While it’s something many of us dream about doing, actually making the decision to forgo your stable life, job and house to start travelling full time can be challenging. It comes with a lot of ‘what ifs’ and obstacles to overcome. But once you take that leap, it can be one of the most rewarding decisions you’ll ever make.
We caught up with Maddi, a solo traveller who’s love for adventure led her to giving up a traditional lifestyle in favour of kitting out her van and living on the road. Maddi tells us about why she chose to travel solo as well as a few tips for anyone looking to stay safe while travelling alone.
“My love for travel grew whilst I was living and working overseas during my professional dance career. I was fresh out of high school and got scouted for my first professional dance job which took me to live in Hong Kong. I was so scared, I had never travelled or lived out of home and whilst there were many tears on the journey and I was completely out of my comfort zone, I loved every minute of it!
My love for nature and hiking began when we sailed through Alaska. I can remember my first “hike” up the Mount Roberts tramway track in Juneau. I took a wrong turn through town and noticed the trail sign. I was wearing my favourite converse at the time but sure enough I made it to the top and man did it feel good! After that I found myself doing hike after hike, ticking off as many as I could in the 6 months that I was there. And yes, I did them all in my Converse! Laugh all you want, but my hiking shoe of choice has always been my beloved Connies.
No matter where I hiked, a day in nature always soothed the soul. I was pretty amazed at how happy I felt after immersing myself in the natural environment and it certainly helped to keep those feelings of homesickness at bay. In my ‘off’ periods where I could come home for four months of summer, I continued hiking around my home area in Wollongong, NSW.
My love for nature and travel grew and I began my Instagram page She Who Explores. From this I was able to connect with like-minded individuals and finally had some “hiking buddies” who I didn’t have to convince that hiking mountains was fun. These people also opened me up to other ways of adventuring such as canyoning, abseiling, rock climbing, diving, fishing, camping and so many more. All of these sports and activities were things that were so far from my comfort zone, but I took the plunge and I said yes to every opportunity that came my way.
Being in nature and stepping out of my comfort zone like this made me decide to start a van build so I could spend as much time in nature as possible. I continue to step outside my comfort zone each day in little and big ways to challenge myself and it’s been such a rewarding journey.”
Deciding to travel solo is definitely a step out of many peoples’ comfort zones, but this doesn’t have to mean it’s unsafe. We’ve put together a few tips and things to consider if you’re deciding to travel solo to ensure you’re staying as safe as possible on the road.
Don’t miss a trip to the mechanic
We’ve all been there, your car starts making a strange noise and instead of taking it to the mechanic straight away, life is busy, you put it off for a few weeks. When your car is your home and you’re adventuring off grid, you can’t afford to have it break down in the middle of nowhere so making sure you’re doing regular maintenance is critical. This includes getting it regularly serviced and getting issues fixed as soon as they arise. It can also mean knowing a bit about basic mechanics.
Always let someone know where you are
If you’re planning to get off-grid, or even if you’re not, it always pays to let someone else know where you are and check in with them regularly. Unexpected things happen on the road all the time and so having someone know your whereabouts means that you’ve got a bit of a safety net if something does go awry.
Have a way of communicating even when you’re off grid
If you’re planning to explore off the beaten track (its often where you’ll find the best campsites), or even if you’re not, having a way to communicate at all times is critical should an emergency arise. Whether it’s a satellite phone or device to communicate when there’s no phone reception or an extra power pack to charge up a flat mobile phone, knowing you’re always able to contact the outside world is important for your own safety.
Trust your instincts
When you’re travelling solo you really have to listen to and rely on your own instincts. If something feels wrong or unsafe, be sure of yourself and leave. Travelling solo means you don’t have the instincts of another person to tell you something feels wrong, so you need to keep your wits about you and always be alert. When your home is on wheels it’s often not hard to find another campsite or rest stop to spend the night and you’ve got the freedom to pack up and move when you want to.
A dog is your best friend
While a dog is great company on the road, they’re also really good at alerting you of something before you might notice it.