This is the first in what I hope to be a series of interviews with some of the brave, interesting women I’ve met who travel solo. Rachael Wharton, 29, is a paediatrics nurse who I had the good fortune to meet in United Backpackers Hostel in Melbourne. Rach has lovely glossy hair, and some great ankle boots I’m not sure I ever told her how much I covet. She left home in December 2014 and is currently on her first year Australian working holiday visa.
Burnessie: Where are you from?
Rachael: I’m from South-East England, a town called Reading.
B: What made you decide to pack your life into a backpack and go travelling?
R: I’ve always wanted to go traveling, particularly work in Australia for a year but due to personal circumstances and my nursing career taking priority, time just ran away from me. I’ve had some amazing extended holidays in places such as Thailand and California but I got to a point where I felt ‘that’s it, I’m off’!
B: Where have you travelled on this trip so far?
So far I’ve been to Sydney, Byron, Gold Coast, Noosa, Fraser Island, Whitsundays, Magnetic Island, Mission Beach and Cairns. I’ve been in Melbourne the last few months working and exploring this amazing city.
B: Where was your favourite place and why?
Such a tough question as everywhere I have been has been incredible in its own way, but if I had to I’d choose Fraser Island. Not only is the island diverse and beautiful but I met some amazing people on that trip. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much. I also met Katie there who is now my room mate in Melbourne – I feel like I’ve known her for years already!
B: You left home as a solo traveller, something many people feel apprehensive about – especially women. How did you feel about travelling solo before you set off on your trip and how does that compare to how you feel about it now?
Strangely I was never that concerned about travelling solo despite people looking at me in sheer horror when I told them I was off to Oz on my own! Early on in my trip someone told me that there will ALWAYS be someone else traveling on their own too, you need to get out there and talk to people! Ironically the most fabulous travellers I have me, whom of which will be for friends for life, are women travelling solo. I’ve met girls from as young as 18 with different stories to tell and journeys they are taking.
B: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced whilst travelling?
Most definitely my patience! I’m pretty impatient back home and travelling has certainly tested the boundaries! Whether it’s someone spending an hour in the only bathroom available, queuing up to use the kitchen or being surrounded by people you don’t gel with, you become to realise it’s all part of the experience. It took me 4 weeks to find a job in Melbourne and being such a determined career driven individual it wound me up – I cried for 2 days. But you know what? You have got to take the rough with the smooth, and things work out in the end.
B: Have you ever felt in danger as a woman travelling alone? If so, how did you deal with the situation?
Thankfully, no, I have never felt unsafe travelling. Living close to London I’d say I’m pretty street wise but you have got to be sensible and keep your wits about you.
B: What advice would you give to another woman about to set off on a trip solo?
Get out there and do it, don’t waste time sat dreaming about it weighing up the pros and cons! At 29 I was dubious about travelling, thinking I’d feel like a right grandma compared to everyone else – turns out I was wrong! I’m having the time of my life and I’m so glad I made that step.
B: In your experience, what is the best thing about travelling?
Travelling is a constant reminder that life is short and to capture every moment. Nothing beats waving your YOLO flag and doing the unimaginable. I’ve skydived, surfed, water rafted, watched sunsets, snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef and went to the F1 Grand Prix. I’ve only been in Oz for 4 months and I’ve quickly ticked things off my bucket list!
Disclaimer: All photos are the property of Rachael Wharton and she retains copyrights.