Travel Ireland and 7 Mistakes to Avoid
No matter how many trips I’ve taken, booked flights, travel plans, accommodations, scoped out my itinerary for the most historical Irish travel sites, I am inclined to do what every other human being on the planet does and that is make mistakes.
#1 Don’t forget your wallet or purse when you travel Ireland.
But seriously, who would do such a thing?
Naturally, when you travel Ireland, the first thing you remember is to bring a purse or wallet stuffed with multiple credit cards, foreign currency perhaps, valid passport, ID etc. What I should have said is this: Don’t place your wallet on a candy counter before you grab that one last sweet you fell in love with, 3 more Irish nicknacks,chewing gum, and several granola bars for the airport immediately before you pay for petrol (or gas as we say in the U.S) and then walk out, leaving said wallet on counter. Oh no!
Yep, It was me and as I write this my wallet is thankfully in transit from Ireland to Western N.Y. How could I have avoided this? Well, if I had kept to my routine, had my purse on my shoulder and not walked into said store without my purse, I would have noticed my purse was open-mouthed, waiting for said wallet to be returned to it but I did something out of the ordinary. I walked in with just the wallet, something I don’t ever do. It’s important to keep your purse and or wallet on your person at all times when you travel, especially when under stress and when you are driving in a foreign country, not exactly knowing where you are going, trying to make it to an airport on time, stress cannot be avoided. Thankfully, the sales clerk was honest and admitted that he had the wallet when I called.I am even more grateful to the woman at the bed and breakfast who offered to go to the petrol station, retrieve my wallet and poste it to me the next day. Another thing to remember is pay attention to every place you stop in your travels, be it a restaurant or petrol station so you know who to contact if you leave something behind. Also if you have a lot of credit cards as do I, make note of the exact ones you are placing in your wallet, their account numbers and the phone number to call if you have a problem. I assume you know its important to call those credit card companies and tell them where and when you are traveling in the fist place right?.
#2 Don’t Rely Solely on the GPS for Directions
Check out the truck on the right. This was not my rental car I swear!. Anyway, to find our way around, we used both the GPS and the paper map in Ireland. For some reason, the GPS became confused at times. At one point Ireland was re-routing some of their major motorways and the old motorway ran parallel alongside the new one. The GPS kept giving us directions based on the opposite motorway. Beside this problem, The Irish government does not list street signs nor do most of the people use them. The GPS does not u understand this and neither do I. Even with GPS coordinates, the GPS would only get us in the neighborhood of each bed and breakfast we were traveling to. These neighborhoods had names and the houses had names too but of course a GPS doesn’t go by house names. So what one has to do is get to the general vicinity of where your accommodation is and then pull over and ask someone where said family or house name is. It was a little frustrating. Its less so with tourist places. Combine your map reading with your GPS and you’ll eventually get to where you want to go but be patient. Roads are not straight nor are they usually marked. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions.
#3 You can save substantial money on Rental Car Ins. when you travel Ireland but Beware!!!
Many credit card companies have stopped covering rental car ins. in the Republic of Ireland
My mistake? I called American Express and asked them if they cover my ins. on my rental in Ireland. They said yes but I did not get a written confirmation. When I got to the airport and the agent told me many credit card companies no longer cover the republic, I called American Express to be sure. They denied any coverage. The rental only cost me $400 for 3 weeks but I had to add another $700 for ins. to my bill!! Get it in writing! Here are 2 credit card companies that do cover the Republic of Ireland. Chase Sapphire Preferred and City Hilton Visa Reserve. This could have saved my bundles. The irony of this is I actually got the names of these cards from a fellow traveler when we were both dropping off our credit cards.
#3 Always stay at a bed and Breakfast approved by the Irish Tourist Board
You can never go wrong if you stay at a bed and breakfast with the shamrock shingle out front because these people have to keep up Irish standards and are checked on by the Irish tourist board. The Irish government also gives courses on how to run a bed and breakfast. I only stayed at one bed and breakfast that was not approved and that is the only place I was unhappy. My mistake. My two favorite places from this trip were Drumcorrey Farmhouse in Donegal which is a sheep ranch and they give demonstrations of sheep and dog trials which was lots of fun to watch. (note: make sure you know the name of the people where you are staying. If you ask for directions, often people will remember the family name, The people at Drumcorrey were O’Sullivans) We also stayed in Avoca, County Wicklow at Cherrybrook. If you are familiar with the television series, Ballykissangle, Avoca is where the scenes were shot. This place was off the beaten path and much cheaper in July than staying in Dublin the last few days. It was however over an hour drive to the airport. To take day trips into Dublin there is a train a few towns away.
#4 Plan your Trip way ahead and watch Airline Prices
Not only is this a good idea so that your trip is all you want it to be but because I was constantly watching, I found that in my area of the country new routes had just begun to fly out of Toronto, Canada. It also was a direct flight, something never available in Western NY, and on Aer Linguis, the best Irish airline you can fly on. Their service is amazing!! Flying out of Toronto saved us a huge amount of money as well, near the price of a whole ticket! So check out those airports that are a little bit of a drive.
#5 Get yourself an Irish Phone
This is a good idea, not only to call home, if that is what you want to do but also this is how I checked on my wallet that I left behind. Cell phone plans outside of Ireland will not work. Its possible to get an app on your phone or to replace the chip but I could not replace the chip on my android phone as it could not be removed. Internet was also sketchy in most places. Ireland is not as internet friendly in many places.Having an Irish phone is indeed an asset. We bought ours in Ireland 5 years ago and every time we travel we just put more money on the phone. To call the U.S, it only cost a few pennies. Good to remember Northern Ireland is not part of the Republic. It is like calling a separate country.
#6 Bring a Raincoat or an Umbrella or Buy one in Ireland
There are several levels of rain described in Ireland and you can be sure you will experience one of them at least every couple of days. There is spitting rain and rain that is rotten. Raining buckets and stair rods. Also pissing rain, soft rain, pouring rain and lashing rain, to name a few. But don’t be afraid! Most of the rain is short lived and then the sun comes out or it at least stops for a few hours. Ireland has an Atlantic climate so you just have to accept the weather as it is. What I found wonderful were the children that still played on the beaches, despite the soft rain overhead. Who cares, right! The best place to get a raincoat is in a country that has so much rain. I have not found many stylish raincoats in Western NY despite the face we do get our fair share of rain, though not all the time. I did, however find a darling raincoat in Ireland. So shop away, girls!!
#7 Learn from Your Mistakes and Go back to Ireland To See What You Missed
Ireland is a beautiful country and you cannot travel Ireland in one trip and see all of it. The beaches are pristine and uninhabited, the mountains glorious, and the people gracious. Remember I left my wallet behind. I finally received it, not a dollar out of place and every credit card intact. I was lucky, yes but perhaps it shows the integrity of the people as well. I’d like to think so.