Michela Fantinel, better known as Rocky Travel, is a 50-year-old expert in solo travel around Australia. We asked to interview her about her experiences, and her tips for other solo travellers.
Hi Rocky Travel! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by The Career Break Site.
Can we start by hearing a little bit about your background?
I was working as a sales manager in the food industry in Munich (Germany) and really liked it, but it had brought too much routine into my life and it felt like a rat race. I really needed a change.
I was keen on taking some time off work, to unwind and start over again.
So I took a sabbatical in 2004 to travel solo around Australia. I then returned to Italy, where I now live. In 2008 I quit my job to become a freelancer and this has meant I can make many more solo trips around Australia.
Why did you decide to take a solo trip to Australia on your sabbatical?
Australia had been on my list for over a decade, but I was not prepared to travel to the other side of the world only for a couple of weeks.
In addition I was longing for travelling solo again, for a longer time than the usual one-week holiday. The sabbatical opportunity plus solo trip to Australia seemed to just be the perfect combination.
I wanted to start a new life chapter somewhere else.
What did you do on your solo travels?
On my first trip in 2004 I spent two and half months on my own, discovering the iconic destinations like Sydney, Melbourne, the Gor, Uluru and Cairns.
I covered much of the Eastern Coast from Cairns to Sydney and Melbourne by Greyhound bus but would fly to the main destinations.
It has been an amazing experience, packed with many adventures: being alone for such a long time, staying in hostels, meeting fellow travellers, getting to know the local culture.
I didn’t use any organisations, apart from local tour operators, I travelled on my own most of time.
What are the best and worst things about your solo travels in Australia?
I have been travelling alone in Australia for over 10 years now, and have always enjoyed all my solo trips. They are all different.
Each trip brings new experiences and personal achievements. The best things are learning about myself, being confronted with new situations, problems, showing a high level of awareness about everything around myself. That’s the best lesson from the personal point of view.
Moreover, while travellling alone in Australia I meet lots of people and that’s the best part of my travels, getting so close to the locals and making friends.
Thinking about the worst thing, I would say, dealing with isolation sometimes can be tough, in some parts of Australia there is literally yourself, nature and wildlife. No sign of civilisation and human beigns for vast distances.
At times you really feel lonely and your mind starts wandering off, thinking of any possible mishaps or accidents that may occur.
How do you think the experience has changed you?
It has enriched my life with new perspectives, it has broaded my mind, it has made me rethink about my values and see things in a different way.
I can see myself with greater clarity now. I understand how I feel and and what really matters to me. Over the years I have seen a shift on my values, especially with regards to work, career, money and lifestyle.
Do your solo travels help your career?
My experiences gave me the opportunity to learn new communication skills, like blogging, writing, photographing, social media marketing. These are skills that I use in everyday life and I keep improving along the way. Being a freelancer means I need to keep my skills sharp.
My solo travel experiences also lead to me publishing my first book last year, and I am now working on future, related projects.
What tips do you have for other people wanting a solo trip?
Solo travel is not for everyone! On the long term you are going to love it or loath it.
So my tip to you: first give it a try and if you enjoy it, then dig deeper, go further, see in what directions it takes you. Solo travel can be fantastic and bring wonderful personal dicoveries.
I started travelling alone my 20s and am still doing it now in my 50s. Who would have thought that?!
You never know what solo travel can bring into your life, and as long as you are emotionally, spiritually and mentally aligned with it, you will definitely feel good about it and keep doing it :-)#
This was an exclusive interview with Michela Fantinel. She is the founder and publisher of Rocky Travel Blog, an Australia Travel Blog for independent and solo travellers to Australia.