Well, after our awesome wedding, we had to follow it up with an awesome honeymoon, right?
My (now) husband and I haven’t really been on many vacations in awhile. We’ll take long weekend trips to visit family or up to Vermont or other nearby places. But we tend not to jet off for a week on vacation. We’ve gone on plenty of mini-vacations in the forms of traveling to friends’ weddings. In fact, the last wedding we went to was in Florida, so we added a few days on to the end of the trip and went to Disney World (his first time!). It was actually going to be cheaper to get a Disney hotel room and park tickets than trying to fly home the Sunday after the wedding, so I combined the “we’re going to be in Florida anyway” idea with the “I swear it’s cheaper just to go to Disney World instead of flying straight home” idea. I think it worked out :)
Anyway, as I was saying, we haven’t gone on any really long vacations in years. In fact, our last international trip was to Nicaragua, back in 2007! Most flying we’ve done was for friends weddings or for work.
Here was one problem we had. Neither of us had ever been to Ireland. I’d never actually been to Europe! So, we were a bit lost as to how exactly to plan a trip to a completely new place. The honeymoon planning ended up being an additional stressor for me on top of the wedding, since even though I knew what country we were going to, I didn’t know how to pick where to go or what to do.
Here’s the two things that worked for us.
-We bought a vacation package. There’s tons of them out there, and sometimes you can find really amazing deals. I saw a few posted on Groupon, and I started getting mailers from lots of different companies with their different travel packages. Granted, trying to decide on these was again a bit confusing. We finally settled on going with an Aer Lingus vacation package after hearing good things about Aer Lingus from a friend’s sister living in Ireland. (Two notes: I don’t know if they’re actually really great, we only had this one experience with them, but it was pretty good. Another note, as usual, I would tell you if I’m promoting a product or brand on behalf of that product or brand. Don’t worry, I’m not promoting Aer Lingus. I just wanted to let you know what we did!) Anyway, we ended up going with the Emerald B&B Package (Dublin). This included airfare, a car rental (which we upgraded to automatic, neither of us drive manual and weren’t planning on learning AND driving on the left side of the road!), a hotel room for the first night, and vouchers for B&Bs for the rest of the nights. We picked this package for a few reasons: 1. It was still available for the time we were planning on traveling (we procrastinated on booking our vacation by a bit) 2. We liked the idea of being on our own schedule (driving ourselves) rather than on being on a tour group’s schedule 3. We liked the idea of staying at B&Bs rather than at hotels. It seemed like we’d get a more authentic experience (which maybe sounds corny or naive or ignorant, but hey, that was our thought process).
-We checked out some guide books. Having been dreaming of going to Ireland for at least a decade, I’ve gotten a few guide books over the years. But some of those were a bit outdated. So, I asked friends for newer book recommendations. The one we liked using on our trip was Frommer’s EasyGuide to Ireland 2014. For the purpose of planning our trip, we liked “The Best of Ireland in 1 Week” section that we found in Frommer’s Ireland 2011 (starting on page 92). It gave a nice layout of what to try to hit while you’re in Ireland so you can see the main things and still make it to what you want.
Besides going on what the guidebooks said, we asked friends who a had been to Ireland for advice and suggestions. We also considered the fact that we’d like to get a mix of historical things (castles/museums/cathedrals) and nature (natural parks and hikes). We booked our B&Bs based on where we approximately thought we wanted to go.
I plan on blogging about each day of our trip in more detail. Stay tuned, but check out our schedule below:
Day 1: Dublin
Day 2: Dublin to Kilkenny
Day 3: Kilkenny to Kinsale
Day 4: Kinsale to Killarney
Day 5: Kilarney with a brief trip to Kenmare
Day 6: Kilarney to Doolin
Day 7: Doolin to Galway by way of The Burren
Day 8: Galway to Dublin to Boston
Check back soon!