If you’re a young backpacker, with a longing to travel, you may be thinking about planning a solo vacation to Canada.
Travelling alone can be a life changing experience and we highly recommend that everyone takes a solo journey at least once in their lifetime. In fact, our company founder Lisa first came up with the idea for FML Adventures during a solo trip to Australia! If you're interested - read about our origin story here!
As with any trip, there’s a lot to think about when planning your vacation. So, we put together this guide to help get you started. In it we’re going to discuss our top tips for solo travel, then we’ll let you in on some of the best vacation spots in Canada.
If you’re looking for the ultimate cross-country experience, whether you’re travelling alone or with friends, be sure to check out our affordable tour packages for young backpackers.
Top Tips For Solo Travel In Canada
1. Stay In A Hostel
When you travel to Canada solo, it can be difficult to meet other people. So, we recommend staying somewhere that makes it easy to connect with other travellers and make new friends.
If you want to meet like-minded travellers, a hostel is one of the best places to stay while on vacation. These are low-cost accommodations where you can rent a bed in a communal room, along with a shared washroom and kitchen space.
Being in close quarters with other guests makes it easy to strike up a conversation and get to know other solo travellers.
On the other hand, if you value your time alone, consider renting a private room through Airbnb instead. You’ll have a room to yourself but the shared bathroom, kitchen and living quarters will make it easy to get to know the owners of the home or other travellers who are staying there.
2. Travel Safe
Exploring Canada by yourself can be an exciting experience but it’s important not to forget about the inherent risks that could present themselves when you travel solo.
Try not to stand out in order to avoid scammers who prey on tourists from out of town. Keep your belongings safe, secure and hide any valuable items you may have on your person.
Always plan safe transportation and familiarize yourself with the local emergency numbers and support systems for people in distress. If you’re going to be out drinking, do so responsibly and avoid ending up heavily intoxicated in potentially dangerous environments.
For more tips on safe travel check out this in-depth guide on the topic.
3. Check-In With Friends
While on your solo vacation to Canada, it’s best to find time during your travels to call friends or family. There’s a couple of reasons why it’s a good idea to stay in touch with people from home.
First, it can help to avoid any homesickness that you could encounter. Being away from everyone you know may seem like absolute bliss at first. However, not seeing any familiar faces can eventually start to take a toll on everybody’s mental health.
The second reason to check-in with someone regularly is as a safety precaution. If you end up injuring yourself or running into trouble while alone in a foreign environment, no one could find out for a long time.
So, organizing a daily check-in is a great way to have someone looking out for you, even if you’re in another country.
4. Be Open To Small Talk (Even If You’re Not Fluent In The Language)
One of the best ways to make the most of your solo vacation is to meet as many people as you can during your travels across Canada. Like anywhere else in the world, the best way to do this is simply by making friendly small talk.
Every person you chat with may have tidbits of advice that could help you in your travels. On top of that, some of the connections you form could end up growing into strong friendships (this tends to be the case most of the time!)
One thing to keep in mind during your trip to Canada is that the country has two official languages, French and English. So, depending on where you travel and where you’re coming from, you may not be entirely familiar with the language people are speaking.
However, that shouldn’t be any reason to deter you from talking to local residents. If you’re polite, people will understand the language barrier and making conversation will help to strengthen your fluency in the language.
5. Take Part in Group Activities With Other Solo Travellers
Group activities are a great way to meet people and make new friends even when you travel solo through Canada.
Let's be real for a second - alcohol has a natural way of bringing people together. So, finding a local bar crawl is a great place to start meeting others.
If drinking isn’t your thing, consider taking a few classes related to the local culture, whether that be cooking, dancing, or outdoor activities. The classes you choose will reflect the type of person you are, so there’s a good chance you’ll run into like-minded people no matter what you do.
Attending local events like concerts, festivals and carnivals are also a great way to run into people who are looking to have fun and make friends.
6. Enjoy Your Alone Time
Up until this point, most of this guide has been about finding opportunities to meet other people. However, if you’re planning a solo vacation to Canada, you’re probably looking forward to some alone time as you travel.
So, make sure you plan opportunities during your itinerary to enjoy some peace and quiet. Canada is home to some of the world's most beautiful landscapes and nature hikes are a great way to experience Canada while away from civilization.
Going to local cafes, strolling through local farmers markets and sightseeing are also great ways to enjoy Canadian culture without the need to interact with other people much.
For many solo travellers, moments like these are the reason they want to take a vacation alone. If you’re the type who’s most content doing activities without other people around, there’s nothing wrong with that at all!
7. Hop On a Tour Bus
If you’re looking to travel solo and make strong friendships in the process but don’t want to worry about the planning side of things then FML Adventures is here to help.
