Flying solo in the land of Oz

This is the first in a series of posts about my solo trip to Australia, from December 18, 2015 – January 23, 2016.

I’ve wanted to visit Australia since I was eight years old. As a 28-year-old, I made the dream come true.

Going solo was never really a part of the dream. To be honest, travelling alone is not something I’d ever seriously considered until recently. I’ve always been careful in choosing my travel companions – travelling together can break a friendship or relationship (I’ve seen it happen with others), so I’ve tried to be mindful when planning my trips. But being of an age where friends are getting married, taking out mortgages and starting families, finding people whose schedules align, who share the same sense of adventure and interests, who have a similar budget, etc. — well it’s not easy. So, the idea of travelling on my own started to take up more space in my mind and I finally decided to take the plunge and head ‘down under’ alone.

BEST.DECISION.EVER.

What place could be more perfect as a first solo travel destination than the magical Oz, where English is the first language, the country is safe and the people have a reputation as happy-go-lucky and friendly?

The answer is nowhere. No other place could be more perfect. 

AUSTRALIA.IS.AMAZING.

My itinerary was ambitious. Twenty years of dreaming meant a long bucket list of must-see places, wildlife and experiences, and I didn’t want to make sacrifices in this regard; I was meticulous. I hoarded vacation days through 2015, planning my trip over the Christmas break to maximize my time and also have access to my 2016 vacation allowance (necessary for a five-week trip). I researched tours, accommodations, internal flights and modes of transportation to ensure the schedule was achievable (and within my budget). I reached out to friends, acquaintances and even a long lost uncle in Oz for tips, advice and friendly company in different destinations. It took months of planning (and a detailed spreadsheet) to get everything together – but looking back now, all of this helped build the anticipation for the trip, and bolstered my commitment to making the most of every moment ‘down under!’

I decided to call the trip ‘Walkabout 28’ in homage to a rite of passage/traditional custom among Australia’s indigenous peoples. While I would not be alone in the wilderness foraging for survival, I would be travelling without friends or family for the first time – possibly as far as I could get from my home. In many ways this trip felt like a coming-of-age experience; I learned a new kind of independence, I learned a lot about myself, and I faced some fears. And funny enough, for all of my worries about travelling on my own — I was never lonely. Ok, maybe half a day in Adelaide. But that was a good lesson too.

If you haven’t tried travelling on your own before, be brave and give it a shot. Even one day in a city a couple of hours away may inspire you to take a leap and seek a bigger adventure — and a good adventure is worth a little discomfort.

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First sighting of a new continent (for me). Flying into Melbourne on December 18, 2015.

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