Category Archives: Independent Travel

Traveling Alone: From Nervous Novice to Poised Professional

By: Amanda Hollywood, ’17 // Public Relations

It’s coming down to the last few weeks of our semester abroad, meaning we’re all frantically trying to squeeze in as much traveling as we can and check a few more things off our bucket lists before finals hit. It’s an interesting time because by now we’ve all gotten pretty close and are accustomed to always having someone around. At the same time, with funds and time running out, we all have certain ‘Must Do’s in mind for ourselves- and those goals don’t always align with our friend’s. That is how I found myself booking a weekend on my own to the Dingle peninsula, the most western point in Ireland.

My roommates had all planned to go to Barcelona together, but I found myself less than eager to join them. I’m not a fan of hot weather- I call Burlington and Dublin home, after all!- I don’t speak Spanish, and I can’t spend more than five minutes in the sun without being burnt to a crisp. On the other hand, Dingle seemed to be calling my name, having grown up on the stories of the time my dad had spent there when he was my age. It was really hard to decide to go on my own rather than sticking with my friends, but I only had the money for about one more trip and I knew I had to see Dingle if I wanted to leave Ireland with no regrets.

So in true American fashion I set off for the West early on Friday morning, my roommates having already flown out to Barcelona the night before. It’s no easy task getting to Dingle: it took two trains and a bus, totaling about five hours travel, and I was worried about navigating so much transportation on my own. I booked my hostel before I started figuring out how to actually get there, and thank goodness I did or I might’ve backed out. It can be intimidating, navigating train stations and bus routes on your own, especially with no phone to easily look up any information needed on the spot. But the hostel was booked so I had to get there no matter what, and with some careful planning and navigation, I did.

The journey was totally worth it, by the way

The journey was totally worth it, by the way

I had stayed in hostels before on the Western Ireland trip which I was really thankful for, but even so, this was a new experience. I was in a mixed gender room with six beds, and I had been trying to reassure myself that just because it was labeled mixed and had six beds didn’t necessarily mean that six men and women would be there during my stay. However, when I walked into the room, it became quickly obvious that I was indeed getting the last bunk in a room full of men and women. That made me pretty nervous at first, and to make myself feel a little better, I ended up keeping my bag up on my bed with me when I slept at night. My hostel was definitely plenty secure, and I never felt that I was in any danger or a sketchy situation, but even so I was on my own and had to look out for myself. Little things like not leaving your phone out charging somewhere unattended or counting your money out in the open are just little actions that can help you feel more secure and guarded when you’re on your own. Continue reading

How wonderful it is to visit Howth!

Ireland myth #1: Rolling hills are everywhere.

Champlain Abroad Dublin‘s Academic Center and student apartments are located in the heart of Ireland’s biggest city! While Dublin is not exactly like New York or Boston, there is still quite a bit of hustle and bustle. With hustle and bustle comes public transportation and with public transportation comes adventures!

In just the short amount of time I’ve been here, I’ve discovered just how easy it is to get out of the city and into the scenic views Ireland is known for. (Ireland is dubbed the Emerald Isle after all) With 6 euros and a bit of time on your hands, you can hop on a train and explore a new village or town along the coastline. 

Map if Howth peninsula

Map of Howth peninsula

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I’m Flyin’ Solo – Independent Travel

Liberating.
That’s the single best word to describe independent travel.
In planning my semester with Champlain Abroad, I decided that I wanted to take one solo weekend trip (to my mom’s initial disdain). And the more reading of independent female travel blogs that I did, the more the idea solidified in my mind and became not a want but a need. As long as I did my research and chose somewhere that would put everyone’s mind at ease in terms of safety, there wouldn’t be an issue.
I flip flopped between destinations; and when my first long weekend, still open, began approaching, I asked a professor for a recommendation on regions in Ireland to visit.
“The Dingle Peninsula,” He said, no hesitation in his reply. So came the studying of how to get there, what to do, where to stay and eat, and who needed cash over credit. Reflecting back on it, the process was long—five hours spent one Sunday afternoon, poring over my ninety open tabs and scrolling through articles furiously—but not as painstaking as I imagined it would be. Two days later, a trip for Dingle and Killarney was completely booked and the excitement to go was insurmountable.

Cycling Slea Head. A fantastic way of exploring what Independent Travel is all about.

Cycling Slea Head. A fantastic way of exploring what Independent Travel is all about.

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Being in Belgium: Tips of the Travel

Last month I took a trip out of Ireland and all the way to Belgium.  My friends and I had no plans or itinerary for when we arrived in Brussels Belgium.  We just wanted to explore and find our own way, and thats exactly what we did.  When we arrived at our hostel the first thing we did was ask “Where can we get waffles?!”, lets be honest that’s why anyone goes to Brussels right? So let me tell you what I did, what I recommend and what I don’t.

Exploring Brussels. Photo credit: Allie Hanson

Exploring Brussels. Photo credit: Allie Hanson

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Spring Break Abroad

Many people told me before I came to study with Champlain Abroad Dublin that Ireland can act as a gateway to the rest of Europe. We used it as just that, traversing across Austria and Germany for eight days during our Spring Break abroad.

We started our week in Salzburg. Traveling with my three roommates, we flew out of Dublin early Saturday morning and spent the whole day exploring Salzburg. We spent hours, taking in the city’s beautiful architecture and stunning mountain scenery.

Innsbruck

Innsbruck

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From Paris to Dublin, Learning from Experience

Studying abroad for me was a big step in the next chapter of my life at Champlain College and future career. I have always loved traveling and knew for a long time that study abroad would be a big part of my college experience. What I didn’t know when I decided to study abroad is how much it would change me as a person. Before I left to study in Paris last fall, I was full of magical daydreams of Paris and how I would travel the world in four months; clearly I had some slightly naïve and unrealistic expectations. Over the four months I lived in Paris, I become self sufficient, self-reliant, and by the end I realized I wasn’t the same naïve girl who had left the U.S. in August. Now, I’m in Dublin with Champlain Abroad and I’m glad I have developed the skills to feel more comfortable in a new city and at the same time am constantly learning new skills that are just as valuable.

Karisa Desjardins – Champlain College: A photo from my first week in Paris!

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Lessons from Oslo

A great deal of Champlain Abroad students go to Ireland because it is the so-called “gateway to Europe.” Dublin is a home-base, and now that you’ve already crossed the Atlantic, almost anywhere you’ve ever dreamed of visiting in Europe is a quick flight away. Cheap flights from airlines such as Ryanair make country-hopping affordable. One thing I believe many of us want to take away from study abroad is establishing ourselves as travel-savvy— able to breeze through the airport with a week’s worth of possessions tucked away neatly in a backpack, scoffing at the newbies frantically sorting through their luggage at security for a tube of toothpaste that exceeds the allotted volume.

View from the roof of the Oslo Opera House

View from the roof of the Oslo Opera House

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The Castles of Ireland

One of the things I was most excited about doing in my semester abroad in Dublin was taking in as much Irish/European history as I could. There is just such a magic in the subject here that delves so much farther back than anything the US has to offer. In particular, one of the key features I wanted to explore at length while here was castles.

From where we stepped off the bus

From where we stepped off the bus

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Hiking Howth

Northeast of Dublin, no more than thirty minutes on the DART, local train service, is the coastal village of Howth. The village isn’t one of those well-kept secrets we all hope to stumble upon in our travels; it was pretty crowded with tourists on the Saturday that I went. Still, if you want to get […]

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