When I told people I was going to drive 16 hours by myself around Quebec and Ontario, the only reaction I got was a worried look. They all repeated “alone?”, making sure they heard correctly. At first, I was confident. I stood by my decision and explained to them my detailed plan to which they all replied “be careful, it can be dangerous, especially for a young woman.” After being told that same thing many times, I’m not going to lie, I started to doubt myself. Should I travel by myself? Will I be able to drive so far without getting lost or falling asleep at the wheel?
I’m so happy I didn’t let those comments stop me from traveling alone. It was truly one of the best experiences of my life. Here’s why:
- I felt completely free. Nobody was there to slow me down or to stop me from doing what I really wanted to do with my time. It was all up to me! I could go hiking in the rain or stay in my tent all afternoon reading if I wanted. Also, I didn’t have to stop at every sign explaining the history of the hiking trail. Sorry Shaun, but you can skip those once in a while. 😉
- I got a sense of independence and confidence. I’ve always been an independent girl, but traveling alone really forced me to do everything by myself: plan the trip, make reservations, put up a tent alone, find directions (thank god for Google maps)… It was all up to me!
- It made me feel relaxed. Okay, that one might not be true for everyone, but as an introvert, being alone makes me feel relaxed. Hiking in total silence, sleeping and reading in a tent in the middle of the woods… it all made me feel like I was meditating. I had no distractions but my thoughts. I could sit down in absolute silence on the top of a mountain and just look at the view for 30 minutes. No stress.
- I could do whatever I wanted without judgment. Yes, I know you shouldn’t care about what others think, but it still feels good not having to worry about that at all. I did yoga in my tent, I sang way too intensely in my car (I also slept in my car one night), I ate nothing but energy balls and carrots for dinner… Who cares? I was the only to see it all!
Does that sound fun to you? Maybe it’s the introvert in me, but I believe everyone should experience traveling alone at least once!
Here’s what my adventure looked like.
Tuesday: Moncton – Jacques-Cartier National Park
I left from Moncton not too long after 2 pm after I finished work and drove for 7 hours to Jacques-Cartier National Park in Quebec. I had to put up my big tent by myself in the dark… First mistake: bringing a 4-person tent. I think it took me an hour… That was my first night sleeping alone in the woods.
Wednesday: Jacques-Cartier National Park
The next morning, I woke up to rain. I could complain that it rained my entire first day there, but instead, I drove from one end of the park to the other to take pictures. The clouds surrounding the mountains made the rain so worth it. Just take a look at those beautiful landscapes…
I had so much fun using my new camera! Can you tell?
After driving around the park and taking pictures all morning, I took a nap in my crooked tent and ate dinner (the first of many peanut butter sandwiches.) That Afternoon, I braved the rain and I went for a hike. I hiked a trail called L’Éperon which was a 5,4 km loop with many beautiful views.
Tip: Make sure you bring good equipment and hiking clothes!
I relaxed for the rest of the day. I did yoga in my huge tent, I read my book and I took another nap. Yes, two naps in one day, that’s rare!
Thursday: Jacques-Cartier National Park – Gatineau Park
The next day, I woke up early for a big hike and the rain had stopped! I started hiking a trail called Le Scotora at 7 in the morning. That trail was the most beautiful trail I had ever seen! It’s a slow and steady uphill, you follow a river, see a few falls and then reach the top at 805 meters. The view at the top was phenomenal!
It was a 16 km hike (round trip) and it took me about 3 1/2 hours so I was all packed and back on the road by noon. That afternoon, I had a 4 1/2 to 5 hour drive to Gatineau Park, but my GPS decided to take me on the worst roads possible. 8 hours later, I arrived in Gatineau. I really don’t understand what went wrong because my GPS worked perfectly 2 days before. I arrived late and I didn’t feel like putting up my crooked tent alone again, so that night, I slept in my car and saved myself another hour of frustration. Instead, I went for a walk close to Philippe Lake before going to
bed the car.
Friday: Gatineau Park – Toronto
I woke up at 5 am (because who can sleep late in a car!?) and I did yoga next to the lake. After breakfast, I walked almost an hour around the lake and I read for a while before going on the road again, this time for Toronto!
I drove for 4 hours and I arrived in Toronto in the middle of the afternoon to see Shaun for the first time in a week. It felt so good to take a shower and eat warm food again! hah!
That night, we went to downtown Toronto and ate at Milestones restaurant and then we walked to the CN Tower with a coffee in hand. What a dream!
Today was probably the easiest day of my trip, yet I found it the hardest. It was the day of Shaun’s friend’s wedding.
What people don’t understand is that being alone doesn’t scare me. Not as much as being in a room full of people. I’m an introvert and I like socializing, but only for a small amounts of time. Socializing makes me exhausted! I spend so much time in my head, focusing on what I’m saying or doing that I’m left physically and mentally drained to the point where I feel like sleeping and crying. No, I don’t have social anxiety, but I’ve always been that way. I don’t have to tell you that spending the whole day alone in a crowd of complete strangers was far more difficult for me than camping in the woods or driving 16 hours alone. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed myself a little bit!
Sunday: Toronto – Moncton
We left from Toronto at 10 am for our 15 hour drive back home. Even though I really enjoyed being alone on my way to Toronto, I was happy to have Shaun on the way back. We took turns driving and we arrived in Moncton at 2 am. I had to work the next day, so thankfully I could take a nap in the car!
That’s the end of my adventure!