In a little less than two weeks, I will be traveling to Ireland with my best friend, Rebecca! We have been planning to travel to Europe together since high school but between not having money and the craziness of college, we could never find the time. After we graduated last May, we both got jobs and agreed to set aside some savings for our trip throughout the year. A few months ago, we sat down and finally decided that this summer was the perfect time to go.
We’ve both traveled abroad on multiple, separate occasions and each experience was a blast. Something about engulfing myself in a different country is truly humbling and makes me appreciate all the diversity in the world. We figured as we embark on our new lives as young adults, what better way to celebrate than with a trip abroad!
So why Ireland? To be honest, neither of us really know. When we first discussed where we should travel, instantly we both said, “IRELAND!”. Maybe it’s our fascination with P.S. I love you or the extremely endearing accent, but both of us agreed that Ireland was where we needed to be.
This post will likely be a series because there really is a lot that goes into traveling abroad (semi)alone. Since i’ll be attending a wedding on the weekend of the 29th, we will actually be flying out on different days so I can’t rely on having her there beside me to ask if she has any extra snacks or hand sanitizer. Yikes!
So here are some things I find helpful when traveling abroad:
– Do your research about the country. This may seem a bit obvious, but make sure the country you are visiting requires you to apply for certain tourists visas. It may only be ~$30 but if it isn’t done ahead of time, you will have a hard time getting through customs when you land. I also applied for an international student ID in college. A lot of companies recognize it as a valid form of identification and most museums and libraries will honor student discounts!
– Look into the culture. Research words and mannerisms that may be offensive in the country you are visiting. For example, in some countries giving a thumbs up or the “okay” symbol is extremely offensive.
– Invest in a backup battery phone case. This tip I learned from my sister. Buy a phone case that serves as a back up battery. You can buy them on Amazon for about $50 and it really is worth it when you’re traveling. They’re a bit bulky but when you’re stuck in the middle of a country and you get lost, it’ll be worth it to have a back up battery for your phone. The phone case I have is capable of fully charging my phone to 100% after it dies.
– Carry a map. For practical reasons, bring a map. While I am definitely the kind of traveler that likes to wander the streets and get lost in a new city, it’s always helpful to be able to find your way back. So just in case your GPS isn’t working, a good ole’ map will help you find your way back to civilization.
– Keep your guard up. While a lot of people have great intentions, it’s always important to be safe when you’re abroad. Try and look up what areas to try and stay away from. Travel in pairs and always tell others where you’ll be for that day.
– Look up “Top Lists”. Every time I travel to a new country or even new city, I always make sure to try and visit their national monuments and eat at locally popular restaurants. There’s a good chance you won’t go back to the country so try as many new things as possible.
– Get an app that allows you to internationally call and text for free. I use Viber and WhatsApp to be able to call home every night. They work as long as you have wifi and luckily most countries you visit will have wifi in local coffee bars or hotels.
– Explore now, sleep later. Do everything you can to explore and experience as much as you can while you’re there. Sometimes you’re only in a country for a few days so despite how tired you are, try and go out as much as you can. I always say you can sleep on the plane ride back!
These are a few tips that I’ve developed from my own personal experiences. I hope some of these are helpful. Let me know if any of y’all are planning to travel abroad this summer!