10 years ago, I went on my first solo trip overseas. Being 21 and anxious about travelling alone, I booked myself onto a couple of tours. Perception, however, did not translate to reality (and I ended up on a tour of 13 where 10 of the attendees were over 70!); in the following decade and 38 countries later, I haven’t touched a multi-day tour.
A random flight sale and the desire to explore my final unvisited Australian capital city recently saw a four-day weekend in Adelaide on my adventure agenda. On my bucket list was a trip to Kangaroo Island. Logistics of getting to, and around Australia’s third largest island without a car resulted in signing up to the two-day, one-night Kangaroo Island Adventure Tour. Along the way I learnt a few things:
1.Just because you grew up here, doesn’t mean you automatically know it all
While backpacking through South America, I frequently felt like I was missing out on truly learning about the places that I visited because my Spanish wasn’t strong enough for me to fully understand the signs, or feel confident enough to ask strangers on the street for additional information about the places I was visiting.
My time on the Adventure Tour however, taught me that language wasn’t the sole barrier — but also the easy and timely access to solid and entertaining facts.
Never in my life have I been so engrossed by the enthusiasm, storytelling and fact sharing that I experienced during the tour. As we zigzagged our way across the island, the sharing of history, stories and facts enriched our experience that much more.
Having lived my whole life in Australia, I used to think that I had a solid knowledge of our local flora and fauna, but since my time on Kangaroo Island, my repertoire of fun facts to share on my own hikes has multiplied tenfold.
2.Some of the best moments occur when you least expect them.
Before my travels, I generally do extensive research beforehand — hours upon hours of googling, looking up pictures and agonising over what to include and leave out. But sometimes, exposure to a myriad of beautifully edited pictures taken in picture-perfect conditions can lead to an underwhelming real-life experience.
When the itinerary for the trip mentioned that we’d be going to Seal Cove, I envisioned it to be like my local Seal Cove on Phillip Island — all cove, no seals. It wasn’t until we walked into the visitor centre that I realised what might be in store. To be surprised with the prospect of sharing a beach with — and being up to 10m from — such incredible creatures added so much value to the experience.
The pure joy of experiencing the unexpected really brought home the importance of ensuring that today’s technological age doesn’t ruin the experience by overexposing me a place before I go.
(watch the clip below to see the seals!!)
3. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride
Let’s be honest — I am a planner.
I constantly think about work, co-running Melbourne Girls Outside and adventures near and far. As someone who traditionally travels solo, or is the most organised in the group, even while I am on holiday, I am going over in my head where to next, how to get there, potential obstacles or issues, risks or concerns. I wouldn’t call myself an outright worrier, just always anticipating what next.
To be able to switch all of that off and to hand all of the responsibility to our guide was so refreshing. To be able to invest the extra energy into being present and truly enjoying the experience at hand was an unexpected reward.
4. Don’t walk and film through the entrance to the secret beach…
… because there are lots of obstacles and if you don’t pay attention – you will get hurt!
But to be fair, capturing a little bit of the adventure along the way leads to one hell of a memory:
5. Don’t let past experiences stand in the way of adventure
In the decade since my less than desirable experiences on organised multi-day tours, I have been a total naysayer when it comes to not only my own attendance on tours, but also others. I have constantly encouraged people to do it themselves, or convinced my travel buddies that ‘I’ve got this’ and that ‘we could do it so much cheaper ourselves’.
After this trip however, I will admit that I was wrong. The convenience of being collected from my hostel in Adelaide, bused and then ferried over to the island; the new experiences; the enriching information sharing; and the stunning sights have definitely changed my mind of the value of a tour. I also must admit that for the cost of this tour, I don’t actually believe that I could have done it cheaper myself.
I would like to think Sealink for inviting us along to the Kangaroo Island Adventure Tour. In full disclosure I contacted Sealink to see if they would like to work together and all of the opinions shared above are true and genuine. Both Michala and I had an amazing time and if you have any questions at all about our experience please let me know in the comments below.