Round two: on to the times when solo travelling can be ace!
I remember almost desperately hunting down blogs about solo female travelling before I left the UK back in 2015. I had never done ANY travelling by myself and was about to embark on just a teeny couple of weeks by myself in India and Bali. My Dad thought I was going to get kidnapped (admittedly he never said these exact words but I saw it in that worried expression I got whenever I spoke about my trip), which wasn’t the most helpful thing. The blogs I read were super positive and practical. Pretty much every article ended with something along the lines of: solo travelling was the best experience and helped them to understand themselves better. A little bit Eat Pray Love, but I am totally cool with trying to figure out the inner workings of my brain. I’d felt a bit cheated when my first bit of solo travelling didn’t provide me immediately with all the answers I wanted about myself. Classic impatient millennial.
Fast-forward 18 months to a slightly more chilled out, potentially wiser, more confident and happier-in–my-own-skin me planning a solo trip after previously swearing against them.
I travelled around the Northland (The North of NZ’s North Island, how many times can I get North in here?!) without a moment of hesitation. I had a car. I had a bivy tent. I had a box of food. A little stove. Most importantly I was actually excited to be hanging out by myself.
I was at Cape Reinga at about 5 in the afternoon, the sun was still pretty high in the sky and there were only a handful of other people there. Cape Reinga is the most Northern point of NZ. It’s where the Pacific ocean meets the Tasman sea which is an awesome sight. For Maori people Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) is where their spirits travel to after death to bid farewell to the land and return to their ancestors land, Hawaiiki-A-Nui. It is a spiritual place. The sound of the ocean and being on the tip of the NZ was a beautiful experience and whilst I wanted to share it with the people I love, it was also humbling to be there alone. I felt a huge sense of peace at Cape Reinga.
I camped at a pretty empty campsite next to the ocean with no phone signal. Dinner was pasta and a can of tuna. I slept in a tiny tent that was actually meant for storing bags in and wasn’t sealed. The sleep was terrible and I woke up in a wet tent with a zillion bug buddys (bugs make me unhappy but I appreciate their importance in the world, so I juuuuuust about tolerate them, if they’re not touching me) but weirdly I wasn’t even vaguely phased. I just got up and moved onto the next place.
I visited beautiful, empty beaches where I really was the only person. It was extremely calming. The North is vast and it feels quite empty but there is an abundance of natural beauty that gives me this kind of achy feeling in my heart. I arrived back from this little trip happy to see people, but glad that I had experienced these places by myself. I felt like I got at least a little bit of what those blogs were saying that I’d read 18 months before. I was totally stoked that I had returned feeling a weird sense of accomplishment and a thirst for more travel.
Two different trips. On both I couldn’t believe how amazing and varied the land is in NZ, I couldn’t get enough of the ocean and I loved driving through the many small towns. But the emotions attached to each trip were entirely different – anxious vs. happy. Sometimes I think I might be absolutely bat shit crazy. Other times I’m grateful that I have this polarising range of emotions within me. I feel like without these I would be like a human slug (love you long time slugs) and whilst this may make my life easier from an overthinking point of view, I also feel it would make it crazy dull.
It’s amazing when travelling leaves you feeling super content and you enjoy every second, but it’s also okay when it doesn’t and you don’t. Both experiences are valid and I’m learning to embrace it all.
(I’m experimenting with putting the pictures in, it has the potential to look a bit shit ha! Humble iPhone photos by moi)