Everyone around here sounds like they know what they're doing and seem like they've traveled a lot either alone or with friends. I'm not one of those people.
My friend and I were going to Australia at the end of Feb 2008 and we both bought tickets but she backed out on me 3 days ago. I originally had a whole itinerary set up but now I'm so lost and scared about going alone. Is it safe for me to travel alone or should I just join an expensive tour like contiki or oz safaris or etc.? I'm only going to be there for a less than a month so is it even worth spending thousands on those tours?
How easy is it for me to just fly to Cairns and find a reasonably priced trip to the great barrier reef for 4 days then come back? I'm not as brave as everyone else so I feel so helpless just for being on my own for a week :\ I just really wanted to make the best out of this trip!
We only know what we're doing because we once took that step to travel by ourselves, and discovered how really easy it is.
Australia is one of the safest countries in the world. Of course you should never throw common sense out of the window altogether (don't go on a ten day hike through the outback by yourself with no equipment, don't wander through a dodgy part of one of the big cities at night and accept a ride from..., etc) - but basically there's nothing to worry about.
Cairns is jam-packed with travel agencies (every other street corner, literally) where you can book all kinds of trips to the reef; from half-day trips to Green Island to week-long sailing voyages. So yeah, just show up, shop around, and book something. (Note however that February is the wet season; expect to have to contend with torrential rains. The later during your month's stay you could put the north, the better. (By late March the weather should be decidedly more pleasant.))
For the rest of the country, Greyhound buses are a great way of getting around. You can book a pass (for example for travelling the length of the east coast in a month) for pretty cheap.
You have the same concerns as any person who is going travel alone - you've just not had that long to get used to the idea coz it's been forced upon you recently! But I can honestly say, it's probably for the best. I travelled in Oz for 18 months on my own (first time, never travelled before) and I don't think I was alone for a lot of it. You meet so many people going the same route, doing the same thing that you meet people in Hostels, in bars etc and if you are travelling alone I think you make more of an effort to speak to people.
My advice is to go on to one of the websites like Hostelworld and book a Hostel ahead of time, they normally pick you up from the airport, you just need to call them when you land. You can ask for a female only dorm and I can bet the end of the day you'll have a drinking buddy and/ or someone to go on a tour with. Most of the Hostels have travel agents within them and they're really helpful.
I totally agree with Sander, Oz is so safe but don't be silly about it.....everywhere in the world has a dodgy part of town!
It's good to be nervous - but please don't worry about Oz, it's totally geared towards travellers and you will have a BALL!!!!!
Send me a private message if you need anymore help - it's no problem.
wow you guys are soooo helpful! You don't understand the amount of confidence you guys just pumped into me!
One last question... should i book these tours/trips before going? or should i just book a hostel and just see what goes from there? I just want to get a good deal and not pay more b/c I didn't get the "online" price for something.
you guys are great :D. thank you
I would just book a hostel online for one or two nights (which means if you don't like it you can move or just extend if you want to stay) - I stayed at Serpents but I heard that Gilligans is the best one, especially to meet people etc
Just go with the flow and book when you get there
If you need to fly anywhere - virgin blue and jetstar are the best you don't have much time so maybe a good idea to check them out - flights are cheaper the more in advance you book them
Hope this helps
I agree with the other responses, I was in Australia last November and found it very safe, I am a guy but met heaps of girls travelling alone. Australia is one of the few places I would recommend travelling alone, everyone is so friendly you will make loads of friends on your first day.
As far as booking goes - I did not bother booking in advance as there is loads of choice and plans can change. It does depend on when you are going so check if there are public / school holidays as it will be busier then. I had a rough idea where I was going got the guide book out - called 1 day in advance and made a booking. I went for a quieter option than Cairns and went up to Port Douglas (1.5 hrs north - direct bus from the airport - no booking required) and stayed at the port-o-call back packers. There are good trips to the reef from here too.
If you are after some R&R I would HIGHLY recommend going to mission beach (1.5 hrs south of Cairns) and stay at the Sanctuary (sanctuaryretreat.com.au/) stunning place with rainforest huts ($30), incredibly friendly guests and staff. Here I would book a few days in advance as it is quite remote but you won’t regret it !!
Oh one more thing ... its worth asking if there are any 'standby rates' available particularly on boat trips etc.. its what the aussies call a last minute deal. I got a great discount on a live-a-board scuba trip.
Have a fab time - I want to go back now !
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 17, 2008, at 11:22 AM by banners ]
the same thing happened to a friend i made backpacking, she decided to go ahead even if only for a few weeks, she ended up staying a whole year and having a fantastic time.
even if your travelling on greyhound or other public transport, instead of the more expensive organised tours, you will still meet tons of people because everyone is in the same boat and either heading up or down the coast. so you keep running into them, wether you want to or not
That really sux having a friend back out on you on such an exciting venture. But fear not, I am a 23yo female who always travels alone!! I like it that way, and in Aussie solo travelling is a bit of a farse really - there's soooo many other travellers that you really won't be alone at any given point in your trip, even if you get to the point that you could do with a bit of alone time lol Hostels are great places to meet people; chat to the people you share a room with, or hang out in the common areas - you're gauranteed to find someone to strike up a conversation with, or they will with you. I'd agree in booking your first couple of nights at a hostel, I've also heard Gilligans is great, check out http://www.hostelz.com to help you find one that suits you. Don't book a Contiki tour (you're right, they are expensive, and look like a bit of a rush really, although I've never taken one myself), just do your research on other sightseeing alternatives, such as your options for that GBR trip you're keen on. You'll have a great time anyway - then go back home and p*ss your friend off with your awesome travel stories and photos