How good was Ireland…We really had an enjoyable time, not even the weather could hold us back from exploring the breathtaking scenes and friendly pub culture.
If you plan to visit Ireland here are some tips and ideas that might help.
A Trip to Ireland on a Budget.
We tried to stretch our money to get the most enjoyment from our trip.
Visiting Ireland on a small budget sure was a challenge. Comparing it to the countries I have visited, it was one of the more expensive ones. According to Numbeo things like restaurant prices are just 7.75% lower than those in one of the most expensive cities in the world, New York.
If you compare it to something closer to home, cost of living in Dublin is almost 97% more expensive than Cape Town. That left a welcomed challenge for us to see how far we could stretch our third world currency.
The way we travel.
We go big on experiences. We don’t really plan too far ahead, you never know if you might end up staying another night. It often happens that we book the night’s accommodation that same afternoon.
We treat accommodation only as a place to store our luggage, sleep and get a warm shower for the day’s adventures ahead. So nice views and swimming pools are always just a bonus… location and price are our main criteria. The same goes for transport: its ‘cattle class’ seats, Kia Spark rental cars and public transport.
This way of travel creates an adventure of note. You get to know how the locals go about their daily lives and explore the country as one of its citizens.
In short: it creates wonderful lasting memories.
I’ve split it into 4 (+2) cost centers, yes cost centers…blame the accountant in me.
Ireland Accommodation Options
We don’t spend much of our waking time here, as we believe that we are there to experience what the country has to offer. With that being said; it’s by no means that we hastily wake up at the break of dawn as we almost sleep in every morning and go to bed late. This is to give you a reference as to what we look for when booking accommodation.
With Airbnb and Booking.com we would search our recommended dates and then go into the map function to look for something close to the attractions, this really saves a lot of time on transport.
We really enjoy AirBnB as you get to stay and interact with the locals. We had some crazy laughs and memories from using Airbnb.
TIP: Read more than 3 reviews and take it with a pinch of salt, some people like to complain.
In Ireland, there is also a BnB service that lists all the accommodation places that are worth checking out. B&B Ireland.
We were somewhat surprised at how popular Ireland as a travel destination is. We often had to scramble to find available accommodation, once even as late as 19:00, still without any accommodation for the night. Luckily the people of Ireland are very friendly and helpful and we got 1 available room at a discounted price.
Due to it being high season in Ireland, we had to settle paying a little more than we had hoped for.
Another option would be camping. As we drove around the island, I noticed campsites in almost every town – so that would definitely be an option.
We also saw people that “biked” Ireland. So if you are daring enough and want to get a workout while seeing the beauty Ireland has to offer, you could hire a bicycle and some camping gear and be off to a wild adventure.
My last mention would be hostels – this is ideal for a solo traveller. It is a great budget option. They showed up in all our booking.com searches and had great pricing offers. You get to share a room with a few other travels, share a bathroom etc – but I think it’s a great way of meeting new people and sharing experiences. Hostel World is a good website to check out.
Getting from A to B in Ireland
We made use public transport as well as rented a car on our trip. Again, we loved the comfort and flexibility of the car, but with public transport, we saw so much more and also got to walk off all those extra calories.
Ireland has a good public transport network and you will have no problem getting to most places. We used the public transport in most of the big towns and also our first leg from Dublin to Galway was by bus.
In the towns, a one way ticket is around 2.5 Euro, but if you are certain that you’ll be making use of the public transport for a few times that day, it’s better to take the Day Ticket which ranges from 4.5 – 10.00 Euro depending on the city. This will give you 24 hours access.
We booked a car using Rental Cars in Galway for 10 days. The crazy part was that the basic insurance they supplied did not cover much and if you wanted full cover it added up to be the price of renting the car for the full period – crazy indeed. The problem of not taking full cover was a nice excess payment of 1600 Euro for any bump or scratch.. mmm…
They also added a One Way Fee of 80Euro because we would return the car to their branch in Dublin – I took this out of the calculations.
We declined the full cover option – and it sure was a worry to me so after some Google power I came across vehicle rental excess cover at a fraction of costs and it gave us peace of mind.
Ireland Transportation Travel Tips:
Make use of a day pass if you plan to do more than 3 trips per day.
Don’t know how to get from A to B, use GetThere. It will give you all the possible ways to travel to your destination in Ireland.
Dublin Tourist office is a great place to start. Ask about the Dublin pass, Irish Explorer Pass and the Freedom of Northern Ireland pass.
Bus Eireann is the national Irish bus company. We used them between Dublin and Galway.
