Rumi once said, “travel brings power and love back to your life,” and I would have to agree. I have just returned from a 9-day tour of Ireland, also known as the beautiful “Emerald Isle” for its landscape colored in 40 shades of green. It was an incredible journey jam-packed with breathtaking views, hearty local cuisine, lively music, folklore, celebration of traditions and the country’s rich history. Excitement had been building all week before departure and in typical busy-boss-lady fashion, I was ticking things off my list right up until the minute before our driver arrived to bring us to the airport. Once I hopped in the car, I took a deep breath and a sense of calm rushed over me. By the time we reached the Aer Lingus terminal to check-in, I was ready to live it – not just visit. And, live it we did. We totally immersed ourselves in the Irish culture and by day-2 of our journey, I told my husband, “I am ready to move here.”
"Adventures are the best way to learn."
To fully maximize your adventure (no matter how big, or small – across the globe, or across town) consider these total-immersion tactics:
Exploration is best from the ground. Walk everywhere you can, whenever you can. Scenery and the architecture are often best seen from the ground (looking up). Plus, feeling the hustle and bustle of the streets and hearing the conversations going on between the locals adds to the total-immersion experience.
Eat the local fare. Drink the local brew. To “live” like a local, you must eat and drink like one too – even if their staples aren’t part of your typical diet. Choosing dishes and beverages native to the area you’re in will not only ensure total-immersion, but it pretty much guarantees you’ll be eating and drinking the freshest ingredients – and why wouldn’t you want to do that?
Go where the people are. Technology is amazing, isn’t it? We have access to thousands of restaurant reviews at our fingertips with apps like Yelp and Trip Advisor, but noting beats asking a local his or her favorite spot in town. When you find your way to their recommended destination, sit down with a local, or two. They have the best stories. (At least, in Ireland that’s true.) The Irish are quick witted, funny, and very friendly. Some of our most memorable conversations were with the Irish people we sat down next to at the pub, those who served us in the restaurants, and passers-by on the streets.
Express your gratitude by leaving generous tips wherever you go. Sharing your appreciation for a job well done sure goes a long way. Don’t be shy about showing it.
*Do you know where the acronym TIPS originated? Our tour guide shared this fun fact with us: The first service bar was established in Dublin after their civil war ended in the 1920s; above the door hung a sign that read, “To Insure Prompt Service.” A token or “tip” was given to your waiter before you ordered your drink to encourage prompt service. (Whether this is true or not, remains to be seen – the Irish do enjoy telling tall tales.)
Lastly, celebrate the culture. If song breaks out on the street, join in. If you’re asked to get up and dance, hop to your feet. If you’re passing by a monument, or historic site, stop to learn more. Seeing and being involved in what’s going on around you is sure to spark a new idea, offer a fresh perspective, or at the very least help you gain a greater appreciation for your own customs and traditions.
Patsy Culp is the founder of & celebrate (andcelebrate.com.) Her mission is to help you find something to celebrate every day. She shares weekly inspiration on her blog and asks awesome people running soulful businesses what it means to celebrate. When Patsy is not blogging, you can find her in her cozy home experimenting with new recipes, ruffling through boxes of holiday decorations, scrapbooking, or out and about enjoying everything America's #1 City has to offer. She is a Maine girl proudly residing in Providence with her athletically inclined husband who encourages her to step outside of her comfort zone and join him on hiking and biking adventures.