This post was contributed by Julia Fiorino
This summer, I finally buckled down and did what I was “supposed” to do: got a 9 to 5 internship. And while I was grateful to be learning new skills and making money, my biggest regret was the precious time off from school I was losing, trapped too close to home for comfort. When the job finally ended, I had one week before I had to go back to school, and being the responsible person I am, I decided to spend it studying for job interviews.
Day two of my week-off finally came, and I realized that I had spent the majority of my time in my favorite coffee shop perch just looking at, rather than reading, information. And, I may have retrained concerningly little-to-nothing from Econ 101, but I did learn what a sunk cost was. Will I ever use that? Probably not.
I also learned that even if I had spent two days “working,” if I wanted to quit now (and I wanted to quit now), I should quit now. So, naturally, I started looking at flights.
A little backstory: my dad works as a pilot for a major airline. And for someone with travel always on the mind, this has been the greatest thing to ever happen to me that I did absolutely nothing to deserve. Airline employees and family members can hop on a flight for free or ridiculously cheap if there are empty seats. If only we could extend the invitation to the rest of the world…
I looked at Mexico City and imagined myself finally seeing the ancient temples I had spent my Spanish Literature classes daydreaming about. I looked at Iceland and imagined ice climbing and bathing in the blue lagoon. And then, at 4:21pm, I received a text from my dad.
“The 7:05 to Paris tonight has 16 open business class seats, only about two hours longer”
And though my French Duolingo streak was doing well…
Nothing compares to the real deal.
Even as a big proponent of the Shut Up and Go lifestyle, I had some doubts. You don’t just go to Paris on a few hours’ notice for five days, the week before school starts… Do you?
I drove myself home, just in case, I told myself.
At 5pm, heart racing, palms sweating, with an open suitcase laying on the floor and my best clothes soaking wet in the laundry from the load I had put in before leaving, I called my best travel buddy to validate what I had already decided to do.
“Should I go to Paris? Right now?”
“Are you crazy? Yes, go!”
I tossed the dry clothes still left in the closet into my bag, threw in some toiletries, and had a bag packed and was on the way to the airport by 5:15.
I arrived at the airport at 6:07 for a 7:05 flight. Too late to check a bag, and without a plastic bag, I held up many as an annoying traveler in the line at security taking out my liquids into a separate bin. After getting through the line, I shook so badly with excitement that I could hardly put them back in their place. Once I managed to zip everything up, I sprinted. We’re talking 800m gold medal sprinting. I arrived at my gate, panting and sweating, and my eyes immediately looked for the door. Open. Not a soul in line. I showed my boarding pass and passport and was the last person on the 7:05 flight to Paris. I kicked my feet up on the airplane, took the champagne I couldn’t have drunk in the United States, and felt the “Shut Up and Go” race through me.
And guess what? The world didn’t end because I decided not to be responsible for a week (You know what? Maybe going to Paris was actually responsible).
I danced swing at an underground jazz club with a fellow traveler, sat under the Eiffel tower at night with a random Parisian, and pretended to be bougie at the Palace of Versailles.
And I’d do it all again.
Meet Julia: Julia is a college student who tries to take full advantage of every break from school she gets to explore. Once she discovered the magic of solo traveling, she’s found a million more opportunities to Shut Up and Go! She currently speaks Spanish and French and plans on picking up Portuguese or Mandarin next. Follow her adventures on IG.
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