This past September I took a month to drive the east coast of Canada with an old friend of mine from high school. Our plan was to check out all the provinces along the way to Newfoundland while my friend got to stop and see family during the trip. It worked out nicely as I had the means of transportation and she had the accommodations, so we’d Airbnb it whenever we didn’t have family to stay with, and split on gas. It was a great plan… in theory.
We made it all the way out to Newfoundland, where we were met with the classic RDF – rain drizzle fog – of Port aux Basques. About 20min outside of Corner Brook we hit a rock and boom, we had a flat. Luckily, an older gentleman who was jogging about 500m up the highway (yes highway, this is a regular occurrence don’t worry) and stopped to help us out, and he was a gem. I was a little stressed at the time since it was my
baby car and we had just come off the overnight ferry with all of this happening before it was even 9am. Up until this point our travel time together had been great – but some of the circumstances around how things were handled caused some tension between us.
After a long hour talk with mom (she’s the greatest, just had to include that), I knew that a lot of this tension was for two reasons – first, we were two different types of travellers; and second, we had two different objectives. The first had a lot to do about age, as I was 3 years older than my travel partner. Now 3 years doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re with someone 24/7, little things start to add up. For example, money isn’t a big thing for me. As long as things seem fair, I’m a happy camper. You got coffee this time, I’ll get coffee next time! It doesn’t matter if we stop at a Timmies or a gas station and there’s a 10 cent difference. As long as I get my coffee. That sort of thing. However my travel partner was one who recorded everything – everything had to be 50/50 exactly. Mind you she had just graduated and did have some more travelling coming up, but after a while when little things like this compound, it can really start to add up (especially when you don’t have a break from the person). The second really didn’t become apparent until we made it to Newfoundland – what seemed like two complimentary travel reasons, ended up clashing. As I had never been to any of the provinces out east, I wanted to see all and do all and always be go-go-go since I have no idea when I’ll be back. On the other hand, she was there to see family, and she has a lot of family out there, so she wanted to stay in one spot. Upon finding out that the only Viking settlement in North America was in Newfoundland’s northern peninsula, I was faced with a dilemma. Do I carry along our planned trip which holds in store a few days of meeting my friend’s extended family, or do I venture up the northern peninsula solo?
Time for a chat.
We sat down and hashed things out. We both had some tension built up that we laid out in the open, which helped relieve some stress. Then I broke it to her – I wanted to go solo. Now, there’s a bit of a riskiness to this as my phone only worked in certain towns in Newfoundland as I was not with Bell – the island’s main carrier. Therefore I’d be travelling with no form of communication between small towns, so if something were to go haywire it could end up with me in a pickle. Additionally, before this trip I had never driven longer than 2 hours in one sitting, only 1.5 hours solo. Looking at my route, it would mean a good 5-6 hours of driving some days, which can become a strain on the body. Despite this I was set on it – when is the next time I’ll be in Newfoundland, let alone with the freedom of having a car? This was my main reason for going. When do you hear of people regretting taking a trip? Regrets are usually ‘Why didn’t I go?’, and I didn’t want that to be me.
Luckily my travel buddy’s cousin who we were staying with in Corner Brook was heading across the island to where most of my friend’s extended family was that weekend. So she had a ride in, and it meant that she had a few more days of family time. While I ran off with new found energy and a flurry of nerves and excitement, she planned some family time with her aunts, uncles, and cousins, and we were both happy campers. About 4 days later I met up with her in Gander, and we continued onwards to St John’s, our final destination (nobody died on a train or anything, I promise). You’ll have to wait for another post to hear all about the solo trip, but for now know I made it to the settlement… and further!
The point of this post? Don’t sacrifice your happiness for someone else. It can mean some tension and stress in the beginning, and it may cause a falling out or two, but if that happens then chances are it wasn’t meant to be. There’s something to be said about travelling solo, as it pushes you outside your comfort zone, and you can (for the most part) control just how much. Feeling overwhelmed? Take a day for yourself! You want to take the time to hike around a tiny island because you feel like it? You have the freedom to without worrying about someone else! Also, because I went solo for this trip, it meant that I had the confidence to make the trek back to Ontario (and my mini road trip in Alberta!) when my travel partner had to head home for family reasons. It also meant that I had the time to stop in and see some wonderful friends I had met a few months earlier as part of the Explore program in Montréal. Sometimes things happen for a reason, so let them happen. You’ll thank yourself later for it!