Planning that long overdue trip to Ireland for 2016? Here are the top 10 practical tips to prepare for and keep in mind during your travels.
1. Remember to drive on the left. You cannot say that enough times, especially to first-time American visitors. It would be best not to drive too far if you are tired, especially after arrival. Irish country roads, in particular, can be quite narrow and require complete concentration.
2. Mind your passport – you can easily lose it abroad. Make sure you make a copy of all the relevant information before you leave for your flight so that if you do lose it, you have all the information to hand.
3. Bring adapters that work in Ireland i.e. have three-pronged plugs. Electrical connections are completely different in Ireland even in comparison to mainland Europe where they use round two-pronged plugs and you will need to have an adapter for all your electronics. Bring more than one to avoid arguments.
4. It could be a good idea to use your ATM card to get money while in Ireland. If you can avoid changing money, do so as you are not charged as much that way. Most banks will also charge a conversion rate when you take money out of your account via ATM but most of them are quite low compared to other rates and will place a cap on the amount they can charge you for withdrawing money each day. Check the rates your bank offers beforehand to find out what would save you the most money and leave more cash for Guinness and souvenirs.
5. Don't expect to get off the flight and have your hotel room ready in the early morning. As other guests will be checking out in the morning, it is usually after midday before your room is available for check-in. This is important to keep in mind if traveling with young children. You may need to find a way to keep them occupied when exhausted after a transatlantic flight or a place to store your bags if you plan to start sightseeing straight away.
6. Some services in Ireland work on a 24-hour clock i.e. 6:00pm in America is 18:00 hours in Ireland. You’re most likely to come across this if booking tours, accommodation, or travel online so as to distinguish between morning and evening options. Keep an eye out to make sure you don’t book a train for two in the morning instead of two in the afternoon. It’s easy to figure out, just add twelve.
7. Check in advance if the weather forecast is hot (unlikely as it may seem!). Some hotels do not have air conditioning as it is very rarely needed so you’ll want to be prepared. Although the weather can be completely unpredictable at times, it’s best to check ahead before traveling. If there’s going to be loads of rain, you’ll need sturdy shoes and good rain-jackets.
8. Visa is accepted almost everywhere, but American Express not so much. If you are planning to use a credit card a lot during your trip, Visa would definitely be best and it may be wise to bring at least two credit cards just in case.
9. Ask for directions if you are lost (which may happen often). You will find the locals very helpful but some of the signposts difficult. Everyone is keen to help, especially when they hear the accent, but it’s not always a bad thing to be lost in Ireland. You never know what you might happen across.
10. Most restaurants add a service charge to your bill so there is no need to tip. You can check the bill to see if a service charge has already been included and add to it if you wish. Tipping culture is not strong in Ireland although always appreciated by the wait staff.