I had dreamt of travelling for many years but had always had full time employment stopping me. Acquaintances and friends took the risk of taking a year out after university and disappeared across to the other side of the globe and I felt the jealousy rising inside me. At the age of 24 I soon decided enough was enough and I quit my job, bought a ticket to Australia, sold my car and off I went. I had no one to go with me on this adventure, as at 24 a lot of my friends had settled down and started families but me, I had different ideas. I wanted to see the world and start a journey in Australia.
I booked my flight in June 2013 and didn’t fly till the November, which meant 6 months of worry and panic. The thoughts ‘am I doing the right thing?’ and ‘what if I don’t make any friends?’ crossed my mind on a daily basis. I am not the most smiliest person to walk the planet and this was a major concern for me. I joined a ‘Welcome to Sydney Week’ called ‘ultimate oz’ where they would introduce me to other backpackers and they hooked me up with all the boring stuff like a bank account. I felt more secure with this week being booked and the worry lessened until flight day arrived. I definitely recommend. I joined numerous forums and Facebook pages in the hope of meeting someone who was travelling to Sydney the same time as me who was also alone. I met one girl before my week in Sydney off a forum and we went to Bondi for a day and I got terribly burnt, wear sun cream! I kept a blog while I travelled called ‘A Girl Out in the World’ and in my first post I mentioned that my main worry was meeting people.
I soon travelled to Aberdeen airport and said good bye Scotland and then said hello to Sydney, Australia. Touching down in Sydney I remembered I had seen on a forum that someone had met another backpacker on their hotel transfer and they became friends so I began to hope I too would meet a fellow backpacker on my transfer but this didn’t happen. I was constantly hoping I would some how magically make a friend to lessen my worry of being alone. I arrived at my hostel feeling jet lagged and went straight to bed. I was in a ten bed dorm and the first guy I met wasn’t the most welcoming which made me panic, is this what it’s like? My first night I cracked with more worry and felt an overwhelming feeling of home sickness but in the morning some girls from Manchester spoke to me and told me the first few days are the hardest. They too were all once new to the backing packing world and they knew what it felt like getting off the plane with your backpack and having no idea what you were walking into. That day the girls asked me to go to the cinema with them and another group in my dorm asked me to go see the Sydney Opera House at night. None of them knew me but they knew how it felt to be the newbie.
As time went on I met loads of different people, the people in your dorm room start to become your family. If they’re heading off somewhere they automatically invite you, if they are playing drinking games they ask you to join in, if they’re going out to buy goon they offer to get you some, there is no selfishness or leaving anyone out. One morning I was getting ready in the toilets to go for a walk around Sydney with my Sydney family and I got chatting to a girl who was fresh meat so I invited her to come with us and she did. We didn’t talk again after that day but she was still someone who added a memory to my travelling experience. I made friends with a number of people off my Sydney planned week and we stuck together for a while but then people move on and new people arrive. I found I made friends everywhere, sitting at breakfast I was making conversation and discussing other people’s travel plans. If word got out your dorm was drinking, loads of people arrived, friends of friends, randoms and you all go out and have an amazing night and sometimes you won’t see them again as everyone goes off doing their own thing but they are still a great memory.
Talking to other people about their plans gives you inspiration on where to go and what to do. I would advise if you are going backpacking go with no plans, plans will change with who you meet. I wasn’t planning on going to New Zealand but then so many people I met in Sydney and Melbourne told me it is amazing so I was persuaded and decided to go on a 2 week organised tour alone and it was the best 2 weeks of my life, New Zealand is stunning and I met amazing people.
After Sydney I traveled to Fiji and I met a number of people, I then met up with them again in Melbourne and I met up with a girl I knew from Sydney. As soon as you meet someone and you exchange conversation I recommend you add them on social media. Seeing their posts and what they are up to is inspiration for your travels and you also might see them again if your in the same place. If a backpacker knows about a job going they will normally share it on social media so this is also handy.
Everyone travelling is in the same boat. They are alone or in a small group, they want to meet people so everyone is more friendly. I did find some nationalities to be less social than others so I tended to avoid those. I found certain nationalities would group together and not talk to any others and they ignored you if you’re not one of them.
Travelling made me a much more social person and I now love meeting people and exploring. I am now less shy and feel I can talk to anyone. I am so proud I took the leap to go travelling alone and it was an amazing experience. The only time I was actually alone was the plane journey over, once I arrived I was surrounded by new friends.