Before you decide to dive into various travel blogs telling you the best and cheapest way to travel, we ask you to take a second and think about who wrote it. Most travel blogs are written by people who’ve sold all their possessions and have dove head first into the fiery pit of long-term travel. Sure, this may be the cheapest way to travel since you are not paying rent or managing a car payment, but not everyone is willing to drop everything on a whim and go travel the world for an indefinite length of time. Some of us enjoy a routine and sleeping in our own bed. I am still paying rent, a car payment, other bills and working an 8 hour day. How and where does one travel if they do not have a lot of free income to spend on traveling?
Thanks to globalization, visiting Ireland for the first time is not the culture shock it once was to first time or new international travelers. Young Irish people, thanks to Netflix and a steady diet of American fueled TV shows, are adding an American twain into their accents. The single currency has made travel within the euro-zone significantly less complicated and travelers from outside the EU are entitled to tax-free shopping in Ireland. It does not stop there. Here are 10 Ireland travel tips for traveling in style on a budget.
10 Ireland Travel Tips
1. Getting To Ireland
When it comes to Ireland travel tips, or travel tips to any destination for that matter, the most significant savings you’ll find come from saving on airfare. Check fares regularly and make sure you’re using a private browsing window when searching. Websites have a tricky way of tracking what prices you’ve already been quoted in the past, so in order to make things competitive and cheap clear your browser cookies and open a new incognito window. While European countries are pushing for more international travelers due to the current economic rise, we will be seeing some price cutting to further boost that turnaround.
Explore non-U.S. airlines for international travel. Thanks to recent changes in the Open Skies agreement between the United States and Europe, several overseas carries, like Aer Lingus, can now fly between a number of U.S. and European cities. Within Europe, you can save money by flying on a regional discount airline instead of on a major carrier; one-way flights can run as low as 22 euros which is only $28 American dollars. After browsing through Driftr we suggest comparing with easyJet, Jet4you or Myair. Remember – airports are busiest on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. Avoid these days for cheaper fares.
If you really want to fly like a pro, check out these 21 secret airline travel tips and tricks and learn the best kept secrets the airlines don’t want you to know.
2. Use Points Or Miles, Not Cash
Since flights are typically the most expensive part of your trip the trick is to buy your tickets with “fake money” called points or miles. American Express and British Airways Visa offer crazy high enrollment bonuses. Within just a few months time you can go from 0 miles to 50,000 American Express points (redeemable for airline miles on at least a 1:1 basis) and 100,000 British Airways miles. Keep in mind British Airways is part of the OneWorld alliance, so you can book with other airlines using those same miles. In just a few months time, with 2 credit cards (if used correctly it will not hurt your credit) you can earn enough miles for multiple international round trip flights without ever stepping onto a airplane. The trick is knowing which cards to open. These cards are not advertised very well and you’ll have to do your research. I received the American Express points by simply opening the card and earned the British Airways miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months, which wasn’t that hard for me because I strategically put all of my expenses on the card for that period of time.
3. Travel With A Buddy
This is a no-brainer that traveling with someone else is not only cheaper, but safer.
4. Travel Lightly
You will save more money while flying if you stick to carry-on luggage and avoid all those checked baggage fees. Plus you brought it, you haul it. Life goes on. You do not need all these practicalities in a foreign land. The more you are carrying the more of a target you will be. It’s a lot easier to manage a small load than a large one and outsiders will notice that struggle and may take advantage of it when you are least expecting it. You are also more unlikely to leave anything behind. Getting your belongings back in a foreign country are a lot harder than somewhere only a couple hundred miles away.
5. Stay In Hostels Or Airbnb
Depending on the length of your trip, room and board will often be your second largest expense, making this one of the most important Ireland travel tips. Prices will vary based on location, room size, additional comforts and how many guests are in each room, but a bed will typically cost you roughly € 12 per night ($14 U.S.) or less in a hostel. Shop around if you can and keep in mind that usually the closer you are to the city center and/or train and bus, the more expensive hostels are. It cannot be overstated just how much more wallet-friendly budget accommodation options like hostels can be and most offer free food. Stock up on the free eats before adventuring for the day. Some hostels also do trade for stay. If you don’t mind working a little bit to have more spending money then this is always a good option to keep in mind.
