So I’m sitting in JFK drafting this post waiting on my connection to Dulles followed by a 3 1/2 hour drive home, and thought I’d cover some Tips/Lessons that I learned from this trip.
- Buy rental car insurance – though not necessarily through the rental car provider. Some travel insurance companies have options for rental car coverage. I had a little oops with a stone wall, and luckily – the rental return guy let it slide. Otherwise, I would have been out €2,000 for the deductible.
- Ireland is in the middle of a craft beer and craft whiskey boom. Everywhere we went, regardless of size of town – seemed to have a brewery or distillery as either part of the town or nearby but still in the county. I did try several of them.
- If a store offers shipping to the US, it’s usually worth it. We spent €10 to ship what turned out to be 3 boxes of sweaters. They also offered a 10% discount on what we were buying because we were shipping.
- You clear US Customs in Shannon Airport, before you leave Ireland. I was confused when the Delta employee handed me a re-entry card, since I was planning on using the new My Passport app. It makes the entire process go much more smoothly. I wish I had realized this when I booked my flights, because my layover was just a little longer than I wanted.
- If you plan on going out to the Wild Atlantic Way (on the west coast), make sure you have a good, high quality rain jacket. It’s usually so windy that an umbrella won’t cut it, and without a rain jacket – you’ll get soaked. I forgot mine, so I spent €3 on a cheap poncho that lasted about an hour there.
- If you want to visit the Aran Islands, plan on taking a full day. Don’t bother with the plane and trying to cram more than the Aran Islands into the day. Book the first ferry out and the last ferry back – they’ll sail in just about any sea condition, whereas the airplanes are VFR (Visual Flight Rules) only.
- If you like visiting castles, etc – pick up a Heritage pass at the first OPW (Office of Public Works) site you come to. It’s €25 for unlimited visits in a year. You can rack up those visits quickly, and spend more than that in a week. Make note – only some of the sites have the ability to process credit card.
- Hit the ATM at the airport. A lot of the small towns won’t take credit/debit cards – and rather than wander around looking for an ATM – you already have the money in your wallet. Don’t use the currency exchange, it’s a worse exchange rate than the ATM.
- When they ask if you want to charge your card in Euros or Dollars, choose Euros. Again, you’ll get a better exchange rate.
- Some of the places you stay may not have the strongest Wifi. Use a VPN (I pay for one called Spotflux, which conveniently has a UK server), which will encrypt/compress your traffic and may speed it up a bit. There are some that are free, and some that you pay for. You’ll get the best speed if you pay for it.
- Get a cellphone/sim card ahead of time. Amazon is running a special on an unlocked BLU Android Smartphone that’s pretty cheap. You can pick up a simcard from Tesco Mobile on eBay for a reasonable price as well. Once you’ve got it, the number is yours for life – all you have to do is top it up. We had 5 gigs of data, unlimited calls in Ireland, unlimited SMS, and cheap international calling for $30. Now that I have the sim, topping it up will be $15-20 depending on what we add (we found we did not need 5 gigs).
- LUAS (the light rail train system) in Dublin is cheap, reliable, and runs frequently. Depending on where you are/where you want to go, it’s your best option.
I’m sure there are more things that I’ve learned over the course of this trip, but these are the ones that stick out the most in my mind.
I enjoyed blogging this trip, and I hope everyone enjoyed what I shared. I’m going to be blogging more frequently now. Look for a new post every Thursday – they may seem somewhat rambling, but I plan on covering everything travel related. Tips, my bucket list, memories from previous vacations, vacations I’m working on for clients, industry news, etc.
If you ever have any questions, or need help with your vacation – don’t hesitate to call or email. I love what I do, and hope that I can help you with your next dream vacation!