Going through my travel journal

Back in June 2010, I was embarking on my first solo journey. I was nineteen at the time and I was very anxious about everything.  Before I left, my sister gave me a nice travel notebook which became my journal on which I documented my trip.

I have never looked back at this journal since then. So I thought it could be interesting to see my thoughts on my first approach to solo traveling. At that time, I just completed my first year of English degree. I was far from fluent in the language so please, don’t mind the mistakes and weird sentence structures. I left the text as it is written on the journal for more authenticity.


Chicago River


June 18th 2010

“Going to America has always been a dream. Sometimes, dreams come true.

I woke up at 5 am to take the train to Paris CDG: nothing complicated so far. This is when I arrived at the airport that I began to freak out: what I am doing here? Well, after all the checking stuff, I am at the gate E69 waiting to board. When I saw the cabin, I was a bit disappointed, that was not the picture I had in mind. Anyway, the take off of the plane was fine but I got a little bit sad! I was a bit afraid too, will I reach the US safe? The staff was cool. But I think we eat too much in plane, they always serve you something. I was not so bored I imagined because there was a screen with pretty cool movies and TV shows. I watched “NY I love you” and some random TV shows, all in English!

frenchieontheroad.com-chicago-michigan lake

Lake Michigan

After the flight, I had to reach the hostel and it was a real nightmare. First I had to buy a three days pass for the CTA train but I didn’t know how to insert my credit card. So, I had my first contact with an American citizen to help me out. He was nice and helpful. Then, I boarded the train and a woman started to talk to me, asking where I was from and all. She was a Canadian tourist. So, my first moments in the US were pretty good regarding the population. (I didn’t mention the passage at the border patrol, but everything went fine). So the nightmare was after that.

When I arrived at Fullerton Station, I took the wrong way. But I didn’t realize it before a long moment. It was so hot, my suitcase was heavy and I was so thirsty. NIGHTMARE! Finally, I reached the hostel sweaty and my face was red. However, the staff was really nice. The guy said to me: “Comment ça va bien?” in a perfect French. Then, I went to the room to take a shower. And then, there was a big thunderstorm so I stayed at the hostel, using my laptop. When the storm was over, I went out to find a supermarket to buy water. I found a food mart and bought a bottle of water. Then, I went to bed, it must have been 7 p.m. but I was so tired I didn’t care.



Chicago skyline

June 19th 2010

Today, I’ve decided to visit the loop and [missing]. It was the first time I ever saw a skyscraper. So huge! I went to shopping a bit too. Then I walked and walked again across the Loop to reach Grant Park, I saw the Buckingham Fountain, the turquoise water of the Lake Michigan.

frenchieontheroad.com-field museum - chicago

The Field Museum

Then I was feeling like visiting a museum in the area so I chose the Field Museum of Natural History. This museum is famous for the huge T-Rex named Sue. It’s 90% complete and it’s really big. I think it was the first time I saw a dinosaur skeleton. This is kind of difficult to imagine that such creatures had existed. But there are not just dinosaur skeletons in the Field Museum. Actually, the museum gather informations about all the civilisations, the rocks and the flowers. It was really interesting. I also watched a 3D movie about the life of Sue. I learnt some facts about dinosaurs like, a T-rex is born with feathers and then they drop off when the T-Rex is big enough. Weird, uh?


Sue, at the Field Museum

After this I walked again and saw the Soldier Field which is a big stadium like you can see in movies. I think there was a game this day because it was really crowded. After this big day, I went back to the hostel and hit the shower. I got some pretty nice sun burns!

June 20th 2010

Today, the sky is cloudy and it may rain a bit. I’ve decided to visit Lincoln Park anyway and its free zoo. I’ve walked a lot but it was nice because it wasn’t too darn hot like yesterday. Lincoln Park is pretty big and beautiful. So I went to the zoo but I didn’t really appreciate. Of course it was nice to see animals you don’t usually see but it’s also kind of sad. Actually, the animals in there looked really depressed, monkeys above all. So, I had just a quick look around and then I follow my visit in the park.

frenchieontheroad - monkey - chicago zoo

Poor monkey at the Chicago zoo


I’ve seen a dog catching a squirrel, I think it killed it. So sad. A man shouted to the dog owner “that’s why we have a leash law!”. It’s really weird how American people interfere in each other’s lives. Then I went to MacDonald’s to have lunch. The legend is true:  small size meal is the biggest size in France.

