Traveling to Ireland – tips and tricks

December 6th, 2010 10:56 pm

If you are planning a trip to Ireland, I want you to know that you will love it…no matter where you end up, what time of the year you go, or how long you stay. The locals say “you don’t come to Ireland for the weather”, and they truly are the nicest people you will ever come across. The island is breathtaking and worth every minute and every penny. Here are a few tips and tricks, that we found interesting while touring this beautiful country ourselves. Take a note of…

1. ever changing weather

– if you travel to Ireland in the rainy season (November through February) be prepared for lots and coming and going rainfalls. It may not downpour for long, but the clouds form over the ocean very quickly and come over the land abnormally fast. So if it looks like a beautiful start of the day, be advised that the rain is probably about 15 minutes away.

2. spotty internet

– in both Dublin and Belfast, we were highly disappointed with a weak and not-free, internet access. The nature of our work requires us to be connected when we travel, and not having a reliable access to email, news and the world at home, was a bit frustrating.

3. coffee shops

– you can find them on every corner in the large cities; as cute and cozy as most of them are, they close very early…around 5 or 6 in the afternoon. Forget about catching an evening cup of java and a cookie, and browsing the net pro bono…Starbucks is open a bit later, but also, not what you may be used to when coming from the states.

4. currency

– Ireland uses Euros; be prepared to buy some Sterling Pound, if you decided to Northern Ireland; the euros will be accepted by major retailers, but not very eagerly.

5. dining out

– the hearty and wholesome traditional dishes are of the must-try when you travel to Ireland: a Guinness stew, an Ulster fry (a giant plate of all fried breakfast foods), a piece or an entire loaf of a soda bread and more. All so good.

6. tipping

– most restaurants will include 10-15% gratuity in your bill; note that it is not a standard to tip for extra for breakfast or lunch; for dinner however, if you wish to tip your server more than what’s on your bill, you may have to arrange it with the hostess. 20% tipping is not expected or required.

7. driving

– yes, the traffic moves on the opposite side than what you are used to, if you live in the US. If you choose to rent a vehicle, be prepared to pay more for an automatic transmission and remember that having control over speed may come in handy on the tiny, windy roads, so if you know how to drive a stick, it just may be a better option; driving on the left side may be nerve-wrecking at first, but you will get used to it, as I did; keep to the middle white line, follow traffic ahead, and remember that drivers in Ireland are quite keen on sharing the road and giving you the space you need;

8. refundable sales tax

– shopping in Ireland is expensive with the Euro exchange and a high sales tax on top of the inflated price of goods; if you are buying goods/gifts that you are meaning to take home with you, remember to tell the cashier to issue you a sales tax refund form. Collect those throughout your trip, and you can get your sales tax money back at the airport before you leave Ireland. Good deal.

9. US customs

– as much as it is enriching, international travel is always a hassle due to the long lines at the US customs. If you travel to the US from Dublin, your customs check is all taken care of on the Irish side. No more lines, delays and unnecessary stress after landing.

I think that will do. Take the advise or leave it. Either way, you will have a blast!

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