I will not pretend I wasn’t petrified. I was. But mixed in with the awful fear was a glorious feeling of excitement. Most of the really exciting things we do in our lives scare us to death. They wouldn’t be exciting if they didn’t.
I am woman, watch me have adventures
I read this quote and it made me think about the reactions I got when I said I was going to travel the outback on my own.
“Aren’t you scared?” and “isn’t that dangerous?”
Are you brave enough? here today!
Of course I was scared. I was getting ready to do something that a lot of people won’t even do in company – drive around the outback.
Of course it’s dangerous. But probably no more dangerous than driving on a major highway – statistically less dangerous, in fact.
But, seriously. So much to see, do, and experience, and you think I should concentrate on fear?
No, I haven’t seen Wolf Creek, but I have been to Barrow Creek where it happened.
And yes, I have heard about all the people who have died after their cars broke down in the outback.
As a matter of fact, I have probably heard every story about every bad thing that has happened to absolutely everybody in the outback.
Why have I heard them? Because that is what people keep telling me. And why did they tell me? Because I am female. But you know what? I wasn't going to let it put me off.
Sadly, too many women do. They let the fear, and other people’s opinions, stop them doing what they want to do.
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller
There are dangers in everything we want to do – whether it’s travelling outback, or crossing the road. Every day we make choices between taking a risk and living a ‘safe’ life.
Women in Australia, on average, live 3 years longer than men. The divorce rate is increasing for people who have been married for more than 20 years. The median age for women at divorce is 42.5 years old. That is, just when your kids are growing up, after you’ve spent years looking after everybody else. So, what do you do next?
If you don’t do things by yourself, how are you going to do them at all?
Women need to stop listening to other people’s fears. We need to tell them to shut up, and we need to be more selfish. Go where we want, when we want. Otherwise we’ll never go anywhere.
I met a woman during my last trip who was widowed 2 years previously. She lived in Victoria, and had always wanted to go to Broken Hill. She’d planned it for years with her husband, but somehow things had never worked out for them to get there. Then her husband died. To help her get over her grief, one of her friends booked her on a bus trip – something she vowed she’d never do. But she found she loved it, and she never looked back. She was on her 4th trip away when I met her. She’d met lots of amazing people, and been to places she’d always wanted to visit. And while she still missed her husband, her grief had lessened.
You need to take that risk – book that bus trip, get in your car, book a flight. Whatever it is, go ahead and do it.
I want to be like Danny, the Champion of the World, going for that magical, moonlight journey, not regretting the things that might have been.
Here are my top tips for women who want to travel alone:
1.Don’t listen to gossip, do your own research
It doesn’t matter where you are going or what you are doing there’s always somebody to tell you the risks and dangers. “Don’t look people in the eye”, “don’t’ smile at anybody”, “don’t carry a handbag”, “don’t go to this street”. Of course there are dangers everywhere, but usually they’re nowhere near as bad as people tell you. On the other hand, not everything is completely safe. Look on local council websites, check out the real crime statistics, and read reliable news reports. Then make your decisions based on the evidence rather than scaremongering.
Know your tools/resources and make sure they work
If you’re driving around the countryside then you need to make sure your car is up to it. Get a full service and ask somebody you trust to give you a basic rundown on the important bits of the engine, what’s most likely to go wrong and what you will need to fix it on the go. And how to change a tyre. The best piece of advice I got from Doc when I went away without him was “check under the bonnet and around the car every day. You might not know what you’re looking at, but you’ll notice when something changes. That’s when you either fix it, or get expert help.” Cable ties fix most things, at least temporarily! And remember – how to fix a car either, but they don’t let that stop them.
This applies whether you’re driving around the outback, or sitting beside a pool in the tropics. Know what you’re dealing with, whether it’s when the next cyclone is likely, or whether the road ahead is washed out.
Let somebody know where you’re going
While you might not want to stick to a strict itinerary (I never do), it’s a good idea to keep checking in with somebody during your travels. If you’re going to be out of mobile access for a while, call them before you go and let them know when you might be able to call again. Give them a deadline for when you will check in before they start panicking – and then make sure you meet it yourself. The last thing you need is somebody calling out the emergency services just because you decided you wanted to see another sunset.
These basic rules apply regardless of where you’re going. They boil down to three simple things:
Knowledge … preparation … communication
And remember – things really aren’t as dangerous as people say they are, unless they’re talking about spiders and snakes in Australia, they really are deadly. But they will probably stay well away from you.