My first solo trip was to British Columbia—an unfamiliar Canadian province where I knew no one. The scenic, mountain hikes and photographing the Fall foliage were my motivation to visit.
To be honest, I didn't spend long contemplating going to Vancouver. Around 2 am one night in May, I booked my Vancouver trip in the spur of the moment. I logged onto Expedia and booked my round-trip flight from Oct 10 – Oct 17.
I researched places to visit and hidden gems and made a loose itinerary on my phone’s notepad app.
Transportation in Vancouver
My round-trip flight was with Air Transat. It was a 4.5 hour flight from Toronto Pearson Airport to Vancouver International Airport. Upon landing, I made my way to Thrifty car rental and rented a Toyota Corolla. If you want the freedom of going where you want whenever you'd like I recommend a car rental. Service throughout my trip to Vancouver was very good.
Driving in Vancouver
Compared to Toronto, it's extremely easy (and enjoyable, hello mountains). I didn't even realize I was driving in downtown Vancouver because the roads are so easy to navigate and it's very straightforward (no offence, Toronto).
Where I Stayed
I stayed in an Airbnb for the first time. It was a three-floor apartment located in Marpole, just five minutes from Vancouver International Airport. The area was safe, to the point where I could park and walk to my Airbnb at midnight. It's conveniently located near downtown Vancouver.
Where I Ate
I picked up my food to-go from fast food chains like Tim Horton's, which I ate on the way to my destinations. Unfortunately, I spent the majority of my trip eating hospital food.
Places to Visit for a Solo Traveler
Anywhere and everywhere. Capilano Suspension Bridge, Lighthouse Park, Garibaldi Provincial Park and Shannon Falls to name a few. Day trips to Whistler, Squamish or Victoria are also plausible and they each bring forth a new set of activities. The hiking trails and mountains can be conquered alone and I crossed paths with several other solo travelers. British Columbia is truly a solo traveler haven. I recommend creating an itinerary to guide your trip.
Is Vancouver Safe for a solo female traveler?
I felt slightly unsafe when I visited Shannon Falls, but that was due to a poor decision on my part. Whether I was in Vancouver or another BC city, I felt relatively safe. Fellow hikers are friendly and greet you when your paths cross. This experience has opened a whole new door of solo travel and I cannot wait to return to British Columbia next Fall to complete my itinerary.
Here’s a tip: sleep early and wake up early. I left my Airbnb around 6:30 am every morning. I explored a lot by noon, returned to my Airbnb afternoonish to rest and then set out in the evening to capture sunset shots. As a solo female, I was careful not to wander alone at night.
What are Vancouverites like?
Coming from Toronto, Vancouver appears rather small, however the residents give similar vibes. They can be friendly and helpful. Expect to cross paths with other tourists too.
Something that really struck out were the amount of people I saw running, jogging and cycling. Understandably, Vancouver’s scenery will make you want to go out and with all the stunning hiking trails, I know I’d never get fat if I lived in Vancouver.
My Experience as a solo traveler in Vancouver
I purposely went during the fall. The mountainous landscape, rainy weather and mystic, dense fog made it the perfect place to unwind, relax and soak in a lot of nature. There weren't many tourists, and I had many places to myself, which made it great for photographs. People were kind and friendly. Although my days of exploring Vancouver were short-lived, I experienced enough to want to return to Vancouver as a solo traveler.
Do I recommend Vancouver to solo female travelers?
Yes! Vancouver, and BC in general, is gorgeous. As mentioned, I felt very safe. If you're outdoorsy and adventurous, you will not get bored as it's clearly one of the most beautiful places in Canada. If you live in Canada and want to take your first solo trip, BC is a great way to ease in before you take on a different country on your own.