Sydney 2012 – My first solo travel experience

So a little back story first. One of my best friends Nick went to live in Sydney for two years to attend a dance school (Cool ay?!) and the trip I am going to talk about in this post was actually my third visit to him over there. The first was just a short three nighter in July 2011. I flew over on my own and stayed with him in his flat…

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The second was a week long trip in December 2011 but this time I brought my Mum along because she loves Sydney too. We stayed in an apartment together and then saw Nick’s first year showcase. We also saw Mary Poppins which was PHENOMENAL!…

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It took the whole year for me to venture over again but this time would be quite special. This time I was going alone and staying on my own too which was something I’d never done before. I couldn’t stay with Nick this time as he was busy in rehearsal for his show and the logistics just weren’t quite right. This was an exciting thought for me as I knew now that travel was something I wanted to do more of and I thought, well I know Sydney really well so this would be a good trial run for future solo travel.

I was a student on a budget so clearly a swanky hotel was out of the question. Really a motel wasn’t even gonna cut it, so I went for a hostel. I was excited at the idea of this because it meant I was well and truly on my own and having to completely fend for myself. I ended up choosing the Sydney Central YHA which was literally across the road from Sydney Central Train Station. I can’t recommend this location enough. I already knew that the trains were the best way to get around Sydney from my previous trips so the fact I was across the road made getting round for the week SUPER easy. I recommend to anyone traveling in Sydney to purchase a week long multi trip. This gets you on the trains, buses and ferries for unlimited rides for 7 days. You really only have to catch about 2-3 rides a day to make up the cost of it.

The hostel was great and I was sharing a room with 5 other girls. They were coming and going and mostly just staying for 1 or 2 nights so I didn’t really get to befriend any of them. The facilities were pretty good but it was the location that will make me recommend it to everyone. The weather was so warm that I ended up waking up early most days. I would walk across to the train station and catch the Circular Quay train down to the harbour and just go for walks and wander the shops. One morning I actually skipped the train altogether and walked from the hostel all the way to the Opera House! at 6am! It was BEAUTIFUL to see it so early in the morning with so few people around. One of my other favourite activities was people watching. I’d catch the train into the centre of town and grab my favourite breakfast of rock melon in a container from a street vendor and I’d just sit on a stoop and watch people go to work in the morning. It was always a highlight of my day.

If you’re into Musicals I recommend checking out what’s on at the time you’re in Sydney because there’s almost always something great! Musicals I’ve seen in Sydney include Chicago, Billy Elliot, Tick Tick Boom, Mary Poppins, and the latest, Legally Blonde. It was a great night out (I went with Nick’s family who were over for his graduation too) and we even stage doored at the end to meet the cast. Here I am with the star Lucy Durack!…

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Another great thing to do in Sydney is go to the beach! I have two that I visit almost every time I go to Sydney. One is the obvious Bondi Beach which is probably the most well known of the Sydney beaches (and therefore the busiest). Bondi is great for a fun day of swimming and hanging out with friends or family. I went with Nick’s sister and Dad and we had a great swim in the surf. The water is a great temperature in summer but I wouldn’t recommend it as much in the other months (I came here one October and couldn’t get in the water!). It’s very picturesque on a bright clear day…

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My other favourite beach is Manly. You have to catch the ferry to get here but it’s totally worth it. It’s slightly quieter than Bondi and better for a nice sunbathe. Doesn’t it look perfect?!…

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Of course no trip to Sydney would be complete without a trip to the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. One of my favourite solo travel activities is taking photos for strangers. I am no stranger to the camera (both sides of it actually) and I just love to take photos. When I see a couple or a group of friends around Circular Quay trying to get a group photo, I just walk up to them and ask “Excuse me, would you like me to take that for you?”. The answer is 99% of the time going to be “Yes! Thank you so much!” so really you’ve got nothing to loose. It makes me feel good when I get a good photo and knowing that my photographs are probably stuck on many fridges and framed on many walls all the way around the world! I’d like to think I’m like a selfie saver. I save people from having too many holiday selfies! Of course that doesn’t stop me from taking too many… (the sunlight was just so pretty!!)

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Anyway… The main reason for this trip happened on the final night and that was Nick’s graduation! We all (his family and a few other friend’s and I) went out for dinner first and then went to the show. It was an EPIC show, just like the previous year’s showcase and I was so proud of Nick for graduating!

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So as you can see I got up to a lot in my week, some things I did with others but mostly I did it all on my own! The best part was that I wasn’t scared or worried at all. There wasn’t a moment I wished I wasn’t there or that I had someone with me. I discovered my love for solo travel on this trip. The feeling that I had the most was the feeling of complete freedom. I didn’t have anywhere to be at any particular time, I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to and if I felt like it, could just sit on a bench and stare at my surroundings for half an hour. I got lost a couple of times but it didn’t matter. I found my way back eventually and it just meant I’d been somewhere I’d never been before!

For anyone scared to try solo travel I suggest you do it in a place you have maybe been before first. You’ll be more confident with how to get around and you won’t feel isolated. It can serve as a practice run for the great unknown that is the rest of the world.

I’d call myself a people person and I do love a great conversation however if given the chance to be alone, I’ll always take it.

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