Now that I’ve solo travelled to Vancouver twice (and thinking about many more solo trips there), I’m sure I’m in a position to dole out expert advice for females considering their own solo trip there and I’ve just two words—DO IT!
I love Vancouver, and I always return to Toronto with a full-heart and a tint of sadness. Even when I broke my leg during my first solo trip there. Cheesy, but true.
Where I Stayed
I stayed with Airbnb both times, the first time in Marpole and the second time in Lonsdale, North Vancouver. Both locations felt immensely safe. I arrived a little past midnight from the airport to my Airbnb in Marpole, due to some hassle with my car rental, but I was able to find street parking and walk to the three storey apartment just fine. In Lonsdale, I went out during midnight to grab food or fill up gas and I still felt safe. I even went to Prospect Point and hiked to the Siwash Rock lookout early morning, before the sun was up, with my expensive camera gear, and I was still safe (ok I admit my heart was thudding a little when I hiked to Siwash Rock). I drove through Stanley Park past midnight to go to the seawall and take photos of Lions Gate Bridge all lit up. I had the normal anxiety you feel when you’re out alone at night, but I mean what are the chances of being kidnapped anyway?
The thing I love about Vancouver is that people are active—they’ll be biking or running early in the morning or late night so you will rarely be entirely alone. I’m not here to encourage you to go out during the off hours of the day—all I’m saying is that Vancouver is safe. There is no need for a solo woman to worry.
Where I Went Solo
A lot of places within Vancouver. To name a few, Grouse Mountain, Gastown, Shannon Falls, Lynn Canyon, Capilano, Deep Cove and Lighthouse Park.
I spent a lot of my trip outside of Vancouver as well. I went to Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and Maple Ridge. I did a ton of hikes in these cities all alone. There’s something about being alone in the neck of the woods that doesn’t scare me—that myth about a man hiding in the woods ready to kidnap and dismember your body? Yeah that’s just a myth. If anything, you’re more likely to get kidnapped outsideof the woods and then be taken there to be buried or hidden. I also watch too many serial killer documentaries.
I did the 2.5 hour drive up to Joffre Provincial Park in Pemberton (don’t bother going there in fall, it’s too icy to hike), I hiked in Golden Ears Provincial Park and did the questionable hike down to the base of Brandywine Falls. I went anywhere I wanted when I wanted and never questioned if it was safe to do so. There was too much to see and do and I was having a blast. Yes, being solo in British Columbia and having the forest and all its nature sounds to yourself is quite amazing (and therapeutic).
I used to have this thing where I woke up early and slept early, to avoid the tourist crowds and going out at night, but I’ve become more lax. I basically go out and go home whenever I want now.
Where I Ate
I’ve eaten alone in a restaurant once and that was in Taiwan. I’m still too self-conscious to do it, but I can eat alone in a food court or a fast food chain or a cafe. I mostly bought groceries from Safeway or Whole Foods (a budget-friendly option) or ordered take out from restaurants I wanted to try and ate in my Airbnb.
There are a few things, which helped me safe throughout my trip:
Renting a car—I’m not big on public transportation and I needed a car to get to cities outside of Vancouver. Having a car is safer. I wouldn’t be keen on going out at night if I had to use the bus.
Having a data plan—I have an unlimited data plan, which is the best thing ever. I always knew where I was going, and I could always keep in touch with people through social media.
Walking with confidence—I can’t stress this enough, but if you’re a solo woman in an unfamiliar place where you know no one, you need to walk like you run shit. Like you know where you’re going and you’re determined to get there. No head down, no timid-ness, make eye contact, a friendly smile, but maintain uninviting, stone-cold eyes. Take this into account while hiking.
Carry something that can be used as weapon (optional)—I doubt you’ll use this and you don’t have to carry an actual weapon, like a pocket knife or pepper spray, but something innocent that can be used as one. For me, it was my compact, solid aluminum tripod, that I had to carry in my hand while hiking because putting it in my backpack made my back ache.
So what are you waiting for? Book your flight to Vancouver now and experience the wilderness, the laidback people, the mountains, the seashore in all your solo glory.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out :)