I haven’t updated my blog in a couple of weeks. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I’ve been juggling job hunting, post-travel blues and terrible internet connection that comes with living in the middle of nowhere. I did take myself on a little trip to Dublin, however. A beautiful city in the Republic of Ireland, I had a great time visiting the history museums, local restaurants and bumping into numerous art features of questionable taste. I travelled on my own; I had a few people tell me I shouldn’t do this, that it wouldn’t be safe, I’d be lonely but it turned out to be an experience I thoroughly enjoyed and would absolutely do again. And whilst I was there I jotted down a few things that I learnt along the way.
Airports aren’t as scary as they seem.
I haven’t been to an airport since I was 14 when I was with family so I didn’t have to deal with any of the boarding passes, luggage allowances or passport control. This time I had to handle all of this on my own, I had no clue where to even start so it was through research and a lot of luck that I even got onto that plane! Airport staff are super friendly though and are always happy to help; I sometimes didn’t know when I needed to show my boarding pass or my passport (or both) but they didn’t care if I got it wrong. It’s quite obvious where to go at each stage, either the staff tell you at the check point or the big screens do. And once I’d learnt what to do at the airport to get to Dublin, it made getting back home so much smoother.
Trusting people is okay
I stayed in a hostel in the city, with between 5-7 room mates every night. They came and went so I never had the chance to make friends but for the first couple of nights I became friendly with a couple of girls from London, we recommended places to each other we’d come across and discussed our days. Overall it almost felt like a big sleepover but with strangers. Other interesting conversations I had included spending an entire bus ride from the zoo talking British politics with an Irish Corbyn supporter and having a serious conversation about Ireland’s ridiculous anti-abortion laws with an Amnesty International punk. Putting aside my awkwardness and having a chat with some locals became some of my most memorable moments of my trip.
Wandering is fun
On my first day I arrived at the hostel around 3pm, which gave me plenty of time to wander about the city. I didn’t have a plan or look at my maps, I knew the general direction to the river which I knew I’d have to cross to get to the heart of the city. Some of my favourite times was wandering around and discovering. During that evening I found a pirate ship, the famous Temple Bar district, a tiny indoor market with amazing frozen yogurt and Dublin Castle. I was a tourist and there’s nothing wrong with acting like one either. It also meant that I got to find the nearest essential places, such as supermarkets, ATMs and bus stops.
The last time I travelled abroad we rented a car so we could easily get around, but not having a car isn’t an excuse to restrict yourself to the area in which you’re staying. As a rich tourist area, Dublin was easy to navigate to attractions a few miles away but wherever you go there will be buses, or maybe trams, you can look up the routes of, probably even local tours if that’s your thing. Don’t be scared to explore outside of your comfort zone. And don’t take taxis, even to and from the airport (if you can help it), coaches or buses take more scenic routes. Be wise with money
An obvious one, but I quickly found out that European prices in a capital city are rather high! Plus when I arrived at the hostel I forgot to take into account that I had only paid my deposit online and had to pay the rest upfront, which took a dent out of my purse. Needless to say I very quickly started running out of money, fortunate,y I had plenty of places to go for free. But planning ahead or budgeting may not be a bad thing before travelling.
Travelling alone isn’t for everyone
Obviously there was a lot of doing stuff on my own, such as eating at restaurants, but on the flip side there was also a lot of not doing stuff on my own. For instance in the late evenings when there wasn’t much to do I found myself watching TV back at the hostel whilst my roommates were out. I didn’t mind it, it gave me time to rest without distraction but it might make some people feel lonely. On this trip I found that I loved the freedom that came with choosing where I wanted to go and changing my mind without reason if I wanted to and I didn’t have to make compromises to please what someone else wanted to do. But some people would rather have the company and a shared experience than any of this, which is understandable.
Dont fall into “home” habits
I never leave the house without my earphones in my ears blasting music loud enough that I tune out the world around me. There was none of that in Dublin. I wanted to have the full experience and I couldn’t do that if I wasn’t taking in the sounds of the city. I think it would have ruined my trip if I had fallen into that habit. Also, don’t lie in until midday! I couldn’t believe that there were people in my room that did this. I wanted to be out of the hostel by 10am at the latest. Not only was the weather usually nicer in the morning, but it meant less people would be queuing up at attractions and restaurants/cafes wouldn’t be as busy. As I mentioned before, being a tourist isn’t a bad thing. Get out early, take in the sights of the place and enjoy the most of your travels.
It is estimated that around a third of Britons travelling abroad do so alone, so it’s not as uncommon as you think. If you just need a break from family or friends, or it’s a necessity don’t be put off that you won’t have a companion if you really want to go someplace new.