If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.
Solo travel: where to start.
‘Why don’t you take someone with you?’ I was asked.
Truthfully, I just want to feel empowered with myself. Like I don’t have to rely on the likes of someone else to feel happy, or safe, or secure. I just want to know that I am enough to keep myself company, to keep myself occupied and to make myself smile.
Solo travel is an intimidating thought.
Honest truth: I don’t believe in myself. At least, not right now. It sucks to admit that, but it’s true. I rely on other people for validation and that scares me.
One of the reasons why I am going to do this trip alone is that I want to face the challenges it presents on my own. I want to see if I am capable of looking after myself. Because if I am being fully honest with myself today, I’m scared. I’m scared that I can’t do it. That’s why I am going to do it though. I need to do this in order to know whether or not I am capable.
I want to believe in myself again. Will I get that belief out of one solo-trip? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s a start. And everyone has got to start somewhere.
Something happened this week that I was not expecting.
See, I’ve been afraid to tell anyone of my upcoming trip because I feared judgement for booking a plane ticket when I don’t have a steady stream of income. If there’s one thing I’m certain of in my life, it’s that the people around me can be extremely judgmental. And, though I know it comes from a place of love, it still comes… at times being really hard to deal with.
Moral of the story is that I didn’t want to be made to feel badly for doing something for myself.
I kept waiting for the right moment in which to break the news and continued to find excuses as to why it was never the right moment. As my date of departure draws closer, I knew the news needed to come out soon otherwise people would notice when I disappeared for multiple days.
Then, out of the blue, I was invited to an event this weekend. Knowing right then and there my time was up, I faced the music and admitted that I was headed on a trip. What I did not expect was the gracious and kind responses I received in acknowledgement of my trip.
They were kind. So kind. Telling me things like ‘Good for you! You deserve this’ and ‘I’m so happy that you’re doing something for yourself’. One of them even offered me money to help pay for the trip. To be honest, I was quite shaken by these responses. Happy, but shocked. I guess it goes to show though, as much as you think you might know someone, people can always surprise you.
That’s a huge weight off my back leading up to my trip. As much as I want to believe that the only opinion that matters is my own, the opinion of those that I love still plays a large role in my life. And I can now leave on Saturday knowing that the people in my life are supportive of my decision, my mom will be looked after, and the wanderlust in my soul can be fulfilled, at least for a few days.
When life hands you lemons, buy a plane ticket. Go somewhere that’ll make you happy, that’ll make you smile and that’ll set your soul on fire. You deserve it, damn it. Take advantage of the here and now and just go.
Smooth transition into a new topic:
On the recommendation from followers on this blog, I purchased some Apple Cider Vinegar last week in hopes that it would help with my adult acne. Though I’ve only been taking it for one week now, I have to say that I have noticed a difference in my skin. My acne has always been the large painful, red, blotchy sores around my lips/lower cheeks and chin area. Over the past week these spots have transitioned into much smaller, less swollen spots on my face. It’s not gone, no. The spots will be there for a long time, I am sure. But it’s nice to see some improvement in my skin. It makes me feel better about my appearance, even just in the small changes happening.
So, thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for leaving a comment, thank you for being kind and thoughtful and helpful.
That’s right, I did it. After weeks of humming and hawing about it, trying to talk myself out of it, telling myself that I shouldn’t be spending the money right now, etc, etc… I pulled the trigger and I bought a ticket.
It’s definitely not an exotic locale, but what matters to me is that it is somewhere that will make me happy. And I really need something to smile about right now.
I’ve been afraid to tell people about it, because I don’t wan them to lecture me on spending my money in a frivolous manner when I don’t have a steady flow of income right now. I’m not sure how I’m going to break the news, but, I will do it.
Yesterday, as I sat in bed reading one of my favourite books of all time, I made it to the chapter that has stood out in my mind since I first read it as a teenager. The quote, as follows:
So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.
Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
And I thought ‘I’m not waiting any longer’. So I did it. I went online, I booked the tickets, and I’m going.
It’ll be a short trip. Nothing in life lasts forever, I know that. And, in spite of the fact that it might seem rather reckless to book a trip when you don’t have a steady stream of income coming in, I’m not stupid when it comes to money. I know how to save, where to spend, how to choose the cheaper options. I’m going to be smart about this, of course. But I’m also going to live my life.
Life should be adventure, and, when it really comes down to it, I’d rather be the person that says ‘I’ve been there and it was amazing’ than the person who says ‘I’ve always wanted to go’.
I wholeheartedly believe there is a distinct difference between travelling and being a tourist. Tourism is a commercial product. I liken it to that of holding a movie pass. You’re experiencing something different without ever actually leaving your comfort zone. It’s safe. It’s easy. Travelling, on the other hand, has a lot more to do with exploring and immersing yourself into a time, place and culture that you don’t understand. Travelling is a mindset that you want to be as much a part of your destination as it is a part of you.
