Last week I traveled to Canada. I’ve always been fond of Canada (in my head). I mean, who doesn’t appreciate universal healthcare and let’s be real, in case this great country keeps tripping with #45 and his shenanigans, me and Boss (my Yorkie) need to know where we can go real quick like, you feel me?
This trip was work related and since I’ve been in my field of practice for a little over five years now, I can honestly say I’ve mastered the art of mixing business with pleasure, so to speak. Long story short, whenever I have an opportunity for professional development, I try to maximize the experience and add some personal development into the mix. With that being said, I set my sights on Canada, or as the Canadians would say…Bon Voyage.
While Toronto and Montreal are probably more popular for black travelers, my business was in Vancouver, which I found intriguing because I didn’t know much about Vancouver myself. Known for its combination of beaches, “urban rainforest”, mountain views, and diverse culture, it’s easily one of the top five tourist destinations in the world. (A guy at the bar told me that, it seemed legit so I put it here. Double check me if you care, ha!) If it’s true, I can totally see it. There are a ton of things to do in Vancouver. I would compare the city to a mini New York, with more landscape views, a “greener” concept, and way less crime. It’s a walking city, there’s no Uber (not yet at least) but you don’t need it. Downtown Vancouver has maps all over the city and there’s a subway/public transportation that’s very user friendly and inexpensive, my type of place.
While I adored Vancouver, I have to admit that I’m personally not a fan of solo travel. I know I know, I’m even surprised that I’m writing this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about my me time and I super support self-care. However, I want my homies with me on my adventures! I did enjoy the solace of exploring and shopping uninterrupted but I hated that there was no one to people watch with and laugh at the funny or cool stuff I saw. On the flip side of that, I met so many nice and friendly people because traveling solo sort of forces you to interact with strangers, but I do this in real life so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I was able to just have a chill day where I stayed in the hotel and lounged around like I was a princess, which is sort of hard when you have a travel buddy…unless you both are pooped and want to be princesses but this my friends is rare. Trust.
Either way, I’ve composed a short list of pros and cons of solo travel.
- Meeting people– The best way to enjoy a new destination is to immerse yourself in the culture. Traveling solo forces you to read, do research, and ask questions to strangers. It’s also an opportunity to make new friends. Open yourself up to new adventure and new opportunities, and allow yourself to strike up conversation with people, give yourself a chance to really engage. You may spark up an opportunity and end up planning your next travel destination. Anything can happen!
- You call the shots-Traveling solo allows you to do what you want to do. No negotiations. Want to shop first, then eat? Check. Want to ride the ferry to the other side of the island and sit there and take it all in. Check. Want to sleep in and order room service or (hold your breath) eat at the same place twice? Check. See where I’m going with this?
- Self-discovery– Solo travel really gives you insight on who you are and what you value. Since there wasn’t someone to entertain the entire trip, I got the chance to journal, take in all the sites, and mostly realize that I’m smart, strong, and self-aware. I traveled to an entirely different country, with an entirely different culture, learned how to switch up the money, rode the subway, hopped on the ferry, checked out a festival, navigated through three airports, etc. etc all by my damn self. In the words of Lil Boosie…Wipe Me Down!
- You are alone, sort of-Well of course there’s however many billion people in this world and thankfully Vancouver is a very progressive and diverse city so I never really felt truly alone, but I can’t lie that I hated not being able to share a laugh with my friend when I saw something totally obnoxious or just down right cool. On a solo trip, your memories are all of yours to have, and there’s no one to go back in time with you to walk down memory lane. Sucks a little, I know.
- You can’t be a lazy tourist- Usually when I travel, I pick a group where everyone has a role. The organizer, the foodie, the party chick, the photographer (me), the curious one (also me)..you know what I mean. Because I love taking photos and am really curious, I usually lag behind my friends and let them lead the way, while I set my sights on finding the quirky things in the city, mindful of where they are and making sure I don’t get left behind. This is not the case with solo travel. You have to play all of the roles yourself, which for me, feels like a lot of work. You’re in charge, of everything, the whole time. No Bueno.
- No deep connections-Every time I’ve went on a trip with friends, I’ve always come back feeling like I’ve discovered things about my friends I never knew and solidified our friendship on a deeper level. It’s like we become even better friends, and want to hang out with each other even more, still buzzing on the high from our trip. This has happened every single time. However, on a solo trip you miss out on this opportunity. It’s just you and your thoughts, and when you get back, you just start back on your grind and things go back to the way they’ve always been. Quite the letdown.
Those are my thoughts. I can’t say for sure if I’ve taken my first and last solo trip but I also can’t say that I’m super gung ho about planning the next one. (The pic above is my one cool photo, but that’s really because there were forest fires in another part of the country that blew over into Vancouver, so it was super hazy the entire time. Total bummer. I’m sure if the air was cleaner I would’ve had a slew of dope pics and perhaps a totally different outlook on solo travel, but who knows, maybe not.) My final words of advice to anyone who’s been debating about going out of the country is do it! There’s nothing worse than wanting to go somewhere really bad, and not going because you’re afraid to go by yourself. Put your big girl panties on (or big boy boxers) and plan that trip. You’ll cross solo travel off your bucket list while hitting up one of your dope travel destinations at the same time!
P.S. I tried out some really cool restaurants while I was there and if you’re thinking about traveling to Vancouver and would like a plant-based restaurant guide… check out the ‘Hit Me Up’ tab and send me an email. I’ll deliver it to your inbox! #iGotYouBoo