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.

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Chicago, Illinois

 

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.

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New York, New York

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.

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Riverview vineyard, Genoa, Wisconsin

 

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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 traveling alone an epiphany frenchie on the road

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