Traveling by yourself can be scary. Especially if it is your first time. Sometimes, you just get sick and tired of waiting around for other people to get their ducks in a row so they can travel too, and you end up planning a rather spontaneous trip just on your own. I know the very first time I went on a trip by myself I was absolutely terrified. But I pushed myself to do it, and really pushed myself out of my comfort zone during that entire trip and it became one of my best experiences yet.
It wasn’t even a big trip, like Europe, Or southeast Asia, no nothing big like that. I literally decided to take a plane to the closest major city that was still in my country. So I went to Vancouver. A super easy place to travel, considering I was Canadian myself and knew the customs and culture, and not to mention I spoke English.
Back then though, this was all I could handle. I had been wanting to travel for months prior to this rather spontaneous trip (I knew if I planned it for too long I would end up chickening out, so I booked it only 3 days prior)
I knew that eventually, I would have to get used to traveling by myself, as I was sick and tired of waiting for all my friends to get the time and money to come with me. I wanted to go now and see the world! But I knew I would have to build up to that, which is what I started to do…
There was no way I would have been able to pack my bags and head out the door on a 2 month trip to southeast Asia like I see so many solo travelers doing. Absolutely no way I could have managed that. Sure I may have been able to book the flight and accommodation, but it would have been a miracle if I actually had gone through with it all last minute. And once I arrived, I probably would have started having massive anxiety attacks and would have quickly came back home…
So here I was, eager to travel, but knowing myself as well as I do, decided it would be best to start with a smaller easier trip for my first one and work my way up from there.
Boy, am I ever glad I did though, I freaked out quite a lot simply going to Vancouver!!! Not even a 2-hour flight away from me… I know I’m a chicken!
I remember the day of, I was having so many anxieties. At first, I was scared to call the taxi to come pick me up, then I was scared to go into the taxi, then I was scared to pay the taxi driver and get out. That was just my first 10 minutes.
“What on earth had I gotten myself into, I was very comfortable at home. Why am I doing this to myself!?”
By the time I got on the plane I was exhausted, probably from all my stressing. I fell asleep on the plane ride there, and only awoke when we were landing. I was having massive sleep issues at the time, so I probably didn’t sleep the night prior (due to overthinking and anxiety) which is probably why I passed right out on the plane.
I looked out the window while landing, and I immediately fell in love with Vancouver, it was just so beautiful, and people had swimming pools in their backyards! Something you don’t see in Calgary.
When I arrived in Vancouver, new anxieties started to flood my mind. Now that I had gotten over the whole solo flight / what are they going to think of me flying all by myself worries, a whole new set of worries came flooding in…
I was renting a room on Airbnb, which I had heard positive things about, but had never tried it. So naturally I wanted to push myself and really take myself out of my comfort zone as much as I could on this very first solo trip, so I decided to go with it. As well as I decided to rent from a guy instead of a girl, besides I do generally get along better with guys anyway.
So here I am trying to make my way through downtown Vancouver to this strangers condo that I would be living with for a couple days. I don’t think I could have been anymore anxious.
The sky train was pretty straight forward from the airport to the downtown core. I followed the signs easily, but I also speak the language. When I stepped outside from the underground subway into the heart of downtown Vancouver, I believe I was on Granville street, I was immediately shocked by how amazing it was. I couldn’t believe that this is what Vancouver was like, it was so beautiful!
I remember spending a little time wandering the streets of Vancouver. It was so weird to think that earlier that day, I was in my normal life back home, and now a couple of hours later I was in this whole new world. My perspective had changed quite a lot in such a short period that it still kind of felt dreamlike to me.
Eventually, I decided to go to the apartment that I was to be renting from and check in there. It was only about 7 pm but I felt pretty exhausted as I said earlier, I had insomnia at that time of my life. So I checked in, the host was supposed to be at work at the time, so I put my stuff in my room, and decided to take a shower.
Now during my shower, I heard someone come in the door, and I remember freaking out a little bit. Was the host home early from work? Who just came in? I was a little nervous. When I came out of the shower, there was some strange dude sitting in the living room. Not really knowing what else to say, I said,’hey, who are you?’
Turns out, it was another Airbnb guest, which I wasn’t aware would also be staying in this condo as well, and apparently, I had put my stuff into his room!!! I felt extremely embarrassed and I immediately apologized and started to put my stuff into my own room… Silly me, I thought, I would do that!
The guy was very understanding and wasn’t at all mad, he just found it hilarious. It kinda made me realize that people don’t really care as much as I think they do. See I expected the guy to be very upset, but he wasn’t. He just laughed and shrugged it off. I guess maybe at the time I had low expectations of people, and I would think they were out to get me. Over time though, I realized that people are usually kind, and when you do come across an angry person to just shove it off and not let it affect you. Easier said than done.
