Dating and the Solo Traveler
This was a first. This was not a “let’s hang out tomorrow” situation
as happens so often when I travel solo. This was a date. A dinner date.
Please allow me to set the scene.
A weekend in Montreal
I took VIA1 to Montreal for a long weekend, arriving Thursday night in
the dark and the rain. Have I suggested before not to arrive in a new
city in the dark? Well, yes. But this is Montreal, a city I know and
know to be safe. But still, I took a cab for the five minute ride from
the station to my hotel – L’Hotel.
The next day was chock-a-block with plans. I took a three hour tour
of the city in the morning – something I had never done on previous
visits to Montreal – and I learned a lot. At noon, I had lunch
with Marie-Jose of Montreal Tourism, my host for this trip, at Plaisirs Coupables on Peel Street. The Mac & Cheese was out of this world. Three cheeses topped with bits of pork and nuts – spectacular.
In the afternoon I went to La Musée des Beaux Arts, The McCord Museum
and the Museum of Contemporary Art. At the latter, I met Vickii, a
dancer and artist. “Do I know you?” she asked. No, I didn’t think so,
though there was something incredibly familiar about her. So we had tea.
For over an hour. And, as one tends to do with a new acquaintance who
you will not likely meet again, we spilled life secrets.
In the evening, I had dinner at Chez L’Epicerie in Old Montreal and then went to Le Balcon to take in the cabaret.
Solo traveler meet solo traveler
I arrived to a somewhat full house and found that the seats along the
wall, preferable when alone, were all taken. So I sat at a table that
was quite central. No problem until the dancing started. This was
Montreal and Montrealers really enjoy their nightlife. Alma Faye Brooks
(you can listen to her on the left as you read this) got everyone up on
the dance floor, leaving me sitting alone at my table. I felt somewhat
So at the break I decided to leave. However, on my way out the door I
met Brian who is from Massachusetts and a frequent visitor to Montreal.
He was at the show alone as well. It was very quick. In a moment he
knew why I was leaving and invited me to join him at his table. I did,
we danced, and, because it was a loud venue, we left for a quiet drink.
Brian and I had a lot in common. The essentials; we had each had a
business, sold it and now we write. There were other interesting life
parallels as well.
A mistake and what I learned
I’m not perfect and when I make a mistake as a solo traveler I feel
particularly obliged to ‘fess up. When we went for a drink I broke one
of my most important rules as a solo traveler: I let Brian know where I
But here I want to deconstruct the mistake. It was a great learning
experience because, essentially, I set myself up. I made the error of
asking him where he was staying. He’s a guy. He wouldn’t have the same
concerns a woman would have about revealing this, so he told me exactly
what hotel he was staying at. When he asked me the same question, which
was only natural, I felt it would be rude to be vague or evasive so I
Now, if I had not felt certain that Brian was a safe person I would
not have accepted the invitation for a drink and certainly would not
have told him where I was staying. All worked out well. He’s a kind,
honorable and charming man. But, nevertheless, I consider it a mistake
because letting someone know where you’re staying (man or woman) could
be an invitation for unwanted attention or even worse. Now that I know
how I walked into it, I won’t be doing so again.
At the end of the evening, Brian invited me for dinner the next night. I declined because I had a ticket for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal
at the Places des Arts. While I wanted to see the ballet, I really
wanted to experience the iconic Places des Arts. I like spaces.
But the next morning I awoke thinking that I could see the ballet and
experience the building almost any time. It will always be there. A
date, on the other hand, is a more unique experience. So I called Brian
We had a lovely evening. We had dinner at Laloux on Rue des Pins (the pickerel was fantastic), then we wandered down Rue St. Denis to Casa Galicia
for desert and to watch the Flamenco dancers. After that we walked
further to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and had a nightcap at their bar. A
big thank you to Brian for a wonderful evening. It was such a pleasure
to spend not one, but two, with you.
What do you think?
What would you have done? Do you date when you travel solo or do you
keep things more casual? How do you handle the safety issue?
You might also want to read Solo Travel Safety: 5 Principles
Janice Waugh is the Solo Travel Editor for Wandering Educators