Allison Roth ’11 Left Her Job to Spend a Year Exploring the Land Down Under
It started with a casual conversation with a family friend at a party. Allison Roth ’11 was chatting with an Australian woman who had backpacked across the United States in her 20s.
“She asked me why I didn’t do the same thing – in Australia,” Roth recalls. “I remember saying, ‘I can’t because I’m saving for retirement.’ As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized how ridiculous that sounded. And I couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d said.”
There was nothing dull about Roth’s life after she graduated from Wilkes. She was living the life 20-somethings dream of: A communication studies major, she had a job in her field working for Citibank in New York City. She lived in an apartment in nearby Hoboken, N.J., and had a lively social life with a great circle of friends
All of that changed on Aug. 3, 2015, when Roth left her job, gave up her apartment, and took off to spend a year traveling across Australia, taking only a backpack and and a large sense of adventure. For the next year, Roth and her friend, Marrah Fry, traversed the land down under in a red Toyota Corolla purchased for $1,400 after finding it on Gumtree, Australia’s version of Craig’s List.
“Our plan was not to have a plan,” Roth says. The women lived in a different location every three or four months, staying in hostels, couch surfing (today’s parlance for sleeping on someone’s couch), or answering ads for roommates. Along the way, they picked up jobs – 13 in all – including selling cowboy hats at a rodeo, picking blueberries and cleaning houses.
“I told myself, ‘You only have a year to do this, so make this the best year of your life,’ ” Roth says.
Before they ended their trip on Aug. 3, 2016 – when their travel Visas expired — they had
visited Perth, Melbourne and everywhere in between, including the Great Barrier Reef and Australia’s Gold Coast. Toward the end of their travels, they took side trips to Thailand and Bali.
Roth’s favorite place was Byron Bay, where she worked for the hostel Accommodation, and attended sunset parties on the beach almost every night. “Australia,” she says, “has the most beautiful sunsets in the world.”
After returning to the States, she landed a new job as an event planner at Hunter College in New York City. Now living in East Harlem, she looks back on a year that taught her life lessons. “The whole year was a compilation of experiences pushing boundaries. I jumped off cliffs and learned to ride a skateboard,” Roth says. “I became less of an extrovert. I’d go to places by myself and talk to people I didn’t know. And I learned that minimalism is the key to a happy life. I lived simply and I was the happiest I’ve ever been.”
The following image galleries chronicle highlights from Roth’s trip. Please click on an image to see the description:
Roth and her friends took a side trip to Thailand. Getting up close to elephants at a sanctuary near Chiang Mai was “the best day of my life,” Roth says. She took the 10-day trip in May 2016. The women also visited Bali for four days at the end of their Australian sojourn.
Roth and Fry ponder the end of their adventure seated on the trunk of their faithful red Toyota. When they left, they sold the car for parts.