I have always loved traveling by myself. When I turned 19 in the late 1980s, I worked three jobs to save money to backpack Europe. Other girls were traveling in groups or on a tour but I saw no reason to be on the road with others. In my teenage years, my bedroom walls were lined with pictures torn from magazines. Photos of Nepal, Antarctica and other exotic locations were featured in every corner of my room. On Sunday afternoons, I would ask my mom for the classifieds section of the newspaper so I could pour over the flight prices to various destinations around the world.
Carrying a backpack twice the size of my own weight, loaded with guidebooks and all kinds of travel necessities, I boarded my first international flight to London, England. On the flight I was leaning over the couple next to me to get a glimpse out of the airplane window to see the United Kingdom below. The elderly couple must have sensed my curiosity and excitement about my travel plans. I shared with them I was going to travel Europe for one year, the couple looked back at me in horror, "Will you be safe? Won't you get lonely?" they asked. The questions just kept coming and coming. I never felt any of these questions were an issue for me. I was shocked by their reaction.
Fast forward to 2013 and I still feel that same sense of excitement even when traveling for a weekend getaway. I continue to be quite content to travel on my own to a town a few hours away or on a long flight around the world. It is always invigorating for me to venture out solo.
Now instead of others being shocked by my willingness to travel on my own, there is a look of sympathy when I share with them that I will be going on vacation by myself. I can imagine the thoughts running through their head, "Why would a woman in her early 40s be traveling on her own? Is she newly divorced? She must be lonely." No, none of the above. I enjoy seeing the world and if there is a person to join me that is great, but if I go on my own that is fine, too.
A few weeks ago I drove to Whistler for a weekend getaway. After a long week I was really looking forward to relaxing and just strolling around the village. It was drizzly and quiet, I checked into my hotel and then went to the local grocery store to pick up some healthy snacks for my room. While in the cashier line up waiting to pay, I overheard a young couple talking with their friends about this movie premiere that would be happening that night. It seemed everyone in the store was talking about this film. I asked the cashier what the film was about, she shared with me that there was going to be the premier of "Into the Mind" and that everyone was excited to see it. The film would be shown at the Whistler Conference Centre.
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At that moment, I had a thought drift through my head that I must be too old for this, this was going to be a ski film and I am surely not hip or cool enough to be a part of this screening. I quickly shook off this thought. I love skiing and after all, getting out of town means also get out of the regular boundaries and thoughts I set for myself. I walked over to the conference centre and asked about the film, they said I could get a ticket and the film would start in about an hour, I should come back then.
I went back to my hotel and dropped off my groceries and returned to see the film. I was fortunate to speak with the director, Eric Crosland, he shared his experiences making the movie.
"It took about 18 months to make the film and we shot some of the best in the outdoor community," he said. "I wanted to do something a little different with this film and include more winter sports like ice climbing."
The film was fantastic and it was such a good time. I met some really nice locals who were out to see the movie. Reaching out and trying something out of my comfort zone is really part of the amazing experience of traveling solo.
But how can you keep costs down when traveling on your own? Mary Zinck at Tourism Whistler provided the top tips to save while traveling on your own:
• Early summer and fall (the shoulder season) are budget friendly
• Easier access and savings can be had midweek
• During the shoulder season restaurants have specials and can be a great savings
• During the shoulder season and mid week there can be drink specials
Some additional tips that I have found helped me save money while traveling solo are to: look into if my hotel has a free airport shuttle, rent a bike for the day to do sightseeing, pack snacks and make picnics (this is usually a healthier way to eat, too), I also chat with others before I leave to find out the best ways to avoid single supplements and other costly fees while traveling solo.
Simmone Lyons, Marketing Coordinator for the Crystal Lodge commented that there are lots of activities in Whistler for the woman traveling on her own: "There is a women's biking group that meets up once per week, in the winter there are women's ski camps, the Cornucopia event which happens early November (you can get a chance to try cooking classes and try some of the fine fare) and many other events." Simmone says that she feels Whistler is a very safe place for women traveling on their own and her hotel makes every effort to make a solo traveler feel at home.
It could be easy for me to stay at home and not venture out on my own. I have found that being in my 40's sometimes it can be easier to stick with what you know rather than to venture out and see what is around the next corner. Life comes and goes really quickly. I will continue to get out of my comfort zone and travel to destinations around the globe.
Keep watching my blog as a I continue to go out and see more of the world, I will share tips how to save money traveling and have the best time of your life.
Note: Sacha DeVoretz's accommodation was provided by the Crystal Lodge.