Hello, my lovelies! Guess who has officially added her VERY FIRST stamp to her new passport?!
I’ll go ahead and tell you. It was me. I went on my first international trip over the Christmas break! Well, not the very first, not technically. I did go on a mission trip to Bogota, Colombia back in 2007. However, I was maybe 14, and our church already had an established base of operation and numerous translators. Plus, I was constantly surrounded by adults. While the country was beautiful, and I value the experience, a thoroughly planned mission trip doesn’t exactly give one that sense of independence and wonder that you get from making it on your own.
This trip was different. It was mine. I dusted off my passport (renewed it) and booked a flight to the Emerald Isle! I was already so excited! I know it sounds small, but it was the first time I’d spent that much money at one time. I felt more like an adult already.
As I mentioned in my About Me page, this blog isn’t about finding fabulous travel advice and how-to’s. At least not yet. For now, I’ll be telling you guys all about my adventures and misadventures, products I love/hate, and just like in this case, the lessons I learn along the way.
Without further ado, here’s a list of things to NOT do in Ireland.
1. Do not go without a credit card.
I cannot stress this enough. If you know that you’re going on a trip, and you already have a credit card, call and let them know about your travel plans. That part is fairly standard. If you don’t have a credit card, GET ONE!! Mind you, this is not so you can travel with fun money and just worry about it later. This is to keep your money safe.
If you lose your credit card or someone steals it, and someone starts using it, simply call your bank, and they’ll shut down your card like it never happened. Now what if you only brought your debit card, and someone steals that? Sure, you can call your bank to shut off your card, but if you can’t do it in time, that money is gone forever.
Simply put, as long as you don’t go overboard, it’s safer to travel with . . . hypothetical money.
AND SIGN UP FOR YOUR CREDIT CARD IN ADVANCE! Nothing fills your soul with shame more than not getting your credit card in time and having to use your parents’.
Not that I’m speaking from experience . . . . .
2. Do not sleep in!
Don’t sleep in? But I’m on vacation?!
I’m usually a morning person, but even I find it hard to resist the siren call of a warm pillow. No matter how hard that hostel mattress was when I laid down at night, it was as cozy as a cloud when I woke up the next morning. Trust me, I get it!
That being said, if you plan a trip as short as ours (only 2 weeks!), you DO NOT want to sleep through it. I personally think that sleeping in is for people who stay at beach resorts. If you want to pay that much money to fly across an ocean, you better not waste a single day! To this day, I regret sleeping in on our last day and only having enough time to see one of the three fishing villages outside of Dublin. Howth was such an adorable little town, and I wish we could have seen more of it.
If a relaxing tropical vacation is your goal, sleep away, but if you’re backpacking like we were and want to work for your experiences, mornings are precious!
3. Don’t rush through your trip.
That being said, if you want to visit more than one city, plan for more than two weeks. Our trip was WAY TOO SHORT! I realized quickly that it would take someone at least one week to really get a feel for Dublin, and we also visited Belfast and Limerick! Another regret I have is that we only spent one night in Belfast. While it was one of my favorite nights in Ireland by far, it wasn’t enough! The city of Belfast has such a tumultuous and fascinating history, and yet the people are some of the nicest I’ve ever met. I will track down our Airbnb host if I ever go back. He was such a tremendous help, providing city and transit maps, multiple tour brochures, and even driving us to the train station the day we left!
It broke my heart how quickly our trip flew by. If you really want to soak in a city, give yourself at least 3 or 4 days ther
4. Don’t wear wool socks.
That’s an odd thing to say, right? Hear me out. As soon as I decided that I was going to Ireland in the winter, I knew I had to have the right gear. I ended up getting the PERFECT pair of shoes; dock boot-looking Sperry’s that were sturdy and waterproof, but just fashionable enough to not embarrass me while we walked around the city.
Now, you’d think that shoes are the most important part of any traveler’s wardrobe, and you’d be right. However, the wrong pair of socks can ruin your day, no matter how nice your shoes are. I thought I was being smart by getting hardy 100% wool socks, but do not do this! Not unless you’re packing for Alaska in January.
Ireland is moderately cold during the winter, but because of the North Atlantic Current, it rarely snows or gets too cold (think Texas winters). Because of this, my friend and I actually ended up peeling off half of our layers a lot of the time. And my 100% wool socks? Well, without going into too much detail, my feet got hot and sweaty and pruney, and it even got painful after a while. Turns out, wool does not breath. AT ALL! As someone who doesn’t pay much attention to fiber content, I did not know this. I know it’s sad, but there ya go.
Get a wool/cotton blend.
For all of the running to catch buses, missing our trains, and getting lost in Dublin, Ireland still managed to be a fantastic trip that was worth every penny. The Irish people are so welcoming, and just out to have a good time. And did I mention the cathedrals? THE CATHEDRALS!!! Coming from America, the land of the free and the home of the refurbished, it was such a new experience to see a culture that was so . . . well, old. If traveling turns me into a history buff, I’ll be alright with that.