Big cities might be filled with tourists, while travellers are those who follow the less beaten paths of this globe. The rewards might be great in either category, depending on what you’re looking for, but I happen to be a firm believer in travel over tourism. If you’re going to take the time and money to go somewhere – truly go there. Immerse yourself in the adventure.
Step outside of your comfort zone. Travelling allows one to leave order and conformity and move towards the unknown. Pushing yourself out of that comfort zone can teach you just how far into the unknown you’re willing to go and just what potential you might be capable of.
Escape your routines. Use travel as a tool to beak your behavioural patterns that keep you in the ‘daily grind’. Travel can provide that much needed escape from the world you hold so dear, but need a break from every now and again to avoid burnout. Scheduling your travels gives you something to look forward too and allows you to know when your next break is coming, when your next escape is waiting.
It’s a free education. The last thing that you want to do is travel with the belief that you know everything. You’ll be shocked by your own ignorance. There’s too much to this world that you don’t know and haven’t learned yet. Travelling gives you an opportunity for that education that a classroom can’t teach and it also shows you just how much you don’t know.
You’re exposed to new ideas and beliefs. While people often fear what they don’t know, or don’t understand, travelling puts you into situations where you’re forced to see these circumstances firsthand, witnessing that which can forever change you from there on out.
The more you explore, the more you realize how complex human life is. And it’s hard to acknowledge that so few people will get to experience/know that within their lifetime.
It increases your problem solving skills. It can be easy at home to go about your day in the same monotonous way as you’ve done over and over before. Drop yourself in a new location in a part of the world and you’ll be faced with a need to solve problems you’ve never faced in your daily grind. Reading a map in a foreign language is a problem that you’re going to have to learn to solve.
Experiences come with expiration dates. This one is important. Who you are right here and now is not who you will be after you get married or have children or go through other changes in your life. The way that you experience a country/place/destination right now won’t always be the same. Someone who’s just out of highschool, backpacking through Europe will experience it in a completely different way than a retired couple. That’s not to say you won’t enjoy a trip when you’re a retired couple with your spouse, that’s just to say – are you really ready to give up on the experiences you could be having right now for the one day? For the some day?
Honestly, I’d take experiences over new shoes any day. I’m a firm believer in the statement ‘Collect Moments, not things’. Furthermore, moments and memories are the only form of wealth you can gain that give yourself that doesn’t diminish in time.
There’s so much more to travel than seeing a landmark or taking a selfie in front of a monument. Don’t get me wrong – those moments are pretty great too. Everyone needs a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower. But, for me, the importance of travel is about who you become when you go to a place, the person that you get to be and the person you transform into based on the situations you’re immersed in.
There’s really, genuinely important reasons for you to squander away your extra money. There’s a whole world out there to see. And yes, there are some material things in life that are important for you to purchase. But I guess, the point of this ramble from me is that there are so many important reasons to start putting that money aside and to be saving it for your next adventure.
These photos were taking during my trip to Las Vegas in November 2018, for my 30th birthday. It was technically “winter” in Las Vegas, so a lot of attractions were closed. But, it was still pretty epic for a first time in Vegas. And, it was fun watching so many people wander around in down jackets when us Canadian’s felt like it was summer.
We ended up with super cheap flights (I think due to it being off season), so it was a cheap, but epic, 30th birthday.
I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend the New York New York Hotel and Casino to anyone looking to stay on the strip. It’s centrally located, really well priced and the hotel has a lot of amenities in it.
There’s nothing like 20 degree heat in the middle of winter. I was loving it. And honestly, having never been to Vegas before, the fact that this was all one hotel truly amazed me. I can’t even fathom which tower I was staying in. And that coaster, THE HOTEL HAS A FREAKING ROLLER COASTER.
The most divine gluten free, dairy, free, allergy free sandwich from Greenberg’s Deli. Seriously, if you have any dietary restrictions, this place is such a good spot for eating.
The M&M Store had a wall that my OCD dreams were made of. Seriously, staring at this photo gives me as much joy as staring at this wall did when I was in store.
Freemont Street. Oh, what can I say about Freemont street? It’s true what they say. It really is unlike any other place on earth. The zipine was epic. The people were interesting and the sights were inspiring. I definitely recommend taking a trip off the strip to anyone who visits Vegas. Freemnt Street is a must see.
I can’t even tell you what this was (which I feel like happened a lot while I was in Vegas) but dang was it good. All the food in Vegas was amazing.
We actually had some friends show us around town and honestly, I think that Old Vegas attracted me as much as the Strip did. It fascinated me that people live and work in Vegas and it’s the kind of place that’s normal for them. I think it’d be really cool to live there.
