Understand Local Customs
Knowing when public holidays are and how they are celebrated, when to tip, or how to say a few basic phrases in the local language can help you on your trip.
Towards the end of our trip there was a Monday bank holiday in Ireland, which I knew about. What I didn’t know was how different it was from the way Monday holidays are celebrated in the U.S. Because of the holiday, public libraries, which we had relied on in several places for local history, were closed the weekend leading into the holiday.
Length of Stay
Once you have your goals, To Do list(s), and know what you want to do and see, plan how long you want to go.
My husband and I went through several proposed itineraries before settling on one that had us in Ireland for two weeks, starting in Dublin and making a counter-clockwise circuit around the island. Even after we set the trip, I wasn’t sure we had scheduled enough time for the places in the southern part of the trip. It turned out we hadn’t. We’ll just have to go back.
She Slept Here (or Nearby)
If possible stay in or near the places or towns on your To Do list. This was one of my favorite things.
In the first part of our trip, we stayed in the the heart of Randalstown, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, a small market town where my ancestors and their relatives had lived and worked. Later, in County Donegal, Ireland, we stayed in a bed and breakfast on the land my husband’s ancestor farmed. It’s hard to put into words why I loved doing this. There was something about waking up and spending the morning hours in these places.
Ireland has lots of different options for where to stay, from hotels to hostels. Our favorites were the bed and breakfasts, which were reasonably affordable. The hosts were full of local information and warmth. At one place, about half way through the trip, the host did our laundry while we went to grab dinner. (We gave her a little extra money for that.) It saved us a couple hours.
We flew on Aer Lingus, an Irish airline, which had very different rules for baggage. Typical carry-on bags for the US were too big to take on the flight, so we checked two small bags since we would be moving around a lot and a couple carry-on items.
Knowing what the weather would be, both predicted forecast and historical averages, helped us decide what to take. I found travel websites (like this one), especially ones geared to the country I was visiting, to be helpful in getting an idea of what was needed.
We took enough clothes for a week, but planned to wear pants more than once before washing. I chose to coordinate my clothes as much as possible so everything would go together. Also, Layers. Ireland’s weather is changeable. I mostly wore long-sleeve shirts, a puffer vest, a sweater fleece for when is was colder, and a packable rain-coat for the daily rain spells. Boots, hiking shoes, and a pair of flats were all the shoes I needed. A scarf, hat, and backpack completed my gear.
Next week: While There.
You can read about our adventures in my Ireland Genealogy Trip series.