I went to Ireland in the summer of 2015 and I'm going to be very upfront with y'all: I wish I could redo that trip. Not because it was so wonderful and amazing and I want to relive every second, but because it was definitely not the trip I wish I could have taken. Now don't get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for that trip and that I had friends willing to take me in and give me a place to sleep every night and help me navigate for my first time out of the country. But if I could do that trip now it would be 100x better.
So here's what made that trip not so great. Take these things into consideration if you're planning any solo trip!
1. I was staying with a friend that I didn't really know well
A friend from college whom I knew from work enthusiastically offered to let me crash at her boyfriend's apartment with the two of them and his two roommates for a week in the summer. First off, wow that was a mouthful I'm so sorry. But since I needed to go on a trip for college credit and because, well duh it's Ireland, I enthusiastically said yes without realizing I would be in a foreign country with a group of American's that I knew nothing about and who were there to work, not explore. Which leads me to my next point...
2. It was my first trip out of the country
So little, 20 year old me had no idea what planning for a trip was or how to navigate in another country. I knew I had my friend there to help me, and i just let her do all the planning. And we did some really fun stuff! But I've learned since then that it's important to know what you want out of a trip and to go almost non stop for the whole time you're there. Otherwise you'll end up like me... Sitting in an apartment watching movies and wasting a whole day in Ireland. I mean, really, what was I thinking?!
3. I didn't budget
Okay so this is a lesson I am still learning when it comes to travel. But I came back from Ireland broke. I took out cash every couple of days, which I didn't need to do, and got charged massive ATM fees from my bank, and I just kinda ignored how much everything costed, much to my dismay when I returned home. Know where you're gonna go, but most importantly, know the exchange rate before you do!
4. I didn't know how to use my camera
I borrowed a friend's camera for the week I was gone and I used it on automatic the whole week. Which is fine, but looking back now I regret not learning how to properly use the camera on manual and relying on my iPhone for a lot of photos. This in of itself makes me want to go back to Ireland the most!
5. Lastly, I wasn't independent
Like I mentioned, I relied a lot on my friend to do the work for this trip. But if I had known how the trains worked and been vocal about what I wanted to do, and actually gone out and explored on my own, I would have had a way better time.
And believe me, I had some amazing moment's on this trip. Climbing up Giant's Causeway (see the header photo at the top!) was an unforgettable experience that I'll never forget. I loved Galway and really enjoyed the cultural differences in Belfast. But I wish I had gone to the Cliffs of Moher on a less cloudy day, I wish I hadn't taken that bus tour, I would have liked to see more of Belfast than just the city center and I only spent a couple of hours in Dublin.
But look at it this way - there is still an entire country for me to see the next time I travel to Ireland. And now that some of the more touristy spots are out of the way and I have a better idea of how to travel for a week on my own, I know that my next trip will be nothing short of stellar.
And while we're here, we might as well look at some photo highlights from that trip, right?