There are some who discover a passion even when they did not fall into the pot during their childhood. Samuel Larochelle was no more programmed to travel alone around the world than to write, he who grew up in a working-class environment in Abitibi and whose family trips were limited to “sunburns sponsored by the water park of Saint- Saviour “.

It is precisely to measure the progress made during his 20 years of wandering around the world that the author and journalist – who collaborates in particular with La Presse – sat down to write I have already made a customs officer smile. And last fall proved the perfect time to take stock of this period of his life, even though he was putting on “a lot of side shows” and working as a full-time journalist.

“I had just published my longest career novel, Elias and Justine, and the biography of Louise Portal,” says the adopted Montrealer. For years now, when I’ve been traveling, I’ve read one of the four volumes of Fright around the World, by Bruno Blanchet. And I dreamed of one day doing my version, with my stories, my point of view and then my form of writing, too. »

Caught between the whirlwind of his professional successes – crowned last November by a Governor General’s Award for his children’s book The World’s Littlest Savior – and a difficult turning point in his personal life that he prefers to put aside – he felt that he needed to return to this poetic and vaporous form that he had adopted in his book I escaped my heart in your mouth, three years ago.

“I already made a customs officer smile, it’s full of little texts that tell the story of my journey as a traveler, from 2003 to 2023. Travel stories and traveler’s emotions. With a poetic twist,” says Samuel Larochelle, before adding that it’s just as “light, melancholy and bitchy” as I escaped my heart in your mouth was.

We must admit that we have as much fun as we travel happily while reading. I already made a customs officer smile.

Like his so-called tips for a good travel photo, which arrive barely a few pages after the harsh realization that he sometimes has to “dilute” part of his personality to get where he wants safely.

“I’m gay. I have long hair ; sometimes I wear more flamboyant clothes; sometimes I wear nail polish; so I make choices to protect myself when I go to certain countries. But I don’t stop. The immense pleasure of the cultural shock, of the discovery, of meeting others takes precedence over everything, but I am therefore very nervous every time,” he exclaims.

He made his most beautiful trips to Turkey, Lebanon, Bali, Vietnam and Colombia. And there are still plenty left on his bucket list. “I want to see as many countries as possible before the planet collapses. This is my great fear, and I try not to participate as much as I can in this collapse,” he says. But his conviction – and it comes from a “smarter green friend”, he explains – is that it is often “by going elsewhere, by seeing the effects of climate change that we become more aware of it and that we change our habits.” And there are ways to travel better, in his opinion, starting with avoiding domestic flights when you can take another means of transport.

If he is far from ready to stop traveling, it is because he has learned so much from his experiences. “I have the impression that the more we travel, the more we become good humans, the more we open up to others, the more we break down our prejudices, the more vast a culture we have, the easier it is for us to enter in relation to strangers, here or elsewhere. It made me grow so much, traveling. »

The trip also taught him to tame his anxiety and let go. To the point of surprising himself even today – in addition to surprising everyone who thought he would never have the guts to go to the four corners of the world. “There is none of my friends, none of my family who could have predicted that I would travel so much, to this kind of country and solo! “, he admits.