Somewhere in the middle of the 9 hour bus journey from Tauranga to Wellington, I started to think I might be doing the whole female solo traveling thing wrong. I’ve been singing “Wheels On The Bus” with an eight-year-old girl for the past six hours, and have started questioning pretty much everything about me going on vacation alone. If this was a rom-com, I’d end up next to the love of my life, not free babysitting.
Before going to New Zealand, I considered the fact that I was traveling alone just by chance. I love hiking and swimming, that’s all the ‘things’ about New Zealand. Whenever someone responds to my travel plans with “Yourself?!”, I shrug, nonchalantly, a little confused that they care. I’m an introvert, happy in my own company, a reader and a constant internal monologue that can be fun and exhausting – being alone isn’t a big deal for me. Resisting the near constant availability of fish and chips on the other hand? Now this will be a challenge.
New Zealand has been on my bucket list for a while now so I can’t wait to go, whether anyone wants to join me or not. I wasn’t worried about the nearly 50 hour journey, and played down my belated realization that my wonderful summer abroad was actually in winter. For six weeks I circled the two islands, guided by my own whim. With nothing to lose, all to gain, I set off with no acclimators, plans or itineraries – so my expectations were rather loose.
However, in one unsuspecting moment in this forgotten intercity bus, I began to panic. While Spotify insisted—and, I might add, a little pointedly—in recommending my “My Life Is a Movie” playlist, there was nothing Hollywood scripted about this trip. I had a toothless captain ask for my number and suffered a series of unprofitable currency exchange miscalculations. Most embarrassingly, I don’t have any epiphanies to justify any of this. I totally lived up to the myth of the solo female traveler.
This trope is ubiquitous in popular culture. She is featured in Eat Pray Love, Wild, and The Great Odyssey*)Under The Tuscan Sun. She is Celine in Before Sunrise, Ann( in Roman Holiday , Girls in Traveling Pants Sisterhood . She is inevitable. If you ever find yourself trotting to the other side of the world, she is the standard by which you will inevitably measure yourself.