Tip 1: When you are planning your trip to our ‘forty shades of green’ island, try not to put too much pressure on yourself by making a ‘to-do’ list that is unrealistic. Don’t plan too many events. You won’t get to see everything, so choose carefully what you really want to see. You can miss out on so much by rushing around trying to cover everything.
Tip 2: Please let your Bank know you are going to be travelling. Some Banks have new security measures and will stop your card or cards if they are used in another country. Also, if you are going to be spending part of your trip in Northern Ireland, let your bank know as Northern Ireland is part of the U.K. You could be in and out of the U.K. twice in a day, depending on where you’re visiting, so informing the Bank saves any confusion. It’s also a good idea to carry some sterling (U.K. currency) with you.
Tip 3: If you are arriving on a red eye flight at ‘silly’ o’clock in the morning:
Try not to plan too much for Day 1. If you are hiring a car, do not get into a hire car and decide you’re going to drive four or five hours on the first day. Jet lag can hit you hard on the first day. If you do have to drive a long distance on the first day, please take as many breaks as you can en route.
Tip 4: Driving in Ireland.
We drive on the left side of the road in Ireland. If you are from a country that drives on the right, take this into consideration – please; especially when you hire a car. I would recommend hiring an automatic car, as no gear change is less distracting in strange circumstances.
The major roads are wide and well kept and some of the secondary roads the same. However, when you get off the beaten track, the roads are narrow and two-way and sometimes have a dangerously high speed limit on them. Try to avoid getting too close to the ditch (the edge of the road), as you not only risk losing your wing mirror, you may encounter a hidden pothole and possibly lose a tyre.
Tip 5: Most accommodations do not have rooms available until after 3:00 pm, so it is important to keep yourself busy in an effort to combat jet lag. I put together a red-eye tour for this specific reason, to keep you entertained and remove the problem of you having to drive on your first day.
Tip 6: Keep yourself hydrated when you are travelling and don’t forget to eat something. I have had people fall asleep in their soup at lunch, due to dehydration and low blood sugars. To keep hydrated, it’s always better to sip often at water, instead of drinking large amounts in one go.
Tip 7: If you are hiring a Tour Guide (either for a Day Tour or Escorted Tour in Ireland), don’t be afraid to check out all their reviews, wherever you can find them. Google and/or Trip Advisor are good options. It is a good idea to arrange a call before you book a Guide. Always ask if the person you are speaking to is going to be your actual Guide, as big companies can have many drivers.
Tip 8: Food and what to expect when you are in Ireland.
Ireland has a growing reputation for versatile food. We have locally grown crops from farms to table and our fresh fish dishes are world renowned. You are never too far from the ocean. So look out for the many amazing local restaurants on your trip. If you are with a tour guide, you will be guaranteed to dine in style.
Tip 9: Gratuities (tips) when travelling in Ireland.
In Ireland leaving a gratuity is always welcomed but not expected. If you do wish to leave a gratuity, 10% – 15% is usual at a restaurant or 10% if you hire a guide. But again this is up to you.
Planning a trip anywhere can be daunting but not impossible and can even be fun. Keep it simple. Make your list – read the tips and be prepared, so you can enjoy every minute of your visit and our warm welcome. We look forward to meeting you.
All information supplied is by Derek Smith – Custom Irish Tours – drawn from many years of experience in the tourism industry in Ireland.