She went to Australia on her own. Blogger Kristina Simonaityte admits that it is not always easy to be alone when she wants to go sightseeing. But it also has its perks.
Last weekend I visited the island of Rottnest, some 20 kilometres off the coast of Perth. I was standing on the wind-swept westernmost point of the island, where there’s nothing between you and Africa but the Indian Ocean, and noticed these two girls, slightly younger than me. They had their backs turned on the roaring ocean and the group of New Zealand fur seals playing just below the observation deck and were gossiping loudly about some mutual friends. My first reaction was to judge them, but then I started thinking – what if I was also travelling with other people?
On one hand, if you want to really experience the place, travelling alone might be the best way to do it. You can choose your own pace, go to places that you are really interested in. When travelling with others I often find myself so distracted by the conversations that I might not even notice my surroundings. On my own I stop for a saxophonist playing under an intricately decorated colonial building, or get back to the same hall in the museum for the third time. Or I go see that fur seal colony while for others it might just be a dead end.
But travelling alone is not easy. It can be frustrating, especially when you wish to travel long distances. Then a companion would be really great. For a girl it can also be very constraining. I’m always careful about where I go at night or even at day time. I’m not brave enough to go hitchhiking or to rideshare with strangers. It’s funny how sometimes flying halfway across the world is less scary than taking a train from the beach after sundown.
And let’s be honest, travelling alone can also be lonely. Yet for me the wish to see places is much greater than the need to do it with someone else. You always meet new people along the way, learn new things about yourself and have great stories to tell later.
That is the main thing others should take from this. I know for a lot of people of our social networking generation it is hard to imagine. “You went alone?”, I hear often, with a hint of pity. I admit, it did take me a while to get over it. But in the end what matters is that I went.
Kristina is a second year student MSc Forest and Nature Conservation. She is currently in Perth, Australia to do field work for her thesis.