Trip to Paris France for my birthday

Paris, France yo.  That’s what my friend Heather is here to tell us all about today, because Heather (lucky girl!) took a trip to Paris, France for her 24th birthday.  Heather has traveled a lot and is here to share a little bit about the travel bug.  (note from Allison)

In 2007 my aunt and I took a long weekend trip to Paris, France for my 24th birthday. It was lovely as ever and Paris, being Paris. It was exactly as advertised: The women were chic the clothes made me drool and I had no qualms about purchasing ridiculously expensive Parisian tights because then I could go home and be all, “Oh, you like these tights? Yeah, they’re from PARIS. FRANCE.” and then flounce away. That was my last trip to Europe. Up until a month ago I was OK with that. I mean, I travel regularly around the continental US though I never leave the “lower 48”. Even though I reside in Upstate New York, I can give you a tour of the District of Columbia with my eyes closed and I recently returned from a 48 hour jaunt through San Francisco. Heck, I once went to Salt Lake City solely because I wanted to try snowboarding and what better place to attempt to test your center of gravity than  Wasatch mountain range?

traveling to Paris

What happened a month ago was this: I was perusing Instagram and noticed a photo from a friend of mine who is an American citizen but lives in Melbourne, Australia. It was a simple photo of her absentee ballot and instead of thinking “Yay! Democracy!” I thought “Why don’t I live abroad?”. It’s something that has come to mind ever so briefly and I’m quick to brush it off because I have responsibilities. If you could call a cat and apartment real responsibilities. There are no children or husband. My parents, both about to retire are both healthy and  too busy making plans that involve golfing in Hawaii and running away to Martha’s Vineyard, so they’re all set. I have a job – a career – but leaving the country in 2012 is not like leaving the country in 2002. We now have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogs, Email. It’s not like I’d have to send out a weekly fax to let folks know that I’m still alive and kicking. So, really what is holding me back?

Nerves. I’d go with nerves first and foremost. Back in 2005 during my senior year of college I ‘studied’ in Madrid for six months. I, of course, use the word ‘studied’ very loosely as I was well on my way to graduation. There were visits to the Cantabrian Sea, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, a week through Andalucia, Seville and Cordoba. I stood at the most western point of Portugal, I watched a macaques snatch a friend’s bottle of sunscreen on the Rock of Gibraltar and went to the market in Marrakech. In every sense of the word: Perfection. Though I shouldn’t neglect to mention that my first four weeks in Madrid I spent in tears because nothing was like my normal then again what’s the point of traveling to Europe to partake in your usual?

Back to the viewing of a photo of a simple absentee ballot. It was in that moment that I switched from iPhone to Firefox and looked at visa requirements, I redid my budget, I started to check out Airbnb for three to six month stint…somewhere…anywhere in the world. I was at once excited at the thought of packing up in leaving and nervous at the thought. Savings would need to be ramped up – so much for those cognac booties I saw on Zappos – changes would need to be made. But! It would and could be done.

Eiffel tower
My absolute determination to flee the country lasted for a solid week because I am still me after all.  Nervous, hand-wringing, what if, me. While I have renewed my passport and stared at a map of the world to figure out where to go*, I remain apprehensive. What if I can’t find a job when I return? What if my plan to do some freelance writing while abroad doesn’t pan out? What if I get to country of choice and I am forced to spend 90 solid days alone? What if something happens and I can’t get back in time? (I’m so morbid, I know)But when will I ever again have the opportunity to pack up and go?  When will I ever again be this free of responsibility? I oscillate between the type of fears that force me to think and re-think.  There’s the necessity to stay here and continue my rather mundane life vs. having this one chance, completely free of baggage, to have an adventure.  I have a feeling what I will end up deciding to do but I have several months – at least – to contemplate and make pro v. con lists. When I brought this entire thing up to a coworker she all but started packing up my office. GO! She shouted.  For if there was one thing she wished she had done pre-marriage and kids it would be to travel.  To Paris, France.  Anywhere.


So, I ask this of you, dear readers: Have you ever traveled abroad for an extended period of time? Did you regret it? Where did you go? And should I do the same? I would love to hear the stories of your own adventures. Perhaps it will force me into taking one of my own.*Most likely back to Madrid, Wellington, New Zealand or Auckland, New Zealand.


//Today’s guest post comes to us from my sweet friend Heather in New York.  Quick witted and low on tolerance for general stupidity, Heather Barmore is a professional watcher and commentator of politics, among other awesomeness.//
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Hello there! I’m Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I’m super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we’re a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Erica :

    You must read Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. Granted, he had a fairly cushy job as a New Yorker writer when he went, but also a wife and kid to support. GO!

  2. Laura :

    I went to the British Isles 10 years ago and about 3 times a year I seriously consider going back to travel and to live. I regret not going back since. There’s no reason not to go.

  3. Kate :

    After completing undergrad I went to Cairo for a 6 week summer program- something VERY far outside my comfort zone. But, I ended up falling in love with the city and extended my stay for a year during which I studied Arabic and taught English. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world!

  4. hannahammonds :

    I am currently on my second stint in New Zealand. I say GO! I was totally nervous (still am), but its cool to get another perspective on life. The first time I had a husband and this time I have a husband and three kids. If you decide on New Zealand I would recommend Wellington or somewhere in the South Island. :)

    • Heather B. :

      That’s funny that you mention Wellington; a friend of mine lives there with her husband and daughter and that is one of the spots on my list. Thanks!

  5. Helena :

    When I was 18 I went to live in NYCfor a year, I ‘d always wanted to do it (mom blames Fame, the tv series) and of course I loved it and didn’t want to leave… I then moved back to Finland, stayed about 6 months, left again and 14 years later live in London, UK with hubby, house and 2 kids. We are both foreigners here and it certainly has it’s positives and negatives, especially after the children came along.

    I’d say go and do it! Life is too short to waste on what if!

  6. Jamie :

    Do it – you’ll never regret it. I dreamed of living abroad for years and when a chance came to take a job for 18 months in Rio de Janeiro – a place that wasn’t on my dream list. I said yes, even though I had been dreaming of Europe. Since then I’ve lived/worked in Rio, New Delhi and now Istanbul. The experiences I’ve had have made me a more compassionate, open person, I have a stronger sense of who I am and I know I can do things I only dreamed about before.

    Take the leap!

  7. Toni-Yvonne :

    I was born in Edinburgh, grew up in London, then moved over to Sydney when I was a young teens, and now everywhere else in between (though have never set foot in Americas) – I say do it :D I am constantly craving a change of scenery and cities.. If you put in your mind things won’t work out, then they won’t. Change your thinking and Definitely GO!

  8. Gemma Grover :

    I think you should go. I moved out to Stockholm eight months ago, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I traded in my studies for an adventure and I will never regret it!