After lunch, I went to Best Buy to buy a new camera. Then, I went back to the hostel because it was so hot and I wasn’t feeling very well. At the hostel, I heard a girl talking to her friend about the amazing cupcake she had. She described it as it was some precious jewelry. I think it’s really weird, but it’s America, isn’t it?

June 21st 2010

Today is the day I am going to meet the family I’ll live with for a month. I am not even scared. I am just pissed off because my suitcase is so heavy and I have to bring it everywhere in the city to reach Union Station.

At the train station, I almost lost my passport and all because I have no brains! But I did not. The train was delayed for almost three hours because of some mechanical problems. I’ve met some people at the train station, all really nice.

The Amtrak train is really huge. You have so much space it’s so comfy. I had the chance to have a talkative neighbor whose I don’t recall the name. He was a 17 year old and he was really stressed out.

Then, I finally arrived to La Crosse, WI and met Mike. He was really nice. He couldn’t stop talking. I didn’t meet Marie [his wife] this night because it was 11 p.m. when I arrived and she was already sleeping. The house is really nice and I think the decoration will pleased dad because it’s really boat related and all that stuff.


Bye Chicago, I’ll be back


This concludes my writings on my first days in the USA when I traveled by myself for the first time in 2010. I will share further thoughts I had during this trip in another article.

Have you ever documented your travels in a journal? Have you looked back to it later on?

16 comments on “Going through my travel journal”

  1. I love this. I’ll be visiting Norway in a couple of weeks and I’m going to take a notebook with me so I can write a journal. When I was in Ireland in my teens, I drew a daily comic while I was there.

    Your comment about the MacDonald’s meal really cracked me up!

  2. Alice Chen says:

    Love this! The best part about documenting your travels is going back and remembering all those things that you’ve forgotten.

  3. Asia says:

    Such a great post idea! I need to find my travel journey from study abroad in Spain (cerca 2004…) I’m sure it will be a blast to look back on!

  4. What a lovely idea to go back to this after so many years!

  5. Dave says:

    I grew up right near that hostel in so this post brought back a lot of great memories for me. It’s really one of the best parts of the city, but I’m biased. Also, your English is fine!

  6. Gabriela says:

    Haha 😀 I also just read my old travel diaries from years back, and it was so funny! I felt like most of the time I was either drunk or hungover. I don’t understand how I had the energy to party every night and then travel the next day…

  7. Super cool, ça donne envie d’y aller !!! Merci Perrine du blog http://www.detailsofperrine.com

  8. Marlies says:

    I was actually talking to my dad about travel journals today. That I really need to write my travels down. Before my one year (in 2014) abroad I didn’t really did that and now I regret it of course. I like that you kept the way you wrote it all down 🙂

  9. Nina says:

    I have been to Chicago more times than I can count and always love it! I’m glad your first experience in my country was a good one!

  10. Ivy says:

    Aw this is such a neat idea! I wish I’d kept a travel journal with me; they’re always so fun (and sometimes embarassing) to read as we get older haha.

  11. Anna says:

    It’s really interesting to hear about traveling in the US from a different point of view! Glad you had a good time in Chicago.

  12. Chiera says:

    This is so cool! I have a travel journal that I take with me on all my trips, my entires from my first solo trip when I was 21 are hilarious. So frantic and stressed out! It’s good to look back haa

  13. Lauren says:

    What a great idea, I wished I did do something like that, but I do have my vlogs as well that is sort of like a diary.

  14. Claire says:

    I love looking back at old memories! I have an old diary at my parent’s house that I kept when I was 10, it’s hilarious! It’s a great idea to put this in your blog though, love it 🙂

  15. Anastasia says:

    How nostalgic. I always cringe reading over journal entries from long ago, but it’s still a lovely thing to do. Since I started blogging I don’t keep a personal journal anymore but I wish I had. They are hilarious to read back on.

  16. Awesome post idea. What a great way to look back on your travel memories!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *