How to Travel Alone

The thought of spending days on end by yourself surrounded by strangers does not appeal to most people. Especially if you were, say, in a foreign country without a mobile phone and limited access to the Internet. And yet travelling by myself through New Zealand and Australia was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. At first I was nervous. I have never travelled on my own before and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Was I going to be really lonely? What was I going to do with all this time to myself? Turns out I was going to have the time of my life! I explored multiple cities on my own terms, including Dunedin, Queenstown and Sydney. 

The first time I was fully alone in a city was in Queenstown. I’d just finished travelling with my mum for two weeks. We’d had a schedule with every day planned so that we could make the most of her short time in New Zealand. After she left I had no plan. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. So, in true Ali style, I went on a hike. I climbed up Bob’s Peak, the mountain sitting on one side of Queenstown. I got to the top and it was there that I fully realized the beauty of my situation. Yes, I was on the top of a mountain, and no, I did not have to go back down to meet anyone for dinner. I sat on top of that mountain and watched the sunset. I could do whatever I wanted... I felt so free.

I made my way through the rest of New Zealand and onto Australia, transitioning between travelling on my own and travelling with friends. My biggest test was going to be Sydney. This was going to be the biggest city I’d been in for a long time and I was going to be there all alone. I thought that I might be lonelier here than the other places I’d travelled simply because of the sheer size of the city. Instead, I ended up meeting locals, who showed me some hidden charms of Sydney, whom I wouldn’t have met had I been travelling with a friend because we would've been so wrapped up in our own plans. I wandered around the city and spent my time there focusing on me and what I wanted to do. By the end of my trip I was more confident (read: sunburnt) and excited about the possibilities that are open to me now that I’ve embraced solo travel. 

Travelling alone allowed me not only to experience places from a different perspective, but it also allowed me to grow. I became more independent and learned how to navigate around. Being alone no longer scared me. On that note, here are some tips and tricks to travelling alone:

  • Don’t be scared to be scared. A little nervousness tends to make you a smarter traveller. 
  • But don’t be so scared that it inhibits adventure! Although being all alone in a big city might seem intimidating, it actually helps you immerse yourself in the local culture. 
  • Embrace the fact that you don’t need to follow anyone else’s schedule. If you want to eat ice cream for dinner two night in a row that’s up to you (highly recommended to be honest). 
  • Stay in hostels. Not only is it more affordable, it’s also a great way to meet new people! That doesn’t mean that you have to spend every waking minute with them, it just means that if you want to go out for a meal (or to the bar, or whatever) with another human you have that option. 
  • Get out and explore the area on your own terms. Take advantage of the fact that everything you do is for you. If you absolutely love art, go visit every art museum in the city without worrying about boring your friend who detests museums. If you like the outdoors, go hike through the hills to your heart’s content without worrying about your not-so-outdoorsy friend who would rather spend the morning sitting at a café.

 

Sources: Cover PhotoPhotos 1 and 3 were provided by Alison Macpherson 

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