This is a rather lengthy note, so you may want to print it off, or save it and read it at your leisure.  But, please, read this, and have everybody that is traveling with you, read it as well. IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO FOLLOW- If you have any questions about any of the information below, please let me, Máirtín, know and I will be happy to address any and all queries.

A few people have asked what they need to pack for the trip.   Below are my suggested guidelines, and I know you ladies require more “equipment” than us fellas, but believe me, that less is more when we’re on the go.

It is important that you bring ONLY 1 checked bag, 1 carry on, and 1 personal bag PER PERSON.  We are traveling on a luxury coach, and while it is much nicer that your average bus, our Driver Danny would be spending all day and night playing Tetris with our bags if we all brought as much as we think we would like.

IMPORTANT: Check With Your Airline to see what SPECIFIC RESTRICTIONS they may have regarding carry on luggage and items.
 Some carriers are now only allowing 1 carry on, rather than a carry on and a personal item.  PLEASE CHECK or you might be finding yourself in an inconvenient situation with your luggage when coming and going.

I take 3 bags, one full size I check on the airplane, a rucksack I carry on, and a smaller (personal item) over-the-shoulder accessory bag which I also use for my daypack while we are touring (This is what most carriers allow TransAtlantic passengers to travel with at no additional charge).   Remember that for your flight, carry on bags can not exceed 22″ x 14″ x 9″ and must fit in the overhead bin, and your smaller personal item must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. Don’t sweat it too much going international with the carry on bag.

The rule for the coach will be your large checked bag and your carry on will generally be in the cargo hold, while you will have room for your personal item and your jacket/coat in the passenger area of the coach.

Always pack your medications, essential toiletries, and an extra shirt and underwear in your carry on, just in case your checked bags are delayed; believe me, this happens to someone in the tour group every year. Poor Carol & Terry were waiting 2 days one year. Regarding medications; they should be kept in an original prescribed container to avoid delays when going through security, so they don’t question you about smuggling a controlled substance. It does happen, they say.

Ireland in May can be beautiful!  Sunny days, flowers blooming, white fluffy clouds, blue skies, low 60’s in temp.  But it can also be gray, damp, cold, blustery, with temperatures in the low 50’s and even in the mid to upper 40’s in the evenings and early mornings.  And the wind can blow chilled, especially along the coast. But who goes to Ireland for the weather.

Prepare for upper 50’s and low 60’s with scattered showers.  We may occasionally see a downpour, but they seldom last more than a few minutes; nothing like the thunderstorms we see here in the States.

The evenings will usually bring temperatures in the upper 50’s, but it will be plenty warm in the busy pubs, especially on the weekend nights, as most places do not have air-conditioning as we know it.  If you do have to walk about town in the evening, unless you intend on taking an extended stroll along the river you can usually get by with a warm jacket and/or sweater. AND DON’T PACK YOUR JACKET IN YOUR BIG CASE IF YOU ARE GOING TO NEED IT THAT DAY!  And you probably will need it! It is a real pain for any driver to unpack the coach to get your suitcase out to get your jacket.

My advice is to start the day in layers, and peel off or put back on, as the conditions require.  There is plenty of room on the bus to stow away your jacket, sweater, sweatshirt or long sleeved shirt.

