For the reasons I told you about here, I decided to move to a different country, to Ireland in particular. I gave up my safe job, my great apartment in Vienna and the possibility to meet my family and friends without booking a flight.
Since this has been my dream for the last decade, I made it happen. It is tough to leave your loved ones behind, to restructure your life, to apply for new jobs and try to figure out a different countries bureaucracy. I thought I would be efficient. I thought I was prepared. I thought, I’ll be grand. To be honest, I am feeling great and have settled in well. But: there is obstacles to overcome, there is despair. There are times when I was annoyed and am Ende meines Lateins. Follow my story through my pictures here, plus take advantage of my moving-knowledge.
Five steps to think of while you’re packing your stuff
Organise yourself: who do you know living in the country? Who can help you in the first few weeks? What do you want to do in the first place – get a job or travel? Think about your insurances in your home country. Look into your bank account. Try to get an international, very cheap bank account. Which documents are you going to need in your new country?
Get rid off stuff: easily put, but so hard to actually do. I went through my wonderful books, my jewelry, all my clothes. I am still trying to decrease my possessions. It feels great!
Monetise your goods: why not look into what you can get for what you have paid for? Porcelain, books, cookery,… other people would be grateful to use your second-hand goods for their new apartment.
Throw a party: yes! Celebrate your life with your family and friends. Give them an opportunity to say good-bye. Don’t just disappear.
Accept help: from whoever you can think of. There are several blogs about moving. Look into helpful websites in the country you are going to and the foreign ministry’s website
For a sustainable lifestyle it’s not only important to know where your ingredients, your products and your clothes are coming from. I always try to take public transport. Of course, you are less flexible, you need to look at confusing timetables and the prices seem to be much more higher than just renting a car (which is a myth if you think about fuel and the renting fees). In particular when you are traveling in a group (in this case, I would actually recommend a car). Good points! But if you are traveling solo, like I do most of the time, I tend to have a lot more fun on busses and trains. You meet people, you get to know the surroundings better since you don’t have to concentrate on driving and you can take a nap. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case because I get stuck at the first two advantages of taking public transportation.
My recommendation if you think about taking the bus or the train is to look into prices. Busses (mostly Bus Éireann) are much cheaper and take you into town centre and to places afar from towns. You can talk to the driver to drop you at a different spot or ask where the best path for your hike is. Although you are not supposed to speak to the driver, they usually know their way around well to offer advice. Trains are only available in some towns and the railway system is not as widely connected as you might want to go. For instance, you cannot take a train to Donegal town. Train times are much more reliable than bus times since they do not get stuck in traffic. Plan ahead, and think about puffers for delayed busses (and trains). Always take a book (or better, an e-reader with you) and some music with you. The bus will arrive, eventually and will most of the time run smoothly. Going in and out of Dublin at rush hour is demanding. What is very convenient is that there is WiFi on public transport most times.
Visit Ireland in 8 days without a car
I chose to visit places in Ireland I have not yet visited. One of them is County Donegal, which is way up north, de-located and hardly reachable by public transport. The Wild Atlantic Way starts in County Donegal (or ends there, whichever way you look at it). It is so worth the trip! After visiting some places in Donegal and Northern Ireland, I decided to go down to County Sligo and visit the beach in Strandhill. After two relaxing days there, I took a long journey through Galway into Limerick, where I went to see EVA international. The bus taking me down to Cork drove me through beautiful landscapes, lots of green.
Trips taken in 8 days
I took ten trips on busses and trains in only eight days and decided to go to Coleraine, Northern Ireland, by car with a friend, which was free of charge.
You can easily work your way through with Google Maps or use Transport for Ireland which also comes with an app if you want it on your phone. I did not book way ahead which left me in the position to take whichever hostel had a free bed. So, for high season pre-book your accommodation via AirBnB, Hostelworld or whichever other platform you might be using.
This article has not been sponsored by any of the corporates named.
I really like traveling by myself. Spend some me-time with this person who I spent most of the time with anyways. But there is usually no time to think about stuff which is bothering me or celebrating life. I love to wake up, stretch and breath, watch sunrise and get a coffee. I do not need to speak to anybody in those thirty minutes. I do not need to see anybody. I brush my teeth without anybody watching. I like to be rushed by none but myself. My me-time is precious to me. Although, I might turn into that old cat-lady (without cats) over time…
Three big questions which you will get asked before you depart on your solo trip:
Why do you travel all alone?
If you have ever considered traveling by yourself you have learned quickly, that you’re never traveling alone. There is always someone coming along. There is always someone sitting beside you on the plane, at the airport, at the bus stop, on the bus or the train. There is always a person at the reception, who cares about you (or is not at all interested in what you are doing).
I feel more open-minded if I travel solo. The minute you spend time with a friend, your boy- or girlfriend, a family member or whoever you decide to travel with, you are making compromises and you are always focused on questions like, What are we doing next? Does he/she want to go there? What should we eat? Do not get me wrong, I like those kinds of travels as well and I appreciate to spend time with friends and family. But this openness to share and to let things happen is probably easier to reach just with yourself. You are making all the decisions.
Aren’t you afraid traveling by yourself?
People, especially female friends tend to ask me out of curiosity and anxiety. My typical answer, very courageously put is usually, No! Why should I be scared? But honestly, I am excited to bits. Sometimes I cannot sleep for several days because I am thinking about what will happen and how everything will turn out. Then I read a lot of literature – travel books and guides, blogs and whichever publication comes to my mind – to calm down.
