What to Pack for your First Trip to Ireland

What to Pack for your First Trip to Ireland

All of your travel plans are complete: airfare purchased, car rental secured and all of your accommodations are arranged for each night of your Ireland self drive vacation. What else do you need to worry about?

I've looked at websites out there, where someone traveled to Ireland once and decided to put together their definitive guide on how to pack, complete with links to Amazon items you can purchase (and they get a commission). Moisture wicking scarves? Packing cubes? Activated charcoal pills? BEWARE!

I've been traveling to Ireland since 1994, over 20 trips and many mistakes, all of which helped me create my suggested list of what to pack.

What to wear - without packing too much!

Everyone knows that it rains in Ireland and if you ask the locals, you'll quickly be told that you can experience all four seasons in one day. Once you hear that, you start packing for every season and before you know it you've packed too much. You get your car rental and the luggage won't fit in the boot (trunk) and you're now required to upgrade or those stuck in the back have luggage between them or on them. Now your Ireland self drive vacation has become a nightmare.

It's All About Layers in Ireland

Yes, it's as simple at this - layering! It will keep your luggage to a minimum, allow for you to change throughout the day to adapt to not only the weather but going in pubs and restaurants and back outside many times throughout your journey. This recommendation doesn't change for men or women either; we try to keep our recommendations simple.

Obviously I change undergarments daily so there isn't a way around packing a pair for each day unless you're there longer than a week and plan on doing laundry. From there I pack a few t-shirts, a few long-sleeve shirts, a light jacket and perhaps a heavier one if we don't plan on buying something while there.

Mornings tends to be cold so I start out our day with undergarment (for me, undershirt) followed by a t-shirt and then a long-sleeve over that. This tends to be good at breakfast and in the car, always keeping our coat handy for when we get out to walk around and explore a site like the Cliffs of Moher or a hike through the Burren. By anfternoon, we might not need the coat and in the summer, we can take off the long-sleeve shirt if the sun is out and you want to soak of the rays. These layers are our staple garments when traveling around Ireland.

What Shoes to Pack for Ireland?

Multiple pairs of shoes are required for Ireland because the weather can really have an affect on your feet due to the wetness. As your shoes get wet, they tend to stretch and you lose the support that you need so we always have two pair, letting one dry out for the following day.

I like to pack a casual pair of dress shoes which can be worn to dinner if we decide to dress up as well as during our daily travels, providing we don't plan on doing any type of hiking. I've worn these to bike through Glenveagh National Park as well as walking through many Ireland sites and attractions, polished up a bit with a sport-coat and off to a nice dinner in a castle.

If you plan on hiking, you'll want a good pair of waterproof hiking shoes/boots - an absolute must! I remember taking my cousin on a hike to the top of a hill in Ventry, County Kerry, and while the weather was fine, the hills was not only full of sheep dung but it was water-logged and my casual dress shoes were covered in mud and my socks and toes were cold, wet and numb! These are now an essential part of my Ireland travel packing, either alternating with my casual dress shoes or sitting in the trunk if I need to change at a moment's notice.

What Type of Coat Do I Pack for Ireland?

As mentioned above, I like to pack a light- to medium-weight coat and I make sure it is waterproof or I have to double-up on packing coats and having to upgrade that car due to our luggage.

One thing I do pack is a sport-coat, which I can wear during the day as well as use it to dress up at night for a more formal dinner. If I plan on purchasing another Irish wool sports jacket, I'll forego packing one and make sure I start looking as soon as I land or before I have a castle-night reserved.

When traveling in winter, I replace the lighter coat with something more substantial to break the wind and cold while getting in and out of the car or walking around in town at night. I tend to do less outdoor stuff on my winter trips but need that coat or I'm chilled to the bone.

Pack a Washcloth for Ireland

This is something most people don't think about because our hotels and B&Bs provide them here but when clients get to Ireland, they are caught off guard when one isn't always provided so we put this on our list.

Irish bed and breakfasts typically do not include a washcloth with their linens while most hotels do so if you use one, pack it along with a zip-lock back for transport between locations.

Electronics and Adapters for Ireland

We all travel with electronics these days and even that has changed over the years, once requiring not only an adapter for plugs but a transformer for the voltage.

These days we do have a universal adapter which allows us to plug a north-American plug into a European socket and that is typically it since many of our hand-held devices use a USB port for charging. I have two plugs, just in case, and two cords to ensure we can use multiple devices if needed. There is no need for newer devices to use a converter for the voltage, just the adapter.

I always have a car adapter packed as well, despite most cars these days having a USB port for charging. Some of the chargers are older and lower voltage while the cigarette adapter tends to charge quicker so I never leave home without that.

Pack a Water Bottle

This is the environmentalist in me, reducing the amount of single-use plastic water bottles I purchase throughout my vacations. A refillable, plastic water bottle is excellent from the point you cross security in the airport to the moment you get back home -- and it saves on all that money you're paying for FREE water!

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