Traveling alone for the first time: an epiphany
Traveling alone definitely changed my life. It helped and still helps me to cope with myself. It helped me to grow richer with experiences.
If you had met me six years ago, you would be surprised to hear how I was back then. I was studying at uni but I was not going out that much. I mainly took the train from home to my college accommodation each week. I had barely left France and I was quite scared of leaving my house. When I say leaving my house, I mean going out in the street. Any situation involving me talking to a stranger was a source of anxiety. I spent most of the time indoors watching movies and listening to music. This was quite depressing.
“I was quite scared of leaving my house.”
However, since I was 14, I had this urge for traveling. Paradoxical you would say, for someone who could not leave her own house. I know. But something inside me was telling me that traveling would be my cure.
When I talked to my relatives about traveling alone, they would have a sneering laugh: “before traveling, try going to the bakery alone!”. But deep down, I knew I was capable of doing it.
Near the end of my first year of English degree, I started planning a trip. I wanted to improve my English skills because my accent was terrible and I was struggling to speak fluently. I decided that the United Kingdom was too close from home (I live in the north of France) so I booked a ticket to the USA. Since I was a poor student, I wanted to make profitable the plane ticket, so I decided that I would stay as much as a tourist could stay in the US, which is 90 days.
I did not want to be an average tourist staying in a hotel and checking out all the must-sees written on the Lonely Planet. I wanted to experience the New World. I wanted to meet American people and live like one. This is the reason why I chose to volunteer. I would stay at people’s home for several weeks, sharing, caring and helping them in their daily activities and projects.
And this idea that I had was the best idea of my life. It was a big challenge to plan a solo trip overseas for someone that insecure. When the plane took off, I was not very proud. I remember asking myself “what the heck am I doing?”, I closed my eyes and I felt tear drops on my cheek. But this did not last very long. I was just realizing that it would be the beginning of a new era.
“It was a big challenge to plan a solo trip overseas for someone that insecure.”
Indeed, I see this experience of traveling alone as an epiphany. I see it as a blooming. Before going away I was extremely shy, uncomfortable and scared. When I came back, it was a whole new me. I was self-reliant, I gained confidence and I was open to the world surrounding me. I lived so many experiences during those three months of solo traveling. I met lovely people, I saw astonishing landscapes, I spent hours on the road, I regretted taking this twenty-three-kilo suitcase with me… This first solo trip was definitely a milestone in my life and I have no idea where I would be if I did not give myself the chance to do it. Above all, this first experience gave me the love for traveling and I am grateful I am able to travel now and then.
“I see this experience of traveling alone as an epiphany”
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