And the Gondola. I didn’t actually ride on the Gondola, but I was pretty fascinated by it, and this hotel. This photo was taken at 2 am. And it looks like the middle of the day because the ceiling is so realistic. The shopping in this hotel was also splendid. It filled my spendy heart!
Sometimes in life there are things that you want to do, that you know you want, but that you cannot get to. Either the circumstances won’t allow it, or the timing isn’t right, regardless, you get to wait and hope.
Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies is Abraham Lake. Abraham Lake is an artificial lake on the North Saskatchewan River lining the David Thompson Highway between Saskatchewan River Crossing and Nordegg. It was created in 1972 with the construction of the Bighorn Dam. Although man-made, it still possesses the blue colour of other glacial lakes in the Rocky Mountains.
Within the lake itself is a naturally occuring source of methane. During the winter, when the lake freezes over, methane bubbles from the lake’s bottom are released and get trapped in the ice as they escape to the surface. This causes the incredible sight of thousands of tiny little bubbles trapped within the ice all over the lake. Tourists flock from all over the world out to see this phenomenon, go for a walk on the lake, and see how well they can capture the bubbles.
Though it’s not actually that far from where I live, timing has never allowed me to get out there. Until this past weekend, that is.
Knight and I got behind the wheel of an Audi A4 Komfort Quatro and headed for the Rockies. (Side Note – I am quickly becoming an Audi person. These cars are brilliant, luxurious, and so user friendly. I am grateful for the opportunity to test drive it)
When you see the lake, it’s absolutely breathtaking. The scenery is second to none, with the image of the lake surrounding by densely packed forests and skyscraping majestic mountains is something that will be forever ingrained in my memory.
I would reckon the ice itself was about six feet thick at this stage. The weather here has been exceptionally cold this winter, so no one was afraid to walk out there.
We made our way down the hill to the lake itself and went hunting for bubbles. What we ended up finding was cooler than I could ever describe in words.
The bubbles were everywhere. They’d literally been trapped all over the lake. We walked out pretty far and noticed the change in the colour of ice (change of thickness comes with change in colour) but alas, the methane bubbles were caught trying to burst through.
There were spots where the ice had cracked and pushed up. The pieces of ice were so thick and so dense, it was hard to imagine and I was seeing it with my own eyes.
Honestly, I loved it. I loved every second of it. I can understand why people come from near and far to see this place.
On the way home we ran into some mountain goats licking the sale off the highway. They were pretty cute, and pretty docile as well.
I really didn’t want to have to give the Audi back. It’s a beautiful car. It’s so user friendly, and so… easy to drive. Plus it looks pretty EVERYWHERE. Even when it’s covered in road salt from the Canadian highways.
If anyone is ever in Alberta, Canada in the winter and wants an adventure, I highly recommend renting a car and taking it out to Abraham Lake. Don’t purchase a tour from one of those companies. They’re horrendously overpriced (I saw online that they’re charging tourists $340 per person just to drive you to the lake!) and way to regimented. Rent a car, go for yourself! Take the time you want and witness the magic that is Abraham Lake.
Growing up in Canada you kind of, sort of, might start to believe that what you see all around you is what everyone gets to see. That everywhere is as beautiful as you have it and that the sights you’ve come to call home are sights that others get to call home as well. It’s a naive way of thinking, but some would say we’re pretty sheltered up here anyways.
I started travelling when I got to University and it was at that point that I realized that not everyone gets to see what I see.
And don’t get me wrong, every place has a beauty about it in its own way, but I happen to be a little bit biased in my belief that Canada is ‘next-level’ on the spectrum of beautiful places in this world.
Some of these photos were taken by me, some of them I’ve found online. About two years ago my house was broken into – stolen was all of my electronics including a laptop that contained pictures of all of my travels – so if a photo was taken by me then it’s been in the past two years that I’ve been. And if it’s credited to someone else, I wanted to show the beauty but no longer have my photos. Insert sad face for stolen computer.
Here are a few places I’ve been that I think everyone needs to see:
Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Picture the most beautiful, pristine lake that you could possibly imagine, surround it by escalating mountains covered in snow, fields of green and one of the most expensive hotels in Canada to stay at, and that is the luxury that is Lake Louise.
Visit in the winter for walking, skating, skiing or snowshoeing on the lake itself. In late January each year they host the ‘Ice Magic Festival’ where artists create incredible sculptures of ice that stay until they melt.
Visit in the spring, summer or fall for some of the most turquoise blue waters you’ll ever see. There’s a trail around the lake for you to walk, if you so feel the desire for exercise, and if you’re really an outdoorsy person, you can hike up some trails on those mountains at the far side of the lake for some pretty exceptional views.
