I have traveled Ireland several times – but for many people Ireland is their first trip overseas so what should a beginner be thinking about if they are considering a trip to the Emerald Isle.
You could decide to go with an organized tour – lets be clear tours are great – so long as you enjoy being told to go, when to go and when to back at the bus. And have quite a lot of money. Well neither work for me – I have never been prepared to pay the premium for having a tour director bully me! Independent travel – Ireland and elsewhere – has always been my style.
Independent Travel – And Real Independent Travel
While researching this article I googled – as you do – the term- and what did I find? Well Ireland’s largest newspaper is called the Independent and has a travel section, and plenty of tour operators want to sell you on independent travel. So what would a travel agency call Independent Travel?
Hire Car and B&B Vouchers in Ireland
You can buy plenty of independent tours – they all amount to the same thing – you hire a car for 7 or 10 days. You get a bunch of vouchers for B&Bs or hotels (generally more expensive). You will get a list of valid accommodation options and maybe even a GPS to find you way around. Car hire and drop off is usually out of Shannon or Dublin – the biggest (but not the only) international airports and ports in Ireland.
Real Independent Travel
There’s a better way though – before you buy that attractive package – try pricing this option. Check several hire car companies – the big international ones like Hertz and Avis all operate in Ireland, try some local ones as well. See if your driving association membership, credit card or airline frequent flier program will get you a deal – if in doubt ask. And here’s a hint – if you are flying long-haul into Dublin – don’t book the car for 8am the next morning. You won’t want a car in the city – see the sights and then pick up the car on the way out of town.
Then hop online and check out some of the many sites which allow you to book accommodation – usually with independent reviews by previous visitors. Try some dates and get a feel for both the average price and the availability of when you want to travel. Depending on your budget Ireland has plenty of hotels (expensive), Bed and Breakfasts (less expensive normally), hostels (cheapest option).
I’ll bet you quite a lot of money that you will find that its a whole lot cheaper to book it yourself.
Drop in the price of a decent guidebook and a map – you will have quite a lot left over to have fun on your holiday.