Another thing is, that I have never been in a dangerous situation while traveling. I never felt lost, was never threatened. I generally trust in people and in the good in them. Maybe I was really naive spending over 100 euros for a (illegal) taxi in Santiago de Chile from the airport to my Air BnB. I just hopped in that person’s van and we had a great chat, after which I was ripped off. It sucked. But on the other hand, I felt safe the entire time and I hope he got to spend that amount of money on something worth it. Or there was this time in Washington D.C. where I decided to try to couchsurf and couldn’t get in touch with the person who accepted to share her room with me. But it all turned out well. I had an awesome space to stay at and a wonderful time to spend with people I would have never met otherwise.
So no, I am generally not afraid traveling solo.
Do you ever eat out alone then?
Funnily, I think about eating out in restaurants or grabbing a drink at a bar often when I am back at my homebase in Vienna. How would it be? Should I just head out? What would people think? I am in my comfort zone-mode and it is quite hard to take a chance and just change your point of view. I have just finished reading Kristian Ditlev Jensen’s book Ord I Orientekspressen who tells his stories about riding exciting trains throughout the globe. One chapter talks about eating alone in a restaurant and REALLY enjoying it.
I share Kristian D. Jensen’s problems he refers to in his book:
Shame whenever you ask for a table for one in a restaurant you are kind of pitied. The waiter feels with you. You are unloved. There is no one you can share your table and food with.
Strangers whenever you are eating alone, you are not alone. Like I already said, you are never just by yourself. There is always someone sitting next to you or seated beside you. There might be awkward situations. Sometimes you find yourself in intelligent, nice conversation.
Care whenever shame turns into disproportionate care it is very hard for someone to enjoy the food you have ordered. If the waiter (like in the US) asks you Is everything alright? all the time, you tend to doubt yourself if you are alright.
I like the way Kristian D. Jensen also talks about eating out alone as a feast for yourself. I love the way he puts it. You have to learn to go across borders and enjoy eating out alone. Forget about staring into your phone or try to read a book (seriously, who can turn pages and eat at the same time, I have never really got that!). Focus on the food you are served. What are you having? What’s it smell like? Where does it come from? How is it processed? Do you miss anything? There are so many questions to ask yourself while celebrating this feast with yourself.
Prepare some great meals for yourself…
…and enjoy it!
To be honest, I have enjoyed eating out alone maybe once or twice. But I am not tired to learn. I feel strange and tend to feel ashamed too. If there is anybody sharing the table with me I like to talk to that person. Although it would not be necessary.
I would like to say that I like to eat by myself in a restaurant. Still learning though. That’s what it is all about while traveling solo.
Of course there are many blogs and articles about female solo traveling and how to get on with it (plus which gear to pack if you want to be prepared for any situation):
Excitement and anxiety meet when I think of my trip to Caminho Portugues with my mam coming up. It’s the ideal birthday present, I thought last year and picked Elena’s very helpful links to surprise my mam. Excitement!
Now, just a few days before we leave Austria, we are both a little anxious. How will we survive this little journey – on a personal and a physical level.
Be Prepared! Things I would not want to miss:
One hell of a backpack. I chose a 60L +10L @Deuter pack but tried Lowe Alpine Air Zone and Geoffrey. Before you buy one – do not choose color or design first – try it on, walk with the amount of kilos on your back. Then, say yes! For more information on which backpack to eventually buy, please look up some particular hiking or traveling websites like this one.
A pair of walkable hiking shoes. I am not a big fan of hiking, at least I was not until I went to Patagonia in Chile in 2016. This is why I invested to buy proper over-ankeled hiking shoes which took me blisterless from A to B. In this case, I went for hiking shoes in Winter and took some by Mammut.
Sun protection, lotionwise and on top. Even though I will be starting in mid-April to walk the St. James the sun in Portugal is stronger, more effective and my skin is (after spending months inside) not used to direct sun. I really (yes, really) take SPF factor 50+ with me, just in case. And a hat. Do not forget the hat. Or buy one on your way!
The playlist of your dreams. I know, it is not essential. But it helps you on a personal level to calm down, to let go of anger or frustration throughout the way. Music is a very intense partner when I am traveling. I have started to pick some walking songs… listen!
The lightest travel journal on earth. Also, not an essential. But still, even if you take pictures or think you will remember your emotions and your experiences and even your new friends. Better write it down. I like to end the day with a short story about the day in a hand written travel journal.
Thoughtful prep involve buying the right guide book. I was told that this one is the best to follow (in German). I know that my mam and I will not stay in Pilgrim hostels but in Bed & Breakfasts on the way. I have not booked anything in advance.
I can also recommend these guides:
The Camino Portugués – A Wise Pilgrim Guide to the Camino Portugués from Lisbon to Santiago along the Central and Coastal Routes by Michaela Matynka Iglesias (2017)
While I usually travel with a Canon LSR camera (just a really basic one) I decided to bring an analogue camera plus my iPhone with me. I got these adaptable lenses by thumbsUp! – you should try these. A 20 Euro pack of 3 lenses (wide, fish eye and macro) is very little luggage and still effective.
I suggest not to carry more than 10% of your body weight on your back. I will offer you a packing list before I start the big trip, so keep yourself updated!