Tuesday, 22 May 2012

My First Time...

Day one of my first solo trip!  What a place to start my travels!

Back in 2005, I had just secured what I thought was going to be the job of a lifetime.  This was my first graduate position, after many applications, and was to my mind a job where I could forge a long-term career.  My initial reaction was one of joy at getting the job, but then came the mild panic.  My problem?  I hadn't travelled to the places I wanted to travel to; the places where I had wanted to spend a significant amount of time exploring and sauntering through.  Seeing this as my last big chance before being tied down to a 9-5 routine along with all the financial committments that come with a new life, I looked round at my friends and thought, "Crap!  If I'm going to do this, I'm going to have to go alone!"  As all my friends had other things going on, I faced a choice: stay in the UK before starting my job or fly solo to my chosen destinations, Australia and New Zealand.  I took the latter option and haven't looked back since.

Having taken the first big step, booking my flights; I thought to myself, "What the hell am I doing?!"  This was reinforced when I waved my family off at the airport to embark on my 10 week trip.  As I stepped off the plane in Sydney to be sniffed out by an Aussie Customs dog for the possible 'fruit traces' in my bag, helped a drunken women off the floor at the baggage carousel, after she had tried to lift her bag in a heavily inebriated state, before being dragged along the conveyor belt, as well as maintain my constant 'spider watch', in case I should be suddenly be pounced upon by a funnel web or a huntsman; I knew then that the trip would bring me lots of experiences.
Back in Blighty, I had consciously booked myself into a large dorm room, at the hostel in Sydney, with the hope of throwing myself into the mix as soon as possible and stave off any of the loneliness of solo travel.  It worked a treat!  Within 10 minutes of being in the room, I bravely began a converstaion with the lads across the room who were planning to go for some beers in the bar downstairs and got an invite to share a few VBs with them.  And, from then on and throughout the whole trip, I met some absolutely amazing people.  Some were fleeting encounters, where friendships were formed only for a night or two, but others were much more long lasting.  The Dutch friend I made on a sailing trip in Australia and the Irish trio of girls I met in Wellington are people I consider to be very close friends who I have visited often in Amsterdam and Cork, as well as welcomed here.  What surprised me most was the fact that I ended up fending off some of the friendships I encountered on the road off...I got bored of the constant interaction with people and craved some time alone every now and then.  The fact that this happened in my first port of call, Sydney, worried me a bit.  A weird feeling especially considering my fears at the beginning of this solo trip about being a sad, lonely Billly-no-mates with a massive backpack strapped to my back.

My thanks must go to Louise.  A friend who I met temping in an office.  Her tales of her year long trip round Asia and Australia got me excited and keen to see and do all the things she had on her travels.  Her encouragement gave me that push needed to take this memorable trip.

If you have taken a long solo trip, you'll know what I mean when I write here.  If you haven't I hope I can inspire you with my blog posts, much like Louise did during our achingly dull days as temp workers to get out there, even if it does mean by yourself.  I hope you feel brave enough to act on that urge to travel.  There will be ups and there will be downs...but, I promise you one thing, you won't regret it!

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