Most of us dream of the day when we can up and walk out the door, straight onto a plane, going who knows where, without a second glance. And there's something extra exciting about the prospect of going it alone.

Jo Saville began travelling at age 10, first travelled solo at 20 and did a three-year OE at 24. Watching Jo’s eyes light up as she speaks about her many travels, the people she has met and experiences she’s had, you can truly see just how travel has enriched her life.

“Going alone makes you put yourself out there and meet new people,” says Jo.

When you travel with others, you don’t tend to meet as many new people as you do when going it alone, she explains. You are with people that make you comfortable, so you don’t have to look for other company. It's quite a valid point, but not something we always consider when we think of travelling.

Spending so many years overseas, Jo has had the opportunity to meet so many new individuals. Many of these have become lifelong friends who she has remained in contact with for years. As well as this, they now offer her accommodation when she decides to visit their country.

Jo says that the best way to meet new people as a younger traveller is not to be afraid to walk up to others and just start a conversation. Staying in backpackers and hostels is a great idea, as these are often filled with other travellers of a similar mindset to you.

Travelling alone also makes you more likely to approach people and ask for help when you need it. Flexibility is also another great aspect; you can do what you want whenever you felt like it, and that sense of freedom, Jo says is priceless.

“It’s just incredible…very challenging, but it’s amazing…definitely something you have to do,” she gushes as she tells me of the mindblowing places she has travelled to. Just hearing about it makes me want to travel even more than I already do now; it gives me an itch that I know can only be satisfied by hopping on a plane with a one-way ticket to the rest of the world.

“It broadens your horizons…makes you appreciate what we have” and allows us to see just how lucky we are as a free country, whilst at the same time allowing you to experience different cultures and see how life works in other nations.

 I ask her what her three favourite countries are, and laugh at the horrified expression she gives me: “Only three?!” In the end, Jo decides on three cities and three countries that are a definite must-see for any traveller: Barcelona, New York and Istanbul; and Vietnam, Peru and Slovenia.

These places are beautiful, filled with architecture, shopping, experiences beyond your wildest dreams and flamboyant people keen to learn as much about Kiwis as we are to learn about their culture.

If there's one thing I'll take from my talk with Jo, it's just how truly life-changing travelling is; the essence of life cannot be truly captured without first seeking and exploring the intricate aspects of the world around us. It is all at our fingertips, and in today’s world we have no excuse to not travel.

Life is a one-time offer, so take every opportunity and make the most of it. Travel, laugh and love life.

As Jo says: “Be brave, put yourself out there. Kia Kaha.”


Photos: Hiking - FreeImages/Atif Gulzar; City - Coquilleau

Safety first!

We advocate adventure and bravery and curiosity, but first and foremost, always think about your safety. Here are a few pointers to keep you in one piece when you're flying solo.

* Share the plan

Email your itinerary to friends and family so they know where you plan to be, when.

* Communicate

Plans change. Stay in touch with your people as often as you can. Just a quick email will do it, eg: “I'm alive. Catching the train to Lisbon today!”

* Stranger danger

Use your common sense and follow your instincts when approaching new people. Friendly young couple on the beach: Probably OK. Dude hiding behind a dumpster in a dark alleyway: Maybe not.

* Never hitch-hike

Ever. Budget for public transport. The end.

* Keep your monies safe

Carry a bit of cash to get you around, but not too much. If you do have a bit on you, don't keep it all in one place – and considering strapping it to your person by way of a money bag.

* Photocopy your passport

And then email it to yourself. Just in case you lose your passport and have to prove you exist.

* Don't get frauded

If you're using public WIFI, be extra careful. Identity fraudsters can get to you more easily when you're accessing online banking, for example.

* Don't even think about doing drugs

Seriously, it's not worth it – overseas even more so. Schapelle Corby, anyone?

* Don't be a mule

Don't accept gifts from people you don't know and trust. Getting duped into carrying contraband for other people actually does happen, and it's no picnic.