Six Months. I have been backpacking for six months. Where has the time gone? The last proper update I wrote was back in January. Back when I had been here for two months and was just settling into Melbourne nicely. Fast forward four months, I got a job, got fired, spent my birthday in a hotel that got evacuated at 6am, went to see Bruno Mars. Not to mention met some lovely people, said goodbye to good friends, moved to Sydney and now viola. Here I am. A solo traveller at long last.
After getting my job in Melbourne everything seemed to slow down a bit. We were living out by the airport, three of us sharing a room and me sleeping on my camping gear on the floor. We were away out of the way from everything. There was one pub, one shopping centre and one cinema to keep us occupied. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely saved us a lot of money. But it got boring fast.
I was starting to feel complacent when I noticed the issue with my work. We were all hired for a full time position but were not getting nearly full time hours. After bringing it up with the bosses, and being dismissed, I contacted Fair Work to ask their advice. As I expected, yes, we were entitled to either full time pay regardless of what we worked, or a casual rate of pay (which is 25% more) I guess I cost the company less money to make us casual so they finally caved after Fair Work spooked them and gave us all our money back. Three months of back payment resulted in the tidy sum of $950! Though, as most people warned me, I was then promptly let go as I was now on a casual contract and they were well within their rights to do so.
Best Night EVER
On a happier, and more expensive note, I went to see Bruno Mars, the absolute light of my life. He is one of those performers that I have always wanted to go and see, but could never afford. If I was being sensible, I still couldn’t afford it. But I’m travelling. So seize the day and all that stuff. I had never been to a concert on my own before. And I was quite nervous about it. Would it be awkward? People might stare at me. Would I be too self conscious to enjoy myself? Well, turns out I had an amazing time. And I barely even noticed I was there alone. I was just there enjoying my favourite artist and couldn’t care less about anybody else.
I did get talking to this one girl. We bonded over the massively tall people who stood in front of us just as the show started. After the warm up act, she asked me if I wanted to go to the bathroom with her. I didn’t really need to but I figured she was making an effort to be nice so I went along. We got chatting, both on a Working Holiday, blah blah blah. She bought me a drink which felt a bit weird cause I had just met her, but I wasn’t going to turn down a free drink. Then, when we got back inside, she introduced me to her boyfriend who seemed lovely. And I guess she changed her mind about me a proceeded to tell me how boring she thought I was. Making new friends is great, isn’t it?
I laughed it off and decided to work my way away from them for when Bruno Mars came on, but when the lights went down she grabbed my hand and pulled me closer to the front. Again, not a big fan of this girl, but there was a better view in it for me so I went along. I pretty much forgot she was there for most of the show. She would occasionally ‘cheers’ and hug me as drunk people seem to do. When the gig was over, worried she would ask me to go for a drink with them, I literally ran in the other direction. I tried, I was nice. But I didn’t have the energy to keep it going.
You Make Friends by Doing…So Just DO IT
That night made me realise that doing stuff on your own can still be amazing. Yes, sometimes it’s nice to share experiences with friends. But sometimes you’ve just got to go for it. Go to that concert. Eat at that restaurant. See that movie. Learn to enjoy your own company and the possibilities are endless.
Travelling with a group can sometimes make it more difficult to meet new people. My job was awful, but I’m so grateful for it as I got to meet some incredible people. I now have friends all over Australia (and the world) that I can meet up with on my travels. That is such an incredible thing that I absolutely love about backpacking. It makes me want to get a job again so I can meet more people! In what world would I ever WANT to get a job?
New Start in a New City
We arrived in Sydney three weeks ago. We were instantly struck by A) How cheap everything is here. I had heard horror stories about Sydney and B) How difficult it is to find a bar that opens late. Our first hostel had a very small social area that was an outdoor courtyard. Not only did the hostel close that at 9:45pm every night, but it was overrun with cockroaches. My friend and I got put in separate rooms (which had no aircon so made relaxing in bed impossible) So every night we would try to find a bar to go to until I was a reasonable time to go to bed. And most nights, we were kicked out at 9pm, 10, Midnight. What’s up with that, Sydney!?
My friend instantly got a job while I decided to enjoy the city for a while. We were only planning on being here for a month or so, so why bother with a job? I wandered the city. Met up with some friends who were passing through, and generally had a pretty good few weeks.
Finally, I Am a Solo Traveller
However, I am now on my lonesome. My friend went for a job up in Cairns that offers free meals and accommodation. So I am officially a solo traveller. I am both excited and so nervous. More so because I just I hope I’m good at it. I know I am more open and confident since being in Australia, but I’ve always had someone with me, meaning I didn’t really need to make an effort before. Now, I’ll need to actually be social and initiate conversations. Make friends! Oh the horror!
I’m joking obviously, meeting new people is fun and exciting. But also stressful and at times, awkward as fuck. It’s only been one day and I was at a loss for what to do with myself, so I hid in the cinema. (Side note: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a lovely film which I highly recommend) I’ll chock today up to a false start and try again tomorrow.
Okay it is now the next morning. Last night I met my dormmates and they are three lovely women. One in particular is very cheerful and chatty. She very nicely invited me out last night on a party bus to the casino. Both of which slightly makes me want to peel my face off, but she doesn’t know that. I politely declined, as I had taken my friend to the train station that morning at 4am and didn’t get much sleep. I then let myself worry all night about ‘that was my chance. Someone invited me out and I said no. I suck at solo travel. I’ll never make friends.’ I eventually drifted off at about 11pm.
I have surprised myself a fair few times in these past six months. Half of the things I am doing, if you had told me back home that I wouldn’t even bat an eyelid at them, I would never have believed you. I am much more confident these days. And I really cherish my own company and the chances I get to be alone. The only difference now is that I won’t need to schedule my alone time. It’s all the time.
It might get boring. It might get lonely. I might start to drain on me doing all these cool things with no one to share it with. But then the responsibility is mine to include other people. Reach out and make friends. Invite people along. This is a new chapter in my life and a new chapter in my journey. It will most definitely be a learning curve, but ultimately I know it will do me a world of good.