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Student Travel Alone in Australia

My 18-year old, female, tall, attractive, responsible student with an outgoing personality wishes to travel ALONE to/from/in Australia (from the USA) for two weeks. What do you think?

Posted by
13093 posts

I think she will make some new friends and have a great time.

Posted by
715 posts

I think you should encourage it. She will have a great time and learn a lot.

Posted by
11450 posts

Suzanne..as a mother of a just turned 19 yr old ( only two months ago ) I totally get being nervous.. but she has at least chosen a country where language and standard of living will not be a problem. My friends 18 yr old daughter went to southeast Asia for 4 months.. ugh.. that was so stressful.. I would have been on edges every minute of every day.

Australia for two weeks.. if she has common sense and a bit of street smarts she will be fine. Be her a pep talk ( yeah .. you probably already have.. over the last decade.. )

Posted by
5697 posts

YOU are the one who knows her -- how she responds to new situations, things not working out according to plan, being alone in a strange place where Mom or Dad can't jump in the car to come to her rescue ...
(And you also know how YOU will react to uncertainty. )
Has she travelled by herself before? Spent time away from home in a structured program? Saved the money for the trip from her summer jobs?
Could be a great experience for her. Remind her to carry her cash/cards/ID in a money belt, use a lock for her luggage in the hostels, wear sunblock and a hat, and email home every day (or so.)

Posted by
11288 posts

She is in as much or as little danger traveling around Australia alone as she would be traveling around the US alone. As said above, only you and she know how safe or dangerous that would be. A city like Sydney or Melbourne requires the same precautions as a city like New York or Los Angeles; desert safety is the same in Arizona as it is in Australia's Red Centre; etc.

Posted by
1804 posts

Having traveled solo throughout Australia, I think that 2 weeks is barely enough time to scratch even the surface of a relatively small corner in a place that size and she'll be home before you know it. She's 18 and she's picking an English speaking country with an incredible tourism infrastructure for solo, budget travelers in her age bracket.

If you are worried about how she would get around on her own, maybe encourage her to do a backpackers bus tour of a certain section of Australia that interests her. There are buses where you stay with the same group the entire time, and then ones where you can get a hop-on/hop-off pass good on a network of backpackers buses and she can get off the bus at any place that strikes her interest and stay as long as she wants and then move on (gives her flexibility with her schedule). If she decides she doesn't like it, she can be on the next bus out in the morning. A lot of the backpacker bus networks will also help arrange lodging for you (typically hostels - Australia has some really amazing hostels - both independent, boutique hostels as well as the standard cookie-cutter YHA/HI ones). These buses are full of other backpackers (most in the 18 to 30 age bracket), many of them also traveling solo, so it is a good way to meet other people. Have her read the reviews on the bus networks - some are geared towards the party crowd (like Contiki) and some are more for serious travelers who have fun, but whose main focus is on the sightseeing, not an endless pub crawl.

She should focus on a specific area of Australia, or she could consider hopping a flight somewhere else within the country to cover the major distances. In my first 2 weeks in Australia, I flew into Melbourne and spent some time there and then joined up with a backpacker bus outfit to travel to Phillip Island, the Great Ocean Road, Kangaroo Island and then made my way up to Adelaide where I stayed a few days before flying over to Sydney. Staying in Sydney was after the 2 week mark - so I would highly recommend if she can swing it financially to try to add another week or two as she could then have time to maybe travel to places like Sydney and the Blue Mountains, the Center/Uluru, Great Barrier Reef /Port Douglas or The Whitsundays. There is also a ton to see in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. She will just need to figure out how much time she is willing to be away from home without you losing your mind, and how long her money might last and then formulate her itinerary.

New Zealand is another country she could consider instead of Australia. It's only about the size of Colorado, but it's absolutely packed with amazing places - particularly the South Island. They also have an excellent selection of backpacker bus networks and quality hostels. If she focused her trip on either the South Island or the North Island, she could cover an extensive amount of places in 2 weeks - a full month there and she can see some really great highlights of both the North and South Islands, as well as Stewart Island.