This quote is from Hope Floats (the movie) but instead, in the movie, the line is “Dinning alone isn’t for sissies.” Agree, doing anything alone, for some people, can be hard. But I crave time alone, I need it to recharge, to think, to clear my head.
I took a trip to Ireland last fall, all by myself (gasp) and it was wonderful! I have never traveled alone to another country but I have traveled to Europe a couple times prior. I did get some lectures about traveling alone but, if you know me, I am very responsible and I am aware there are risk. I never wrote down my experience but did share pictures on Facebook and Instagram. But when I was asked why I wanted to go to Ireland, my response always was, “I want to see the greenest green and the bluest blues. I want to be inspired and see colors, buildings, eat good food and learn about Irish culture.”
I did just that; I saw the most beautiful, vibrant colors, greenest grass, amazing historical structures that were 1000’s of years old, learned about Irish history and culture, and much more. What I liked best, is that I was on my own time, doing what I wanted, when I wanted.
I traveled to Glendalough, to Belfast (Northern Ireland, technically part of Britain), to the Powercourt Estate, Wicklow mountains, Dublin castle, parks, castles, churches, all sorts of museums, etc. I was so enchanted by the culture, traditions, and the charm of Ireland, that I can’t wait to return! The people were always helpful and kind; travel was easy and the cities are easy to get around in; prices were reasonable, maybe even cheap to compared to other European countries.
Below are a few things I learned about traveling alone:
- Don’t live in fear: however, use common sense. I choose not to spend my evenings in pubs and bars. When I read about Irish culture, there are common hours of the evening where groups of young men and women will go out for drinks. Even through this wasn’t far from my hotel, I didn’t feel comfortable going out, around the bar scene at night by myself. There is also lots of small, dark allies/roads in the city due to the age of the city. I didn’t think it wise to walk around at night let alone down these allies. But all in all, Dublin is pretty safe.
- Dinner for one: I ate alone which I have no problem with. I usually carried a book or reading material with me to keep me busy. I would usually have a drink or wine with my meal. Then I would head back to my hotel before it got dark. But you can’t be afraid to dine alone. Enjoy your meal, enjoy your surrounds, etc.
- Plan your day: I got so much bang for buck because I am so type A. I had pre-bought my tour tickets, and had each day mapped out. I did leave spaces to go get souvenirs or go walk around a park. My phone keeps track of my steps and I walked over 10 miles my first day there. I covered the town! But that leads to the next point.
- Know the lay of the land: get your map situated, note the streets, understand your directions because you’re off a little with a new place. I wanted to be familiar with how the roads went. In older cities, roads don’t run straight. This helped me plan my days if I could map out how I was walking somewhere. I always wanted to be to the point, that within 2 days, that I didn’t need a map to get around, so I looked less like a tourist. Also knowing how public transportation works is important (mostly bus and train in Ireland).
The last point I would make is to embrace the country and culture. Go with an open mind and ready to learn and soak up the experience. I wanted to grow from this trip and I did. I can’t wait to return within the next couple years.