She Travels

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Travelling solo: in discussion with Arpenter le chemin

July 28, 2020



July 28, 2020

We had the pleasure to interview Audrey, the traveller behind the blog Arpenter le chemin. Audrey lives in Canada, has travelled on five continents and fifty countries, and interviews, every year on March 8th, fellow female travellers-bloggers, to celebrate Women’s day. She shared her thoughts on solo female travelling.

Audrey (Arpenter le chemin).jpg

Can you tell me a bit about yourself, when did you start travelling alone? Why? What is your current situation?

I’m Audrey, I’m a French-Canadian translator-redactor-blogger. I grew up in France and then moved to Canada in 2014. I left alone for the first time when I was 18: I was joining an international worksite with other people (something we call woofing nowadays), but had my flight alone and spent a few days alone in Helsinki, before taking a bus to my destination which was several hundred kilometres away. It was impressing but exhilarating at the same time. The next year I did it again in Japan, then I went to study alone in New Zealand, and I wandered around…One thing leading to another, it became a habit, something obvious. I need to travel alone, even if I am now married, these are precious moments for me. I even had a van at one point, I used to travel with my dog, it was amazing! I have been travelling alone less these past years, but the flame is still there!

Among the countries you have visited, which is/are your favourite?  

Apart from Canada, where I now live, I have a lot of affection for Japan. It is where I first travelled alone, I find there a huge change of scenery and it is really, but really very easy to get around despite the language barrier. The second country that I love (because which traveller can limit herself to one country when asked this question?!) is Mexico. I only saw the Yucatán Peninsula, but I loved everything: the welcome, the Maya culture, the archaeological sites the beaches, the food…

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Which country or travel experience really surprised you?

I would say Poland. Poland doesn't evoke a lot of cheerful images, I think we've all been left with the black and white pictures of the Second World War, the ruins of the communist era, we don't really imagine this country in the 21st century…I got a slap in the face when I stayed there, between Cracow and Wroclaw, everything was gorgeous, people were welcoming. It was a really beautiful surprise, a destination that doesn't have much to envy to Prague or Budapest if you want to go to Central Europe.

What does travelling alone bring you?

A lot of introspection and time for myself. It is probably paradoxical coming from someone who already works alone at home, but I need a lot of time alone, I am very introverted.

Travelling alone allows me to focus on the pleasure of the discovery and to focus better on what I’m living and seeing. So I am really far from the image of the solo traveller who meets a lot of people while travelling.

When one solo travels, one is under an injunction to say that, in fact, one is never really alone. To me, this is an issue. It's kind of like we only tolerate solo travellers if they're not really alone... But we have to get used to it: one can very well travel alone, by choice, and worse, enjoy it!

Has travelling changed your perception of yourself? How?

It allowed me to push some limits of course. There are sometimes limits that we cross by forcing ourselves: daring to go home at night alone, daring to make contact with people by couchsurfing... And then some limits are pushed back without even realizing it, as one accumulates experiences, because one gains in ease and confidence.

Do you have an experience or person you met who changed your way of perceiving yourself, or the others, or even the fact of travelling alone?

No particular experience but becoming aware of my privilege of being a white female was a big step in my experience as a traveller. As westerners, we all have the privilege of being able to travel period, and to have the freedom to travel abroad without any chaperon is a freedom that many women don’t have. Being a white female can also open doors in traditional male places abroad, and I try not to forget that: I have a huge chance to be able to travel alone.  

What would you say to people who say that traveling alone as a woman is dangerous?

MEH! Here is what I say. More seriously, there are dangerous places everywhere, even in France, even in Canada. People who try to dissuade women to travel alone are part of the problem. They probably think they are benevolent, but restricting women has never helped. I could probably tell them that they should devote their energy in making the world a place where women are not in danger. And then we will talk about it.

How could we change this idea that women shouldn't travel alone, and should go with someone?

By continuing to travel alone, of course! I believe a lot in showing the example. The more we will show women who solo travel, the more we make this way of travelling something normal.

What is your worst experience? How did you handle it? Did it have an impact on you, your behaviour or your life?

I am rather lucky when I travel, nothing really ever happened to me. When I travel alone, I prepare my travels a lot, because I tend to have anxiety. The worst thing that ever happened to me what waiting for four hours in a McDonald’s, somewhere lost in Copenhagen ‘suburbs, because my co-driver was very late!

What advice and tips would you give women who hesitate to travel alone?

You don’t have to cross your limits right away! Take your time, go to places you already know, and then slowly increase the dose of adventure. Start by leaving alone in your country, then into a neighbour country and so on…

Your best experience while travelling?

My solo tour of Europe, in train, for two months in the 2014 spring. It is silly, it is starting to get old, but nothing has surpassed it yet! The intense freedom of travelling by land in our beautiful Europe… I had some extraordinary encounters and saw fascinating countries.

Do you have a message for the women who will read you?

Try it, you won’t regret it!

To follow her adventures in Canada and the rest of the world, check out her blog and her Instagram!

More about NomadHer :

NomadHer is an app for female globetrotters to encourage solo travelling safely. NomadHer has a vision of empowering women through travelling.

To join the community of female globetrotters, you can download NomadHer App on IOS & Android. Follow NomadHer on Instagram: @nomad_her.

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