This is a story about a woman and many others. I would begin my thoughts with my encounter with Christina Boixiere who is the founder of ‘La Voyageuse’—the first trusted platform that connects solo female travelers with local women hosts from around the world. She’s my family which is not blood. I see her as an extremely wise woman and someone who dares to dream and do.
I used to stay in my grandmother’s house during the summer with my little sister. This women, my mother’s mother, was a generation of experiencing the colonization and living their life through post-colonization in Taiwan. She spoke and talked as a person who had no space to question authority. Everything is about punishment and reward in her behaviors. Those childhood memories were rather hard to revisit, as it is not a simple setting for a child to understand the dynamic in their complex relationships; I was paralyzed in the face of no self-love, confidence, and innocence of being a child.
Despite all these factors from the environment which is haunted by the ghosts of our past—family, culture, education, and society, I was lucky enough to have met my neighbour—a figure who has influenced and inspired me from any kind of aspect until now. I had inquired her many times about friendship, responsibilities, love, emotions, and one’s abilities to live a happy, meaningful life. Of course, I remember one of the messages she had shared, right before she moved to Bordeaux, saying ‘if not now, when?’ Our lives are so brief, yet we have all the potential to discover, explore and live it as a tree blossom in Spring. I believe there’s always a choice for a better life through listening to each other, accepting, sharing and loving who we are. It’s true to me that we are blissful to be part of our time.
Although Christina and I have been apart for many years, she is so alive in my heart that I kept remembering her encouragement and love. During a psychedelic trip with my partner, I suddenly realized a puzzle in the past; she inspired me to immerse myself into foreign languages, travel solely, while her current husband intrigued me to tell stories. Both of them showed me the essence and unexpected nature of love through their love story. They are free birds to me at that moment.
It was truly powerful to see people with open minds and loving energy. I start to act. I couldn’t hold myself sitting on a haunted island anymore. At this point, I moved to Tokyo out of short notice to my family. I just need to go—This action reshaped everything from the core. I forgot about the past, future and all the perception I had perceived. It doesn’t matter. I am now. I need to feel alive. I need to listen to my heart, dancing, singing and expressing myself honestly as I wish.
Finally, I arrived Berlin two years ago. It’s like home. I reunion with my true self and twin flame. I have never felt so grateful, loved, accepted and free as who I was, who I am, and who I would be. Life is grace as it is.
I feel a sense of gratitude toward her—my childhood hero, Christina. I feel it’s time to share her story because I believe there might be someone out there who would get influenced by this amazing women.
Human being’s nature—adventurous
Christina moved to Bordeaux, France in 2015, two years after her MBA student life in London when she met her current husband in Marseille. I met both of them briefly during my short stay in Taiwan. They just decided to settle in Bordeaux—a safe, clean and vibrant city which is close to the ocean with perfect size. What could one ask more? Next time I heard about her, she is doing ‘La Voyageuse’ for a while. The moment we reconnected online was overwhelming.
Inspired by her first solo travel to Thailand when she was eighteen, she has been traveled to over thirty countries solo. You can call her a ‘solo female traveler’. Of course, everyone needs some courage to take the first step and try. But it is worth it— ‘traveling solo is the best way to meet people. It is exciting and fun as you never know what will happen to you whilst you travel alone,’ Christina said. All of these experience open your heart. It was tremendous transformation if I recalled mine.
As I am aware of, from our cultural and educational background, we do not encourage our youths, especially for girls to go far. Why and how? How do we break out from this?… I say, ‘The only way to do it is to do it.’ We no longer need to wait for the perfect moment, enough saving or proper plans for study or work.
Safety network—meet the local guardian angels
La Voyageuse shares a similar dream a lot of us have—traveling around the world and meeting local hosts from around the world. I interpreted as a global community which networking traveler who do not identify themselves with one single tribe. It takes effort, practice, and trust. Speaking of actions, she offers the crucial solution for the most challenging part of all which is safety.
Christina has been traveling solo since the age of eighteen. She loves staying with locals as she believes this is the best way to experience local culture and to understand local customs, therefore she was using Couchsurfing to find hosts for most of her travels. However, as many of other women have faced, she encountered some really bad experiences while staying with local hosts, in some cases, she was harassed by some of the male hosts. She felt injustice within her, she wishes that all women could be able to travel to places where men could, without feeling scared.
She had the idea to create a safe platform between women with a strict process of profile verifications. From the market research she has done, to her surprise, there hasn’t been yet any solution like that which focuses on safety. Unlike the existing home-sharing platforms which are like AirBnB for women only, she proposes ‘La Voyageuse’—Their hosts don’t make money from hosting their travelers, they do it because they are looking for authentic experience while feeling safe. These people are the vulnerable ones who need to be reassured, and that’s why they call these hosts ‘guardian angels’.
Having said that, they do not exclude men, on the contrary, women living with others, be it their husband, brother, father, male friends…and so on, are extremely welcome! Honestly, It sounds like the most promising platform I could imagine to use as a solo female traveler myself. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘I have a dream…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’…Isn’t it true that we shall listen to each other, instead of turning away from those who have needs to be heard?
If you’re interested in learning more about what makes La Voyageuse the safer platform, you can check out: www.la-voyageuse.com
It’s not a one-man show to make this dream happen. Christina has an amazing team of five people including herself and her current husband. ‘They are motivated, young, dynamic and believe in La Voyageuse,’ she said. ‘oh, and they are all solo travelers!’ Support by her other half, Christina overcame her stage freight and gain self-confidence in public speaking, they had won two prizes during the Startup Weekend in Bordeaux where people were amazed by their pitches.
That is a living proof of the fact that today’s women are stronger than ever. We want to create something bigger than oneself. We want to continue the dialogue between different sex without perceiving judgment. ‘Taiwanese culture teaches us to stay humble, and to work without questioning authority at work,’ Christina reflected. ‘Here in France, people are encouraged to give criticism, to disagree, and to challenge authorities. Being a Taiwanese in France, I’m still learning to find the perfect balance; I can see some progress in me.’
I admired her courage and strength to find her own way. ‘if you ever want to feel free, better and stronger, go traveling solo,’ she said. ‘It’s really the best way for me. Traveling solo has not only made me who I am today, it has helped my healing process when I hit the rock bottom of my life. It enriches me and gives me a new way of looking at things and people around me. If you are still scared, hopefully with La Voyageuse, you will be able to make that step forward!’ That was a solid message from her that she would like to share with you all.
Are you ready? Before you hit the road, here are the practical tips for preparing your travel regardless it’s solo or not. I hope her story would inspires some of you in some ways. I encourage you to find your own destination, break out of your comfort zone, and live in the present moment.
Tips for planning solo travel— first of all, respect local culture when you travel
- Research on the local customs and culture, knowing ‘’do’s and don’ts’’.
- Look for Safety tips and blogs, articles and websites that offer ‘’off the beaten road’’ tips.
- Make a simple list of what to visit and activities one would do.
- Download useful apps, such as local off-line maps, useful phrases in local languages, weather, local tour guides, local event calendar…and so on.
- Note down local emergency numbers and local Embassy number of one’s nationalities.
- Look for local music and films to put oneself in the mood.
- Prepare the bag ahead for making sure one pack the essentials.
- Create a personalized itinerary with flight & accommodation information, contact number/ address, and websites, and save it to one’s mobile phone.
With many thanks to Christina Boixiere
photo credits/Christina Boixiere
The homepage of La Voyageuse please see the link