This is a question that has been at the forefront of my mind this week, mainly because of comments some of my work colleagues and family members have made to me regarding my upcoming trip to Australia. My work colleagues in particular, both women who are only about twenty years older than myself, keep telling me they think I’m incredibly brave for choosing to travel alone and, although I don’t really agree with them, it certainly got me thinking about my reasons for travelling alone and why I’m actually really glad I am going alone.
This is quite clearly the exact opposite to what I will look like when I travel, but I like to pretend I could look this glamorous and effortless…even though I won’t be taking any high heels…or a bag like that.
This is an obvious reason. I couldn’t stand to watch any type of holiday programme, in fact I still feel this way and I had friends who always seemed to be going off on amazing holidays (with their other halves, but I’ll get to that) and I was stuck at home just faffing about. Now at the fear of sounding like a spoilt brat, I know I am incredibly lucky to have such a lovely and supportive family and circle of friends and to have had the upbringing and education I have had, but I grew up with one parent who – and I’m trying to be very diplomatic about how I put this – saw travelling or gap years as a waste of time, so whilst I was living under said parent’s roof I genuinely felt I couldn’t just go and do what I wanted to, so I never did. So whilst I am interested and excited for my friends who jetted off to wonderful new places, there was always a teeny part of me that was a little jealous and wanted to have some of the same amazing experiences.
I booked the tickets at a low point
So now I have half convinced you I am a spoilt brat, the above statement will have you thinking I’m a sad, lonely spoilt brat, but let me explain. I had decided in the summer holidays that I needed to travel outside of Europe before I turned 30 and I had settled on Australia because I always said I would go and I have a friend there, but when my flatmate said she was moving I was a little worried I would never actually be able to afford the trip. Couple this disappointment with a cold, autumnal night, a blip on the dating front (or a long break with the boyfriend) and a stressful job and before you know it you have booked flights on a plane.
These are very superficial reasons for booking a trip alone, but the more I think about it I have lots of reasons why I’m glad I have chosen to travel alone.
I can do exactly what I want
I love my friends and family and I love experiencing different and exciting new things with them, but it’s so lovely to think that I can do exactly what I want in Australia and I don’t have to compromise. If I want to visit every zoo on the East Coast there is no one to stop me (I mention zoos because I am currently dragging boyfriend to any zoo within a 100mile radius), if I want to just sit on a beach all day not talking to anyone I can. If I decide to change my plans and mosey off in a different direction, I don’t have to consult anyone. The only downside is I’m not exactly amazing at making decisions but I’m hoping this will iron itself out for the trip.
I’m already fairly independent; at 16 I opted to attend a completely different sixth form from my friends in a town a few miles away; I moved away for university and for my job, both in cities where I knew no one and I have lived alone, so this is just an extension of me proving to myself I can do this and I can cope on my own. I believe you can’t be truly happy until you are happy being alone and know you can survive on your own therefore this is just an extension of this belief. I love the thought that in decades time I can look back and say ‘yes I did that all by myself’…with a little help from people guiding me in the right direction and to the best places to visit.
It is taking me way out of my comfort zone
For someone who does a job that requires a certain amount of confidence I’m not always great at meeting new people. In fact I prefer to stay out of the limelight until I know the people I am with relatively well and then I open up a bit more. I know that with no more than a week in some places, I can’t really afford to be my usual self, unless I do want to spend the majority of the time on my own, so maybe I’ll come back feeling more confident in certain social situations. I feel certain people I know will laugh at this paragraph, especially those who have known me for years as maybe I don’t always give off this impression, but I know inside I often feel like a twat ha!
I can read
Now I am fully aware that I spend most of my spare time reading anyway, but without the distractions of TV and the Internet I am sure I will get the chance to read even more. But then again, I will have so much to explore that maybe I won’t.
I’m sure there are many more reasons why travelling alone is a good idea, but I can’t think of them right now. I’m not big on these inspirational posters and comments, but I do like the following one and I think it sums up my attitude to the whole thing: