Overcoming the fear of travelling alone

I will not pretend I wasn’t petrified. I was. But mixed in with the awful fear was a glorious feeling of excitement. Most of the really exciting things we do in our lives scare us to death. They wouldn’t be exciting if they didn’t. 

Danny, the Champion of the World

I read this quote and it made me think about the reactions I get whenever I tell people I’m planning on travelling through the outback on my own.

The trip I’m planning now will be my third solo outback adventure, including driving across the Simpson Desert on my own last year, and I still get the questions. I even get them when I’m out there in the middle of a trip.

“Aren’t you scared?” and “isn’t it dangerous?”

Of course I still get scared. I’m out there on my own, often a long way from any help. If something goes wrong, well, I’ve got my emergency plans. I’ve already dealt with car trouble in the outback, and I know a lot more about fixing my car than I used to.

Of course it’s dangerous. But statistically less dangerous than driving on a major highway. Though if I get bitten by an inland taipan ….

But, seriously. So much to see, do, and experience, and you think I should concentrate on fear?

Sadly, too many women do. They let the fear, and other people’s opinions, stop them doing what they want to do.

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. — Helen Keller

There are dangers in everything we want to do – whether it’s travelling the outback, or crossing the road. Every day we make choices between taking a risk and living a ‘safe’ life.

There are a lot of reasons for women to travel alone.

Women in Australia, on average, live 3 years longer than men. The divorce rate is increasing for people who have been married for more than 20 years. The median age for women at divorce is 42.5 years old. That is, just when your kids are growing up, after you’ve spent years looking after everybody else. So, what do you do next?

Many of the women I’ve met who are travelling alone or with a female friend are doing so because their partners died before they could make that trip they had been planning for years. I started travelling solo this time because Doc (my partner) can’t get extended time off work. I got sick of hearing “next year”, and decided that my next year is already here.

If you don’t do things by yourself, how are you going to do them at all?

More women are starting to travel alone, and that’s fabulous to see, but I’m sure there are more out there who would like to but are scared to do it.

We all get scared or anxious, but there are excellent on-line resources to help solo travellers, and particularly women. Travelling solo doesn’t mean you have to be on your own all the time. You could take a group tour and they will organise everything for you, or if you want company there are always places to meet other people – cafes, community events, and yes, even in bars and pubs.

If you’re after tips or inspiring stories of other travellers try A Girls Guide to Travelling Alone (they featured my story!), or Solo Traveler (I’m not on that one). Or google “women travelling alone”.

I want to be like Danny, the Champion of the World, going for that magical, moonlight journey, not regretting the things that might have been.


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