A lot of people, especially women, are terrified of travelling solo. Or their parents are terrified for them! Readers always ask me how I do it, am I not scared being a solo female traveller? How do I deal with the loneliness? How do I deal with language barriers?
What I usually tell people is to try an easy, English-speaking location, even somewhere that you’re familiar with, for that first solo trip. It means that you’ll be a bit more experienced by the time you get to the countries where you have complete culture shock and a language barrier to deal with.
Australia is a popular place for backpackers and younger travellers for so many reasons, one of which being the incredible weather, but also everyone speaks English, so it’s easy to get around. Unfortunately, sometimes people are still afraid of travelling Australia alone. But you don’t need to be fearless to solo travel Australia.
Because I was born in New Zealand and have family in Australia I’ve been travelling through and around Australia solo for years. It really is a great country for solo travel, as long as you’re sensible (but that applies to every country). You are bound to meet people along the way as you travel, you might even end up travelling with people you meet in a hostel or on a tour.
There are loads of hostels and hotels to choose from, and tonnes of great tour companies. But there’s A LOT more to solo female travel in Australia than the beaches, the hostels and incredibly good-looking Australians. Let me guide you through everything you need to know about travelling solo in Australia.
Travelling Australia Alone – A Guide
Where to go & Things to do in Australia
Australia has some of the greatest sights in the world, from the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland to the sacred Ayers Rock in the Northern Territory. Oh and how could I NOT mention the Australia Zoo – Steve Irwin’s legacy!?! If you’re like me and grew up watching “Crocodile Hunter”, then you will absolutely LOVE this.
However, there are some places of interest that are not found in guidebooks, so don’t be afraid to wander and explore on your travels. Like everywhere else in the world, some of the best places are found when you get lost. However, you wouldn’t want to get lost in the Outback, for example, especially as your phone won’t work in remote areas. Let’s not forget the movie Wolf Creek was based on a true story(ish). But more about that later!
The most popular cities to visit are Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. In Western Australia there’s Perth, Broome and the Margaret River area that are all popular tourist destinations. Then you’ve got the Sunshine and Gold Coast and places like Byron Bay, Cairns, Surfer’s Paradise and Darwin, of course. There really is no shortage of incredible spots to visit in Australia.
I loved Byron Bay for its hippy vibe, though I did find everyone just a little TOO beautiful (like, seriously). This could be a bonus actually if you’re single! Melbourne is a cool, arty city with great food, markets and street art. It is a bit colder down there though.
Anyway, I can’t really go through every city/town in here or the post would be WAY too long. Most places you go you’ll be able to find something that you love, no matter what your taste/likes. All of the main cities have airports so it’s easy to fly between them on airlines like Jetstar, Qantas Domestic, Tiger Air etc. But Australia is also an incredible country for a road trip, so pick up a car and get driving.
What to pack for Australia
You aren’t going to get very far if your backpack/suitcase is loaded with stuff you don’t need. It’s always better to underpack (if that’s even possible) than to overpack. The temperature is generally pretty damn hot but it can get cold and rainy in the cities depending on the time of the year. I always recommend packing LAYERS to combat different temperatures while travelling.
Try to only carry essential items that will aid you on your journey (obviously). Anything else you can buy in Australia. Sunscreen in particular is WAY cheaper in OZ than in Europe, so just get that when you’re over there. Good walking boots are a must if you’re doing anything outdoorsy. But make sure they’re clean or the guys at border patrol won’t be impressed
Border control going into Australia is a step above most countries as they are very conscious of their flora and fauna and don’t want anything damaging it. So make sure you don’t have any contraband (fruit etc) in your bag. A peach once exploded in my bag and I had cleaned it out, but that still wasn’t good enough for the sniffer dogs, they were ALL OVER ME!
Make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave and grab a local SIM when you arrive. But honestly, pretty much anything you need you can get in Australia so don’t worry too much.
Where to Stay in Australia
Many travellers enjoy sleeping under the stars, so you might only need a sleeping bag and a tent if you’re the outdoorsy type. A lot of people hire sleep-in campervans from from companies like Jucy or Wicked (avoooiiidddd). I did a road trip in a Jucy rental van and it was great.
If you are looking for home comforts, there are plenty of hotels in the towns and cities. However, you may prefer to cut costs and stay in one of the many youth hostels that are situated in well and less-populated areas. I stayed in a few different ones, from YHA to Base to Nomads and the Arts Factory. Hostels are a great option for meeting up and buddying up with other travellers.