Our affordable tours are the ultimate way for backpackers to enjoy everything Canada has to offer in just 30 days. Best of all, you’ll be experiencing all of it alongside other young travellers just like you. Along the way, you’ll form friendships that will continue long after the trip is over.
Check out our tour packages page for full details on FML Adventures’ life-changing experiences.
5 of The Best Solo Vacation Spots In Canada
Now that you’ve got a handle on some of the most important things to keep in mind when you travel solo, you may be wondering where the best vacation spots are to visit in Canada.
The following locations are some of our favourite places to stay in Canada, whether you’re travelling alone or with others.
1. St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
If you can only visit one part of Canada in your solo travels, then the East Coast is your best option. You can’t get any further East than Newfoundland and Labrador, being an island that can only be accessed by plane or boat.
The people that make up East coast towns like St John’s are some of the friendliest you will encounter. Here people welcome tourists with open arms and create an unmatched, accommodating atmosphere.
In towns like this, it’s easy to make friends and find people to show you around when you’re travelling alone. On top of that, being on an island, surrounded by ocean water makes for many peaceful, scenic views, ideal for quiet self-reflection.
2. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
If you’re looking for the slow-moving island atmosphere of St. John’s but want to travel somewhere you can drive to, then Prince Edward Island (PEI) is the place for you!
Accessible via the Confederation Bridge, PEI is actually Canada’s smallest province. In fact, if you wanted to see it all, you could drive around the entire island in a matter of hours!
If you’re looking to settle down somewhere for a few days, the capital city, Charlottetown is our recommendation.
Much like St. John’s, this tight-knit community makes it hard to blend in and people will probably notice you’re a tourist right away. However, that’s not a bad thing in the case of friendly small towns like this, where people will be quick to welcome you into their community.
3. Quebec City, Quebec
As we mentioned in our fourth tip for solo travel, there are plenty of French-speaking communities in Canada. The majority of these are in the province of Quebec and one of the best vacation spots there is Quebec City.
The older areas of the city have a European charm to them that you won’t find anywhere else in Canada. You’ll feel like you’re walking through a fairytale as you wander down cobblestone streets, surrounded by historical buildings in the only fortified city north of Mexico.
It’s a great place to practise your French if you know the language, and if not, most locals are fluent in English as well.
Like the East Coast, people here have a cheery, welcoming attitude. However, locals are more inclined to let you keep to yourself, if quiet alone-time is what you’re hoping for.
4. Toronto, Ontario
Leaving the slow-moving communities behind and moving on to the bustling city, it doesn’t get any busier than Toronto. With a population of over 5.5 million people, you’ll find the environment is very different from the East Coast!
In such a diverse and dense city, it’s easy to blend in with the locals and go unnoticed during your time here. There’s definitely a certain appeal to that when travelling solo and you’re bound to find more to do here than anywhere else in Canada.
On top of that, the massive population means there will be hundreds of other people just like you that you can meet during your visit.
5. Banff, Alberta
If your main intention for travelling solo is to escape from civilization and find time for self-reflection then Banff is one of the best Canadian vacation spots for you!
Banff National Park is a seemingly endless natural wonder, filled with unmatched mountainscapes, secluded forests and the gorgeous Lake Louise at the heart of it all.
It’s the perfect place to go and be alone with your thoughts, as you find wonder in the beauty of its natural landscape.
Conclusion: How to Travel Canada Solo
Canada is one of the best countries to vacation in if you’re planning to travel solo!
Some of the best cities to visit if you’re looking to meet people are on the East Coast of Canada. St John’s and Prince Edward Island are both friendly and welcoming communities, if that’s what you’re looking for.
For those wanting a busy and bustling experience, where you can easily blend in, Quebec City and Toronto should be at the top of your list.
Finally, Banff makes for the ideal solo vacation, surrounded by nature and far away from other people.
There are many things to keep in mind if you’re travelling Canada solo. First, always travel safe and check in from time to time with friends at home.
If you’re hoping to meet other people during your journey, try staying in a hostel, take part in group activities and be open to small talk. However, there’s nothing wrong with looking for opportunities to be alone and enjoy more secluded ventures.
Finally, if all of this seems like a lot to think about, let FML Adventures do the work for you! Our cross-country tours are the perfect way to travel solo and experience everything Canada has to offer while forming awesome friendships with other like-minded travellers.
PS - due to the current COVID-19 situation, we will not be running our cross-Canada tours this summer. However, we are using this time to make our 2021 trips bigger and better than ever, so keep your eyes peeled for our Summer 2021 trip dates!
Written by Lliam Buckley of FML Adventures