My Thoughts After

3 Weeks of Solo Travel

It’s been a wild time in Ireland. I’ve learned how to drive manual in a trial by fire, drank with all manners of people until the wee hours of the morning, met a countless number of interesting people, and grown exponentially more confident in myself.

23 min read

You get comfortable fast

During the first few hours after I landed in Dublin (it honestly seems like months ago), I had a mild panic attack. I was all alone in an unfamiliar city. I was exhausted, not having slept at all on the red eye flight from Atlanta to Dublin. I hadn’t met anyone at the hostel immediately after checking in (a somewhat ridiculous assumption, given that I gave no effort).

I just wandered aimlessly around the city, spending a few hours getting lost and seeing what Dublin had to offer. After taking a few photos and half-heartedly filming a vlog, I got a sandwich from a cafe and went back to the hostel. It was only 6PM Ireland time, but I had resigned myself to going to bed and giving it another shot the next day, when I was fully rested.

Hostel life had other plans for me, however, the results of which made me immediately comfortable for the rest of the trip.

Hostel life is easy

As I was about to take a nap, one of the guys in my 12 bed room came in and struck up a conversation. He mentioned how he took a few tours that day and that he was planning on going to the hostel pub crawl after snagging dinner from a local burrito shop. I tagged along for both the Mexican food as well as the bar crawl, and that’s where I made my first, important realization about solo travel.

Being social is easy. Making friends can be as easy as making eye contact with someone in a hostel.

During that night at the pub crawl, I met at least 20 people, a few of which I ended up partying around Dublin with for five days. All because of saying, “Yes,” and consuming a few (many) pints throughout the night.

You’ve probably read this in a bunch of travel books and blogs, but hostel life really is the easiest thing. If you leave yourself remotely open to friendly interaction, chances are you’ll find someone to explore your new city with. It really is that easy.

You don’t have to be social

This next point I learned later on during my adventure. A little less than two weeks into my adventure, I realized I was getting worn out by the constant social interaction. There are a limited amount of times you can tell new people where you’re from or how long you plan on traveling.

It took one night of feeling a bit guilty about being in a hostel and not really talking to someone. After taking a shower, I realized that I don’t have to talk to anyone if I don’t want to. This is my trip and I can be as social or antisocial as I want. I actually started to look forward to both hostels so I could meet new friends, and AirBnBs so I could have my solitude and be lazy. I could spend my time however I wished.

Solo travel is true freedom

I had a pretty solid itinerary for Ireland. It was born out of finishing my pre-trip preparations early and getting anxious because there was nothing left to do. Despite all of the planning, I actually ignored the itinerary for at about half of the trip. The reasons varied from being too tired to wake up for the ferry to the Aran Islands to deciding to randomly pull off the road and hike a misty mountainside.

This flexibility wouldn’t be possible while traveling with someone else. Traveling with friends is great, because you’ll always have someone with you to share the experience with. That being said, having a travel buddy creates a safety net that it can be difficult to break free from. If you have that friend to talk to, perhaps you wouldn’t feel the desire to hang out in the hostel common area and chat up whomever walks in.

The freedom extends beyond social interactions. The amount of times that I took a sudden exit off the highway because I saw a sign that said “Waterfall,” was…four. I did that four times. Often at the cost of seeing something else that I had planned on visiting. Those sorts of ADD-like travel reactions would be difficult if you had to clear every decision with an adventure buddy.

No one cares

As I’m typing this in a Starbucks in the middle of the Dublin Airport, I’m getting stared at quite a bit. I have no idea why, perhaps it’s because I’m the only one with any sense of calm in the roiling madness that is the Dublin Airport. It doesn’t matter.

What thoughts they might have about me will fade from their memory in the next minute or so, and I’ll still be here. Doing whatever the hell I want.

That awareness extends to vlogging in public. During my first few days traveling, I was very self-conscious about filming myself in front of other people. I’d pause and let people walk by so I wouldn’t have to get an odd look from them. Now? I say whatever the hell is on my mind, their glances be damned. They won’t remember, and if they do, perhaps they’ll find me on YouTube.

Everyone is absorbed in their own lives, and I’m a node of brief interest at best. That might sound negative, but it’s actually the most positive realization I’ve made. It allows for ultimate freedom, because no one will give a shit in T-Minus…now.

Time to find my gate!

Not to post and run, but I’ve got to go. Those are some brief thoughts I’ve come up with during my adventure through Ireland. Have you had any similar realizations on your solo travel adventures? Comment below and let me know!

Until Next Time