Before my first trip to Ireland, I bought a guidebook that included a map. I used it before my trip to get a good idea of where the places I was reading about actually were.
And then I left it at home. I’ll blame it on excitement or last minute research. Either way, the map didn’t accompany me to Ireland.
Which actually turned out to be fine as there was a map in my rental car. Though it was unwieldy and I could never get the silly thing to fold correctly again, it guided me through my first Ireland vacation.
And though rentals cars still come equipped with maps in the glove box, those are not the best road map for your Ireland vacation.
“But you can get GPS in the car,” I can hear you saying.
Yes, you can. But Sat Nav (or GPS) is only as good as its last update. Which is how I keyed in Doolin, County Clare and ended up on the road to Kerry before I figured out I was heading in the completely wrong direction – to some shop in Killarney with Doolin in the name.
At which time I had to stop the car, dig out the paper map in the glove box, and get myself turned around and on the correct road to Doolin. As we were on a schedule, it was not my best morning.
“What about using the nav unit on your phone?” I can hear you asking.
Yep – that works – if you want to use all your (expensive) international data or you have a portable wifi unit.
But even with the maps on my phone, I prefer to have a map of Ireland close at hand.
The Best Road Map for Your Ireland Vacation
I didn’t find the best Ireland road map until 2013. And you can bet I snatched it up when I saw it. The Collins Handy Road Map is everything you could want in a travel atlas. Portable: Its laminated pages fold easily and neatly into a thin, light rectangle approximately 8″ high x 5″ wide.
Easy to Use: No need to unfold an entire map to find the one corner of Ireland you need – simply open the map the the county you are traveling in and find your destination.
Really Easy to Use: The little color coded image of Ireland on the front makes it easy to find the map section you are looking for.
A Couple Hacks for Using the Collins Handy Road Map
If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to work out the next days route the night before, bring along a dry erase marker. Circle your starting point and destination, and mark your route. Wipe off when you’ve arrived.
The print in the map is tiny, so if your eyes are tired (as mine are beginning to become), pick up a plastic, credit card sized magnifier. (I got mine from a jewelry store chain.)
It’s always good to have a general idea of the direction you are facing when you are using a map. If you’re not able to tell direction by the position of the sun (definitely not a skill I claim to own) or don’t have a rental car that tells you which direction you are heading, you can’t go wrong by keeping a small compass in your travel bag. (Also handy if you decide to go for a walk in a wooded area and lose your way.)
Have you driven in Ireland? What is your best navigational tip?
These are a few of my favorite things: Best Ireland Travel Gear