Irish Rail if you plan on travelling Ireland by train.
We used Uber the final morning to get to the Airport.
Ireland’s delicious Food Scene
As kryptonite to Superman, food is our weak point when we travel and it’s one thing we tend to overdo at times but seriously who would not like to taste ALL foreign delicatessens.
Ireland’s promise of warm comfort food was fulfilled with mouthwatering stews, pub lunches and Irish coffees. Not to mention smooth whiskeys and tastefully brewed beer that was on offer.
We tried everything from eating out, take away café’s and cooking ourselves. We aimed for one good meal a day taking into consideration that we had a decent breakfast included with our accommodation. My wife made us snack on fruit and we drank a lot of coffee and had a soft serve ice cream every second day or so.
With this in mind, you can get have a meal for about 7-10 Euro. Eating out will set you back at least 20 Euro per person, while you can home cook for as little as 3-6 euro per person.
Coffee varied depending on the touristy level of the location from 1 – 3.60 Euro and an Ice cream which was either a soft serve or magnum from 1 – 2.70 Euro.
Alcohol aka the good stuff.
I only had my first whiskey almost 2 weeks into our trip at the Jameson Middleton distillery. My wife did her little conversion tricks and it was cheaper for us to buy a liter of Jameson in Africa than it was to buy a 750ml in Ireland.
Yes, crazy I know. We later learned that it’s because of high taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. So if you aim to visit Ireland to only drink and smoke you will have to save a bit more.
Tip: A pint is cheaper per ml.
A shot whiskey normally starts off at 5 euro if you’re lucky at some bars while a pint of Guinness will range from 4-6Euro. Wine is ridiculous and a glass will set you back 6 Euro.
For the self catering, we bought groceries at available stores Tescos. LIDL, Spar, ALDI, Dealz, Penneys etc. We found the most affordable deals at Aldi. Lidl was also not bad while Tesco’s and Spar will have you paying a lot more for the same item.
The Experiences of a lifetime.
Here are some of Ireland points of interest that we collected prices off. Be sure to look out for my next post where I will share some of our photos and video!
Pure Skill Galway 20 Euro
Cliffs of Moher Parking 5 Euro
Killarney Bike Rental 15 Euro p/p
Whiskey and Beer Experiences from Entry level 10 Euro vs Premium 30 Euro
Titanic Experience 9 Euro
Riverdance Tap dance show 45 Euro
If you plan to visit a lot of heritage sites be sure to get a heritage card and save a few bucks.
Other useful travel tips
- Get the correct plug for charging your phone and cameras. If you don’t have it try using the TV in your room. It will have a USB connection that can help you out.
- This power bank saved us a few times, get one!
- Use Google maps to plan most of your trip as well as for navigation.
- Make use of breakfast, the most important meal of the day, or so they say.
- Buy a local sim card when you arrive it will save you a ton
- Get good walking shoes, sometimes you have to give up style for comfort, believe me, you walk a lot more.
Ireland Trip in summary: It all adds up
So what would a trip to Ireland costs you? These are the expenses excluding flights that you can expect and that you can use to budget your trip.
The Necessary on average.
Accommodation 35 Euro pppd
Food (excl Alc) 10 Euro pppd
Public Transport 6 Euro pppd
Alcohol: Add 5 Euro per person per beverage
Excursions Add additional 30 Euro per person for premium experiences or 10 for basic experiences.
Eating out Add 20 Euro per person per day you want to eat out.
Car hire is about 20 Euro per day fuel included depending on distance travelled as well.
A 7-day trip to Ireland will set you back a good 400 Euro (or 58 Euro per day) and you will have a lot of fun.
PS: A final note
Just a reminder before you object and say no way. I always like to remind people that say, travel is expensive and something out of their reach… if you look at the basics and do a few calculations you’d be surprised.
The only expensive part is the flights and the longer you stay the cheaper it gets in total.
Look at it this way, while you are sipping margaritas on a tropical beach somewhere you will not be eating at home, using the electricity, water, drinking or commuting.
All those everyday costs you normally incur anyway should be compared to what you will spend while on holiday and then decide if it’s still expensive or not.
Unfortunately, accommodation is the only thing that will double up if you have a mortgage or pay rent.
Travel is one of the most exhilarating learning experiences I have ever had and it opens your eyes to new possibilities. It’s something no one can ever take away from you, no matter what, and it will pump you up with a boost of butterflies when planning your next adventure. I definitely would recommend it to anybody, you will not regret it.