6 Things to Know About Travelling Solo on a Boutique Adventure

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by Amelia Johnston and Maureen Gordon, Maple Leaf Adventures

Between us, we’ve got decades of solo travel experience — as explorers of our world, as a daughter of a septuagenarian solo traveller, and as hosts here on our coast to countless solo travellers. Indeed, on one of our ships, solo travellers represent half of the transactions we process for trips and this has remained steady for dozens of years.

Here are the top six things we think are helpful for solo travellers to know about both our boutique adventures, and similar-scale adventures around the world.

1. You’ll Never Feel Left Out or All on Your Own (Unless You Want to)

Campfire on a remote beach on the BC coast with Cascadia guests. Photo: Simon Ager

As we operate our safari-like trips in the British Columbia and Alaska marine world, we travel in small groups. Our ships carry either 8, 12 or 24 guests and when we go ashore we’re usually in groups of about 12 people. This is a great size for natural interactions between people. People don’t feel overwhelmed by hordes of strangers, to which a common reaction is to retreat into a shell. Instead, we’re a perfect size for camaraderie and relaxed interaction.

Each ship’s hosts includes between 5 and 10 built-in solo travellers on every trip — the naturalist, expedition leader, steward, deckhands, and other crew are all fellow travellers there to share the experience with you. Unlike other kinds of travel, your crew don’t hide away. They, their expertise and genuine warmth are as much a part of the trip as the place, wildlife and ship.

2. There Is a Warm Family or Tribe Feel at Meals

Congenial ‘family style’ atmosphere at dinner aboard the SV Maple Leaf. Photo: Alex Harris.

There is a comfortable, family feel at dinners, as we share beautiful food around a common large table.

Unlike the stiff formality or impersonal atmosphere of a large buffet or cafeteria on a larger ship (where, as a solo traveller, it feels pretty lonely), our little boat’s pretty dining salon feels warm and like your home away from home for each meal. This is shared time with your fellow travellers including your crew and guides. Camaraderie develops easily.

3. Exploring and Interacting on the Shore Trips Brings People Together

Exploring the wildlife of the Kitlope (Great Bear Rainforest) together. Photo: Alex Harris.

The sense of exploration, novelty and wonder as we plan and take excursions together for the day creates the feeling of everyone being included. Guides take each guest’s interests into the planning process, too.

As the days pass and we share experiences — and share running jokes that become part of the trip — the experience truly becomes one made by everybody.

4. You Can Have Solitary Time When You Want

Kayaking in an Alaskan cove, on a Swell trip.. Photo: Kayleen VanderRee.

One of the pleasures of travelling solo is being able to unwind, centre yourself, connect with nature and with the core of who you are or the bigger picture of your values.

There are plenty of opportunities for this on a trip — reading a book, journalling or kayaking in the morning or evening, sitting on the bow and watching the natural world shift and change as the ship moves through it, sipping a quiet cup of tea in the salon.

5. Adventures in Nature Can Be Incredibly Healing

Time for reflection and solitude, aboard Cascadia. Photo: Jonny Bierman.

We’ve had many people over the years tell us that their trip into the natural and cultural world of the BC/Alaska coast helped heal them and set them on the course for the rest of their lives after a great loss.

There is something restorative about nature but also about the calm and confident way the Maple Leaf Adventures crew and guides conduct themselves and the trips. The sense of wonder and warmth of camaraderie and people’s connection to respecting and protecting this natural world gives birth to optimism.

6. There Are Multiple Options for Solo Bookings

  • On the schooner Maple Leaf, all sleeping quarters have 2 beds, so everyone shares with someone else. (There is no single supplement obviously.) On Maple Leaf, 25% of our guests in 2019 were solo travellers, making up 50% of our bookings.
Camaraderie aboard Cascadia. Photo by Simon Ager.
  • On the catamaran Cascadia, solo travellers have the option to request to share with another person (we can match you up), or book an entire cabin to yourself for a 50% single supplement. In our first year of operating Cascadia, 10% of her guests were solo travellers, representing 20% of her bookings.
  • On the tugboat Swell, solo travellers can book an entire cabin to themselves for a 50% single supplement. Because Swell’s cabins are cozy, we typically don’t pair strangers up to share them.

Like to talk with us about it?

Contact us in the Maple Leaf Adventures office at 1-250-386-7245 or using the Inquire form above. We look forward to speaking with you.

2020 Solo Sharing Options Currently Available

As of Feb 14, 2020, the people on the following trips are interested in sharing with another person – contact us at the info above if you’re interested.

Other opportunities will arise throughout the year. If you’d like to book a trip and ask us to find a possible sharing partner, let us know.

– Desolation Sound, Apr 24-28, 2020, Cascadia (solo woman)

– Great Bear Rainforest, Oct 8-15, 2020, Cascadia (solo woman)


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