Hey there, Sommer and Luke here. We are newlyweds from Mississippi. We met on a blind date about eight years ago, and have been attached at the hip ever since. After many years of dating both local and long distance, we decided to take the next step and make it official. We got married in the town of our alma mater that is Oxford, Mississippi, some might even go as far as to call it God’s Country. Oxford is home to the Ole Miss Rebels, the Grove, the Square, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and some of the best dressed college kids you are likely to ever see. It has also been called the tailgating capital of the SEC if not the world. For the last 5 years, Luke has been working in the finance world while Sommer finished her Doctorate at University of Arkansas Medical School. After the wedding, we decided to put everything in storage and take a break from adulthood for a few months. We bought a one- way ticket across the pond to Europe and landed in Dublin to begin our journey. We are Southern Fried Passport, the name was born from our somewhat crazy demeanor and above all desire to travel the world. We picked Ireland as our starting point because of Luke’s Irish heritage. After a little research on the origin of the Sullivan clan in southern Ireland, we thought this would be as good a place as any to begin our journey.
We spent four days roaming the streets of Dublin and picking the minds of the locals, not to mention indulging in that righteous elixir the locals call “The Black Stuff”, perhaps more commonly known as Guinness. If it is one thing that symbolizes the Irish drinking culture, it is their love of this stuff. Believe me, as friendly as the Irish are in general, they are doubly friendly after a few pints. In the end, we got a lot of good information on places to visit. We picked up our 1973 Volkswagen Campervan courtesy of Retro Campers Rental (http://www.retrocamper.ie/)out of Dublin and headed south to Cashel, home to the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey. It took us a little while to get used to driving an “Americanized” antique vehicle on the wrong side of the road. However, after a few miles, some close calls with oncoming traffic, followed by a few cringes from Sommer; we finally got the Irish driving thing all figured out, which is to say, we made it out alive. We drove the VW named Ruby on a southern loop of Ireland, setting up camp in either national parks, RV parks, or even random pastures each night.
After two days exploring the ruins in Cashel, we continued south to Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone. After watching a hundred or so brave tourists lean their heads over the ledge to kiss a rock that was no doubt tainted with the saliva of each passing tourist, we elected to forgo that experience. Kissing the Blarney Stone is supposed to give the gift of gab to the aggressor. After Luke’s driving, we probably needed a little extra luck, but I don’t think our travel insurance covered lip infections. From Blarney, we headed south to The Ring of Beara and the birthplace of Luke’s ancestors. After finding the O’Sullivan family castle at Dunboy, we made the loop back east to our next destination, the Cliffs of Moher. If there is a single best Irish postcard, it would probably have this place right on the front. Walking the cliffs is truly one of the most exciting things a traveler can experience. The sudden and intense gusts of wind have been known to blow people right off the edge, so don’t get too close. From Doolin, we set out north to Galway for some seafood. Then headed back to Dublin to catch a train for some much-needed rest and relaxation in Belfast before our long ferry across the Irish Sea to the Scottish Highlands. For more of our adventures, check us out on www.southernfriedpassport.com and follow us on Instagram @southernfriedpassport for updates on future trips. For any travel inquiries feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are our top 5 tips for traveling abroad.
- Always carry back-ups. By this, we mean debit cards, copies of passports, extra cash, spare clothes and cell phones. Always keep these items in a secondary location.
- Get travel insurance. It is cheap and well worth it.
- Try to plan as much as you can prior to initial departure, at the very least have a solid outline of your stops so your friends and family will know where you are.
- If you are on a budget. Consider such programs as workaway (https://www.workaway.info/), over 20,000 travelers including us use this program. It allows for stays in exotic locations without the exotic price tag, all in exchange for a little bit of work. It is also a great way to network with other travelers.
- Get an international phone plan with your current provider for calling back home. Only use this phone when connected to WIFI or you will feel the pain on your monthly phone bill. Get a separate smart phone at a store when you get overseas. You will need to get a new SIM card in each country to avoid overages. I know it seems a bit much, but you will ultimately save hundreds and at least you can pretend to be Jason Bourne.
Contrary to popular belief, Europe is just as safe if not safer than the states. If you have a bad feeling about a situation, trust your gut and get out of there. During our six-month trip, we visited Amsterdam, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre in Paris, the beaches of Barcelona, the Vatican in Rome, and the Swiss Alps to name a few. We participated in a few olive harvests in Italy, did some house sitting on a 16th century Sicilian vineyard at the base of an active volcano and visited the second oldest inhabited city in the world. All this to realize the simple fact that the world is an amazing place and it is our duty to explore it. When traveling as a couple, it is always helpful to remember that things don’t always work out as planned. Things will go wrong, it is simply part of the adventure. Remember, it is a short life and a huge world, don’t miss it!