Digital Ireland Travel Tips
or what the other Irish travel or tip sites won't tell you
We've added a new feature to the site, our
Ireland Travel Checklist.
Use it to get your packing in order. We usually start a month or so ahead of
time, pick an area, and start piling up the items on the list. We sort them
and a couple of weeks before start putting things in the luggage. We have a
combination of checked and carry on luggage. We have two pieces of checked
luggage each. Usually at least one is collapsible (some sort of duffle) and
can be packed in one of the full cases. We then have between two and three
pieces of checked luggage with an extra to pack gifts and misc. stuff on the
way back. We check initial weights and distribute luggage to stay within
restrictions. On the way back, we break out the fourth bag and redistribute
again to meet the weight restrictions.
How to purchase and drink a pint of Guinness. The first key is to go to the bar to place your order. If you get a seat at a table, it would be a good while until someone comes over to take an order. Place your order with the bartender, pay if he asks or if you're only having one pint and then go sit down. Guinness takes awhile to pour properly and unless there is one partially poured, it will take a few minutes. Keep an eye out for the bartender to signal you that your pint is ready. Go back up to the bar and collect it and return carefully to your table. You don't want to spill it after all this time. At this point techniques will vary. I've heard you can tell by the rings of foam on the inside of the glass you can tell the nationality of the drinker. If there are 12-15 rings, you're American. If there are 8-12 rings, you're English. If there are 5-8 rings, you're Irish. If there is 2 or less, you're Australian. In any event, you can choose your method and enjoy your pint.
If someone is friendly enough to offer to buy you a Guinness or drink, you must be prepared to return the favor. It is expected. This goes for women, too. If she has been given a drink, she will be expected to buy a round when it’s her turn. If you offer to buy a round, you must stay until everyone has had their chance to return the favor. If your crowd consists of seven people, you will be expected to stay for (and drink) seven pints, be careful. Don’t be slow in ordering the round when it’s your turn. This could be considered poor manners and you might not be treated as nicely on the next occasion.
In Dublin, get a city bus tour pass. It is cheaper than the regular bus and faster. You can get on an off the bus at major sites and buses come by quite often. The driver has a running narrative which can be amusing. Make sure you pay attention to what color bus you get on. There are red ones and yellow ones, don't mix them up. Most buses are double deckers and sitting up on top can be fun if you're taking a longer ride. It is hard to get off when you have to go down the stairs and to the front to disembark. We didn't find that the Dublin Pass was a good buy for us, but it might work for you.
Take a travel
for your electronics when traveling from the US to Ireland. Irelands
electricity supply is 220 volts at 50hz, whereas the United States uses
120 volts at 60hz.
When you arrive at the airport, don't be cheap. Rent a cart (one or two Euro) for your luggage, you'll usually get it back when you return the cart. It will lower your stress, and make looking for a rental car or other transportation easier. You'll probably have a long walk to the car and carrying all your luggage will be tiring. This is especially true in Dublin Airport but applicable to Shannon as well. Many grocery stores charge for the carts as well, but return the money when you return the cart.
Duchas Heritage Pass card. You can buy the pass
online or at any of the sites. It gets you into about 65 sites and
saves a lot of money if you're visiting heritage attractions. You get a
book with the pass that shows the site locations and a description of each
Think about traveling lighter. Take enough clothes for 5 days and plan on visiting a laundry do either do your own laundry or drop it off and pick it up later. We've had good success both ways, but found the drop off and pick up later option works very well. Your laundry will be washed and neatly folded for a reasonable price. Prices vary between large cities and smaller towns. If you decide to do your own laundry, the option below works well instead of buying detergent.
If you really like your coffee in the morning, and are a bit of a coffee snob, you might want to bring your own. (note the coffee was better in 2007). We like good coffee and grind our own from a variety of sources available locally. Coffee we bought in a coffee shop or stores invariably tasted like day old, weak stuff percolated in one of those large aluminum vats. Much of it came from The Netherlands, and not at all impressive. Conversely the tea is almost always excellent. You might want to get your caffeine fix that way. Starbucks is very rare in Ireland except one in Dublin.
car online prior to leaving, it is cheaper and easier than
negotiating at the airport. Use
Irish Car Rentals as they have the best prices and good service. Get a manual if you
can drive one, they are a lot cheaper than an automatic. Make sure you
allow for people and luggage in your vehicle choice. Get the smallest car
possible, the roads are narrow, but make sure you are comfortable and have
room for your luggage. We found the Opel Zefira to be a good choice when
traveling with older people. It is easy to get in and out of and holds a
good deal of luggage. It sits up a bit higher than a car allowing for
Scampi can have a different meaning in parts of Ireland. Most people would assume that scampi refers to shrimp cooked in butter and herbs. We saw scampi on the menu in a restaurant and asked for it, they were out. We returned a few nights later and, oh joy, they had it. When it arrived it was shaped more like a pack of gum than a shrimp. On further investigation it proved to be a fish stick. They were fine as fish sticks go, just not an adequate substitute for shrimp when your mouth is set on it. The waitress confirmed that scampi meant "fish fingers" there. The Irish couple next to us said that they always thought it meant shrimp too. The lesson is to look for "shrimp scampi" or ask what the waiter believes scampi to be.
This advice is for all ages! To ease travel/flying discomfort, invest in some prunes and prune juice prior to leaving and start eating in moderation the day before. It keeps things moving that can become blocked during a long flight.
An Irish mile can be anywhere from "around the corner" to 10 miles.
If you are told it is a "wee stretch of the legs," tie on your walking shoes.
I take a good many pictures when I travel to Ireland. I've used point and shoot, to larger fixed lens cameras to DSLRs. My mileage varies as will yours. The trade off is portability vs. image quality. The point and shoot fits in your pocket or small bag, but you won't get the nice interior shots in low light that you can with a DSLR. Of course you could be a tourist and use the flash, blinding everyone in the pub and disturbing the poor musician causing him to drop the family fiddle onto the flagstone floor. OK, you don't want to be that guy (or gal). Learn how to use your camera, turn off the flash and bump up the ISO setting.
Here are a few cameras that I either have or want to have when traveling. Read the reviews, think about what kind of pictures you like to take and get what works for you!
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Last Updated on Monday, February 28, 2011