Bea Cannings // Digital Marketing // Canadian
Tell me about yourself!
My name Bea and I’m from Toronto. I have my BAH from Queen’s University majoring in Political Science. Some of my hobbies include photography, yoga and sussing out concerts in Toronto -I have a slight obsession with live music. When I graduated from University I was eager to explore the world in hopes a year abroad would cure my wanderlust (little did I know, travelling just makes you want to travel more.) So when I finished my undergrad I moved to Whistler, BC for 6 months before moving to Australia for two years. While living abroad I got to see a lot of the country and NZ, before undertaking a four month backpacking trip through SE Asia. I’m now back in Toronto and focusing on the next step in my career but I can say travelling was one of the best things decisions I’ve ever made!
What was the first trip that you traveled solo?
When I finished third year University my brother encouraged me to do something different during the summer and I ended up applying for a few random positions across the west coast of Canada. I got hired as a hostess for a restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel in Jasper, Alberta. It was the perfect stepping stone for learning to travel alone because the hotel organized accommodation and I knew I had a job when I arrived. So it didn’t feel as scary or risky as moving somewhere on my own and having to organize a job and apartment when I arrived. It was also all university students living and working at the hotel for summer so I made a ton of friends who were also eager to explore! That summer we did a ton of road trips to Lake Louise, Banff and Calgary. Every day off we had we would spend exploring a new mountain, park or lake, doing tons of hikes and camping trips. It was close enough to home that it didn’t feel overly scary or overwhelming but it definitely gave me the confidence to do more travelling solo. And taught me to appreciate Canada so much more!
What motivated you to travel solo?
I majored in Political Sci and minored in Global Development, so learning about different cultures and political structures around the world sparked my interest. I find it really fascinating to see how other people live and I wanted get outside the bubble I’d grown up in and experience something new.
Favourite country that you have traveled to?
I have a soft spot for Australia because I was there for so long. If I had to choose a city to live in long term, I’d say Melbourne. The coastline is stunning. And the food/coffee/art culture there makes the city really vibrant and enjoyable. But for a visit, Thailand is my favourite country because it’s so different. I love the tropical climate and the landscape. From incredible beaches in the South to mountain and forest in the North. I’m also really interested in buddhist philosophy, so learning about it directly through people who live and breathe the religion was really incredible.
When you travel do you plan each trip? Do you use any online tools?
I honestly don’t plan as much as I should. I’d look at Trip Advisor and map out a general route but then I just talk to people when I get there and stay flexible. Word of mouth is the best!
Where do you stay? (hostel, airbnb, couch surf, hotel, etc.)
I always stay in hostels if I can! Especially in Asia. Hotels are very affordable but the social and communal nature of hostels really enriched my travel experience. I found them through apps like hostelworld or even a simple Google search. Also, word of mouth is a powerful thing, so I’d always try to get recommendations from people I met at hostels I really liked!
Some women are hesitant to travel alone because they feel that they will be alone during their trip. What is your experience?
The only time I was ever alone travelling was going from the airport to a hostel. But even if you were to do an entire trip by yourself (which many people do) I think it’s a great opportunity to get to know yourself better. It’s cool to not have to worry about pleasing your friends and just getting to focus solely on yourself and what you want to do. It can be a really cool experience!
What's the funniest thing that happened to you on a trip?
I was travelling around NZ in a campervan with my boyfriend at the time, Felix, and we went to these really remote hot springs one night. They were located an hour outside Rotorua and we took this tiny road (the van barely fit down) deep into the forest until we found a tiny parking lot with a few cars stopped. Then we walked (with just our bathing suits and towels) to the springs. It was amazing until we got back to the car, freezing with massive mosquitos buzzing around us, only to realize Felix had locked our only pair of keys in the van. We freaked out because it would have taken hours to get back and we didn’t even have service on our phones. So we went to the only other two vans in the lot who kindly lent us some clothes to keep warm and surveyed the situation. We realized that we left a small portion of the sunroof open and through that you could see the keys on the floor of the back. So we used a belt attached to a magnet (that one of the other vans had) to fish out the keys from the sunroof while everyone held flashlights up so we could see into the car. The process took about two hours and the people helping us made it into a drinking game for every time the magnet dropped the keys back into the car. We were so happy to have gotten in when Felix finally fished the keys out, lying on top of the car soaking wet, everyone cheered! It was a great night and a highlight of NZ for sure.
One of the main concerns about traveling solo as a female is safety. Were there any times that you felt scared? What actions did you take?
The only time I felt scared was in Laos when me and my friend from a hostel got into a van driving from Luang Prabang to Vieng Viang and the driver turned out to be an opium dealer. We had booked the drive through our hostel and there were 6 other people in the car. The driver didn’t speak any English and kept stopping at houses to get packages and we realized an hour into the drive that he must have been high on something. He was twitchy, sweating profusely and his eyes kept darting back and forth. We were driving up and down these crazy winding roads around cliffs and I was very worried about crashing. That was really scary but I’m really happy we weren’t alone in the car. We ended up getting there okay and that was a pretty extreme situation. I think the best thing you can do is to travel to remote areas in groups. You’re less likely to be taken advantage of and if you are it’s not as scary when there are 6 of you against 1!
What did you learn about yourself during your travels?
I learnt a lot. I got a better sense of who I am and what my strengths and weaknesses are. Most importantly I think I realized that no matter where you go if you are kind to people, people will be kind to you.
Any tips for keeping travel costs low?
Stay in hostels and haggle. Don’t spend too much money on food either. In cheaper countries it’s easy to say “for an extra dollar I can go to a really nice restaurant” but! Those little extra costs add up! And street food is just as tasty anyway!
What advice would you give to gal who wants to travel solo?
DO IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!
// Connect with Bea!
If you are a solo female traveler and would like to be featured in #SheTravelSolo please contact me.