Thoughts of a Solo Traveler
only a few more days in Australia before I was going to fly back to America, and as I
drove out of Coffs Harbor heading south on Highway One, I thought about my travels
during the past few
months. Overall I had a really great time seeing Australia for the
first time and I was definitely glad I came over here, as I've mentioned several
times. However, my trip wasn't always rosy.
As I discovered, there's a big difference between traveling alone in your home
country and traveling alone in a foreign country.
been reading my website, you know that I really enjoy traveling alone.
That's because I enjoy doing what I like to do, when I like to do it, and I
don't like being tied down to someone else's schedule (yep, I'm a crusty ol'
curmudgeon and I'm damn proud of it). I especially love driving alone around the U.S.,
because I'm familiar with just about every region, having traveled through
all the states and having lived in many of them. Wherever I go in
the U.S., I'm within a day's drive of a friend or relative.
Indeed, visiting friends is one of the reasons I love to travel around America.
In Australia, though, I was
totally on my own,
things were a bit different, and I didn't know anyone. This
past fall before I left Bellingham, I spent
preparing for my overseas trip: getting film, clothes, books, etc.
What I didn't prepare for, though, was the prospect of being
completely alone and having to be totally self-reliant for the next four months.
really enjoyed my trip overseas and am glad I went by myself, I was surprised to discover that traveling
alone, overseas, and for a long time was a bit
of a challenge for me at times.
Fortunately, though, I'm a person who definitely enjoys his own
space, so I dealt with the solitude better than most folks probably would have.
alone definitely has its advantages, because it exposes you more to your surroundings,
since your focus is
on the place you're traveling through and not on your partner. Furthermore, I
think solo travelers
are more approachable than pairs or groups, and consequently I met a lot more
people than I would have otherwise.
In those respects, then, I definitely learned more about Australia and New Zealand than I would
I'd gone with someone else... and that was the point of my trip. Yeah, it's
nice to travel with someone else so you can have a "shared
experience," but on the other hand, I figured that I was
"sharing" my trip with my website readers.
I actually had a chance to visit
Australia with another person -- a cute woman, no less, whom I met shortly
before I left Portland last spring.
Traveling with another person (and a person I didn't know very well) would have been interesting, I'm sure, and the experience would've been a
lot different -- for better or worse! She was a nice person and I
think we would've gotten along all right, but overall, I'm glad that I
decided to come over here alone.
general, I had a great time traveling alone overseas, and that was
largely due to two things. One was e-mail. The messages that I received from my friends and
from people who stumbled across my website, taking a few minutes out of their
day to send me a note made a big difference, and those encouraging notes kept
my spirits up during the whole trip. I won't forget the kind messages that
folks sent to me while I was overseas, or the people who sent them.
the hospitality of the people I met during my four months in New Zealand and
Australia was overwhelming. I'm thinking back now on many of the pleasant
conversations that I had with folks in both countries, and there are just too
many to list. I was constantly amazed at how often total strangers would go out of
their way to help me. I don't know if that was because I was a solo
traveler who looked like he was lost (which I often was), or if that's just the
way folks are there. Either way, I'm glad that I chose New Zealand and
Australia as my first overseas countries to visit.
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