So the next day, I met the host, John. (Name has been changed) He was extremely warm and welcoming, giving me a list of activities that I should try to do that day. So off I set for my adventures of a new city!
I easily made my way through the streets of Vancouver, it wasn’t difficult at all due to the fact that I am English speaking, however, I did realize that even if I did get lost, I could have just asked someone for help. Something I find a lot of people is scared to do, because of some ego issue maybe… I am not too sure why you wouldn’t want to ask someone for help if you get lost. People definitely want to help others.
I had a wonderful day, the sun was out shining brightly, it was absolutely gorgeous out! I went and hung out at the beach for a little bit, enjoyed a coffee and then I took a little boat across the waters and went to the ‘Granville island market‘ which is pretty cool to visit if you are in Vancouver. It wasn’t super busy since it was a weekday, so I didn’t have many issues with the crowds… See I normally avoid places with tons of people, as I really do not like crowds. Usually, when I travel I can handle it a little better, but if I am in my home city, I don’t go to festivals or big events because too many people just freak me out. Maybe that is something I need to work on actually because I miss out on a lot by avoiding crowds…
The little boat I took to the other side of the bay which brought me to Granville Island.
So then I decided that I would really push myself, and I would go eat in a restaurant all alone. This was the hardest part of my trip I think, seriously…
The idea of me going to a restaurant, asking for a table for one, and sitting there all alone while I ate scared me beyond measure. I dunno if I was scared of what people would think or what, But I decided that I needed to do this, especially if I was going to start traveling alone, I would need to get over my fear of eating alone in a restaurant.
So I did it, and it was pretty tough, but I did it. I chose a pretty fancy restaurant too, which wasn’t the best choice for a first solo dining experience, but that really pushed me. I ended up sitting at the bar, because it was a 20-minute wait for a table, and it took the bartender like 10 minutes to come greet me. But once I left the restaurant, and I felt on top of the world!
Now, 2 years later, I have no problem whatsoever going into restaurants. Which is nice, for when I travel now, worrying about what and where I am going to eat isn’t a big concern anymore, when I am hungry I just find a place to eat, and go eat. Simple!
So after I ate at a restaurant by myself, which was the one and only real goal I had for myself on that trip, I became completely open to anything else, I felt if I could do that, I could do anything.
That night, the Airbnb host John and I, went out for dinner and drinks. We had a fantastic time, but I ended up leaving my wallet back at the bar that night, which kinda sucked the next day without having my bank card, luckily I always have some cash with me. That night John and I made some plans to do the following day, which made me very eager with excitement.
So the next morning, John went to rent a car and we would go together up along the coast seeing all the sites and attractions along the way all the way to whistler. John works in the hospitality industry, and had this pass allowing him and a guest free access to the attractions, even the sea to sky gondola!
This is me at the top of the sea to sky gondola! Such spectacular views hey?
I had such an amazing day with John, the drive was absolutely breathtaking. We made our way to Whistler where we did some exploring and ended with a nice dinner at a cute little cafe where I swear I had the best pasta of my life at.
Oh I even took a picture of it 😀
This was the day that I decided to move to Vancouver. I had already fallen in love with the city of Vancouver, but now I had fallen in love with everything that was Vancouver, the mountains, the ocean, the trees… everything.
The decision to move there happened pretty fast, we were driving, and then all of a sudden I thought, I am going to move here. And that was all it took, I had then started to figure out how I would do that, what needed to be done, what it would mean for my future.
This decision I made in this single moment I remember very well, would change the entire course of my life. I never really realized how close we are to changing our entire life, but all it took was one 3 day long trip to Vancouver for me to realize that.
It was on this exact road, that I made the decision to move from Calgary to Vancouver in summer of 2015. which would become one of the best and worst experiences of my life!
Sitting here right now 2 years after this whole event took place, makes me just want to travel again so bad again, unfortunately, I have to take a small break to mainly save up money to go on another trip… Maybe I will go on a small trip while I wait for the big one I have planned in fall 2017.
I swear though, I have the most incredible stories and experiences to share every time I travel. I learn so much about myself when I go alone too because all of a sudden it’s just you, and you have all these decisions that no one can make but yourself. I guess one would say that you become completely self-reliant on a solo trip, and you have to learn to trust your own judgment. It is crazy when I think about what would have happened if I never went on that short solo trip to Vancouver. I honestly have no clue where I would be right now…
I went into that trip not having a single expectation, and I can honestly say it was one of my favorite trips to date… Which I am sure will change in time, but it will always be a very fond memory, of the first time I traveled all alone.