My Solo Trip to Canada as an American With Autism
In my article “Why I Love Traveling the World as Someone on the Autism Spectrum” I mentioned that I wanted to visit Canada one day. Meeting Shania Twain was a major influence in my dream to go to Canada.
Someone following me on my Instagram account made a post one day about a show he performed songs at in Canada. I looked at the website about the show and saw that you can apply to speak. I thought my story on autism awareness and meeting Shania Twain who’s Canadian would be a perfect story for a speech in Canada. I applied to speak in Toronto. I get an email back from the founder of the show saying he would like me to come out and visit.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to get out to Canada due to my work schedule. Thankfully Memorial Day weekend was coming up and I had money to afford a trip. I was also grateful I was a good traveler as a man with autism, or else it wouldn’t be possible. I felt brave enough to travel to another country I’d never been to all by myself to spread autism awareness. So I did!
My mom and supports worked out a safety guide for me to have when I get there as I take safety very seriously when traveling. Flying has never bothered me, so I knew I would get through the plane ride OK. I always look for my gate number on the boards that match my boarding pass. If I’m changing planes before my final destination, I always look for where my next gate for my next flight is going to be before going anywhere else in the airport, like for food or something. I have been to another country before this, but never alone so I was uncertain about going through customs when entering Canada. However, I was fine the whole time.
When I arrived in Toronto, I was uncertain where to call a cab to come pick me up to take me to my hotel. I walked down the city a bit. Once I got far enough, I walked into a place and asked for the address of the building. Then I was able to successfully call a cab. I didn’t cab with a stranger. I didn’t let strangers use my cell phone. I tried not to tell too many people where I was from in the United States. I never panicked when things weren’t going well right away. I stayed calm the whole time in the city. I visited the Hockey Hall of Fame as I love the sport. I got to see lots of historic used equipment as well as a Stanley Cup. I also visited the Royal Ontario Museum.
I went down to see the show I was going to speak at. When I walked in, I met a lot of really nice people. I told them I traveled all the way from the United States to Toronto just to support their show. They admired that and I made a lot of new connections. They announced it during the show a couple of times. They loved how I advocate for autism awareness. I even made a friend in Canada who I’m now talking to who admired my advocacy. She was my cab driver back to my hotel from the show that night. I had to run back into the place for something when my original cab came. I cancelled that one and when I came back out, I made this friend on the way back to my hotel.
I loved every moment of Toronto and can’t wait to go back to speak again. It is possible to travel alone as someone with autism. You just have to be brave and willing to do it!