With a blog called Read to Travel, it’s no surprise that the beginning of Tara Higgin’s travel experiences outside of the Western Hemisphere have more studious foundations. Born in Connecticut, USA, she has traveled around the US with her family and later, in college, with her volleyball team, and she even went on a Caribbean cruise. However it was studying abroad that really sparked this wanderlust. “I studied abroad in London and, discovering how much more of the world I desperately needed to see, took weekend trips,” she describes of her time.
This experience then lead to a month long Irish language summer course in County Galway. “My father’s family is Irish and extremely proud of it. After going there for a weekend trip a few years ago while studying abroad, I fell madly in love with the country. I felt something I had never felt for a place before. An incredible sense of home filled me, and I felt like that was the place I belonged and had been away from for so long. My senior year of college, I took Gaelic with an Irish Fulbright from Donegal.
“I learned more about the Irish language in one month of intensive study than through one year of studying at my American university.”
While her mealtimes were set differently than what she was used to, Tara found them absolutely delicious. “I loved the family I stayed with and the friends I made. My time there allowed me to gain real insight into Irish life.”
Of course, Tara wasn’t going to let the proximity of Europe escape her, so after she finished her Gaelic course, she planned a two week solo trip across Eastern Europe, flying from Dublin to Pula, Croatia where she rented a one-room apartment in a residential area. In addition to Pula, she visited Brussels, Belgium, Budapest, Hungary, Vienna, Austria, and Prague, Czech Republic. Don’t ask her to pick a favorite, it’s simply too hard to choose! From these travels, she recommends going west in Ireland and eating as much local food as you can, particularly the street food in Vienna. “Just explore, and you’ll find amazing places and people you never anticipated.”
On her trip, Tarasays, “Solo travel allows an amazing sense of freedom. I love planning trips and doing exactly what I want to do when I want to do it. Also, I am a huge book lover and one of my favorite things to do is exploring a city on foot and sitting down to read anywhere that has good vibes.” However she did find it difficult to be away from her boyfriend, wishing her travel memories could have been shared with him.
Calling New Zealand home since the end of January, Tara is now living an expat life, using her previous experiences to propel her into this new adventure. Her life isn’t going to be cookie cutter, and that’s just how she likes it. “Don’t live in fear, but be smart and be safe. Fear doesn’t keep you from dying, it keeps you from living. Be open to meeting new people, but don’t blindly trust strangers. Read as many books as possible.”
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Interview by Samantha, Photographs via Tara