Going Green: A Solo Traveller Readies for Group Travel to Ireland

by | Sep 9, 2022 | 2 comments

Cliffs of moher in county Clare, Ireland.

Last updated on September 22nd, 2022

Featured image: The Cliffs of Moher, where Sue Janzen will soon be exploring | Photo by IciakPhotos on Envato

An experienced solo traveller shares her group travel tips

By Sue Janzen, Contributor, Women Over 50

(Sponsored Post)

Cead mile failte—a hundred-thousand welcomes! That’s the greeting I look forward to hearing when I join the Globus Green With Envy tour as a JourneyWoman writer at the end of September. I’ve never been to Ireland and I’m excited to experience the lush green vistas, the lively culture and the centuries-old history.  

The tour starts on September 23 in Dublin and makes its way to the west coast and back, ending in Dublin on October 1. During the tour, we’ll visit Westport, Tullamore, Athlone, Kylemore and Galway. We’ll take the ferry across to Aran Islands and see the Cliffs of Mohar, and we’ll visit an abbey, a farm and the oldest pub in Ireland. There is a lot packed into just 8 days!

I usually travel independently and am curious about what it will be like to join a tour. My initial concern about feeling constrained by a set schedule was immediately put to rest when I looked at the itinerary. Not only is there plenty of unscheduled time, there are also activities to choose from depending on my interests. 

For example, in Westport, we can either Taste (learn about soda bread), Pedal (take an e-bike tour) or Trek (explore Achill Island, Ireland’s largest island). I’ve chosen the trek option for that day. When we are in Galway, I’ll be taking a walking tour of the town and enjoying a hearty meal at the pub while others in the group may be spending the day focused on Irish cuisine. Back in Dublin, the choices were hard! Do I learn more about Guinness, discover Dublin’s literary heritage with a pub crawl or spend an evening at a cabaret? As much as I love the idea of the first two, I ended up signing up for an evening that promises to be full of high-spirited entertainment.

Between food and drink tasting, exploring towns and islands and taking in live acts, there is something for everyone!

Dublin, Ireland
Sue will soon be exploring the bustling streets of Dublin / Photo by Lukas Kloeppel on Pexels

Advice from women

I asked the members of the JourneyWoman community if they had advice on how to get the best experience as a solo traveller joining a tour group. Here’s what they said:

“I always have a room to myself so that I can escape the crowd at night if I want to.” Margaret B.

“Being with a group of people from all walks of life – and yes, even sharing a room with a complete stranger – makes me feel a decade younger and fills that inner need for connection. And when it is time to say goodbye, my introverted self is once again happy to hit the road solo.” Niina N.

“I usually head out on my own during free time, and often eat alone at small family restaurants. (Quieter group breakfasts are a better) chance to share experiences with everyone in the group.” Lois P.

“I research every place on the itinerary to determine what I want to do and restaurants to try on my free time.” Barb H.

“Don’t feel pressured to bond with anyone on tour, unless you feel really drawn to someone.” Nat H.

Senior lady traveling abroad, saying goodbye to home and family, she's off to have an adventure

Solo Travel on Your Own Terms

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Sue enjoys a Guiness beer
Sue enjoys a Guinness in preparation for Ireland / Photo by Sue Janzen

My tips to prepare for a group tour 

Even though I’m joining a tour, I’m preparing as I would for any trip except that I don’t have to worry about accommodations, where I’ll eat or transportation. Not having to learn to drive on the opposite side of the road is a big plus!

1. Learn the Language

I always try to learn some phrases in the language of my destination. Even though 99% of people in Ireland speak English, I expect my trip will be enhanced by learning some colloquial words and phrases. Wolfe Momma has many great videos on her Youtube channel, including:

I’ve also just discovered Forvo.com – a good site I know I’ll make use of for this and future trips.

2. Do my Research

I like to have general knowledge about a country’s history and culture before I visit it. I find I absorb more facts by reading short snippets and watching videos than reading books. Here are a couple of websites I’ve found helpful:

I’m also curious about women-owned businesses and found this article which was published earlier this year. I’m going to try to pop into one or two of them while I’m in Dublin – I like the idea of supporting women’s livelihoods around the world. 

3. Embrace the Folklore

Ireland is rich in folklore. Myths and superstitions, banshees and fairies, Celtic wisdom – my imagination is already fired up! Here are some sources I’m going to go through before the trip:

I’ve also rediscovered the works of John O’Donohue, an Irish poet and philosopher, who’s beautiful writing speaks to my heart. I’ve picked up a copy of his book, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, and am savouring every word.

With only a few weeks to go until my trip, I’m getting excited with anticipation. I look forward to meeting friendly, unassuming people, taking in unparalleled views and having a mighty craic!

This tour looks like the perfect introduction to Ireland and I expect it won’t be my last visit. Stay tuned for my next article – I’ll tell you all about it!

Editor’s note: heading out on group tour or solo adventure? Here are eleven surprising things women don’t travel without

Disclaimer: On her trip to Ireland, Sue will be a guest of Globus Travel, which is covering the cost of her travel to Ireland in September. Globus did not review this article prior to publication.

Sue uses her vacations to step back from the busyness of everyday life. This piece by Irish poet, John O’Donohue, will serve as a reminder to enjoy every moment of her trip.

“You have traveled too fast over false ground;

Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up

To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain

When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,

Taking time to open the well of color

That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone

Until its calmness can claim you.”

John O’Donohue

Start Planning Your Trip to Ireland

Get started with resources recommended by the JourneyWoman community

Book Your Flights

Use tools like Expedia or Google Flights to look up the best flight prices. Being flexible with dates can save you even more money.

Looking for a Tour?

Head to the Women’s Travel Directory to find a woman-friendly tour to Ireland.

Find Somewhere to Stay

Find a hotel on Expedia and earn points towards free stays. Hotels.com offers a free night stay for every 10 nights booked.

Looking for an apartment or something more long-term? Check out VRBO.

Insure Your Trip

Travel insurance is more important than ever. Compare plans and policies for the best coverage for your trip using Insure My Trip.

Traveling for an extended amount of time? SafetyWing offers ongoing coverage on a month-to-month basis, and World Nomads offers coverage for extended trips.

Travel Extras

Why not brush up on a new language before your trip with Babbel.

Don’t forget your JourneyWoman branded accessories while you’re on the go!

More to Discover on Ireland

Sue lives in downtown Toronto and works in government communications. Her first solo trip was a week in Paris in 2011. It was uncomfortable and disorienting but ignited a passion for travel. She is drawn to off-the-beaten-track experiences, loves planning almost as much as the trip itself, and looks forward to many years of wandering after she retires.

2 Comments

  1. Barbara

    Sue,

    I’ve done both (solo and group) tours of Ireland. Lots to be said for both really. I probably wouldn’t have gone to the Guinness factory on my own (that was a group thing) and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to go to a very small town church and just sit in the pews during the week if I had to jump on a bus in 20 minutes (solo).

    The solo gives me my freedom, but the group gives me a big itinerary. Which do I prefer? BOTH, of course!

    Barbara

    Reply
  2. Connie Crosby

    Fantastic, Sue! I look forward to your updates. I fell in love with Ireland when I spent a week with friends walking the Ring of Kerry and then a week cycling Connemara with a break in Galway City. I managed to go back later to spend more time in Dublin. I dream of returning.

    P.S. there’s nothing like a Guinness in Ireland

    Reply

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