Why I’ve Started Wandering Around My City At Night

Walking Around Your City at Night
Source: Max Pixel

It’s not as soothing as The Joy of Painting, but it’s almost as good. Walking around and enjoying the fresh air is one of the best ways to relax after getting yelled at by your boss, seeing your hockey team get eliminated from the playoffs, or crying over some milk that you may have spilled. When we think of walking, we think of nature. A canopy of trees along a luscious trail. Hiking up a mountain’s tricky terrain. Bear Grylls indulging in drinking fluids other than water. But nature can be so far away. When you live in the hustle and bustle of the big city, your only option is the park. A park riddled with screaming children, old, overweight, shirtless men, and the minefield of animal feces threatening to destroy your social life with one unfortunate misstep. So where can we go? The answer? The city. Walking around your city is not only great exercise, but has a whole bunch of extra benefits.

Explore Your Own City

Gastown Vancouver at Night

I live in a medium-sized city relative to the rest of the world. It’s not a packed Hong Kong or Los Angeles, but it’s not one of those nice, quaint small towns, either. One with many suburbs, each with their own identity. Each with their own diverse mix of people. The different areas in my city have different quirks. It’s a great way to get to know your city. If I’m looking for something more urban, I’ll just look at how to get to a city center, where a bunch of shops are located. That way, I can get a feel for what that part of the city is really about. If I haven’t eaten yet, I don’t even bother looking up a restaurant in advance.

The key is not to think when you’re walking around your city (well, think enough not to get pickpocketed, anyway). Try something new and exciting. You’ll get drawn in by the different sites, sounds, and smells. Just by walking around, I ended up trying Ethiopian food for the first time. You may stumble upon markets and quirky shops. There’s always something different that you might not find on your own neighborhood.

Serial Killer Farm
Probably safe, but hey, why take a chance?

What I tend to do is take a random set of buses (thank you, monthly travel pass!) and just get off. If you do this, be sure you can find your way back. Once, I didn’t realize the time, and the next bus was scheduled to come 3 hours later! It was getting dark and it was in some rural farming area. You know, like in the movies where all the serial killers live. I had to call my sister and interrupt her date to pick me up. She wasn’t too happy.

Exercise

View from North Vancouver
A view from one of the higher parts of the city – Great exercise!

I’ll be honest. I’m lazy when it comes to exercise. You’d be able to tell if you met me that no, I don’t even lift. That being said, I eat pretty healthy and my metabolism is fast enough that I can get away with sitting in front of a computer for eight hours without gaining a single pound. Call me lucky, call me lazy, or call me a loser. I don’t care. Though I really should get back to the gym…

Anyways, walking to me is not only a nice way to explore my city or to get away, but also to get exercise and keep my leg muscles in shape. I spent years hiking in the back woods with friends, and it was one of my favorite activities. I still do it time to time, but with college and work coming into the picture, it’s become harder to organize trips. So I’ve traded in my hiking boots and backpack for my comfortable runners and… well, not much else. I mean, I’m not running around in the nude, but I’m not carrying anything.

That being said, if you really want to use walking as a form of exercise, I guess you could get a backpack and fill it up with rocks. To each their own.

Relax

A major street gets much quieter at night.
A major street gets much quieter at night.

One of the biggest reasons for me walking around at night is that it’s relaxing. Everything is quieter at night. There’s so much less traffic and there are no screaming kids. The weather for me is perfect. It’s often nice and cool at night, so unless you’re living somewhere in rural Siberia, going out at night even feels peaceful. Times seems to slow down when you’re walking alone at night too. My mind often wanders, which is impossible when I’m at work. All of those requests and deadlines… And just in case my boss is reading this, I’m not complaining, I love my job, and I’m grateful for that weird box of chocolates you bought me at the Secret Santa last year (please don’t fire me).

Safety Tips for Walking Around Your City Alone

Police scene in Burnaby
This probably won’t happen. Don’t worry.

Of course, walking alone at night is not without risk. I spent years doing martial arts training and graduated from the top of my class, so I would be ready for this. I am able to disable an attacker from any distance, and though I would never think of doing it, I can kill a man in over 700 different ways, and that’s just with my bare hands.

OK, most of that wasn’t true. But I did train in martial arts so I would have some advantage in fighting if I was attacked. Anyways, here are some quick tips to ensure you’re safe when walking around your city alone.

  • Let people know that you’re going, your approximate route, and when you’ll be back.
  • Consider taking a self-defence class.
  • Carry enough money to take transit or a taxi home in case you end up walking too far. And don’t be afraid to call a friend to pick you up.
  • Small snacks and a bottle of water are always a good idea.
  • Carry items such as a flashlight, or maybe one of those personal security alarms.
  • If you have a bad feeling about an area, just turn back. There’s no sense getting hurt. You’re here to relax, not have a heart attack.

There you have it. A guide to walking around your city. It’s a great way to relax! If you’re feeling up to it, start now and de-stress. Just keep away, you know… from those serial killer infested areas!