Solo Female Travel, Travel
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A delayed bon voyage

After an unexpected plot twist set my departure back a day, I was eager to start my journey through Europe and Southeast Asia. My first destination? Paris.

I hadn’t even left home yet, but the world of travel was already teaching me some valuable lessons. C’est la vie.

Lesson #1 — Avoid flying on a budget airline.

Lesson #2 — If ignoring lesson #1, triple check your departure time, especially when the budget airline you are flying on changed the departure time by shifting it forwards almost 12 hours in a cryptic email with departure times listed without AM or PM.

Lesson #3 — When you have missed your budget airline flight to Europe and need to book a last minute flight because no refunds or rescheduling, airline miles are a girl’s best friend.

So, how did it feel to embark on the trip of a lifetime, one that had been several years in the making and had taken countless hours of planning?

It felt a little bit like the nervous excitement on your first day at a new school, not knowing yet who you will meet, who your friends will be or what you will learn or become; mixed with the confused anxiety of just waking up from a nap, not sure where you are or even who you are anymore, but realizing that the next moment is going to take place in a dramatically different reality than the last. Of course I also felt triumphant, and exhilarated and ready for a great adventure.

I was also filled with gratitude for all of the people who had helped me get here; my parents and extended family, friends, coworkers and even total strangers who had shared their wisdom and encouragement along the way.

In the immediate future, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find my way to the hostel in Paris on public transportation without a working cell phone, and that the evening I arrived would be too short and jet lagged for any of the sightseeing I had planned.

But I was sure that these things would be resolved, and there was no sense in worrying. The four intentions I had set so long ago when I first began planning this trip were fresh in my mind:

self discovery 

personal growth 

to experience the world 


Sipping a cafe americano at the airport in Frankfurt, I added a fifth. To reconnect with my authentic self by seeking new experiences and perspectives, igniting a journey that is geographic as well as internal. 

Stay tuned for updates from my first day in Paris, coming soon!

P.S. Mom, you were so right. I think I packed too much! 

This entry was posted in: Solo Female Travel, Travel


Hello and welcome! I’m Gretchen, a twenty-something solo female traveler with a passion for adventure and telling stories that inspire. In 2016, I quit my job in the surf industry and set out to travel around the world. After nearly a year of wandering Europe, Asia and Australia, I drifted ashore in Santa Cruz, California. This blog is a collection of my words and photographs created along the journey. It’s meant to inspire you to travel the world or even just take a weekend to try something new in a place you’ve never been before. Follow my adventures on Instagram: @wildcompass

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