At the end of August 2017, less than eight weeks after coming back from a fabulous year in Australia, I was about to leave my hometown of Saint-Nazaire for nine more months of travelling around the world. The night before I left, I wrote the text below but never published it. In April 2020, in the middle of the first Covid-19 lockdown in France, I eventually came across it. It was a very strange period and I kind of felt in a similar state of mind, so I decided to share it, without any corrections, and to compare my expectations to what actually happened to me. Right now, in November 2022, I am about to leave France again for a two-month-trip in South America, so it feels like the perfect moment to publish it a second time. Fasten your seat belts and follow me in my time machine!
Tomorrow at 1pm I’ll be at the airport of Nantes in France, boarding the plane that will take me to Quebec City, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I’ll say goodbye to my parents one more time for nine or ten months, after having left already for a year in Australia in 2016. It’s probably going to be hard and I guess there will be some tears… at least in my mother’s eyes. I know I’m not going to sleep well tonight because I’m stressed, excited and a bit scared. Tomorrow I’ll be tired and anxious, and I will keep asking myself if I thought about everything… or if I’m doing the right thing. Why on earth would I put myself in such a position, completely shook and overwhelmed by so many contradictory feelings?
I’m writing this now because I know that tomorrow I won’t be able to think properly. In case I’ll have doubts or fears, this article will be here reminding me why I’m doing it.
The picture above is the view I have from my bedroom window at my parents’ house: a nice little garden in a quiet suburb of Saint-Nazaire, a medium sized city on the French Atlantic coast. I’m not going to see it again before a very long time, but instead I’ll stare at mountains, lakes, oceans, see amazing sunrises and sunsets, gaze at stars in the night sky. I will probably eat a lot of pasta and easy ready-made dishes in the next weeks, but I’ll also go to great restaurants and discover new flavors that I can’t even imagine now. I’ll trade my comfortable mattress for bunk beds and hostel rooms but I’ll meet so many new people everywhere I’ll go. I’m not going to like them all, but I’ll become very close to some of them and I’m very excited to think that I might bump into a new true friend maybe just tomorrow night.
And that’s the main thing that makes me want to leave another time: I can’t wait to meet people again. Discovering places together, share travel experiences and going to party with people met an hour before, without knowing what’s going to happen and with the feeling that anything is possible, that’s almost like a drug for me. I love it so much. Right now I’m remembering these two great nights I had recently, in Darwin celebrating my last hours in Australia two months ago and in Prague in July. I spent both of them with complete strangers, and we had so much fun even if we all knew that it would probably be the one and only time we would be together. It’s not always like that of course, and you have to enjoy these precious moments. One of my friends told me once “great people make great memories”. He was right.
I’m ready for excitement. I’m ready for discovery. I’m ready to party. I’m ready to be happy. I’m simply ready for the magic to happen again, like it happened to me so often in the last 14 months.
My backpack is full now: it’s time to rest before a long journey tomorrow. See you in Canada!
So what happened during these 9 months?
I went to five different countries, including two for the first time: Canada, United States (Hawaii first, mainland at the end), New Zealand, Japan and Australia again.
Just like I predicted, I saw mountains, volcanoes, lakes, oceans, sunsets and extraordinary night skies…
I visited many beautiful cities: Quebec City, Adelaide, Kyoto, San Francisco…
One of my dreams became true: road tripping in the South-West of the United States and its vast desert and arid landscapes.
Yes, I ate a lot of pasta, but I also tried many new dishes for the first time, especially in Japan where I had the biggest culture shock of my life.
I had some difficult moments such as in Auckland in November, where I worked up to 60 hours a week in two different places and had almost no social life. That’s what decided me to change my plans and go back to Australia for three months of road trip between December and February, instead of staying in New Zealand.
I went back to Melbourne, my favourite city in the world, and even celebrated my 30th birthday there on the 14th of January 2018.
I met dozens of new people and some of them are still good friends today, such as the three Danish people I travelled with on Vancouver Island. I’ll also never forget our group of Banana Friends on Maui, the few friends I had in Auckland, my travelmates on the Australian West Coast and in Tasmania, my hiking partners in the United States, the people I met in New Zealand when I was backpacking the country in February and March and of course my friend Jeff who joined me in Japan…
And all of that eventually came to a perfect ending at the end of May in San Francisco, with five days exploring this wonderful city and partying almost every night with the people of my hostel.
So yes, I was definitely doing the right thing, yes, everything I was hoping for was real, and yes, the magic happened again, just like I believed it would. Will it happen one more time in South America?