Ireland- The Perfect Country for Your First Solo Trip

My first solo trip was to Ireland when I was 19, a six-day vacation in the middle of working as an au pair in France for the summer. After several Guinness and live music filled days, Ireland had earned the a place as one of my favorite countries- it really is a beautiful, surprisingly rugged place with lots of good-hearted (and handsome) locals.

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In in my mind, Ireland is the perfect first-time solo travel destination for English-speakers. Here’s why:

a. There’s a common language with kind, welcoming people, making it easy to communicate and get to know locals

b. There are oodles of fascinating ruins and sites, as well as great culture, music and general Irish-ness

c. Ireland’s less expensive than other English speaking destinations such as as Australia or the U.K.

d. And it’s a small, safe country that you can cross in 3 or 4 hours

 

That being said, I will admit that I didn’t like solo travel right away, even in Ireland. Here is a ranty email excerpt from the beginning of my trip:

I dont really like travelling alone, mainly because you have to rely on making friends in order to have company. I like being able to walk everywhere alone but everything’s twice as scary and expensive when you’re alone. Like yesterday when I got in the car with a bunch of Spanish guys, which could’ve potentially gone very badly, I was scared AND alone which is far worse than just being scared.

 

But don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Just make sure to take some safety precautions: carry pepper spray, don’t walk home alone at night (especially not with headphones!), don’t drinking too much and be reasonably careful. And um, don’t get into a car with a bunch of Spanish guys.

In my pre-blogging days, I was much less vigilant about taking photos- hence why I literally didn’t take one picture of Dublin or Galway. But here is my coverage of the wonderful, windblown day I spent biking around Ennismore, the largest of the Aran islands.

Ireland                            A bike which was mode of transportation for the day as well as a source of frustration… 34620_1419443006596_3144367_n                                             Stumbling upon a Celtic graveyard… 34620_1419443086598_7760689_n                                                            Stopping for some delicious fish chowder and brown bread… 34620_1419443126599_4397201_n

34620_1419443166600_7754303_n                                                 Buying a Celtic wraith t-shirt and Claddagh ring…

Ireland1                                                 Biking to Dun Aengus, a beautiful Celtic fortress ruin… 34620_1419443366605_4550902_n 34620_1419443406606_842896_n

Overall it was a perfect day of solitude, blustery weather and a quiet kind of joy you feel when you’ve done someone really good for yourself, all on your own.

Also- before I left the island, there was a magical moment when an Irish boy welcomed me into his bike shop to escape the rain. After we chatted for about an hour he asked me if he could kiss me, and as I had a boyfriend at the time, I was forced to decline. Sadness.

Since then I have returned to Ireland twice. And I can safely say that all three of my solo trips to the Emerald Isle have been amazing.

So please, think about Ireland if you’ve never traveled alone before but might want to try. I promise you won’t regret it- and maybe, just maybe, a cute Irish guy will pull you out of the rain. And in that case I implore you to give him a kiss or two.

For more of my Ireland coverage: A Grand, Google-Filled Weekend in Dublin’s Fair City, My 22nd Birthday in Cork, IrelandA Journey to the West- Dingle, Ireland, Dingle II: Irish Heritage and Craggy CliffsA Mini Irish Road Trip

Have you ever traveled solo in Ireland?

14 Comments

  1. I really like solo travel & Ireland was my first solo trip! Mostly because of heritage and Guinness!

    Such a great place to explore and learn about.

    Reply
  2. I haven’t done any solo travel…yet. However, Ireland is a place I definitely want to travel! Thanks for all the great information and pictures Ashley!
    Mike recently posted..Spain and Its WalkabilityMy Profile

    Reply
    • No problem! And I would seriously consider Ireland for your first solo trip- you won’t regret it!

  3. I have been to Wales ages ago and it was my first solo travel experience and I agree with what you said about Ireland. It was easy to communicate and there were so many friendly locals around to help you out plus the scenery was beautiful. Hope to go to Ireland one day :)
    Agness recently posted..A Mini Guide to KTV in ChinaMy Profile

    Reply
    • I’d love to go to Wales also, it seems really fascinating and my mother is part Welsh so it would be kind of interesting for me :)

  4. I agree about Ireland (but I am Irish!)

    My number one tip is stay in hostels, they are THE BEST place to meet other travelers. My favourite is Screig an Iolair in Crolly Co.Donegal. A wonderfully friendly place with music and amazing people.

    If you don;t like hostels carry your smartphone with you and join websites like Travlbuddy, Wandermates.com and VivTrav to help meet other people (like me http://www.wandermates.com/profileview.php?profileuserid=6 :)

    Finally, if there are no people or hostels, go on 1 or 2 day activity outings, e.g. diving, climbing, canyoning, etc. They are another great way to meet people. I recommend Kerry, Galway and CLare for the best outings.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the tip with wandermates! What a great idea :). And I find if you talk to shopkeepers or young people who work at the hostel you often meet people… I met two Irish guys by talking to their dad at their shop and then got invited to a house party in Dingle, ha!

  5. Am currently in Dublin, and I have to say, 90% of the time we have had sunshine. Not the dark gloomy Ireland I had imagined. Before Ireland, I hadnt seen the sun for about 3 weeks I think.
    John recently posted..My First Week in DublinMy Profile

    Reply
  6. I’m getting ready for my 3rd Solo trip to Ireland in Jan 2014!!! ;-)

    Reply
  7. Just to let you know, pepper spray is illegal in the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It is classed as an offensive weapon.

    Reply
    • My friend actually told me that! I think that law is a bit short-sighted actually.

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