Originally from: Quebec, Canada
On the road since: September 1, 2015
Caroline and I met while volunteering in Bali at the beginning of September 2015. We both left Canada with plans to explore the world indefinitely and became fast friends; especially given our same departure date and similar journeys.
Caroline left Bali sooner than I did, and on her own explored the hectic streets of Yogyakarta in Indonesia, the rainforest of Borneo in Malaysia, met with a friend in Singapore, and then reconnected with me in Bangkok. We travelled for two months together through Thailand and Laos, split ways, and I caught her back in Bangkok before she boarded a flight out to Melbourne to start a new adventure.
Do you feel like you’ve grown a lot since leaving home 8 months ago?
I’m more solid, but I’m still the same person. A little more open-minded, and I definitely now understand the saying ''to each their own'' more than ever before. I’ve seen more, and I tolerate much more. Travelling isn’t as scary these days either. In fact, the novelty of travelling has kind of worn off since this is my life now. The places are always new, but the novelty of travelling itself is gone.
Being a solo female traveller, from a safety perspective, do you have many fears, or ones that have been passed on from people back home who don’t travel?
Of course! Each person back home said something about it as though something would happen to me while I’m travelling, so yeah it’s always on the back of my mind. I think I’m reckless, a little too much, and one day I’ll pay for it. But for now I don’t worry much about it. I feel like a confident person and because of that people won’t mess with me. I don’t look scared and I know where I’m going. I don’t look at maps in public. If you look with your head up wherever you’re going, everything will be ok.
I've found that being with someone 24/7 for an extended period of time is a rare thing that most people don't experience in their lives. We did this for two months. What's it like spending so much time with someone?
The experience of things are typically increased by 50%. To enjoy a meal with someone is almost always better. See, travelling with you I’d say, "Wow that _________ was great! " But if I was alone I might have written about the experience and practiced my writing skills. Or if we were together seeing something beautiful, that’s important to share. But alone I would have had time to take pictures of it for maybe ten minutes practicing my photography. So there are pros and cons to both.
Have you experienced much loneliness on the road? How do you resolve it when it creeps in?
I haven’t had just one moment of loneliness on the road; I’ve actually had many. All of them were resolved with either the companionship of someone who understands me, a good talk with my mother or a close friend, or with wine. My first few weeks genuinely on my own were after leaving Bali. I went on a nearly 30-hour journey to Java in Indonesia and felt lonelier than I have ever felt before. I made sure I kept busy by taking photographs, talking to people back home and taking in all the little details that I knew I would miss once I was gone (and I was right, I do miss them now).
Can you think of a mistake you made while travelling that actually led to something pleasant and unexpected?
A few weeks ago (or was it months ago?) I was on a paradise island in Cambodia in great company and we had to take a boat back to our accommodation. The boat wasn’t on time and at some point, we thought we saw ours in the distance so we started walking towards it. As we’re walking in the water, trying not to get our clothes too wet, the boat’s engine starts and it slowly leaves the beach. We start running as fast as we can, forgot about not getting our clothes wet, got to the boat and tried to tell the staff that we were on the boat, we had tickets, and we were headed back to the mainland. They took us in without question and we realized after half an hour that we were actually on the wrong boat.
This boat was actually filled with people that had paid for an arranged tour. No one ever noticed we weren’t supposed to be there, so we enjoyed every bit of it. The music, the alcohol, the vibes, and most importantly the jump into the middle of the ocean at night to see the bioluminescent plankton all around us. We never expected to see them, not then anyway, yet there we were, floating in the ocean, waving our hands quickly and watching those small sparkling dots all around us. It was magical, unexpected and it would have never happened had we took the right boat back.
You went from backpacking through Asia to working in Australia. What's the transition been like?
I’ve only been in Australia for a few days now, but so far the transition has been going very smoothly. Australia reminds me of home in Quebec, except for the English speaking part, and also I’m here alone. Luckily I’ve been with a sweet host family here since day 2, which helps me save money. The transition is far from being done, but I’m getting there.
There’s all sorts of new work arrangements these days, especially for travellers. You found a host family on Workaway to take you in- can you explain how that works and how it's going?
You can find lots of different jobs on there. I’m currently an Au Pair looking after two toddlers and keeping the house tidy for two young parents. I work for them a few hours a day and I get food and accommodation for free in exchange. I get to live in an authentic Australian household and not spend as much money here so I get to experience all that Australia has to offer at a small cost. It’s a nice way to get settled while I look for paid jobs in the future.
Where do you hope all this travel experience leads you in the end?
I hope this travelling experience leads me to being 100% confident with who I am. Not everyone has the chance to get to know themselves so deeply, and I feel like travelling has done that to me. I left my hometown in a very bad state and now I feel 100 miles away from it and I hope I’ll only get farther and farther from it.
I know for a fact that travelling solo made me stronger. I have a better sense of direction, I can trust my instincts and I can get through any rough patch that’s presented to me. Here I am, in Melbourne, Australia, on my own after 8 months of travelling alone most of the time -- I don’t think it can get much more badass than this. ■