Ventures Series #1: Discover yourself with travelling and volunteering

Updated: Feb 22

Update: Congratulations on winning the opportunity to donate $200! Claire chose to give $100 each to 'Protect Our Winters (POW)' and 'Ancient Forest Alliance'.

For our first VS story, Claire describes how she challenged herself to travel alone & volunteer in a foreign speaking country.

BaseCampVenture series is here to publish short stories and interviews with an aim to inspire, captivate, inform & entertain! Based around the topics of backpacking, exploring, adventure sports or life in a seasonal town. If you have a story to tell CLICK HERE to see how to enter for your chance to win $200 for a charity of your choice. Join our Facebook Group here

Year / Date: 2019-2020

Location: Canada

Persons Involved: me (Claire), all the beautiful souls I have met since my first day in Canada

Activity: Travelling and volunteering

"To invest in travel is to invest in yourself." - these words of Matthew Karsten couldn’t reflect so perfectly how I have been feeling since 1 year and a half, enjoying every minute of this life on the road, far away from my home country and living in an English-speaking area in the middle of the Canadian mountains.

Everything started in 2019 when bogged down in a stressful PR job, I realized how I had been craving to travel and to improve my English. I couldn’t handle my routine anymore, even if I had a job, a lovely supporting family, an apartment, a partner for a few years and all my friends around. My career as a press agent was on the right track but I felt terribly empty. I needed to be a part of something vibrant, new, different. I no longer recognized myself in this tidy life. And I have to admit, it took time for me to realize it. That’s how I decided from one day to the next to start all over again. I quit my job, left my apartment, started to sell a lot of my « old life » stuff. Sounds like pretty common eh? But for me at this time (25y old), I have never traveled alone before and always hated to be just with myself. As you can imagine, taking the decision to leave everything and travel abroad was a huge challenge for me. No one around me really thought I would do it. But deep inside me, as difficult as taking this decision, I already knew how much this project would radically change my way of life, to see the world and how much it would bring to me!

July 2020 - Eva Lake in Mount Revelstoke National Park. A couple of months before we decided to come for the winter season!

After 5 months in Montreal, learning about a new culture, a new country, making friends, meeting new people every day, I decided to head West for the hardest and the most exciting part of my trip : living alone in an English-speaking area. I was terrified. My first few weeks in Alberta was a daily challenge, trying to make myself understood with my miserable French accent, hiking, discovering around and eating alone. Something that never really happened to me before. I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I felt very lonely and I hate this feeling. Just you and yourself. As a communication advisor, not being able to communicate with others was so frustrating. I knew it wasn’t easy and I remember telling myself that others were in the same situation than me before and did not give up. That is how I took the decision of volunteering at a ranch in the middle of nowhere in British Columbia. I like to think this is when I really started to discover myself and be comfortable to be alone. For a year now I have been discovering all these things I wouldn’t expected to do, to think or to believe one day. They have brightened up my personality and make me so proud.

I recommend to anyone to experience volunteering in your life. That could be in your community, in a foreign country or for a charity. Volunteering as travelling is a great way to learn and discover others but also yourself. That is also how I met my partner Joe which whom I share the same values. Before ending up in Revelstoke, during a fantastic road-trip, we were volunteers at 5 different locations across BC during 1 year, being property maintainers, wranglers, gardeners, carpenters, etc. I have never tried any of these activities before. I learned how to do horse chores, helped to build an eco tiny house, created an outdoor dancing floor for a wedding, lived off-grid with a dad and his two 3-year-old kids in the middle of the forest making a home made 15 ft wood fence. That was awesome and one of the best experience of my life!

May 2020 - From scratch we built with my partner and our host Kale a 15ft fence around a 1 acre garden to keep produce from being destroyed by animals. This experience involved peeling 30 15ft wood pole, on the picture this is one of them!

Who would have thought that of me? No one, not even me. This adventure in Canada is my salvation. It makes me believe that we can change and we can become whoever we want. We just have to find the good way and keep being positive and motivated. When I look back a year and a half ago, I wouldn’t have imagined how much all these encounters enlightened me. Many thanks to Joe, Helen, Alex, Kale, Andrew, Charlie, Matt, Max,... the list is long. I'm still working on my discomfort with loneliness but there is a lot of progress thanks to this amazing trip. And I try to continue putting myself in uncomfortable situations to discover more about myself and what I am able to do. Canada was my first destination and I know that travelling is now a part of me. It is just the beginning.

Thank you Claire. What a beautifully written story on stepping outside of your comfort zone to find new opportunities and discover more of the world plus yourself!

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