The day is finally here and we are leaving for our long awaited family trip to Ireland. Why Ireland? The Emerald Isle carries an expensive connotation, but we found that it would be easy to travel and experience this mystical country for about the price of a medium cost family vacation. Let me explain. We were planning to take a week long cruise to the Caribbean for our family summer vacation. By the time we got the kids’ passports and were ready to book the cruise, we were disappointed. The dates were less than ideal, the ports were places my husband and I had already visited (I know first world problems, right?), and the available cabins were less than desired. The cruise (of course including all the food we could eat) was going to cost us $3600 for a one week trip for a family of 4. So my husband said, “I bet we could go to Ireland for that.” So we looked into it and we could! But, why go so far for only one week since it takes so long to get there? So, we went ahead and booked our flights for a 2 week trip to Ireland! The cost of our round-trip airfare was $2800 for the four of us (2 adults and 2 kids).
DIY or Use a Travel Agent for a Trip to Ireland?
The next decision we had was if we wanted to create our own itinerary or use a travel agency and do a tour bus or something of the sort. We felt it would be best with our 2 young children (ages 8 and 10) to make our own schedule. Also we are trying to have a frugal trip, so paying someone to make our reservations and plans seemed to not help us toward our goal. So, we researched various websites including Youtube and Pinterest and made a list of all the sights we wanted to make sure we saw. Then we started to plot our driving tour of the country. This is where we became stressed! And…did you know Northern Ireland is not part of Ireland? I admit I am horrible with geography so maybe that’s why I didn’t know that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. Anyway, we decided to fly into Dublin and take a northern, counterclockwise path around Ireland. With a lot of patience, and over 8 nights sitting down in front of the computer, we had our path and lodging booked. We booked a combination of AirBnB homes and hotel rooms. We started with booking all airbnb places, but as we made our way through the itinerary the AirBnB homes were much more expensive than some budget hotels. We even booked a hotel we are calling the “castle hotel,” be sure to check out our post on Wexford (coming up soon) for pictures. Our total for lodging over the 14 days was $1700.
Ireland Car Rental
Now we need a car. When we first budgeted we googled how much a rental car would be and found $13/day. As we researched more we found this was for a manual transmission, an automatic transmission rental is $39/day after all the taxes and fees are added in. As most city-raised Americans, we are not proficient in driving a manual vehicle. Thanks to a lot of great friends we had many offers for learning to drive their trucks or Suzukis in their fields (only in South Georgia!). My concerns were that in Ireland they drive on the left, the gear shift would be at our left hand when driving, and we are going to be driving on lots of winding roads and near cliffs. Thankfully I was able to convince my husband to pay the extra money for the rental car to get the automatic. So our total for our rental car was $555.
Extra Stuff to Do in Ireland?
We didn’t book any specific events or admission to sites except one. My daughter hasn’t stopped talking about watching an “Irish dance show.” We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss this opportunity so we booked a family ticket to a show “Trad on the Prom” while in Galway. We also decided that we need to purchase a Heritage card once we visit the Dublin Castle, and this will save us some money in admissions to some of the sites.
I love pinterest and pinned lots of “must do” posts and packing and eating suggestions. I am also a bit OCD so I wanted to make sure I had everything with us and in order. I spent at least a week total printing ideas of restaurants and things to do complete with admission prices, hours of operation, and addresses. See our pictures of our Ireland folder.
Packing for Ireland
The hardest part of packing was fitting a family of four’s clothes for 2 weeks into 2 suitcases. We own more suitcases, but wanted to make sure we would be able to fit all our luggage comfortably into the “economy” rental car. As I mentioned we are staying in homes for the first 5 days and so we have the ability to do laundry, so only packed clothes for 9 outfits while using some of the pants in multiple combinations. My research told us that we needed waterproof shoes, layered clothing, and a rain jacket. Of course we also needed our Ireland universal plug adapter. We got a great one from Amazon. We also needed a nicer outfit for our night to see the Irish dancing show. I also wanted to make sure I could stay on my exercise routine, so packed a couple of work-out appropriate sets for myself. Some of our hotels have pools, and we are visiting some beaches so we needed bathing suits. My husband and I are betting whether or not we can swim at these beaches. What do you think? It may be cold…but I have to at least put my toes in.
The Big Day!
That brings us to today! (Of course we made some last minute changes this morning to our luggage to attempt to make sure our luggage wasn’t deemed “heavy.”) This is our day of traveling. We left home early this morning and will arrive in Dublin at 5am local time (12 midnight for us). In effort to save money we ate breakfast at home and packed snacks for lunch. The first part of our flight was with JetBlue. They are AWESOME! We saved money and paid for only one meal today. Jet Blue gives full size drinks and nice, regular size snacks.
By the way, one of our suitcases was still considered “heavy” at 50 pounds exactlu, but we didn’t have any extra charges. Our plane trip to Ireland included a complimentary dinner and drinks so our cost for food today has been $47.
Our plan is to make the kids, and ourselves, sleep on the plane for at least 4 hours so we can have some energy tomorrow and try to combat jet lag.