So I recently went to Ireland by myself.
I had an absolute blast, but I have found something interesting over the past few months; whenever I tell people about my holiday. “On your own? Wow that’s so brave!” is honestly the sentence every single person uses.
This boggles my brain. Why is solo travel so weird to some people?
I’ve always been conscious of solo travellers, and have always wanted to do it. So many people I know have solo travelled, so the idea was never new to me.
Don’t get me wrong, there were moments where it was kind of intimidating to be on my own, but I loved every second of my trip away and never felt regret or scared. I’ve always been someone who thrives when alone, and I have always enjoyed my own company. I knew, before going, that I wasn’t going to get lonely. I didn’t. I loved it.
There’s nothing better than living to your own schedule- going where you want, seeing what you want to see, spending as much time as you please somewhere. Eating when and what you want. Sleeping when you want. Choosing where you want to stay. All that without having to worry about or consult with anyone else. You choose the adventure, quite literally! The freedom of going solo is more than I can describe, and I revelled in it.
I’m only fairly new to Solo travel so there are still many things I don’t know, but I thought I might pass on some tips and tricks to those yet to venture into that world so that you have a bit of leg-up in your research and planning!
- Do your research for literally everything before you go. Even as small as walking routes, best restaurants, weather etc. I was pedantic about my research in Ireland and had a very smooth experience with only a few hiccups.
- Make sure you stay in the ‘safe’ suburbs. This is for yours, and your parents and family’s peace of mind. Especially as a solo female traveller, this is essential.
- Do your hotel research, especially for hostels. Be really picky with your hostels; always remember the price you pay always reflects what you’re going to get. The $30 beds are $30 for a reason (learned the hard way)
- Shower Shoes are essentials. Never travel without.
- If possible, ask for a top bunk bed in a hostel. Safety combined with practicality. And try to not get the bunk straight next to the door.
- If you can choose your seat on an aeroplane, go for a bulkhead or emergency row. You’ll thank me for this after 14-20 hours in the air.
- Pack a change of shirt in your carry on (plane/train). Long haul flights are bearable if you can change out of that sweaty, crusty shirt you’ve been in for an ungodly amount of hours. Trust me this is one of the best travel hacks I’ve learned. Armed with a pack of camping wipes (shower wipes), and some deodorant, you feel so much better when changed.
- Before you go, work out your sleeping hours on the plane to try and match the timezone you are travelling to. It doesn’t get rid of Jetlag, but it definitely helps a lot.
- Check if your destination has particular cultural customs around certain days of the week– i.e. in Dublin, nothing is open before 11am on Sundays. I didn’t know this and spent my first day in Dublin walking around confused because nothing (and I mean nothing) was open.
- Airport Shuttles are your best friend. The busses are usually 10 times cheaper than taxi’s/uber or the dedicated train. Most shuttles have different routes and you’re guaranteed that one will stop pretty much right at where you need to go.
- Take as little suitcase/luggage as you can. As a solo traveller, if you’re hauling a lot of luggage, not only is it hard for you to manage and cart around, but it also paints a massive target on your back to undesirables. Little luggage means you will spend less on things to bring home, and will make you very economical in your packing. If you’re going on day trips/short tours, this will also help you to stick close to your weight limit.
- Always take spare baggage locks and luggage straps. I can guarantee you’re likely to need them, even when you think you wont. You will. And you’ll curse yourself at the end of the trip trust me.
- Take your time packing; don’t leave it to the last minute. This allows you to think logically about what you’re packing; you wont over pack and you wont be frantically trying to clean clothes at the last minute. Also helps with tip 15.
- Study the weather for a while leading up to leaving; this will help you pack the right type of clothes. Be super critical and watch the weather for a number of weeks, especially in the lead up. I ended up changing out a few of my clothing choices the day before I left for Ireland because I was a bit too optimistic when originally packing. This was a good decision because I needed those extra leggings and jacket let me tell you!
- When packing, lay out all the clothes you intend on taking, and the go back the next day and halve it. Consolidate your clothes as much as possible. Pants can be worn a few days before washing. You don’t need as much as you think because…
- Wash your clothes on the road; hotel bathroom sinks are there for a reason.
- If a hotel offers a laundry service, use it. Sinks are good in a pinch but not practical for washing some clothes items (Aka jeans. Trust me don’t try it). And the chance of fresh laundered clothes is precious. Don’t waste it.
- Most hotels hold luggage if you’re too early. I’ve never been to a city/country where hotels don’t have luggage holding facilities.
- When booking, make sure you tell your hotel/hostel what time you are intending to arrive. If it’s still a bit up in the air until the day of, give your best estimate. Just common courtesy. Also by letting them know what time you intend on arriving, it increases the chances of your room being ready for you when you get there.
- Don’t carry around a big bag/backpack- try and live out of a very small shoulder bag (with cross body strap) during the day. Always keep your big bags at your accommodation. Which leads to…
- Be careful when carrying around big souvenir store bags/wearing souvenir clothing; this tells everyone you’re not from around there. You become more of a target for undesirables.
- Always remember to use your street smarts and always be over cautious.
- Bring a water bottle with you everywhere; staying hydrated is important.
- If staying in a hostel, take in other’s behaviour and match it; if everyone keeps to themselves, do so. If people are open, make friends.
- Do mini tours while at your destination with local tour guides/companies; they can show you things you wouldn’t have seen otherwise and you can make friends while there. (Shamrocker tours are bomb if you’re ever in Ireland.)
Above all, remember to have fun and enjoy your holiday. Rejoice that you’re brave enough to travel on your own! Not a lot of people will.
Some pictures of my Trip to Ireland are below for any curious souls 😉