In January of 2014, the McNultys decided to tackle a May/June trip back to the “Motherland” to celebrate daughter Maggie’s college graduation and son, Miles, 21st birthday! Although Miles had suggested a trip to Vegas for he & his friends, after agreeing they had NO money, he bought into the family trip and so the planning began.
If you’ve ever traveled on super organized trips like daughter Maggs and I have done to Europe and Cuba, it is daunting! After failing to secure any professional help, the tour leader role defaulted to me.
Overwhelmed at captaining this family of four adventure, (like seriously overwhelmed because I also run a PR company), I attacked this project like a school term paper. First thing first, update the passports and book the airline tickets.
If you have a passport, don’t ever let it expire! Three had expired and the fourth was a minor now over 18 requiring an over 18 up-to-date version. Make an appointment online and march yourself down to the main post office of your town within eight weeks of your trip at the least. With all the shenanigans going on in DC, I didn’t want to press our luck and applied in March and easily received them back in 3 to 5 weeks.
Go ahead and make two copies of the old passports and the new passports. Travel with one set and leave the second behind with your emergency contact person in the event a passport is lost.
There are SO many great websites for planning travel but none as amazing as TripAdvisor. You’ll be spending many hours on it from “how to plan a 7 to 10 day trip to the Republic of Ireland” to checking out restaurants, hotels and B&Bs. Don’t forget to support the system by doing your own reviews as well.
Early on, we also found another helpful site, Little Roads Europe, with great recommendations on the two B&Bs in which we stayed. We also purchased a Rick Steves Ireland guidebook. It had a great map for back up which we never needed thanks to a great GPS obtained from our “car hire” company, Dollar, a subsidiary of Hertz. Be sure you secure the car of your choice EARLY. Automatics cost more and go quickly because the stick shift is also on your opposite side. More details on renting and driving in a future blog.
Once we decided our basic route, the book helped us prioritize our touring and make the most of our time. Steves says you can use the book for discounts but you’ll have to figure out how this works.
So where to fly first? Price influenced our decision to fly into Dublin. Without much experience left-side driving, I wished we had chosen to fly into Shannon for less stress. But, in the end, we did great and found tickets on USAir via Travelocity for $1,040 per person and booked them in March. We flew into Dublin, quickly adapted to the driving and headed straight to County Meath and Highfield House just 40 minutes away. This got us out of the big city at 9 a.m. Dublin time moving us on to our next locale relatively quickly and our first tour, Trim Castle, one of the filming sites for “Braveheart.”
To recap, when planning your trip, update your passport, secure your plane tickets for the best price and, if renting a car, do so early to get the best deal and the car of your choice. We also traveled at the end of May which we would highly recommend for awesome weather and it was less crowded. Here’s a sneak peek at our trip and next up, super packing!