During the pandemic, we often find ourselves alone. But when was the last time you chose to stay with yourself or travel solo? The difference between feeling lonely and choosing solitude can be a bit difficult to understand, especially for extroverts. Well, hope I can show you that you can still have a good time without any other human around.
Before you panic, I have some safety tips on exploring solo.
Why Travel Solo Now?
Believe it or not, I’ve never actually traveled to Banff. In 2018, I passed through the town during my Alberta trip – it was packed. Took us hours to find a parking spot, 30 minutes to wait for McDonald’s. I ran to the gift store across the street to buy a magnate and called it done. But no, I’ve never explored the region because it was always so so busy.
2020 seems to be the best year to travel to Banff. COVID came as a huge hit to every corner of the world. But looking at the bright side, since the travel ban is in effect, the beautiful mountains in Banff is restricted to locals in British Columbia and Alberta.
While we are suggested to refrain from group activities, why not make the solo experience enjoyable? Plus, less people also means less potential to hit the jackpot 🦠.
Over the last few whiles, I’ve been going on huge group trips of over 10 vehicles. As much as I love to share the experience and meet new friends, a lot of times I felt carried away by the social interaction – I’m an introvert after all. Over time, my intuition needs a little recharge in solitude. That was when I knew I needed to go, I needed a trip that reminds me of why I loved Overlanding.
Can I Travel Solo?
I remember when I was 18, I took a trip to New York and Boston alone. When people asked me why I wasn’t with anyone else, I stunned because I straight on didn’t think of asking people. I simply went and did what I wanted to do.
The person I call “Captain” – the one who guided me for my first camping trip, said to me that instead of thinking of meeting someone to do something or to take you to somewhere, why not just go do it yourself. His comment knocked me awake. Yeah, why am I not anymore? I used to do this all the time!
Of course, this is not to say forget about preparation and just grab the key and go. Preparation is very important. This involves everything from route planning to vehicle safety checks. Stretch your comfort zone one inch at a time. You’ll realize how much you can actually do on your own without relying on others.
Certain unpleasant situations will arise while you are on the backroads. If you are not very mechanically inclined, don’t choose those extremely remote areas at first. As you can see at the beginning of my video, people came up to me asking if I needed help while I was only airing down. You’ll be surprised how much help you can get when things do go wrong. And those relationships you build through this kind of incidents are often priceless.
So you could say this is a trip I long needed. Along the way to Banff, until I meet my girl, Julia, and her boyfriend, I will be absolutely alone and free.
Travel Solo, But Not Alone
There are heaps of paid and free activities to do around Banff. I went on horseback riding and some hikes in the mountains. Destinations like Banff may sound like a family or couple destination. It very well presents itself as such. But trust me, there are tons of solo travelers here too! The girl riding behind me was also traveling alone. Through the chitchat along the ride, I got to know that she was planning to head up to Jasper next.
It’s an interesting phenomenon of how our mentalities can be different while traveling alone – I tend to be more open to talking with strangers and finding new ideas from locals. When you are in a group, you often settle in a safe zone and be more closed up.
Travel Solo Centres You
There’s a different type of bliss when you stay in prolonged solitude. You are no longer acting out of the duty as a daughter, wife, or mother, employee or manager, a Chinese girl a transplant, or CBC. You are only responsible for yourself, ok maybe also your vehicle and belongings.
Only when you take yourself out of those social expectations, can you gain clarity of what you truly want. We often mix up what we like with what we do to keep others happy. Over time you tend to lose your sense of self.
“Wait, why am I doing this. It doesn’t even make me happy”.
Well, you tell me.
Travel Solo Connects You
Some much needed solitude surprisingly made me feel more connected to others and filled me with gratitude and appreciation.
Although solo, this trip would not be possible without the collective efforts of many. The week prior to my planned departure felt like the sky had fallen down on me. I’ve never had so many things gone wrong and then right in such a short period of time, both personally and mechanically. One after another hits me unexpectedly, then gets resolved like a miracle. I explained more of this at the end of the video above.
I will not be where I am now (both figuratively & geographically) if not these great souls sacrificing their time and energy, grinding late nights, and early mornings to help me get ready.
This year has been an extreme roller coaster of emotions which mangled up my brain wires quite significantly. Sometimes all it take is a complete disconnect in order to reconnect the neurons in an organized manner.
I was happy to see people being inspired by my trip and taking the action to head out on their own. Several folks contacted me through social media regarding my trip and location tips. It was such an honor to positively influence people’s lives and providing helpful information to help them stay safe while having a good time.
So if you are planing to get out on your own term, props to you! And I hope many more enjoyable solo trips to come!