Any way that you look at it, Lake Louise is a must see.
I actually grew up in Vancouver, so this one has a strong bias for me. This multicultural maven of a city is just as beautiful as it looks. Situated almost perfectly between the Coast Mountains and Pacific Ocean, it really doesn’t matter which way you look in this city you will see a beautiful view.
If you prefer the city life you can wander down city streets staring up at skyscrapers from every angle, drinking some of the best coffee in the world and shopping in stores to suit any budget. There’s a cafe on every corner, a ‘sorry eh’ at every passing and not enough time in a day to see the multifaceted face that makes up its downtown.
And if you much prefer a nature, Vancouver is filled with parks and natural landscapes that allow you to get out and roam, ride a bike, go to the beach, hike a mountain, walk through the forest… all in the same day. I recommend the Grouse Grind. But, there’s much to do in this city, and I strongly recommend you try it all.
In Northern British Columbia, about an hour’s drive from Prince George, you will find the entrance to the ‘Ancient Forest’. This several kilometer hike is through the largest Ancient Inland Rainforest in the world. Trees are much like those you would see in the Redwoods National forest in that they’re more massive than you could possible dream up, and they’ve likely been there for thousands upon thousands of years. The densely packed plant-life shelters you from weather (the trees are so thick you cannot feel rain) and the beauty is unimaginable.
OLD TOWN, QUEBEC CITY
If you want a true feel for French-Canadian culture, Quebec City is the place to find it. With a mixture of old-world charm, quaint city streets lined with history and the smells of amazing food pouring out of the shops and restaurants surrounding you, Quebec City feels a lot like a European destination in Canada.
While you’re here, try the poutine, it’s better than anything else on earth.
NORTH OF 60 (YUKON, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, NUNAVUT)
As someone who’s been lucky enough to visit the Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut territories, I’m leaving this one open and saying they’re all worth the time if you’ve got it. Honestly, north of the 60th parallel is a whole different world in Canada. In the summer the sun doesn’t set and in the winter the sun barely rises. It’s a way of life the locals are accustomed too and the tourists are fascinated with when they witness it.
For no other reason, I recommend the trip for the Northern Lights. Watching Aurora Borealis dance across the midnight sky is unlike any other experience you will ever have. You can rent some snowmobiles and take them out into the middle of nowhere (for fun) and for better views of the lights by night, or, in summer, you can go golfing at midnight.
I wish more people would make it farther north. It’s expensive, don’t get me wrong. But it’s well worth the experience if you ask me.
PRINCESS ROYAL ISLAND – THE GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST
No, that’s not a polar bear you’re looking at. That’s the elusive kermode ‘Spirit Bear’ who calls the rainforests of British Columbia’s coastline home. Princess Royal Island as a unique little fishing destination nestled in the coastline islands of British Columbia.
Fun fact: Twelve of the 17 crew of U.S. Air Force 44-92075 were found alive here in 1950, during the first lost nuclear/Broken Arrow episode of the Cold War.
The Island is a protected zone by the World Wildlife Fund for having one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Animals you’ll find in these forests: black bears, grizzly bears, deer, wolves and foxes, and nesting populations of golden eagles, bald eagles, and the endangered marbled murrelet.
If you ever want to feel at one with nature, it’s a difficult place to get to, but once you’re there, it’s worth every second.
HOPEWELL ROCKS – BAY OF FUNDY
You might have seen these rocks before in photos for weddings or engagements, or just plain instagram swoonworthy photographer shots. People largely flock to these rocks out of fascination, but stay for the peace, serenity and beauty that is the area when they get there.
A few years back I got to go to the Bay of Fundy for a work project and I’ve got to say, the way the tide rolls in and swallows up the beach, making those rocks look like they pop out of the ocean is pretty cool to see. Thinking back on it, I wish I could take a camera and take a time lapse of the tide rolling in. Something tells me it would make an incredibly satisfying video. Nevertheless, I am rambling.
If you’re ever on the East Coast, check out Hopewell rocks. Take some beautiful photos and take some lunch. As a girl who grew up next to the pacific can tell you, there’s a certain peace to the Atlantic Ocean air that will make your whole day melt away.
FOGO ISLAND, NEWFOUNDLAND
When I think of Fogo Island, I am most sad that I no longer have my old computer with all of my photos on it. (Important interruption: print your photos, boys and girls. Or, at the very least, save them to an external hard drive) Fogo Island is my definition of peace. You go there to escape the world, and when you’re there, you really do. It’s just you, some Newfies you can hardly understand because they talk so fast, and the ocean.
If you’re ever wanting a dream get away for inner peace and calm, Fogo Island is the place to go. I would love to wander those rocks again. To just take some time for me.