With female solo travel at an all-time high, here’s what you need to know about exploring Canada on your own, from someone who did it herself, Alissa Jenkins.
Perhaps it’s the effects of social media making travel feel more accessible than ever, perhaps it’s the 11-year anniversary of Eat, Pray, Love (the novel, that is), or perhaps it’s the fact that, well, it’s 2018 and women can travel alone if they damn well please.
Either way, 2018 is quickly shaping up to be the year for solo female travel, with widespread trends showing plane loads of women are seeking adventure… and they’re wanting to do it alone.
A quick squiz on Google Trends shows the number of hits on the search term “solo female travel” has more than doubled in just the past two years. As a result of this growing market, the number of women-only travel companies across the world is also skyrocketing, while established tour operators are seeing a dramatic rise in their female participants.
Among them is Intrepid Travel, who in just the first few months of 2017 reported a 35 percent increase in women booking trips, while REI Adventures also saw 60 percent more women since 2010.
Suffice to say, solo female travel is hot, it’s here, and few places are as primed for it as Canada. Safe, easy to get around and blessed by Mother Nature with more beautiful vistas and adventure activities than there are wild moose, Canada consistently earns rave reviews, not least by solo female travellers. But before you go, some words to the wise to spur your own solo mission…
1. Apps, apps, baby
Use that smartphone for more than just Facebook updates and download some nifty travel apps that will make your solo adventure a bazillion times easier. Check out PackPoint for a little digital suitcase-packing assistant, Tourlina to connect with like-minded solo female travellers in your area.
2. Get connected on tour
Starting out on a solo mission can be daunting, especially if you’re venturing into a remote area. Happily, Canada is home to several great tour operators that cater to those going it alone, with various age groups in mind. For those at the younger end of the spectrum, check out Moose Travel Network, while personalised, small-group experiences can also be arranged with Momento Travel, Adventure World or Intrepid Travel.
3. Befriend your Airbnb host
While many of us opt for the “entire house” when booking on Airbnb, selecting a room in a shared space is a fantastic way to make connections. Befriend your host, chat to them, and lean on them for advice. After all, they are the local and will be loaded with fantastic insights. My first hosts in Vancouver were incredible, gave countless clever tips, let me tag along on their social outings and we’re still great friends to this day.
4. Sit at the bar
Whether it’s lunchtime or you’re having yourself a cheeky après cocktail, sitting at the bar is one of the best ways to meet locals (on both sides of the bar). It’s also a savvy way to pocket some insider advice on local do’s and don’ts.
5. When it doubt, ask!
Like most destinations around the world, Canadians always appreciate when a traveller is at least trying to learn their local lingo. But if something isn’t clear, from pronouncing street names to asking your bartender “what’s a mickey?” ask! You learn so much more and it saves time. There’s good reason why they say Canadians are so friendly…
6. Trust your intuition
More a general life hack than a tip specific to solo travel, but always trust those gut instincts. Whether the house you’re in doesn’t feel right, or that salesperson doesn’t seem to have your best interests at heart, chances are you’re probably right. Know when you’re being had and how to politely walk away.
7. Write it all down
I know, it’s cliché and listed in every ‘travel 101’ story, but do yourself a favour and write down your adventures in a journal. Take note of it all; the sights, the smells, the battles of going it alone. There’s something totally freeing about travelling alone, spurring thoughts and memories that you won’t want to forget.
8. Book the damn ticket
It sounds obvious enough but the best way to kickstart that solo adventure is to just book it now, plan it later. Book the ticket, submit your leave, and jump on a plane. Go for it, everything else will fall into place.