Alternatively, meet the locals and rent a room in private accommodation or AirBnB (Get £31 off your first trip here!), and enjoy a temporary family. Australia can be very expensive so make sure you budget enough fro accommodation.
What to eat in Australia
Despite what may have seen on TV, Australia has more to offer than barbecues. And everyone knows that the Australian Masterchef is the best one! There are fabulous cultural foods, so don’t be afraid to try something new. You may turn your nose up at a witchetty grub, for example, but don’t knock it until you have tried it. That being said, I never tried it, so no pressure!
You may even want to try crocodile, emu, or kangaroo, but there are plenty of other delights, such as the famous oysters from Barramundi, if you can’t bear the thought of eating Oz’s traditional wildlife. If you’re veggie (or vego as they say in Oz) like me then don’t worry, there’s PLENTY of vegan and veggie friendly places to eat in Australia. They love a good avocado, like the rest of the world.
You can’t visit Australia without trying a TimTam bar. It’s very similar to a Penguin bar, but in various different flavours. Bundaberg is a really nice locally produced soft drink available in a variety of flavours. Of course, Fosters is cheap and cheerful in Australia, but there are plenty of local craft beers too. I’m always raving about the Dominos $5 pizza deal, but seriously, it’s such a life-saver when you’re travelling on a budget!
If you’re staying in a hostel there will usually be a budget meal deal (usually a chicken parma) in the attached bar, take advantage of this. Oh and don’t forget to try the Vegemite, if you like salty things. A vegemite and cheese toastie is delightful! The food in general in Australia is spectacular, lots of fresh ingredients and they’re big on farm to table. Lord and the coffee!!! If you’re a fan of caffeine like myself you’ll be in for a treat in Australia.
Shopping in Australia
OPALS are the thing to buy in Australia. I’m a little bit obsessed with them. Surf/beach gear is also worth stocking up on while in Australia. There are plenty of surf outlets with discount Billabong, Roxy and Quiksilver goods
If you just need basics then Cotton On is as close to Primark as Australia gets. Some cities do have H&M now though which is great if you forgot anything. When I was younger I used to always get Uggs/sheep skin boots when I was in Australia, I use them as slippers for around the house. They’re way cheaper to buy in Oz then in Europe.
Also, the markets are great in Australia, lots of locally made crafts and designs, not to mention food. I have a gorgeous ring that I got hand made at a market in Byron Bay. So wherever you are in Australia, make sure to search out the local markets. If you’re going to be cooking for yourself Woolies (Woolworths) and Coles are the main supermarkets. They also have Aldi, which is the budget food-shopping DREAM!
Staying Safe in Australia
So I think most people travelling to Australia for the first time are most concerned with the dangers it potentially holds. I’m not trying to scare you. I’ve visited Australia too many times to count and I’ve never had a bad experience, however, it always pays to be aware. Snakes, sharks, jellyfish, crazy “Wolf Creek” type people, kangaroos when driving, spiders and God knows what else are all a cause for concern in Oz.
If you’re going to be in the cities, you really don’t need to worry about much at all. I’ve never seen a spider or a snake in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. But my cousins have farms out in Bathurst and snakes and spiders become a real issue then. Just don’t fall asleep under a tree and make sure you watch where you’re walking and you should be fine.
With regards to the water, make sure you check the latest shark sightings at the beach you plan on visiting. Last time I was in Byron two people died, so it’s best to be aware if you’re heading out for a surf. Don’t stay out too late surfing either, sharks are more active in the evening. I wouldn’t worry about it too much though, the odds of a shark attack are pretty much non-existent! As they say, you’re more likely to die by vending machine or coconuts falling on you.
Australia has a pretty terrifying reputation when it comes to backpackers and the outback in particular. Stick to the path when possible, and when touring less populated places, try and buddy up with other travellers for safety in your travels. Don’t tell people too much about your travel plans and, like everywhere else in the world, always trust your gut!
ANYWAYS, I’m not trying to terrify you. I met lots of wonderful people in Australia and never got a bad vibe apart from one night in Cairns when I was really young. So just be sensible and aware and you’ll be grand 🙂 Travelling to Australia alone doesn’t have to be scary. Here’s an interesting article from Bemused Backpacker about safety in Australia and in general while travelling.
Should you be a long way from home, make sure you keep in touch with friends and family to fend off homesickness. A comforting voice can bring ease to a lone traveller, so don’t be afraid to touch base. However, you will soon get caught up in the natural beauty of Australia, and the friendly (and SUPER HOT) inhabitants will make you feel right at home. No matter where you go, travelling solo in Australia is certain to be a great adventure.