Happy Women Who Wander Wednesday! For those who don’t know, Women Who Wander is a series here on Young and Undecided where fellow globetrotting ladies can share their amazing stories of solo travel. I’m relatively new to the world of solo female travel, and let me tell, I admire each and every one of you who have gone it alone. It’s tough. It’s tempting to pack it in and go home sometimes. But I also absolutely love it, just as much as I hoped I would! This week, Erin is sharing the story of her first solo trip to beautiful Ireland.
Erin is an audiologist by day and a traveler in her spare time. Since she has limited vacation days, she likes to spend her weekends exploring her own backyard of Minnesota and the rest of the Midwest. Her goal is to show the world the gems that the Midwest has and that it isn’t just flyover country on the way to the coast! She used to try to pack in as many places on her vacation days abroad but recently has decided to limit her travels to one or two places. This way, she gets a better feel of the destination, its people and culture. You can follow along with her adventures in the Midwest and beyond over at Due Midwest!
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An introvert traveling alone?!
My first solo trip came about in the way I think happens to a lot of us. I really wanted to take a trip and use up my vacation days. I found a great deal on Groupon Getaways to Ireland. However, none of my friends were free/couldn’t afford it and my family wasn’t available either. What’s a girl to do? It was too good of a deal to pass up so I just bought it. The more I thought about it, the more I felt this burning desire to do it on my own. My friends thought I was brave and my family was worried I would be lonely. How does an introvert meet people abroad when they can’t even strike up a conversation with the person next door?
Since I’m a planner by nature, I decided that would be the way to alleviate worry. Just plan everything! My deal gave me the ability to stay at any bed and breakfast in the country for 5 nights. So, I got to researching. I have to be honest, it is really hard to distill a whole country into 5 nights! My car was booked, B&Bs picked and activities planned. I was all set to take off on my first solo international trip!
The kindness of strangers
I got to Dublin, grabbed the bus into the city and spent the day wandering around. Only had one snafu where I fell asleep in St. Stephen’s Green for about 15 minutes and didn’t know where I was or how long I had been out! I was a bit scared at first but quickly realized I was totally fine. Then, the jet lag hit and I decided to head back to the airport to pick up my rental car. Driving on the wrong side of the road went OK at first because I was mostly on the freeway. Then, I got to the town of Drogheda and proceeded to get totally lost. Keep in mind, I didn’t pay for the international plan so I had no data on my phone and it was essentially useless. I had printed out the Google maps directions for the whole trip BUT the town had no visible street signs. I decided to stop at the grocery store for a snack and find directions. What I found was the nicest lady on the planet who walked me out of the store, down the street and pointed me in the right direction. From that point on, I knew the people of Ireland would be there for me if I needed it!
Being alone doesn’t have to be lonely
I made my way across the country to Galway and spent a really pleasant evening listening to trad (traditional Irish music) in a pub. I had a lovely conversation with an older gent who sat next to me in the bar. The people of Ireland are not only kind, but also friendly! Talked to a stranger: score one for the introvert. 🙂 The further I got along in my road trip, the more comfortable I was with driving and also being by myself. I found it freeing to have no one looking at their watch while I took a million photos or having someone else dictate where we would go next. Exploring things in my own time and skipping things that I didn’t feel were necessary was a blast. I probably pulled over about 100 times during the trip to take photos and there was no one else there to care!
The only time I felt lonely was when I was eating dinner alone. Calling someone at home after dinner and telling them about my day helped a lot. I was able to share my experiences with other people even though they weren’t there with me. I got to see so many amazing places and I am so happy that I didn’t let the lack of a travel partner keep me from experiencing the beauty of Ireland! If you want to read more about my trip, you can see my full itinerary here.
Suggestions for your first solo trip
If you are worried about traveling by yourself for the first time, here are some tips!
- Pick a country that speaks your language to start: being in Ireland where they speak English definitely took away a lot of the stress and made conversation/asking for help easier.
- Bring a tripod: one of the hard things is not having anyone to take your photo! If you don’t feel like asking strangers to do it for you, just bring a tripod like I did!
- Book a tour: If you are worried about being lonely, book a tour! It can be something short like a walking tour or pub tour just to get you around other people. Who knows who you’ll meet.
- JUST DO IT! It may sound daunting to travel alone but it is definitely something to try once. If there is a place you’re dreaming of going but no one wants to go with you, then just book it. You’ll be happy you did!
Finally, If you are a solo female traveller, or just have an interest or opinion about it and would like to write for Women Who Wander, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t wait to share your stories
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