Planning a trip to Ireland can be overwhelming whether you know
nothing about Ireland or you've been inundated with information from
friends and family. Regardless, a vacation to Ireland should not be
stressful therefore we've broken down the steps to make it more
manageable and portable to any vacation in the world:
of your knowledge of Ireland, we highly recommend a good travel book to
begin researching what there is to see and do in Ireland. Our favorite
is the Eyewitness Guide to Ireland, featuring both the major sites like
the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle but also diving a bit further
into off-the-beaten-path sites that many first-time visitors would
overlook -- like Aillwee Cave or Skellig Michael. Ask friends and family
who have visited Ireland for their favorites to help incorporate them
into your trip, being mindful that this part can be overwhelming as
everyone will insist you put their favorite sites on your list. Make a
list of "must see" sites and relegate the others to a secondary, "like
to see" list.
If there is a group compiling this list, make sure
the "must see" list contains a majority vote for each site to help
narrow down your travel scope and ensure the group is in agreement.
There will be nothing worse that driving hours out of your way for one
person while the rest of the group is bored or unhappy with the
excursion. Once you have your lists, you're ready for the next step -
turning it into a working itinerary!
your "must see" and "like to see" lists handy, you can easily turn this
into an itinerary by plotting them out loosely on a map of Ireland.
Rather than purchasing a map right now, you can go online and use
Google's map of Ireland, print it and mark it up as you like. Plot out
each "must see" site and attractions on your Ireland map with a red dot,
returning with your "like to see" list in another color. As you plot
your vacation, an itinerary will begin to emerge with a path starting to
emerge and overnights jumping out near the dense parts of your map. If
your map appears as a Pollack painting, you may need to go and revisit
your "must see" list to narrow it down a bit further, refining those
sites and determining if you need to see it this trip or you can move it
to a return visit.
you already know whether you want to drive, hire a chauffeur or take a
group bus tour, your Ireland itinerary will help quite a bit regardless
of your mode of transportation.
If you plan on a taking a bus
tour, your itinerary will help you find the right bus tour to satisfy
your "must see" Irish sites and attractions. While no tour will
completely satisfy your list completely, there is typically a tour that
will meet most of your needs.
For those who do not find a tour to
see all of your "must see" sites or you want more flexibility in your
schedule and not have to drive, a chauffeur will likely fit your needs.
While expensive, the cost is comparable to a bus tour when four or more
travelers split the cost of a chauffeur.
Finally, for those who
want complete control over their daily touring, driving is most flexible
option -- and easier than most travelers think. Yes, the roads in
Ireland tend to be smaller than those back here at home. Yes, you drive
on the opposite side of the road and car in Ireland. Driving in Ireland
is actually quite simple and once you relax and remind yourself that
you've driven a car before... in a city or town unfamiliar to you...
you'll be find. Take it slow and easy the first day to adjust and by day
two you'll head for the driver's side automatically rather than the
passenger's side of the car. If you plan on visiting Dublin at the
beginning or end of your vacation, we highly recommend not taking a car
into downtown Dublin but rather pick it up or drop it off at the airport
during your stay. Driving in any city is difficult, with one-way
streets, traffic and pedestrians make it more stressful for the driver
and passenger alike. We also find it unnecessary to pay for a car
rental, car insurance as well as parking when Dublin city is so
pedestrian-friendly. We also recommend starting in Shannon for those who
are extremely nervous about driving. Shannon is more rural and the new
roads just outside the airport are easy to navigate and drive, allowing
you to get accustomed to the car and the left-side of the road.
that you know your itinerary for your Ireland vacation, what you want
to see and do as well as how you will travel to see each site, it's time
to determine accommodations -- and Ireland has plenty of accommodations
to choose from. The most cost-effective method of traveling Ireland is
the Irish Bed and Breakfast, operated by Irish citizens and dedicating a
portion of their home to tourists. You will have a key to the front
door as well as your room so you can come and go as you please, though
you must be mindful of other guests when coming in at night. A large,
filling traditional Irish breakfast is served while American favorites
like french toast and pancakes are starting to make their way into many
menus. Irish B&Bs are starting to receiving ratings and will be
priced accordingly starting in 2012.
Next is the Irish hotel,
located in just about every Irish town and village and offering clean,
private rooms of every standard. 3-star hotel rates can be comparable to
an Irish B&B or slightly higher while 4- and 5-star hotels will
obviously cost more while offering more amenities.
House Hotels are unique properties that make you feel like a Lord or a
Lady, if but for a night. Each property is known not only for the grand
amenities they provide but for fantastic restaurants offering fresh
local ingredients each night. While more than a standard hotel or
B&B, Manor Homes are affordable to sprinkle throughout your trip to
Ireland -- and not break the budget.
Ireland Country Castles are
dotted throughout the Irish countryside and are comparable, in price, to
the Irish Manors. Everyone we've encountered wants to stay in Ireland
for at least one night and our 4-star Ireland Country Castles allow us
to provide that at a cost that is affordable to our clients.
we have 5-star Deluxe Castles, including Dromoland Castle, Waterford
Castle, Ashford Castle and Adare Manor, each offering unparalleled
service and amenities that make any trip to Ireland memorable! We've
reviewed each property over the years and can attest that you will want
for nothing from the moment your car pulls up to the moment you leave!
While expensive, a last night in one of these castles is the perfect
last night in Ireland.
While it may
seem logical to take care of the airfare first, it is listed as one of
our "Top Five Ireland Booking Mistakes" and for good reason -- you can
fly into one airport in Ireland and out of the other without penalty.
Car rental agencies don't charge fees for a different drop location in
Ireland either because the island is so small. Everyone has heard of
Dublin airport and too often our clients purchase airfare in and out of
Dublin only to spend the bulk of their time on the west coast of
Ireland, adding a 9-hour round-trip drive. Shannon airport sits on the
west coast of Ireland just 20 minutes outside of Limerick and just 2
hours south of Galway, a perfect location to start your vacation. For
those who will be driving, it also allows you a more rural start to your
trip rather than navigating the city of Dublin while adjusting to the
left-hand side of the road. For short vacations of 7-days or less, start
in Shannon and end in Dublin or the reverse. For vacations longer than
that, and depending on the itinerary, you may save drive times by flying
in and out of the same airport.
Enjoy Your Trip
little pre-planning on your part not only gets you familiar with
Ireland but also makes you more comfortable with your plans, making your
trip more relaxed and enjoyable. Ireland doesn't disappoint and while
we keep telling clients, "You'll return" and they insist that this is
their dream trip and they don't think they'll return -- they typically
start planning their next trip before they leave Ireland. Enjoy... take
lots of photos and while we would like to keep Ireland our own special
secret, we think it's nice to share!