort, anyway?
A good example of this is my recent trip to Fraser Island. Being completely alone, I had no idea what to expect. But I have to say, this tour was one of the best things I’ve done since travelling in Australia. I opted for a “tag-along” tour which saw us driving around the island in 4x4s. On the first night at the hostel, we were put into groups of 8 and given a safety briefing. My group was a good mix of people and I was really excited to get going.
We spent three days and two nights driving around the island and camping. Now, the campsite seriously left a lot to be desired (I am not a camping wimp – I’ve travelled and camped on plenty of occasions), and for the amount of money we spent on the tour, we were really expecting more but at the same time, the sheer shitholeness of the campsite made it even better. We spent each night cooking dinner, getting drunk and sitting around a campsite. All the groups came together at night which made being lonely very difficult. Everyone who is travelling the East Coast seems to have the same itinerary so its often the case that you bump into someone you know somewhere along the line.
Fraser Island is stunning and it was such a fantastic experience to whiz around the island, driving through the rainforest and along the beach, watching the waves rolling in and blasting out music like teenage drivers. Everyday our tour guide, Joel, took us to beautiful places: Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek (also dubbed Hangover Creek) where the water contained natural tea tree, India Head where you can see turtles, sharks and rays, Champagne pools, and a beautiful lake with tiny fish that nibble at your feet (although you have to climb a sand dune and walk for forty minutes to reach the lake).
While we were waiting for the ferry back to Rainbow Beach, we saw dolphins swimming in the ocean and they were really playing up to their audience. Not to sound too cheesy, but it really was one of those travellers moments where you realise just how lucky you are to be in such a beautiful part of the world and you understand why these places are so important.
I am currently in The Town of 1770 which is very quiet but its a good place to recuperate after the craziness of Fraser Island. The hostel I am staying in is nice, although I did have to lug my laundry into town as there were no washing machines and pay $5 to store my luggage and use the kitchen whereas other hostels have previously offered this service for free. I don’t think I’d recommend Southern Cross Backpackers as I have heard there are hostels offering much better, truly FREE services (Free at this hostel seems to be used a little to liberally – although the WiFi is good, the FREE breakfast is cheap white bread and spreads with dead flies in them – bluuuuurgh).
Next up is Airlie Beach and a boat tour of Whitsundays for three days and two nights. Its not a bad lifestyle, eh? I can’t really complain! Plus one of my good friends has just confirmed she will be coming to visit me in Bali for two weeks so I am excited about having a familiar face for some of my time there.
Has anyone been to Fraser Island? Where were the places you found breathtaking? How do you feel about solo travel? Do you find it gets easier with time? Are you a seasoned solo travelling pro? Share your tips with me here or contact me on Twitter @EmmaYatesBadley or Facebook: Emma Is Writing A Novel.