Girl Travel – Ireland

Girl Travel

When I tell people that I travel by myself, they seem shocked as if I have done something completely different or created a new invention.

“Really?” a cousin of mine recently exclaimed. “You traveled all the way from Germany to Scotland by yourself? I could never do that.”

I was puzzled. Of course she could do it if she wanted.

“Well,” I explained, “I just bought a bus ticket and sat down.” My cousin walked away, silently shaking her head.

I have come across quite a few head shakers. A few years ago, a friendly seatmate on the airplane was asking about my travel plans.

“I’m going on an archaeology dig in Ireland,” I told her.

“You are traveling alone!” She gave me look of astonishment.

“I am meeting up with the field school participants in County Mayo,” I clarified. Slowly, the woman shook her head, then nudged her friend next to her.

“Melba, this girl is traveling all by herself!” Melba peered around her friend to get a good look at me. I had the window seat, otherwise I would have jumped up and headed straight for the loo. I felt a bit like a bug under a microscope.

“But we’re landing in Dublin,” Melba pointed out to me. “How on earth are you going to get to County Mayo?”

“By train. You see, I am meeting a group of people in County Mayo.” I tried to explain that I wasn’t going to be alone the entire trip, but I was silenced by my seatmates. Melba and my neighbor gasped in unison, eyes round.

“Across the country by yourself! That’s quite an adventure young lady. You be careful!”

I suppose it was an adventure although I have found public transportation more boring than adventurous. As I had told my cousin, I buy a ticket and sit down. Sometimes I sleep. Sometimes I talk to other passengers. Sometimes I read a book. Adventure, to me, involves bungee jumping over the New River or flying a hot air balloon around the world – physical risk.

I get it. These people were worried because I was traveling on my own and I am female. I could understand their reactions if I told them I was hanging out in London’s SoHo by myself at midnight. Or if I were climbing the Alps completely alone.

I was not sure what to make of my airplane friends’ reactions. I wasn’t going to spend the entire summer as an ecclesiastical hermit. I was meeting a group of archaeologists for a month-long dig. However, I neglected to mention that I intended on spending a final week on my own in Dublin.

When the travel bug bit many years ago, I had originally planned to backpack across Europe with my roommate. Then my roommate got a boyfriend and our trip got put on the back burner. I was left with a desire to travel and lacked the proverbial ball and chain (actually, my boyfriend at the time was very supportive of my plans but also very poor). I planned to backpack around Ireland and found a hiking group to join. I enjoyed hiking the Emerald Isle and drinking the Guinness with the group but overall, I found that I prefer to travel on my own. There is more freedom. I meet more local people. The fact that I’m female – well – cannot be helped.

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  • Monica Roberts said at 2014-08-10T05:01:36+0000: Did the same thing, and got the same response (sometimes). I rented a house in Ballydehob, and when my cousin from the US had to return home I flew back to Gatwick with her ... then after she was in the air decided to rent a car and drive from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland and back again taking a zig zag sort of route ... the first time I took off without a shotgun navigator beside me my heart was pounding, and it was white knuckles all the way to Brighton. Eventually got my left hand gear shifting down; sense of direction and nerve back, and by the time I hit the Highlands I was giving the truckdrivers a run for their money. There's nothing quite like six weeks of driving the UK alone ... including Wales, where trying to keep the seemingly identical place names on the map memorised and identifiable for a turning point was, at best, pointless, so just put the map away after stopping every five minutes to check my progress and followed my eyes and intuition ... anyway found some brilliant and not so brilliant places, but had never been more alive and confident by the time I sailed back to Ireland ... was ready to do the same there, and did. As a photographer, travelling alone beats boring and irritating your travelling companion with constant stops and driving well into the sunset hours, waiting for the light to change!