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Practicing Self-Love with a Solo Date – Yes, You Deserve It!

Travel is fun and exciting, but it’s also stressful and exhausting. You will meet cool people, and there is always that one person in the dorm room who rustles plastic bags at 3am. There are boisterous pub crawls and transportation hiccups. Going out with a group of new friends can be thrilling, but going on a solo date is euphoric (and sometimes transformative).

What is solo dating?

Solo dates are a self-love practice that helps you to prioritise your wellbeing and happiness. You are valuable, and loving and respecting yourself is an essential wellness practice. RuPaul says it best, “If you can’t love yourself then how can you love somebody else?”.

It is easier said than done in some cases. Some of us spend years struggling with self-love, often feeling uncomfortable and alone. It’s one of the reasons we travel; to be with new faces in new places, where we can attempt to be a new person – and not alone. The idea of a solo date can sound like an odd and awkward choice, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A person looking into the distance, into a field
A person on a bike
montreal saintlo group activities mont royal

Why should you go on a solo date?

The beauty about solo dates is that there is nobody to impress. It’s not about finding the thing that will finally make you happy, because happiness is not one thing. It’s a collection of things, people, places, and moments. It’s about moments of joy that you can hang on to when joy seems fleeting.

A solo date can remind you to breathe and allow you to relax. It can challenge a fear or introduce you to a new hobby. It can open your eyes to a new culture, and your tastebuds to new foods. Solo dates can also increase your tolerance for travel companions (Ha!).

A person walking in front of a store. Snow-covered sidewalk
Montreal © Eva Blue

Planning a solo date before your trip and on the road

The first step is to make solo dates a priority when planning your travels. Many married couples have date nights, and you can too! If your trip is short, set aside a morning or afternoon, or an entire day. If you’re on a longer trip, plan one weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Whatever fits with your overall travel plans.

If you’re travelling with friends or family, sit down and have a conversation before your trip about setting time aside for yourself. Pick a day (or more) for when everyone is going to have solo dates and make plans to meet at the end of the day or at breakfast the next morning. Once everyone’s expectations are clear, the rest of your trip planning should be a breeze.

Once you know when you want to go on solo dates you can jump into planning or wait until you’re at the destination. There is no hard rule, the point of a solo date is to relax and refresh, so don’t get caught up in unimportant details.

Three people chatting on a colorful terrace
© Laurène Tinel – Tourisme Montréal

Be a kid, be an adult, be a unicorn… solo dates are filled with possibilities!

When you’re travelling, a solo date can be a lot of fun. It’s a perfect excuse to let loose. Do something you love or try something new – which is easy to do in a new destination. Make it a goal to escape your comfort zone. You’re travelling, you have the freedom to do things you’ve always wanted to do!

Québec and Ontario are great destinations for solo travellers. Both provinces have exciting cities to explore, charming small towns, gorgeous landscapes, and rich cultures. Warm friendly locals can be found everywhere, and there are plenty of affordable things to see and do.

Solo date ideas

Embracing the Outdoors

Going to a park and reading a book while laying on a tire swing can be fun, as long as it’s not too cold outside! Even better is a winter picnic with a pretty view, complete with piping hot chocolate or coffee and a sandwich. In Ottawa, grab your sandwich from La Bottega in the ByWard Market; in Montréal, head to BOSSA or Clarke Café; and in La Malbaie, Pains d’Exclamation is the best place to go.

Hot chocolate outside
Museum ceiling
©Ottawa Tourism

Exploring Canadian Culture

Some of the best museums in Canada can be found in Ottawa and Montréal. Several museums have free admission once a week after 5pm. Some museums, like the McCord Stewart Museum in Montréal, offer cheaper rates when tickets are purchased online. Museums are a great way to learn about local history and culture. Bring a notebook or sketchbook and take advantage of the museum’s seating to jot down notes or feelings.

Coffee delights

When it comes to café culture, there is no better place than Montréal. Cafés are a lovely way to relax and enjoy a book, write or sketch. Pick a neighbourhood and go on a café crawl – and enjoy plenty of pastries! Another fun and tasty idea is spending time in a diner. The menus are affordable, the food is tasty, and when you’re not busy reading you can people-watch. Hit up Elgin Street Diner in Ottawa, and Greenspot or Beauty’s in Montréal.

Ice coffee and books
© Gabrielle St Onge

Tasting the local flavours

Cooking yourself a yummy meal using fresh local terroir is an easy way to treat yourself. Shop at farmer’s markets and local food shops, the staff at your hostel will have good suggestions on where to shop.

A person on a bicycle in front of a mural
© Tourisme Montréal
farmers' market
Traveler preparing a meal in the collective kitchen
Outdoor poster

Timeless Entertainment

Another fun activity is to treat yourself to a movie in a historic theatre. In Montréal, go to Cinéma Beaubien, and the Mayfair Theatre is a must in Ottawa. Pierogies and pinball at House of TARG lets you be a kid while devouring delicious pierogies and drinking some beers. Take yourself on a walking tour of a historic district.

Winter Wonders

Hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing are invigorating activities, and many trails offer spectacular views. Try ice fishing or go fat biking in Hautes Gorges de la Rivière Malbaie. Afterwards, watch the sunset from Rideau Falls Park (Ottawa), Mont Royal (Montréal), and Port de refuge de Cap-à-l’Aigle (La Malbaie).

 

Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie
©Gaëlle Leroyer
Mural with monsters
©Festival mural the seven deadly sins buff monster 2016 – Photo © Alexandre Choquette

Urban Exploration

Get off-the-beaten-path and explore local neighbourhoods. Keeping your head up to admire architectural flourishes, and look for vibrant murals and street art. While staying at Saintlo Ottawa Jail hop on a bus and explore The Glebe or Hintonburg. The Lucien-L’Allier metro stop near Saintlo Montréal is your gateway to neighbourhoods like Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Mile-End, and Little Italy.

Community Connection

Giving back to the communities you are travelling in can be good for everyone involved, including yourself! Ask hostel staff if they know of places needing volunteers for an event or look into local social enterprises you can support. Search up local beauty schools to treat yourself to an affordable haircut or manicure.

 

Group picnicking in Parc Lafontaine
© Laurène Tinel – Tourisme Montréal

There are so many great ways to take yourself on a solo date. It can be fancy or require jogging pants. Hell, you could make yourself a scavenger hunt list and then use it in each new destination. Make time for joy, and rest. The second verse of the song Lick It Up by Kiss is a great reminder to love yourself.

Don’t need to wait for an invitation

You gotta live like you’re on vacation

There’s something sweet you can’t buy with money

(Lick it up) Whoo (Lick it up)

It’s all you need, so believe me honey

It ain’t a crime to be good to yourself

A person sitting on a bench

So, what’s going to be your first solo date?