“Adventure, yeah. I guess that’s what you call it when you come back alive.”
I got bit by the travel bug when I was a twenty year old interning in Hawaii. I know, it’s shocking that living in Hawaii for a summer would have such an effect on a young college student, but it did. Seeing the world from the other side of the ocean at such a young age made a huge impact on me, and that summer I made up my mind that travel would be something I did for the rest of my life.
I was lucky enough to marry a man who loved the idea of adventure just as much as I did. And when we began to have children we decided we didn’t want the adventures to end. By the time our oldest was one year old, she had taken over 30 flights traveling all over the US and internationally as well.
When we found out we were expecting baby #2 we had already booked tickets planning to road trip for ten days across the country. Having traveled many times over while pregnant, the thought of an international trip didn’t phase me one bit.
So, when we landed in Ireland we had high hopes that we were once again on the adventure of a lifetime. But, less than 12 hours later, I found myself huddled in the bathroom of our first Airbnb with one of the worst stomach flus in history. It didn’t take long for my toddler to follow suit, followed shortly thereafter by my husband. The first three days were taken by the worst flu we’d had in years. The three days after that were a blur of torrential down pours, ridiculous coughing fits and the creeping rawness of a sore throat. By the time we returned to Dublin (where we planned to finish our trip with pleasant morning chats over coffee and afternoons admiring the Book of Kells) we found ourselves bed-ridden with heaving chest colds and painful sore throats.
Fortunately, we were a few steps away from a walk-in clinic with a doctor that took one look at us and diagnosed “Severe Bronchitis bordering on Pneumonia”, promptly prescribing medication.
I look back on that trip as the worst trip we ever took. And yet, there are so many happy memories woven throughout. Like the day we drove up and down the coast admiring the wild beauty of the ocean and pulling over for the occasional flock of sheep. Or bumping around Dublin in search of the best fish and chips (Leo Burdock) and spending lazy afternoons on St. Stephen’s Green.
In the end, it wasn’t all bad. While there was miserableness we couldn’t avoid, Ireland did not disappoint. I’m so thankful we were able to wade through the bad to see the good. The following are some souvenirs in the form of tips that have proven helpful in saving future potentially disastrous trips. Our hope is that they would help you as well.
1. Buy Medical Travel Insurance. Fortunately, my husband had the foresight to buy health insurance for our trip. He used the company Geo Blue (offered through Blue Cross) because it was extremely affordable. It worked out so well for us that our doctors visit and medication was completely covered while in Dublin.
2. Bring comfort items. Packing my little’s beloved stuffed animal and having my favorite cozy sweater with me brought comfort when we were feeling our worst. It’s always nice when you’re sick to have things that feel like home nearby.
3. Pack the medicine cabinet. Having baby Motrin and Airborne were lifesavers for us. While they didn’t cure all of our ailments, they did make a big difference in how we felt overall. You don’t need to bring everything, but having a thermometer, and some basic pain reliever can go a long way far from home.
4. Get outside. Even though we felt horrible, we tried to get out and explore a bit each day. Getting some fresh air and seeing some of the sights, lifted our spirits and helped us feel like our trip wasn’t totally wasted.
Stay positive. Looking for the good in each day was a helpful practice for us. Each night we’d rattle off the things we were thankful for. Like the kind old lady who filled our vacation rental home with freshly cut wood for the fire each night. Or stumbling upon the best hot chocolate (Butler’s Chocolate Cafe) we’ve ever had. Keeping a good perspective helped us get through each day and finish it well. While I can’t say I was sad to leave Ireland, I can say that I’m looking forward to going back and I’m pretty certain that perspective played a part in that.