How Traveling Changes You: My First and Last Time in Canada


We’ve all been on trips so perfect that we never wanted to go home, right? Well, how about trips so perfect that we never wanted to return to the place we were visiting? I know it sounds a little crazy, but hear me out…

I recently went to British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley on a solo trip, feeling drawn to the combination of outdoor recreation, wine culture, and beautiful scenery. The trip was so perfect that not only did I want to stay (forever!), but I also never wanted to come back. How could a return trip even come close to comparing? 

When we talk about how traveling changes you, much less how traveling solo changes you, this trip was one for the books. 

The Most Perfect Trip

I bet you’re wondering what exactly made this particular trip so special. Honestly, it’s hard to pinpoint any one thing because it was all just so good

Okanagan Valley has unusually mild (warm and dry) weather by Canada standards and fall foliage was just starting to turn, framing everything in dreamy jewel-toned colors. I swore every meal I ate and glass of wine I drank was the best I’d ever tasted — until the next one, which was somehow even better. I got to spend my days hiking and hanging out on the beaches of Okanagan Lake (seriously, who knew Canada had beaches?). 

Best of all, I did all of these things totally alone — an exceedingly rare luxury as a mom of two young children. It’s unusual that I run errands alone, much less sneak off for a solo getaway. The stillness and ability to enjoy my coffee while it was still hot made the entire trip even more memorable. I had almost forgotten how traveling solo changes you, and this trip was a much-needed reminder. 

Visiting Okanagan Valley

Want to recreate your own version of my perfect Canada trip? Here are a few of the area’s can’t-miss activities, plus places to eat (and sip!). 

  • Take a hike. Okanagan Valley is renowned for its many easily accessible hiking trails. I tackled the 3.5-mile Highland Trail and the short Lochview Trail right next to the lake, but there are dozens of others also.
  • Taste your way through the wineries. The valley is home to over 200 wineries (!!), so there’s truly something for everyone. I enjoyed River Stone Estate Winery in Oliver, West Kelowna’s Black Swift Vineyards, and the unique ice wine from Hainle in Peachland. Bonus: almost all the wineries have incredible views and outdoor seating, so even if you’re not much of a “wino,” it’s worth visiting one or two. When in Rome, after all. 
  • Go paddling. There are several bodies of water in Okanagan Valley, offering plenty of ways to get out on the water. I enjoyed kayaking on the lake to Rattlesnake Island, but I also saw people leisurely floating down the Penticton River. 
  • Indulge in the local food scene. Okanagan Valley’s farm-to-table culture is heavenly for foodies such as myself. I’m convinced there isn’t a single “bad” restaurant or brewery! In addition to actually sitting down for a meal somewhere, you absolutely have to stop at one (or two or three) of the many roadside produce stands. 

Solo Travel Tips

If you’re interested in seeing just how traveling changes you and you’d especially like to see how traveling solo changes you, there are a few things you should know. 

  • Be present. It’s really easy –– especially when you’re traveling solo –– to bury yourself in your phone. Don’t! The whole point of solo travel is to recharge and have some unique experiences, so put the devices away and simply be. People watch, take in your surroundings, and reflect on your thoughts. 
  • Ditch your plans. Coming from a serial Type A personality who’s practically addicted to organizing and planning, this was a tough one for me to adjust to, but so worth it! Instead of having a jam-packed itinerary, consider just going with the flow and exploring wherever and whenever your heart desires! It’s incredibly liberating!
  • Be safe. Finally — and most importantly — take precautions to be extremely safe when traveling solo. Check in with a friend or family member each day and let them know your plans, as well as where you’re staying. Set an expected check-in time for the evening, so someone always knows your whereabouts. And trust your gut! Be hyper-aware of your surroundings at all times and don’t wait to remove yourself from any uncomfortable situations. If something feels even slightly off, it probably is. 

Find Out How Traveling Changes You

I’m half-joking when I say I’ll never return to Okanagan Valley, because I just don’t believe it will live up to the first time. But who knows what the future holds? Either way, I hope you feel inspired to plan your own solo journey and find out just how traveling changes you. Have fun and be safe!