Ireland – Making a Plan

Ireland – Making a Plan. Ireland is where we always want to be; it is our favorite of all our favorite destinations. The scenery, the hospitality, the music, the history, even the often rainy weather — all perfect! We ARE going back to Ireland at our first opportunity.

A year-long plan

We are not able to return to Ireland when we wanted, but I am beginning to plan a three-week trip sometime between June to August, more than a year from now. The more pieces of the trip I can plan and have in place when we arrive in Ireland, the more carefree and fun the trip will be.

This was taken at Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland. I asked my family to turn around to face me so I could take a group photo. They all turned around, and around, and around….

My year-long planning and research do not mean each day of our trip will be absolute with every hour accounted for.

My meticulous planning, which I so enjoy, will provide information along our planned route each day for all the possible options, attractions, events, places, opening hours, parking facilities, food options, mapping, geocaching lists, and everything we could need to know about every site we can visit.

We do book some attractions in advance to be sure we can visit those “do not miss” places. Once we arrive in Ireland, we will decide each day what we will see based on our reserved lodging route. My final “itinerary” usually includes at least six options for each day.

We do not plan to and will rarely ever visit six attractions in one day, but that itinerary gives us choices based on the weather we are having that day, what sounds like fun, what seems to be significant enough not to miss, and what we want to do at that moment. It’s our plan without a plan.

Ireland - Making a Plan
Beautiful Cliffs of Moher

Preparing for the trip

These are those must-do, must-have, ordinary regular get-ready for international trip items we all have to remember to do. I thought it might be helpful for someone that has maybe not traveled too much out of the country and also helpful as a sort of reminder to others.

Ireland - Making a Plan
  • Valid passport. Passports should be valid for six months from your return date, so be sure to check your passport expiration date. Make a couple of copies of the photo/information page. Keep one copy and give one to a family member, just in case. Scanned electronic copies work just fine.
Ireland - Making a Plan
  • Reservations. Make all airline, hotel, B&B, or holiday rental reservations far in advance. It is, in my pre-Covid 19 experience, always a good idea to make reservations for attractions you do not want to miss, where possible.

    It may be that pre-booking will not be as necessary during the next few years as Ireland’s tourism gets back up into full swing. Then again, as I suspect, everyone will be racing to this perfect island for the holidays. I will continue to pre-book early.
Ireland - Making a Plan
  • Car rental. Our preference is to rent a car from the airport upon arrival because we want to visit Ireland on our own, not on a tour bus. You may be more comfortable leaving the driving to a tour guide – whatever works best for you.

    However, if you are renting a car, be sure to make reservations far in advance also. If you plan to use your credit card company to provide car rental insurance, request a letter from that company and have it emailed to you and available to present to the car rental company.

    Read all the fine print on the car rental agreement at the time you make your reservation and when you sign for and pick up your car. It is tricky to know what is covered and what is not covered. Read all the words.

    A few more hints, reserve as small of a car as you can manage to fit your luggage into and be comfortable. Some of the roads are tiny.

    Also, do not accept a black or dark-colored cars. Roadside hedges will inevitably end up scratching the sides of the vehicle as you drive about, and they are so much more visible on a dark-colored vehicle. Our car rental preference is Hertz at Shannon airport.
  • Electricity. You will need a Type G voltage adapter for charging electronic devices. Many electrical items you regularly use are dual voltage (check to be sure), so you probably will only need a small voltage adapter in Ireland or the U.K.

    This is a tiny thing you should consider taking with you, at least one. Hotels and B&Bs may have them available on loan. They are also widely available for purchase in Ireland, as is most anything you could purchase at home is.
  • Electronic devices. Pack charging cords for cell phones, computers (if you HAVE to have them), tablets, earbuds, e-readers, electric toothbrushes – whatever charging cables you require in one easy-to-find location.

    I make a list because I cannot pack these until the last minute. If I run through my checklist just before I walk out the door to the airport, I do not overlook something I might need. It is again, easy to purchase anything you might forget after you arrive in Ireland.
Ireland - Making a Plan
  • Mail service. Arrange to have someone take care of your mail or put a hold on it. We always request that our mail be held at the post office and delivered on our arrival date back home. It just takes a minute or two to take care of this at the USPS website.

