My first experience travelling solo at the age of 22

Travelling alone for the first time can raise a lot of questions. However, there is no age to travel alone for the first or the tenth time. For a short or a long stay. My first experience travelling solo was in 2012. I was 22 years old.

The idea

At the time, I was in Vancouver, Canada, for a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) and I was still dreaming about it: the US West Coast!
I won’t lie, I never imagined doing this trip I dreamed so much, with no one to share it with. I was anxious, not very confident in myself and I almost deflated a few weeks before departure … I also looked for some travel mates, and I was sad to find no one who had the same availability as me or the same desires. So, what could I do?

Un jour, j’ai jeté un œil dans quelques forums sur Internet et à ma grande surprise j’ai lu de très nombreux témoignages de personnes qui partaient seuls et qui en revenaient ravis. Le lendemain j’en ai parlé autour de moi et, la réaction des Canadiens m’a bousculée : ils perçoivent le « voyage solo » comme quelque chose de tellement génial et puis si « banal » ….
Phrase de conclu

One day, I browsed several forums on the Internet and surprisingly I read many testimonials of people who had traveled alone and who really liked it. The next day I talked about this “idea” to my Canadian friends and their reaction made me realise that “traveling alone is great” and not that “unusual”…  Their reactions and their encouragments convinced me; I can do it too!

The organisation

So, I started drawing the route of a three-weeks roadtrip on the West Coast of the United States.  I decided to plan everything that could be planned: transportation, housing, visits, number of days and budget.

I spent hours and hours to read and check everything I could find on the internet, in travel guides and on blogs.

Booking transport was the simplest part: planes, trains, buses. The approach is not very different from group or duo travel trips as prices are the same. I only made sure to not arrive at destination during the night

Regarding housing, it’s a little different compared to group travels. I decided to sleep in mixed dorms in youth hostels. Usually, there are hostels everywhere and it’s easy to meet people (depending on the place). Beds are cheaper compared to single rooms in hotels.

However, to choose my hostels, I paid attention to two aspects:

  • Reviews of travelers that mentionned that “the hostel is perfect for solo travelers”, often because it means that it is easy to meet other (solo) travelers, because they have common meeting room and group activities;
  • The location of the hostel: to make sure that the hostel is not located in a creepy area and is not difficult to access

This careful planning was to reassure me, of course, but also to reassure my family who was more than 10,000km from me …

My first solo experience

While boarding the plane, the headphones on my head, I felt an excitement rise in me. I was about to realize a dream and I had the audacity to go alone!

It was a mixture of pride, recognition and admiration … for myself.

Is it surprising? Surely. It is not every day that one admires oneself and that one is proud of oneself. As soon as I landed at the San Francisco airport I realized: I’ll have to fend for myself in this jungle. No, I was not afraid, I took advantage of every moment. The question that teased me the most, before the departure, was: Am I really going to be alone? Strangely, this first solo trip also has the first trip during which I met a lot of people: travelers of all ages, all styles, all origins. I have rarely been alone, even when I was desperate to sit quietly and read a book.

I am not saying that I have never felt alone not been afraid. Of course, there were times when I imagined how it would have been different with my friends, my family or my boyfriend. And then, there were those moments where I had mixed feelings, for example when I got lost when I returned from an afternoon to Venice Beach to find my hostel, or the day when a (unknown) man proposed me in front of everyone on the Wall of Fame in Los Angeles, or even that moment when I travelled on a night bus for 12 hours next to a man who was talking to me in Spanish and who prevented me from sleeping (…) and so on …

As many moments as souvenirs

This trip gave me immense joy and the doubts and fears that I had had before the departure had all of a sudden disappeared. Throughout my stay, I only felt a huge positive energy!

It was a very well-planned trip but it was still the most unexpected and surprising journey I ever had !
No matter how hard we try to plan the itinerary, the number of nights and the visits, we will always live unexpected experiences every day.

I do now understand what a “rich and unforgettable experience” is. Because, for the first time, I had a Rich. Unforgettable. Experience

 

So if you’re looking for an answer to the question “Should I go?”, let me tell you: Go for it !

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