“Travelling can be ultimate alone time. Away from home and surrounded by strangers, you can be anyone or no one, anonymous or camouflaged”… Julian Smith
Have you ever stood in the middle of the road all alone at 7:00 am in the morning, or sat at bar by yourself enjoying your dinner just to be surprised by some amazing company of strangers, or sat all alone on a cliff at 6 am to experience a magical sunrise? If not, you should try it sometime. Traveling Solo is not for everyone and I surely didn’t think it was for me but after my latest 2 week trip to the Atlantic, and having experienced all of the above described magical moments, I am a convert.
I am a city girl who loves to have long conversations with friends, spend time with people and in general thrive on sharing ideas, experiences and thoughts with smart individuals. As such the idea of traveling solo has always been a tad bit out of my comfort zone. I initially started flirting with the idea more because my desire to explore the world trumps my patience and need to seek company (at least for now). Over the years I have taken many work trips alone and once even ventured for an all inclusive yoga adventure retreat to Costa Rica, but nothing that I consider a truly solo experience where you have no group, no routine and no schedule.
So, as I decided to take a leap and start my gap year the first thing, on the list of experiences, was a solo trip and to make it extra fun (more like scary) I threw in the twist of going for a ‘solo road trip’. The thought made me nervous and that made me smile :), when you have those nervous butterflies in your gut it says you are pushing your boundaries an growing as a person.
Just deciding to do it wasn’t going to make it happen. First step was to pick a destination and there were a lot of things that I had factored in:
- Safety – It goes without saying that the first thing that a single woman traveling solo thinks about is safety. It was important for me to choose a place that I felt would be safe or relatively safer. As someone who has grown up in Delhi, India I know a thing or two about being street smart a being very aware of the fact that every city has sections you would rather steer clear off
- Cost / Expenses – I toyed with the idea of going to Europe, especially had my heart set on Croatia & Slovenia but August being the peak season wasn’t the cheapest option to travel plus Euro conversion would make it more expensive. Picking something within Canada made it easier with respect to cost and currency
- Timing – I am a shoulder season traveler. Thanks to being single and not traveling with kids, I always prefer to travel during shoulder season (a month before or a month after the peak season) as it helps get cheaper tickets and less crowded locations. Don’t have a school schedule to adhere to 🙂
- Ease of travel – The goal of this adventure was to see if I enjoy my own company, especially for a road trip for 2 weeks, while exploring a new city or will the city girl in me get extremely bored and lonely. So I focused on not complicating the adventure further and shortlisted easier destinations with no language challenges, familiarity of brands and currency.
I had heard from a few friends about Atlantic Canada but had never seriously considered exploring it until now and am so glad that I did, it truly is an undersold treasure of Canadian tourism. Cape Breton and Newfoundland checked all my boxes and turned out to be exceptionally beautiful.
Eastern Canada offers some gorgeous landscapes, amazing wildlife, plethora of hikes, friendliest people and finger licking good food.
I traveled to – Halifax, Cape Breton & St. John’s (Newfoundland)
Total # of days – 10
$2,500 (all in) – Including:
- Flights (taxes only, rest on RBC Avion reward points);
- Accommodation for 9 nights – tried all types of accommodation
- Car rental for 10 days
- Excursions like Whale Watching
- Food – I tried new restaurants every night in St. John’s and Dinnes included win& cocktails
During this trip I stayed in a lodge, a hostel dorm, an amazing Airbnb and heart of downtown 2 queen bed Hotel room. So, it would be safe to say that I experienced wide range of options in this one trip and this time Airbnb in Halifax won hands down- best value for money.
What my ‘First Solo Adventure’ made me realize
- You truly are on your own time and you can surprise yourself when that happens: If anyone at any point would have said to me, that I would get up at 5:30 AM on my vacation (with jet lag, like 3:00 AM Toronto time) I would have said not in a million years. I am not a morning person or at least that’s what I thought, but surprisingly on day 1 and everyday since for my 2 weeks of travel in Atlantic, I was up early in the morning and more than once at a godly hour of 5:30 AM just to catch a sunrise. On the last day of my trip I was in St. John’s Newfoundland and woke up at 5:30 AM to drive to the east most point of North America to catch the first ray of sun. Sitting on a cliff with no one around, listening to the soothing sound of ocean waves that are much calmer than what they sound like at 3:00 in the afternoon was absolutely amazing. When you travel solo you are truly on your own time and it will surprise you what you end up doing when you have nothing else but yourself to consider.
- The best feature of a good camera is ‘self timer’ – one big challenge of traveling solo is clicking your own pictures, but thanks to someone’s (most definitely a single/solo traveler’s) ingenious idea of a self timer in a camera, it became a fun exercise for me to try and capture just the right shot . I was the girl lying flat on a rock trying to balance a camera between some random sticks and running to capture those 10 seconds . This below was probably shot no. 10 to get it just right 🙂
- When traveling alone I am more open to everything I am doing, every experience and every conversation – When I travel with someone the overall experience of my travels depends on who I am traveling with. It’s not about good or bad it’s just about having another person that you are experiencing everything with, but when you travel alone its just you and whatever you chose to do. I love walking around a new city and I did that a lot even during this trip. Usually in Toronto I would have my headphones on but in a new city I didn’t feel like doing that. Being open to the environment around, getting lost with map in my hand , observing people from a café are probably my favourite activities when traveling alone. Every meal I had resulted in great conversations with strangers, something I never thought I would be comfortable with but was probably the highlight of my days in St. John’s whether it was a complete stranger in the city for work or the bartender at one of the bars. This pic below is at one such bar with live local jazz musicians
- The biggest revelation of this trip – Amy Schumer is ‘seriously funny’: The road trip and driving alone for hours was probably the most nerve wrecking part of my plans. I had never done long road trips by myself ever. So this was going to be the first time I was going to drive thousand plus kms alone with no one to talk to, no one managing my spotify playlist and ensuring we have good music, no one to make sure I don’t just doze off on the wheel. I was nervous about getting bored, but thanks to Amy ‘awesome’ Schumer and her amazing wit, I thoroughly enjoyed my road trip. Here is a link for the book on Amazon for those who are interested (this is not a paid promotion/advertising)