Go Ahead traveler Stephanie embarked on our 12-day tour of England, Scotland and Ireland. We caught up with Stephanie to see what she thought of her tour and get some advice. Here’s what she had to say about her adventures in England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Why did you choose Go Ahead?
I did EF Educational Tours when I was in high school and college. When I graduated from Indiana University, I wanted to do a big trip. I went ahead with it because I loved EF tours, and Go Ahead is the group tour company for adults. I like doing group tours because they take a lot of the stress out of having to plan the logistics for yourself. I can just enjoy it and add on to things if I want.
What was it about England, Scotland and Ireland that intrigued you?
I just always wanted to visit those countries. Looking at the different tour options, this one really stuck out to me since I’d been wanting to go there for a while, and there are no language barriers or anything like that to worry about.
Who did you travel with?
I originally wanted to do a trip by myself, but I was talking about it with a friend I knew from school and she asked, “Can I go?” and I said “Sure!” Then, another friend who I work with in Chicago heard about the trip and asked if there was any room left and if she could join too.
Before you went, what were you looking forward to most? What took you by surprise?
For London especially, it was the big touristy things I’ve always seen in the movies and heard about. I always knew London was big, but I didn’t expect it to be so massive. There’s so much happening in London.
Scotland was wonderful, I fell in love with Edinburgh. I just wasn’t expecting it to be so beautiful. You see all the photos and it really just takes your breath away. We had great weather, we were really lucky.
Dublin was great, but what really sold Ireland for me was when we went to County Kerry, County Clare, all the places outside of the city. Our Tour Director was from Ireland and was able to share a lot—I wasn’t expecting to see all those historic great sights in Ireland. To be able to see some of the smaller cities that weren’t as “touristy” was great insight into what Irish life is like.
What was your favorite city?
My favorite city out of the whole tour was Edinburgh. I liked it because it was like London in that it was a bigger city, there were a lot of activities and historic sites, but it was small enough that you could walk through it (unlike London, which is so huge you have to take the Tube everywhere). It was just gorgeous and you could do everything—shopping, history, museums, nightlife, hiking—it was all right there.
Favorite free-time suggestion?
The whisky tour outside of Edinburgh Castle. I recommend it for everyone because you get to see how whisky is made and taste it. It’s nice to learn the history, taste the different kinds and see the different regions of Scotland where it’s made.
What are your tips for someone traveling on this tour?
There’s a lot of walking, it can be very vigorous. When you visit a new place you really want to explore the area, so be prepared for that: bring good walking shoes.
Also, be open to new things. These countries aren’t too far off from American culture, but there are some smaller things to try to get used to. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and ask questions, you can learn a lot from them.
If you had to summarize this tour in just a few sentences, how would you describe it?
Overall, the locations were the true stars of this tour. Everything was so beautiful, there was so much to learn and at the end of the day it’s great to share with others. It’s really all about the people who you’ll meet in the locations you visit. Being able to go to so many different places and meet so many new, local people, that’s why I did it.
Why do you think traveling is important?
It really goes back to being able to understand different people and different cultures, anything outside your bubble. The world is so busy, you don’t always have time to get out and see how other people are living their lives. [Traveling] puts my life in perspective, makes me more aware of other countries that are doing great and those that are struggling. It makes you a more well-rounded person.