Solo travel, especially female solo travel, is becoming increasingly common.
And it’s about flippin’ time! There are many travel bloggers out there who have paved the way to help make solo travel more acceptable. Gals like Adventurous Kate, Sherry from Otts World, and Amanda from A Dangerous Business have been inspiring people like me for over ten years to stop waiting around and follow their travel dreams.
The Pacific Northwest is the perfect place to travel solo, particularly in Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. These cities almost encourage solo travel. Each has their own unique take on individuality, and it is rare that you don’t see a few people hanging out in coffee shops, bars and restaurants alone. Here on your own, you can engage with locals just as easily as you can keeping completely to yourself.
The Pacific Northwest is an amazing place, and part of the reason for this is that people here are friendly and helpful. Walk down just about any street and ask a local; they are generally more than happy to answer your questions about their town.
In the City
Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland all inspire individuality in their own, unique way. There are plenty of people here who march to the beat of their own drum, so you should fit in nicely. If you are an introvert, or would just like some major alone time in the city, here are my suggestions.
In Seattle: Pike Place Market, SAM (Seattle Art Museum) and West Seattle are great places to spend a nice day on your own.
In Vancouver: visit Granville Island, explore Science World, and walk the Seawall.
On the coast
Alone time on the coast is a great way to immerse yourself in small-town beach life and get to know the locals. Visit the small seafaring towns of Astoria in Oregon and Oysterville in Washington, where old fishing dudes will tell you interesting stories about how they make a living. Small communities up and down the coast are teeming with just as much (or more) history and riveting tales to tell that the big cities do.
As a solo traveler, you are much more inclined to get into a conversation with other people you don’t know, than when you are with a travel partner or a group of people. You are not as closed off to striking up a conversation with a local or someone else who may also be traveling solo. This is one of the many perks of solo travel, and one of the best ways to truly experience your destination.
On the hike
Get up as early (or as late) as you like and not worry about being on someone else’s schedule. Get up, get out and breathe in the fresh air. The Pacific Northwest is hiker heaven.
Unless you are a seasoned hiker, it’s best to choose popular hikes so you are not truly alone. And even if you are experienced and prefer to take the road less traveled, read this excellent blog post about how to prepare.
10 Helpful Tips for Any Solo Traveler
- Walk confidently and casually. This will send a message to people that you know what you’re doing (even though you may not!) Body language is everything.
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings, always.
- Trust your gut. If something or someone doesn’t seem right, best to err on the side of caution and steer clear. And as the saying goes, “If you see something, say something.”
- Plan ahead. Use maps and guides to get a general feel for where you are going. But be sure to leave room for the spontaneous!
- When in a bar, or having a drink, always keep one eye on your beverage (even if you are a dude). And know your limit! If you must have more than 2 or three drinks, do it with people you know well or in your room.
- When venturing out alone at night, try to avoid areas that are not well-traveled (again, even if you are a dude). Unless you are in familiar territory, if you seem the least bit unsure of yourself, you are opening yourself up as a target.
- Keep your valuables with you at all times. And don’t flash money around.
- Be prepared. Heaven forbids if you run into an emergency, but if you do, have local emergency numbers and your medical information handy. And always buy travel insurance!
- Make sure you let at least one person back home know where you are staying and how to get a hold of you.
- Never disclose exactly where you are staying to a stranger. Even if they seem very kind and friendly! Be vague about it.