This has been such a great year for Ireland vacations! Since January I’ve helped 18 family groups with Ireland vacation planning. It’s been great fun – almost as much fun as planning my own family’s trips!
Ireland Vacation Planning
When I begin working with a client, I have them send me all kinds of information – the group size, relationships, and ages of the travelers; activities they enjoy; and their ‘must see’ sights. Inevitably the sites that are rated ‘musts’ are scattered across Ireland – much like the map above.
Ireland may be a small country, but she is deceptive. Point A to Point B may only be 100 miles apart- but those miles include narrow, winding roads through mountains, small villages, and picturesque farmland edged by stone walls which hug the road. While it’s beautiful, and the very essence of driving in Ireland, it’s not quick.
Armed with only that information, a glance at the map should show you the single thing that can ruin your Ireland vacation : too much driving!
Choosing Your Must See Sites
Glancing again at the above map – actually my own ‘must visit sites’ for our 2013 trip – you can see a few groupings of circles.
Dublin, the Hill of Tara, and Newgrange.
Limerick, and Lough Gur.
Letterkenny and Glenveagh National Park.
And then there are a few places that are kind of on their own – The Cliffs of Moher, Clifden in Connemara, Belfast, and the Giant’s Causeway.
Though our trip was longer than average (3 weeks as opposed to 10 days), there was still no way to visit all of these sites and enjoy it. Not only would we spend most of our time driving, but we wouldn’t have time to enjoy what we were seeing – not to mention missing everything in between!
It’s Hard to Choose – I Know!
Nearly every coaching client I work with has had to cut down their ‘must see’ lists. You just can’t see it all. And you really want to remember the places you did see – not how much driving you did to see them!
So now you must narrow down your choices. For our trip, we skipped the Dublin sites, Connemara, and the sites in Northern Ireland.
Then we filled in the empty spots.
Between Dublin and Limerick we visited the Irish National Stud in Kildare and spent a couple days in Kilkenny before swooping down to Dingle, then up to Adare and Bruff. We went back to Dublin to pick up my husband, spent a day in the city, then spent two nights in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, before heading up to Donegal and the Inishowen Peninsula.
And that was nearly too much.
Step 1: Buy a decent sized laminated map of Ireland. Or print a map on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper (just know you’ll have to print a few).
Step 2: Circle all the places you really want to see.
Step 3: Check for groupings.
Step 4: Use an online map (I like Bing) to calculate distances between the center of groupings and other sites. This will give you travel distances and times.
Step 5: For times under 3 hours, add on at least 30 minutes. For 3-5 hours add on 45 minutes. For over 5 hours, add on another hour. This will give you more realistic driving times.
Step 6: How much time are you (realistically) ok with driving each day?
Step 7: How often do you want to change lodging? Daily? Every 2-3 days?
Step 8: Re-examine those ‘must see’ sites. I recommend one ‘must see’ site every 2 days. Make changes on your map.
Step 10: Create your perfect itinerary, marking all spots on your map. From here you can begin choosing your lodgings!
I’m Here to Help!
Do you have quick itinerary questions? Use my contact page to send an email.
Overwhelmed? I can help you plan your vacation!