Many of Ireland’s bed and breakfasts still don’t have their own websites and a lot of B&B’s are now on Airbnb. Airbnb has a great review system and will typically have plenty of photographs of what the host has to offer. Another great B&B option is B&B Ireland. I prefer these types of rentals partly because they can be up 50% cheaper than hotel rooms, but also because they offer the old-style Irish hospitality treatment. This option will be more expensive than a hostel, so spend your money on what fits your needs best.
6. Learn The Tipping Guidelines
Ireland doesn’t have the same culture of tipping compared to the United States, but there are certain services that people tend to tip for and exactly how much those tips should be. In restaurants with table service, it’s normal to tip between 10 and 12 percent, you can do more if you wish. Restaurants occasionally add a service charge to the bill themselves, especially for larger parties, so always check first.
7. Rent A Car
A great website to check out for renting a car for under $20 a day is rentalcars.com. This website is fairly priced and offers a range of cars for you to collect at Dublin airport. Public transportation is a great option for major towns and cities like Cork and Belfast, but be sure to have a planned itinerary before arriving in Ireland to help you understand if you need a car or not. For example, type Dublin, Ireland to Kilkenny, Ireland into Google. You will see a map with driving directions and driving times. This should give you an idea of distances and how much you can expect to drive on a single day.
8. Avoid Unnecessary Food And Drink Expenses
Self-catering and “on the go” is the best way to save money. For example, hitting the nearest Starbucks for a coffee and a croissant will be at least € 5 out of pocket. That same amount of money will buy you more than a day’s supply at any Aldi, Lidl or SuperValu (in Northern Ireland add Asda) with a fairly good spread at any deli counter. Be aware that alcohol is extremely expensive in Ireland, but slightly less in Northern Ireland. Don’t waste your money on one evening in a pub.
9. Free Ireland Attractions
Among all of our Ireland travel tips, this is the most often overlooked because we so often associate cost with quality and fail to remind ourselves that some of the best things in life are free. Forget the Cliffs of Moher and head further North to Europe’s highest sea cliffs at Slieve League. The parking fees at Moher are absurd and Slieve’s high hills are a part of a spectacular coastal scenery in the trademark of Achill Island. Near Achill Head you will find Croaghaun and further northwest will be Slievemore.
Visit Belfast’s Murals and the Ulster Museum. You do not have to pay for a tour to see the political wall-paintings of Belfast. Just walk! It is safe and you can finish off the Belfast experience with a look at the Ulster Museum.
Ireland has a number of designated “Heritage Towns”, all providing a glimpse of times past. For example, Trim provides a whole medieval townscape with only the castle charging it’s visitors.
Passage tombs like Newgrange and Knowth are visitor-friendly, but costly. Others are no less spectacular, but their location requires effort and this is where your rental car will help the most. Meath is one of the largest megalithic cemeteries in existence and Queen Maeve’s Tomb on Knocknarea (which is near Sligo) is unexplored, but surrounded by mystical myths and legends. The views from both of these places are breathtaking.
There is a lot of entertainment in Ireland, but one of my favorite things was simply listening to the locals which in turn was free. If you do wonder into a pub, look for pubs hosting free sessions as they usually bring out the best local talent. This goes hand in hand with talking to locals. Locals know the land better than anyone and can point you to these locations much easier than searching the web.
Visit Ireland’s national parks, they are free! Entrance fees only apply to special attractions. Parks like Killarney and Connemara are firm favorites with tourists. A great alternative up North are the Forest Parks like Glenariff in the Glens of Antrim.
Go whale watching! This is one of my favorite activities back home in the PNW, so of course this was one of my favorite things to do in Ireland. Marine mammals of all sorts and sizes can be seen from Ireland’s shoreline including dolphins, whales, orcas and seals. Regular visitors also include basking sharks and other smaller sharks. All you need is a set of binoculars.
Ireland’s Patron Saint has been commercialized in many ways, but you can still follow in many of Patrick’s holy footsteps for free. These include the two cathedrals of Armagh, Downpatrick Cathedral with his reputed grave, the site of his first church at Saul.
Treasure experience over material things. Souvenirs are overrated. Instead of bringing back a suitcase full of touristy things that will collect dust, why not focus on collecting memories. These memories can be captured with yours truly, Driftr.
10. Just Do It
Now that you have a plan and can understand how to budget, start checking it out! Put these Ireland travel tips to good use and start planning your trip! What are you waiting for?