I love traveling, but who doesn’t right? Every country has something new and beautiful to offer, but there are some places I wish I could have been more prepared for, Ireland being one of them. If you are thinking of traveling to Ireland, do it. Out of all the places I have been, Ireland is the first place I would go back to. For such a small country, it has so much to offer, and while I did a lot of researching before heading there for 2 weeks, I still felt like there were some things I wish I would have known. So, before you board a plane to this magical place, here are a few things to keep in mind.
I obviously knew that I would have to drive on the other side on the road, and man was I freaked out about that… I shouldn’t have been, and you shouldn’t either. Your mind will adjust to driving on the other side of the road faster than you think, so don’t let that be the reason you stay off the roads.
2. Backroads vs. Highways
When I set up the GPS on my car rental, I accidentally set it to exclude any roads with a toll… it was the best accident of my life. It took me longer to get where I needed to go, but I ended up seeing so much more of the country by taking the small back roads, I even had to stop to let a heard of sheep move across the road.
I stayed at B&B’s the entire trip, and I couldn’t recommend them more, the people who run them were so nice and helpful, and everything was cozy and clean. However, I wish I would have known that B&B’s usually lock their doors around 7 at night, so if you are going to be late, you will need to have a way to let your host know.
I expected chilly mornings and rainy afternoons, so I packed 12 sweaters and zero tank tops… I went shopping. Ireland is warmer than they show in the movies, so be prepared for tank top weather. Basically you need to always have a layer to either put on or shed according to the weather.
I am not much of a partier, so I was more than happy with the pub life in Ireland, but I wondered where all the younger people went on a Saturday night. I got my answer pretty quickly when I went looking for the bathroom… the nightclubs are in the basements of most pubs. So, a pub might look like a chill place to hang out on a weekend, but if you go down the stairs, you’ll likely find a whole other scene happening.
6. Have a Map
Maybe this was a side effect of only taking side roads, but my GPS didn’t always work. One time it led me into a man’s sheep field and said I had reached my destination and another time it mistake an abandoned parking lot for a city center… lesson is; always have a paper map when traveling to Ireland!
7. Point A to Point B
If you are traveling on your own from one town to the next, don’t make it a point A to point B situation. Most of the sites you don’t want to miss are on the way from one place to another. Before taking off, look at what sites are between you and your next stop that will keep you from having to backtrack or miss out.
8. Cliffs of Moore
All my life I have wanted to visit the Cliffs of Moore, so when I got the chance, I carved out a whole day for it, but I didn’t need to. I won’t say that the site is overrated, but you can see it on the way to somewhere. I would maybe give it 2-3 hours of my time if I could do it over.
9. Have a Car
The best advice I can give, is to rent a car when traveling to Ireland. It will give you the freedom to see so much more than any tour package could ever offer. I promise you will not regret it.
10. Night Driving
I wish I would have known that driving at night would take 5 years off my life. It really is that scary. The roads are thin, curvy, and often on steep cliff sides, so plan your trips to be back before dark.