The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure – Jon Krakauer.
Solo travel was always something I wanted to achieve and accomplish myself, on my own terms. Yes, I flew out to Australia on my tod. I arrived at 6am Sydney time, crawled into a bunk bed and slept – all alone. But the next day, I met Hannah and then it wasn’t really like I was a solo traveller any longer; we were travel partners, buddies who came to each other’s rescue, adding Erika into the mix for a short time up the east coast of Australia. I never felt alone until we left each other in the outback. I didn’t feel like a was a solo traveller again until I flew to Perth (and thank God because my travel friends are friends for life), stepped foot onto new turf and lugged my backpack into the large boot of a truck that held a group of strangers I’d spend the next ten to fourteen days with.
And it was the best experience of my life.
I’m a quiet person, until you get to know me. I never know when to start a conversation, or how to compose myself (unless I’m in work and then that’s just a completely different scenario) and I have a fear that nobody will like me, which is stupid for someone at the age of 25. Most of the time I’ll say I don’t care, but I really do. The first day on that bus, we had to do one of those get to know everyone things, which for introverts like me, is a slight nightmare. However, I got on with it and everyone I spoke to was really lovely and chatty. The entire experience of being in a bus for up to twelve hours a day can seem awful, but the places along the west coast of Australia were incredibly beautiful and I urge every single backpacker to head there because most people I know don’t get to see it in their first year of Aussie travel. The friends I made were amazing. I’d sit on a toilet with a snake hiding, get rained on, fall on my arse, peel like I’ve never peeled before and be eaten alive by mozzies all over again, just to experience that exact trip with Adventure Tours.
If you’re thinking about taking part in a tour during your time as a solo traveller, do it! Here are just eight reasons why.
ALL THE ITINERARY AND FOOD IS SORTED FOR YOU
It really takes the headache out of planning a long haul trip across hundreds of miles and plenty of nights. It probably does work out a little more expensive to book a complete trip than doing it yourself, but if you’re disorganised off paper like I am, it’s best to leave it to the experts. Everything was included in the price of my trip (around £697) apart from drinks; all three meals a day, all the camping and hostel stays as well as all of the excursions. And, the travel across Australia too.
IT PUSHES YOU OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
My parents laughed at me when I said I’d be doing a lot of hiking up rocks, for days. It is unlike me to get up and go outside to walk briskly, let alone climb in the sweltering Aussie heat. And yet, there I was climbing across rocks, sliding down them and jumping feet first into various natural pools across national parks. The best thing was: I enjoyed every second. Because there is a group of people willing to throw themselves into action, it leaves you wanting to share the experience with them.
YOU MEET PEOPLE YOU WOULDN’T NORMALLY MEET
In our group of 19 (including the best tour guide in Western Australia!), there were five Brits, two Aussies, two Dutch, four French, three Germans, one Swiss, one Russian and one French-Canadian. Before this trip, I’d hung out with plenty of Brits – it mostly felt like home to me – and a lot of Aussies. Therefore, this was my first real grasp of getting to know people well from across the globe. By the end of the trip, we were a tour family. I had hearts to hearts with some of these friends and gotten to know a lot about their life, as they did with mine. We swapped travel stories and life traditions well into the early hours and played a lot of card games, too.
IT WILL BOOST YOUR SELF CONFIDENCE
Getting onto a bus filled with other people by yourself is a scary thing; finding a spare seat and dedicating yourself to that spot can be a little nerve-wracking. However, by the end of the trip, you all know each other very well. It builds your confidence when it comes to meeting new people, not to mention experiencing new foods and cultures. You will do things you never could have dreamed of, and so that means you can do whatever you put your mind to.
YOU WILL EXPERIENCE A PART OF THE WORLD WITH LIKEMINDED SOULS
There’s a Wizard of Oz quote that says “It’s not where you go, it’s who you meet along the way.” Every single person who travels already has something in common with you; they want to see the world. Therefore, you’re always going to have something to talk about. It’s a special thing to experience somewhere with people who want to see the things that you see and do the things that you do. This is how lifelong travel friends are made.
YOU’RE STILL A SOLO TRAVELLER BUT WITH NEW FRIENDS
Ultimately, you are still a solo traveller. You have decided to book the trip on your own, knowing no-one before Day One. You may still part this group and all go your own separate ways once more, but you have a new circle of friends; people who have seen you fall on your arse, peel until you don’t have any skin left, be severely hungover (or still drunk), and they can’t even judge you for it because they’ve probably done the exact same thing on their travels.
YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT LOTS OF DIFFERENT CULTURES
With meeting new people comes new traditions, new backgrounds and new cultures. It is so interesting to discuss and learn what other people do for a living; what their home life is like; why they’ve gone travelling. I learned some Dutch phrases which I still remember nearly a year on; I learned all about what it’s like to get a permanent resident visa in Australia and I learned about different family traditions and backgrounds too.
IT’S AN EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER
That is all that needs to be said. It really is like no other experience you’ll have on your travels, or in your life.
After remembering how incredible my West Coast trip was, I’m extremely (on the verge of blowing some savings) tempted to book myself on a Contiki tour for the summer. It would be nerve-wracking again, because it is a whole different country and time with new faces to meet and new places to explore. And yet, it would be another fascinating travel experience to add to the anti-bucket list.
Have you been on a group tour as a solo traveller? Are you tempted?
Love Faye xo
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