    A house or pet sitter could also take care of retrieving mail for you.
Ireland - Making a Plan
  • Your home. Don’t wait until the last minute to arrange for pet or house sitting, lawn care, or any scheduled maintenance services, if you will need them. We always have someone stay at our house with our dogs while we are away and have to plan for that far in advance.

    We have been very successful in finding a housesitter at Take a look at their website and see if that is something that might work for you. Some time ago, I created a three-ring binder that contains all the house and pet information anyone staying at my home could need.

    See the table of contents from that binder here at this pdf outline.
  • Shoes. I really cannot stress enough that you should pack broken-in, comfortable shoes for any trip. Aching feet can just ruin your day or whole trip even. I’ve found that, for Ireland, three pairs are all I need.

    I take two pairs of comfortable walking/hiking shoes/sneakers, at least one water-repellant pair, and a nice pair of shoes to dress up a bit. One of my most comfortable and favorite pairs of shoes are the Profet sneakers shown above.
  • Clothes. I’m reasonably sure you have packed clothes before and know what you require to be comfortable. However, you can never know for sure about the weather in Ireland, so pack clothes you can layer together easily.

    Also, you will need a jacket, yes, even in July. We always take our Frogg Toggs jackets that completely block the wind and are water-repellent (it rains a lot, you know). If the weather is cold, I will wear a lightweight windbreaker under the Frogg Toggs – layers.
Ireland - Making a Plan
  • Euros. We always withdraw Euros from ATMs at the airport using our no-foreign transaction, no-ATM fees card. We’ve never seen the need or necessity to obtain Euros at home to take with us.

    It is also an excellent idea to let your bank and credit card companies know when and where you will be traveling. That can usually be taken care of at the banking institution’s websites.

    We had quite a scramble after our first arrival at Shannon airport after we used the ATM to get the maximum amount of Euros. I did not remember that I had put the money in my back pocket, and it was lost for some time!

    I believe jetlag and overexcitement were responsible for those heart-stopping moments.


Ireland - Making a Plan

We’ve always chosen to fly into Shannon instead of Dublin. Shannon is a much smaller airport, and we particularly like that we can retrieve our luggage, go to the nearby car rental counter, check in, and are able to walk straight out the door just across a few steps, locate our car, and be on our way.

It is much easier to adjust to driving on the wrong side of the road in Shannon’s relatively small airport area so that we’re quite comfortable by the time we hit (figuratively speaking, of course) the highway.

We have been to the Dublin airport to pick up and drop off family members, and while it is not difficult, the Dublin airport is a much busier and more traffic-congested area to have to get your bearings in. It is not impossible certainly, but we choose easy, and Shannon is always our starting point.

I hope this has been entertaining and informative for you. I am very excited to plan our next adventure in Ireland. We’ve not seen all of the island by any means, but we have seen many of the “main attractions” in Ireland and Northern Ireland as well.

This next time around we hope to spend more time in small villages, driving on tiny tiny little roads and meeting as many of the wonderfully friendly people as we can.

We are especially fond of visiting the megalithic sights and rely on the Megalithic Ireland website as well as the Pocket Guide Megaliths app on our phones.

Dromberg Circle in County Cork, the featured image at the top of this post is one of these megalithic sites. Radiocarbon dating of samples from the site indicates this area was active around 1100 – 800 BC.

I’d love to hear about your do not miss Ireland sights and stories of your travel in Ireland. Did you ever get lost?

Ireland - Making a Plan

11 thoughts on “Ireland – Making a Plan

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  10. Hey, I know those people in the stone circle picture! That trip was soooo much fun. You should let others know about the holy wells, the falconry excursion, and the “99ers”. I too want to return some day!

    1. Yes, that was you Lois, Darrell and Steve. What a great trip that was. This is my planning story; actual trip stories to follow with holy wells, falcons, AND 99ers! I am so so ready to go again. You guys?

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