As a follow-up to my trip to both Ireland and Scotland I wanted to share with you some of the top tips I came home with about traveling alone.
1) Do your homework and Google walk it. My first morning when I arrived in Ireland went so smoothly because I had researched their Leap card transit fare system ahead of time and had written down what bus to take and what stop to get off at. This was very helpful at 6:00 in the morning Dublin time and took the guess work out of it. I also had Google walked the area a little online before the trip so I knew I was walking the right way.
2) Pack light and take Soak travel packs. I’m not really a heavy packer but I’m not a light one either. Take clothes that you can spend the day in and you can layer up when the weather is cool. My Ireland bus trip day I took a jacket, big sweater, scarf, long sleeved, yoga pants and running shoes. Seems like a lot but the bus was warm and outside was freezing so I felt comfortable through-out the day. I was lucky to do laundry at my friends house in Scotland but if you can’t then take some Soak travel packs with you. It was easy for me to wash a sweater in my BnB bathroom sink so it was clean for my flight home.
3) Be prepared for the flights. I sat next to a girl on the way to Dublin that said she didn’t think about it being an overnight flight. But there I was with blow-up next pillow, ear plugs, big scarf and eye mask prepared to try to sleep. I even brought some cozy socks that I was very thankful for when the plane got chilly.
4) Have plans but be open to new plans. A couple of times I had to change my plans for transit reasons. Both times I was able to just figure it out and roll with the change. When traveling alone it’s nice to have the option to make the changes but you do want a plan to try to stick with. Know what you want to see in each city but don’t put them in any order.
5) Visit the tourism office. These people know the city you are in and they will load you up with tips, events and maps at no charge. This allows also a person traveling alone to chat with someone about the options and work out what would be the best use of time. In Dublin they were able to call and book my pub tour for me without me having to call long distance.
6) Sign up for group tours and be open to chatting with people. I can’t stress this point enough if you are traveling alone. I met some great people this way with simply asking “so where are you from?”. See if you can hear them speaking English first and then you know that there is a good chance you can make a new friend. Doing this made me feel like I was never actually traveling alone.
7) Air BnB it. This would probably be the smartest thing that I did. Staying in two amazing homes made each day feel like I was going home instead of to a stuffy hotel. I would get a chance to tell someone about my day or visit with other guests over breakfast. My Dublin BnB felt like home when I stayed there the second time around which made the last couple days so relaxing.
8) Pick your splurge items and book far in advance. I booked my trip 4 months before I actually took it which means I don’t come home to a big bill at the end of my trip because it was paid for months ago. Also pick a bit ahead of time what you want to spend money on. Maybe it’s lots of pricy handmade yarn or clothing. When I booked it I went for the first class meal extra on my flight home which arrived before anyone else and was so filling! Even came with a little bottle of wine and chocolate.
9) Take a backpack. Each day either the night before or in the morning I would re-evaluate what was in my day pack and what I would need with me for the day. Always my iPad, passport, wallet and book. The book came in handy when eating alone and reading while eating allowed myself to have some nice long relaxing meals.
10) Write down what you saw before you leave so you don’t forget. Because of the 7 hour flight I actually wrote this whole travel series while on the plane home so I didn’t leave anything out. I made a summary the day prior during my long lunch in Dublin of everywhere I had been and on what days. Will make it easier when I get home and I’m showing my photos to friends and family.