Travel time and time again

It is often said that your twenties are your selfish years. Years that should be spent falling in and out of love, traveling, exploring, making the right and wrong choices and being selfish with your time. I believe that your twenties are also a time of growth and change. While I near the end of my 26th year and look forward to what lies ahead for 27, I reflect back on the fact that I have grown and changed throughout these years in positive ways. I have grown even more independent and self sufficient, which has led me to finding comfort in traveling alone.

I find that just as it is important to spend time with your family and friends and direct your energy there, it is also important to spend time with yourself. At 26 I went to Europe for the first time on a whim. My cousin was studying in France about five hours outside of Paris for grad school and on a Wednesday I booked my flight and that Sunday the plane took off. Up until that point I had only left the country twice and both were tropical destinations; the Dominican Republic and Aruba. This flight to Paris would not be my first solo flight, but it would be my first time flying alone to a foreign country in which I didn’t speak the native language. I spent my first night in Paris alone in an Airbnb mostly sleeping off my jetlag and the next day I took a taxi, two subways and a train to Niort where my cousin would meet me.

While staying with my cousin I was able to borrow another student’s car and take a couple daytrips to explore the area on my own. I found peace and solace in the quiet downtime I had with myself and my own thoughts. I enjoyed walking around and exploring foreign lands on my own schedule. I also found a great sense of independence and self sufficiency in being able to navigate myself around a place I had never been before. I drove through the French countryside and enjoyed the sites of new places and things. In addition to traveling alone, I only had cellphone access on WIFI and I found the lack of connection a nice change of pace from my otherwise highly connected day-to-day life.

Fast forward several months and I boarded a plane out of Newark, New Jersey heading to Paris for the second time, but this time I had my cousin by my side and our trip would be lasting an entire month. We arrived in Paris on Friday, Nov. 16 in the evening after our flight was delayed five hours while trying to depart from Newark. We are now once again staying in Niort, which is two hours from Paris by train and five hours by car. While I have the luxury of staying with my cousin and her friends, I will once again be doing some traveling on my own.

I’m in the process of figuring out daytrips, which will involve me driving myself to towns that are not too far from where we are staying. Top on my list are La Rochelle, which I visited last time and absolutely adored and Bordeaux, which I have heard absolutely wonderful things about. Next week I will set off to Paris where one of my best friends is meeting me for a long weekend and I could not be more thrilled. I also have plans of traveling to Barcelona and hopefully London and Amsterdam.

Through my own experiences of travel thus far in my life, I believe that travel is not only an amazing way to learn about various cultures and places, but also an amazing way to learn more about yourself. And if you find yourself scared at the prospect of traveling on your own take comfort in the fact that if I can do it, you will be able to do it too. Your twenties are cetainly a perfect time for your selfish years if you allow them to be. So take the opportunity to travel if you can and do it as often as you can.

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