Once upon a time, there was a mom who had never left her country or even been on an airplane. Tammy Staley, from Mid-Life Milestones, decided that she had spent enough of her life with feet firmly planted on the ground, it was time to make her travel dream come true. Read on to discover how Tammy conquered her fear and grew wings to fly.
An Anxious but Empowering Journey to the Emerald Isle
My first trip across the pond was to Ireland. Neither my boys, nor I, had ever flown. This was our first trip out of the country. Ireland provided a lot of Firsts for my family and for that I’m eternally grateful.
I started planning my trip to Ireland almost 2 years in advance. I am a firm believer that advanced planning makes for a better trip. Putting in a little research can save you a lot of money in the end. I searched for the most popular attractions and what the locals said was great. I spent days dreaming of the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, Dublin and a Medieval castle banquet.
In addition, I read up on driving overseas and went through the Ireland government website to learn about road signs and different laws. Driving on the opposite side of the road was an extreme step out of my comfort zone. While it was a scary thought, it also gave me such a thrill. After about a year of researching, I had it pretty well narrowed down to what I wanted to see and how I wanted my trip to go.
With this being my first real trip, requiring things that I was not familiar with, I sought out help from a travel agency. Discovering Ireland and Maria Lieb was an awesome help with the actual planning. We spoke about flying into Shannon, rental car and accommodations and flying back out of Dublin. I requested B&B’s as from my research they were cheaper, more personable and would give me a chance to mingle with the locals. Maria added in a few of the attractions that we wanted to see. It took us a few exchanges to get things narrowed down; she emailed me a final itinerary with the prices.
The Actual Trip
We scheduled for early May 2015 for a 10 days and 9 nights dream vacation. Discovering Ireland did not deal with international flights so I booked our flights separately. I paid $859 euro per person for the actual travel package. In American dollars that worked out to be a little over a $1000 per person.
That included our car rental, tickets to the Bunratty Medieval Castle banquet, the ring of Kerry Coach tour, tickets to the Guinness storehouse, plus 2 days on the hop-on hop-off tour bus. So really, for all of that, the price was a great deal. We would be in Galway for 2 nights, then Bunratty for one, on to the Kinsale area for 4 nights and finish in Dublin for our final 3 nights. It would be quite the whirl wind tour.
The Airfare was a bit expensive about $900 each person. Since this trip, I have learned how to use other companies to get great package deals. If you do your research, you may find you can go to England for $1000 a person and that would include air, hotel and car! That was my fall trip last year. If you would like to read about some of that check it out here.
Here is a tip when booking flights look at what day you are flying out as that could save you well over a hundred per person. Just by flying out on a Monday instead of Sunday you could save $100 a person. Originally I wanted to be over there for St. Patrick’s Day but my sons were still in school so we waited until May.
The Weather in Ireland
The weather in Ireland is gorgeous in May 50 – 70’s, with a few chances of showers. We had two days that were rainy, but that was it. For us Michigan people, 50 is warm and requires shorts! It was cheaper to travel in early spring instead of summer. So if you decide to go, check the prices for different times of the year. Also, look into what the weather will be during your stay. For me, if it is too hot then I will not adventure too far from air-conditioning. Spring and Fall are my chosen times for travel not only for the weather but also for the savings.
Be Prepared For Anything
There were a few bumps along the way; they changed our flight just before we left. Therefore, instead of flying into Shannon, we flew into Dublin. Then the Dublin airport bused us to Shannon to get our car. Still, we did not drive that way so we got to see more of the county side. I have to say that for our first flight, it was very smooth and little to no turbulence.
Watch out for narrow roads, stonewalls, and sheep or cow traffic jams. In Ireland, the sheep and cows roam free and the owners have to herd them back home for the shearing. Therefore, it is common to be at a dead stop waiting for the sheep to pass. If you just take things as they come, you will thoroughly enjoy your vacation.
Ireland has some very narrow roads, by narrow I mean only one car can get by. There are no big SUV’s over there; everything is compact. They run diesel in their cars and it is sold by the liter. You just have to make sure you grab the right nozzle to fill up with. Yeah a few adjustments for an American but nothing you could not handle. I am glad I had my boys along with me; I do not think I would have done this first trip alone.
Getting use to the car was a new challenge. Throughout the whole trip, we kept going to the wrong side to get in. There were a few hiccups in the driving department as well, but no accidents. Once I pulled into an empty lane, thinking, “Wow, why is no one over here?” Well, a nice truck driver by way of his horn let me know that I was at a stop light headed into oncoming traffic. I backed up, watching all the other drivers laugh, while I got myself where I needed to be before the light changed. So yes, there were times when it frayed my nerves but I would not change any of it for the world.
The sight of the Cliffs of Moher was breath taking, as was the trip through the Burren to get there. I never saw anything in Ireland that did not have beauty. I would see an old silo and think, “Wow, how gorgeous!” One thing I brought home with me from Ireland was appreciation for our own country. America is beautiful in so many ways, we just have to open our eyes to see it.
We took a ferry out to the smallest Aran Island and rode a horse drawn carriage around the island. There were many castles to visit Blarney castle, King John’s castle, Cashel and even a working abbey. There was no end to the beauty that surrounded us for our whole trip. I cannot tell you how many times we would stop on the side of the road just to take pictures.
I could never pack nine days of Ireland into this post but of all the places, I could have chosen to go I am glad I picked Ireland. The residents were so friendly and helpful. I felt like they really didn’t mind us tourists and that is awesome. Ireland will always hold a dear spot in my heart and I want to go back to see all that I missed. Even though we covered well over 4000 miles, while we were visiting there is so much more to see.
Just the Beginning
Ireland was the jumping off point for me; this last August my youngest son and I went to England, where we found even more of the unexpected. I have already booked my next trip for this October to Italy with my best friend. Do not be afraid to take that trip; do not let the cost stand in your way. For 9 days and 8 nights in England, hotel, car and air fare it was $1050 per person. You can save that in a year if you just cut back on a few extras.
Here are a few ideas to help you find the money to travel. Each one of these could possibly save you $25 – $40 a week! They are all fairly simple and easy to apply!
- Consider packing your lunch instead of eating out
- Make coffee at home instead of getting that latte
- Carpool to work with a co-worker
- Buy generic or store brands when possible
- Shop at thrift stores instead of buying new
I thank you for reading all the way to the end! Here is a traditional Irish blessing for you-
May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.
I couldn’t have said it any better Tammy. On behalf of all of us at Traveling Outside-the-Box,thank-you for sharing your experience and the valuable lessons you learned! And I’m so glad to hear that you’ve traveled again since, and have another trip planned for this Fall.
For those of you who are feeling hesitant or nervous about booking your first trip, just remember that we’ve all been there. Whether you’re worried about the time commitment, the price tag or the safety of your trip, take Tammy’s word for it, you can find a way to make it work in your life, too.
For more stories of how other people have made travel work for them, click here.
I am a mom of two wonderful young men ages 23 and 18. I am a traveler, practice the ketogenic life style, and many other things. Most say I am a jack-of-all-trades! I have interest in many different things, scrapbooking, writing, photography, exploring and blogging. The last one lets me share many of my talents with others. I hope you enjoyed this post and will consider stopping by my website for more from Mid-Life Milestones. Thank you!
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