Nomadding provides opportunities for couples to make joint decisions about everything; in fact, they have to. And it’s this process of constantly being aware that you’re a team, that you’re in this together, that makes nomadding couples some of the strongest couples around.
But nomadding can be just as rewarding and enriching if you’re travelling alone and provides you with an opportunity to really get to know yourself and encourage you to meet new people. There are a few things to consider before heading off on your solo journey.
Libraries have been written about people taking on a new life and ‘finding themselves’. The thing is, that the only way you find yourself is by putting yourself in all sorts of different situations and seeing how you deal with them.
And because the number of potential situations you can find yourself in is infinite, self-discovery is an endless process. The major challenge is feeling that you’re out of your depth, but this is only if you don’t know what to do.
The best way to keep a healthy relationship with yourself is to educate yourself continually about all the different aspects of your new life. With any luck, all the research that you’re doing will mean that you’ll know what to do no matter what your new life throws at you, or at the very least, make a well-educated guess as to the right course of action.
The assumption is that most grey nomads travel in pairs and, more rarely, as groups of friends, simply because that’s the statistical reality. However, there are a substantial number of men and women who go it alone, and quite successfully too, both short-term and long-term.
In fact, there are possibly more solo women out there than solo men and they usually go nomad as the result of a major life change. Independent people usually know who they are, and they usually know what they can or can’t do.
But, independence in a settled life is not the same as independence in a nomadding life. Life as a modern gypsy will make demands on you that you haven’t had to meet before, and, most importantly, in many situations you’ll have no-one to back you up or to help you.
Of course, people who you encounter on your travels will be more than happy to help, but you can’t rely on that. You can’t bet on that. Solo nomads need to have as many tricks in their bag as their bag of tricks can hold.
The most important are:
• Basic medical knowledge and first aid
• Basic survival skills
• Basic mechanical skills
• Intermediate motoring skills
• Basic information technology skills
Like ‘dirty’ and ‘untidy’, ‘loneliness’ and ‘isolation’ are related terms that don’t mean the same thing. Isolation is about being separated from other people, physically, socially or both.
Loneliness is a feeling that this separation is a problem. The repeated emphasis on being as skilled-up as possible is all about ensuring that you survive whatever nomadding throws at you when you’re isolated.
Loneliness is another matter, and it’s about managing your emotions and your sense of connectedness to other people, if that is important to you. Curing loneliness is mostly a matter of finding like-minded or like-hearted people; people who ‘get’ you either mentally, emotionally or both.
Loneliness tends to vanish when you’re in the presence of others who make you feel good in their presence. There are plenty of opportunities for you to connect on a continent that has 25 million inhabitants, and millions of animals you can make friends with too.
Going solo doesn’t mean going solo all the time. Many solos join temporary convoys of other solos and share stories, experiences and skills along the way. This might be an especially attractive option to those who might occasionally get pangs of loneliness, no matter how independent they are.
This is an edited excerpt from The Grey Nomad’s Ultimate Guide to Australia. For more details, visit www.newhollandpublishers.com.