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Posted by on Jun 13, 2011 in Q&A | 17 comments

Q & A: Tips for Women Traveling Solo in Ireland

Do you have any tips for women traveling alone in Ireland? Do you recommend it?

–Sylvia via Facebook

Sign for a women's toilet in Ireland... mna

Photo by David Kinney

There are no specific travel warnings for women traveling alone in Ireland, and I’d say the women I know who have done it tell some of the most amazing stories from their travels.

Also, there are no social downfalls to being an unaccompanied female traveler in Ireland. You might surprise a few people, but you won’t be treated poorly. In fact, you’ll probably get some special attention.

In other good news, Irish mammies have taught their sons it’s better to use charm over aggression with the ladies. Even if you consider both attitudes sexist, it’s usually easier to deal with a guy who wants to be nice than a mean jerk.

The usual solo travel tips apply… stick to public places, let someone know where you are going, keep your alcohol intake in check, pack light, and if you’re in an uncomfortable situation don’t worry about being rude, just get out.

Our readers were generous with their suggestions as well (add your tips in the comments section):

  • Get a traveling purse that has the uncuttable strap if you want to carry it on your shoulder. — Bette via Facebook
  • Ladies DO IT!!! I am heading out on my second solo trip rambling around Ireland next week!!! Tips: international phone for security and journal the whole trip. — Lora Lee via Facebook
  • Wear sensible shoes and walk A LOT!!! I came home 10 pounds lighter. B&Bs are great..you meet people and get lots of information.  — Lora Lee via Facebook
  • Use a bra pouch (small zippered pouch that attaches to your bra strap, and is worn inside your bra), makes you pickpocket proof. Walk strong with a purpose if you feel iffy. Wear your purse across your chest, not just on your shoulder, and get a cable strap or chain strap. Don’t tell strangers where you are staying. Actually, for a good idea of what NOT to do, watch the first half hour of Liam Neeson’s film Taken. — Christy via Facebook
  • As for having fun part – drink at the bar, not at a table. Get included in conversations, enjoy yourself! If you don’t like sitting alone, bring a notepad — a book will keep people from talking to you, but writing notes in a pad is less intimidating, and doesn’t make you look so alone :) — Christy via Facebook
  • If you are going someplace remote (exploring beach caves, climbing a mountain) and you are alone, let your B&B host/hostess know, or someone else, in case you get injured or lost, they know you haven’t come back, and where to look for you. — Christy via Facebook
  • I stayed in hostels and met a lot of people to hang out with. My only regret is that I didn’t see the giant causeway. — Antonette via Facebook
  • I have been solo to Ireland 2 times now — Dublin, Belfast & Derry. I stayed in B/B’s and used public transportation (buses, taxi’s etc..). I NEVER had a bit of trouble. Ireland is the friendliest place I know. Everyone I asked a question of or had the pleasure to talk to was absolutely wonderful. — Laury via Facebook
  • Bring an umbrella-ella-ella! — @SlainteMoChara via Twitter (actually, I recommend a waterproof jacket… it’s better in the wind)
  • Sheila Lamb wrote this bit over at BootsnAll – Girl Travel – Ireland

Read the original Facebook Suggestions (quotes have been abridged) >>

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17 Comments

  1. EU pints are bigger than US pints, and Irish beer/ale/cider/lager is almost always of a higher percentage alcohol per serving than we regularly find on this side of The Pond. Women and lighter drinkers often order half pints. Drinking with a group happens in “rounds”. Be polite and order your round early in the evening.

  2. I’ve traveled solo twice to Ireland, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! One of my favorite things to do was go to a pub, sit right at the bar, and strike up conversations with the locals. I got great travel advice that way and heard some great stories as well!

    • That’s exactly how my trip to Ireland looked like :) I recommend solo traveling, too!

  3. I agree with the others that sitting at the bar and getting involved with the locals is a great plan. I spent three weeks alone in Ireland and it was the best trip of my life. Everyone was so friendly and nice. Never once did I not feel safe on my trip. Also a great way to travel solo is to couch surf. I stayed with a host in Cork at the beginning of my trip. She was nice to take me to Kinsale and Cobh. She opened a doorway to the locals in Cork I would not have had by staying in hostels.
    Ireland is a must take trip for every solo female traveler!

    • Would love to hear about your couch surfing experience… is there a potential article there?

  4. Ladies if you can stay at Trinity College.
    1. They have security on campus
    2. You can have a great view of the Rugby team practice. :-)

  5. another thing about pubs (and applies to men as well as women, of course): if you do not drink, you’ll still be most welcome. many have soft drinks and coffee, and tea is almost always a good choice — even places which do not seem to have anything on the menu but drinks will have a pot of tea going for the staff and will usually be quite ready to make a cup for you as well.

  6. If you get as far as the Gaeltach areas on the west coast, do try to learn/use a few words of Irish. Even if it’s just how to say hi and thank you. People really appreciate it. And if in the Gaeltachtai, do take your time. Things happen slower here, people smile and say hello before they order things in shops and pubs. Same goes for asking directions. And slowing down makes for a better holiday too!

  7. If you go out, just bring a photocopy of your passport. Leave your passport in the hotel. You have no idea what a horrendous hassle it is to get a new passport issued. First you have to call the American embassy in Dublin, they may or may not even be able to answer your call because the people who work on passports may not be around that day… and when you finally do reach someone they want you to make an appointment for a few days later, (if you’re lucky.) Sorry, the US embassy does not allow walk-ins for new passports. Save yourself a lot of heartache and headache. Just don’t bring your passport with you everywhere you go. Most people think they need to have their passport on their bodies at all times. This is a great way to lose it! Keep it in your suitcase in your hotel. Don’t risk having that passport fall out of your jacket pocket or your messenger bag in some coffee shop. I recently lost my passport and someone was kind enough to hand it in at the local Garda station. Not everybody gets lucky like I did.

  8. I’ve spent a good amount of time traveling in Ireland alone, and I think these are all great suggestions, especially about ordering glasses instead of pints or even tea or soda (if that’s what you want to do) and learning a little bit of the language if you’ll be in the Gaeltacht region, which I was. I wish I’d learned more of the language before going. It wasn’t hard to communicate since English was widely spoken, but I still plan to take some Irish language classes before my next trip.

    I will say, though, that I don’t think it’s a great idea to go hiking alone, especially challenging hikes, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman. Maybe make some friends at the hostel or wherever you’re staying, and go hiking with at least one other person. Some terrain (like on the Aran Islands and in the Burren for example) can be rather difficult for those of us used to level, paved roads.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. I loved my travels in Ireland and will definitely be back again.

  9. I have been solo six times now and love Ireland. Always feel safe and welcome. Get used to conversation and don’t be in a hurry. The polite interest reminds me of the Old South…very charming. The local pubs are wonderful gathering places and a great way to meet people. If you want conversation or craic, sit at the bar.

    I love going to cookery school at Ballymaloe for part of my trip…have met marvelous friends from around the world.

  10. I’ve been twice alone in Ireland, and I’m going again in January. Enjoyed it both times, met a lot of people, even when I was just walking down a street! Every evening I find some pub, sit at a bar and that’s how the fun starts :)

  11. I am going to do a self drive tour Ireland and Scotland in March for 15 days by myself. Reading all the advice is really helping me out. Just want to know what are the must-see places since this will be my first time.

    Thank you!!

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