Ireland is a must-visit destination in Europe! On a recent trip to Southern Ireland I was amazed at the kindness of locals, the jaw-dropping natural beauty and the centuries-old castles dotting the countryside.
Planning ahead allows you to make the most of your vacation. Certain tips save time and money while you’re exploring the Emerald Isle.
Here are 10 tips when planning your trip to Ireland!
Check Your Passport to Make Sure It’s Not Expiring Within the Next Six Months
Most countries require your passport be valid at least 6 months beyond completion of your trip. Some in the EU require only 3 months, others none.
It’s better to err on the side of keeping your passport within six months to a year of expiration. That way there are no disappointments when arriving at the airport without the proper validity.
With a valid US passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any six month period.
Click here for up to date passport information to Ireland.
Take an International Adaptor With Numerous Plugs
The United States uses two plug types — types A and B. Plug A is the standard two flat prong device. Type B has three prongs; two flat and one grounding.
While most of Europe uses type C, Ireland uses type G. As you can tell, this becomes confusing determining which country uses which plug.
For this reason I purchased a universal travel adaptor. The one device converts USA plugs to UK, EU, and Australian outlets. It came in handy as I traveled through Ireland, Greece and Croatia.
The universal adapter saves you from needing to purchase multiple adapters. Click here to shop the adaptor.
If you use a hairdryer and hot tools, you’ll need a converter, as well. I found this out when I plugged in my curling iron at a Dublin hotel and blew a fuse. Click here for the Conair travel voltage converter.
Purchase an Irish Rail Pass
The rail system in Ireland is easy and convenient. Trains are on time, efficient, and clean. Iarnród Éireann as the locals call it, offers a monthly rail pass. Once you know your itinerary and where you’ll be traveling in Ireland, compare individual prices vs. a monthly pass. Click here to see prices and schedules.
I took the train from Dublin to Cork. Then a transfer to Galway via the Wild Atlantic Way and Cliffs of Moher. I then took the train from Galway back to Dublin.
These two modes of transportation are safer and more relaxing than renting a car. Roads in Ireland are narrow, speed limits are in kilometers, and they drive on the left side.
Book a Direct Flight to Ireland Leaving First Thing in the Morning
When possible, book a non-stop flight. This will avoid unforeseen delays at layover airports, keeping you from missing your connection.
Early morning flights are less likely to be postponed. The on-time departures are due to less air traffic first thing in the morning. An added perk is according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, early morning flights have less turbulence. Win-win.
If there are no direct flights to your destination, try to keep your stops to one. This will lessen the chances of being stuck at an airport.
You can do a one or two day layover at a city you’ve wanted to explore. Hence, two vacations in one.
I booked my flight to Dublin with a layover in Boston. I took advantage of the opportunity to spend a couple days exploring the city and visiting family.
Apply for TSA PreCheck (TSA Pre✔️)
This is a Trusted Traveler program started in 2013 allowing those who qualify to receive expedited screening in the security line at domestic and some international airports.
To be eligible, you must complete a background check, be fingerprinted, and pay an $85 fee. Upon completion, you’ll receive a Known Traveler Number. When booking flights you’ll be asked to input your number which will show up on your boarding pass.
The benefits are worth the price. TSA Pre✔️ passengers are in a designated security line. They do not need to remove shoes, belt, jacket, laptop or their 3-1-1 bag from their carry-on.
Currently, 200 airports throughout the world offer TSA Pre✔️ privileges.
I’ve had my TSA Pre✔️ number for seven years. It saves me time not waiting in the standard security line.
To apply or find participating airports click here.
Book Activities Before Leaving for Ireland
If traveling during the busy months, it’s possible some tours will be sold out if you wait to purchase tickets when arriving in Ireland. This happened to me when visiting Trinity College. No tickets were available to tour the Old Library and Book of Kells. Plan ahead.
One of the best ways to acclimate yourself to the city is to take the hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
A map is provided with your ticket. Twenty-five points of interest give an overview of what the city offers. Return afterwards to places you wish to explore further.
Click here to book Hop-On-Hop-Off tickets.
Click here to book Trinity College’s Old Library and Book of Kells tour.
Plan Your Outfits Before Leaving
This tip will keep you from overpacking. Pre-selecting what you’ll wear ensures only packing what you need. And it saves time deciding what to wear.
I determine what outfits to pack, lay them on my bed, and take photos of each ensemble.
With the photos on my phone, I can access the pictures each morning and decide which outfit best suits the weather that day.
I use compression bags to save space in my suitcase. Different sizes allow me to pack outfits separately to easily access. To see how much room is saved, I packed my suitcase with and without the bags. There was a significant difference.
Click here for the bags used on my Europe trip.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Given the current circumstances involving COVID, I highly recommend purchasing travel insurance.
A basic plan usually costs between $250 and $450. This includes trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical, emergency transportation, baggage loss/damage, baggage delay, and 24-hour hotline assistance.
Purchase from a company who accommodates claims for COVID. I used Allianz Global Assistance. As of summer 2022 emergency medical care and trip cancellation/interruption for travelers with COVID was covered.
Click here to see costs and coverage with Allianz.
Download a Translation App
Everyone in Ireland speaks English. But, depending on what part of the country you travel, there are different local dialects and languages that can be fun to learn. For example, “how are you” in Irish is “conas tá tú.”
I use Google Translate. With 133 languages to choose from it comes in handy globally.
The app is free. Fun fact: the rarest language on Google Translate is Sanskrit used by 20,000 people in India.
A weather app is another helpful tool when traveling. There are numerous choices in the app store. I use the app named “weather.” Keep in mind, Ireland uses celsius, not fahrenheit. This app allows you to toggle back and forth between the two.
Add Roaming to Your Phone and Call Credit Card Companies
If you want to use your smart phone for texts, calls, and internet searches while in Ireland you’ll need to either purchase a SIM card or add international roaming to your plan. I use my phone a lot when traveling to place calls, texts, and search the internet. Because of this, I choose the roaming option over a SIM card. It is seamless to add the service to your device before traveling.
Contact your service provider and ask them to add the international roaming feature. Give them the dates you’ll be traveling and the destination.
I have AT&T. The cost is $10 a day. Worth every penny for the ease of using the phone in Ireland as I would at home.
Your carrier may have a different options. Call and speak to a representative.
Another recommendation is contact your credit card company and tell them you’ll be traveling. Otherwise, they assume your card number has been stolen and being used in Ireland.
You can do this online, but I find speaking to a representative on the phone assures the information is correct. This safeguards against having your card declined when on vacation.
Stay tuned for more tips when traveling to Ireland!