This is what I pack* for a week’s stay in Ireland, so this should give you a good idea of what will get you by-
–          Button up shirts, 4 total   I wear one on the flight, pack one in my carry on, and pack 2 in my checked luggage.  I like 100% cotton because it breathes, and long sleeves because I can roll them up if need be.  Polo or Golf shirts would also work, and have been a popular choice with a lot of the fellows on previous trips.
–          T shirts, 5 total nice ones that I can wear as my only shirt on warm days, or layered beneath another shirt, 1 in my carry on, 4 in my checked bag.
–          Blue Jeans, 3 pair total, 1 pair I wear on the flight, 2 pair in my checked bag.
–          Khakis, 1 pair in my checked bag.  If you go out to eat at a nice place, or visit a church, you’ll want something a little nicer than blue jeans
–          Swimsuit.  Some of the hotels where we are staying have Pool/Jacuzzis.  Packed in my checked bag.
–          Underwear, 10 pair total, one in my carry on, 9 in my checked bag
–          Socks, 10 pair, cushiony, cotton and acrylic blends are good.  One pair in my carry on, and 8 pair in my checked bag
–          Lightweight sweater or fleece.  I always take a couple, usually a cardigan and a pullover.  A hooded sweatshirt will do as well.  For those cool Irish evenings, packed in my checked bag.
–          Lightweight Breathable Rain Jacket.  This is a must! Ireland is an island and rain is common, so go prepared for the wet, and be happy if we don’t get it.  Packed in my carry on
–      Warm Jacket. I bring a North Face in case of chilly weather.
–          Casual Blazer or sport coat.  Again, if going somewhere nicer.  I wear it on the flight
–          Loafers or easy slip off/on shoes– one pair, either packed in my carry on or worn on the flight.  See my next item for explanation
–          Good walking shoes, worn on the flight or packed in my carry on.  I used to tell people to wear a pair of loafers or easily slipped off shoes on the flight to expedite getting through security, and pack your good walking shoes in your checked bag, then my bag was lost one year and I had to walk around for two days in my loafers.  My feet were killing me.  In other words, we will be doing a lot of walking and you will want good comfortable shoes.  Another piece of advice: break the shoes in BEFORE you get to Ireland.  We have had people in the past start the trip with a brand new pair of shoes and they regretted it before the end of the first day.  Nothing is worse when you are on holiday than sore feet.
–          Toiletries Kit, packed in my carry on.   If you take it in your carry on bag, all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers, and all of these items must fit within a single, quart-sized ziplock bag for inspection through security. If you need larger sizes than 3 oz., pack them in your checked bag, but make sure they are in ziplock bags so the pressure changes in cargo won’t cause them to leak onto your clothes.
–          Fingernail clippers, Sewing Kit, & Swiss Army Knife, in my checked bag. All three have come in handy at times.
–          Half Liter Plastic Water Bottle, in my carry on.  Water quality standards in Ireland are higher than in the US so I fill it up every morning before leaving the hotel.  Saves on buying bottled water, which can be expensive at the markets and shops.
–          Small Travel Alarm Clock, in my toiletries kit.  I use it as a back up; I have been burned a couple of times by wake up calls not being made. Or use your phone.
      Extra Batteries, for all of your items that need batteries, in the carry on.  Cheaper to buy here before you leave and sometimes hard to find when we are traveling in Ireland, ESPECIALLY CAMERA BATTERIES.
–          Cell Phone, if you have an international call plan.  Check with your carrier for international plan availability, or you may get a very expensive surprise when you get home.  It’s nice to be able to call and text each other while we are out at night so we can meet up.  I pack it in my carry on. If you want to get one while there, especially if you are extending your stay. I would suggest you take an older phone with you. I bring an older iPhone that has been unlocked by my carrier. Now you can go to a phone shop in Ireland and put in a new Sim Card. Most carriers offer €20 for all you can eat talk and Internet.
–          Notebook and pens, in my carry on
–          Guidebooks, in my carry on.  If you have yet to pick one up, I recommend The Rough Guide to Ireland, Lonely Planet- Ireland, and Ireland for Dummies.  Many folks are now downloading these onto their iPads and tablet devices.
–          Electrical adapters and converters can be purchased in the luggage area of Target  and similar stores.  Make certain you get the converter as well as the adapter, as Ireland’s electrical system runs on a standard 230 volts, compared to the United States on 120 volts, and if you do not have the power converter, as you will burn up your electronics.  Packed in my carry on.
–          “Shout” Wipes, or something similar.  In my carry on. To get rid of those pesky Guinness stew stains.
–          Sunscreen and Skin Lotion, in my carry on.  You can easily sunburn or windburn while we are out along the coast sightseeing.

Some other things I don’t pack but you might consider:-
–          Collapsible Umbrella
–          Rain Pants
–          Slippers or flip flops, for around the hotel if you plan on using the Jacuzzi

The dress in Ireland is casual for the most part, but you may encounter a restaurant where you want to look a bit nicer than jeans and a t-shirt.  There are also a couple of restaurants in some Cities that will not seat you if you are wearing shorts, although that may not be an issue in May.

Regarding Currency: 
Ireland is on the Euro (€), so you will need to convert from dollars. The current exchange is €1 = $1.23, or converting the other way $1 = €.75  I always use my debit card and there is a Bank of Ireland ATM in Dublin where we withdraw €500 (currently $615.60).

The exchange rate from the ATM’s and the banks is as good as you will find in Ireland.   There will be an international transaction fee, but it is always between $2 and $5 per transaction.  You maybe able to get a better exchange rate from your own bank here at home, however, you will want to investigate that right away, as most banks here require at least a couple of weeks to exchange your money.  This may not be the case in the larger US cities.  Check with your bank.

ALSO, if you are using a debit card and or credit card, inform your bank that you will be in Ireland and make certain that any fraud alert markers won’t hinder you making transactions or withdrawals in Ireland.  This can be very frustrating if you are unable to get any euro upon arriving on your first day, since most banks in the US won’t open until 2 or 3 pm (5pm for west coast banks) Ireland time and you won’t be able to get them on the phone before then.

ABSOLUTELY AVOID exchanging your cash in any of the US airports of departure.  They usually have the highest rates of anyplace.  Same goes for Bureau de Change in Ireland.  Withdrawing from ATMs is usually the most economical way to go.

Regarding security with currency, my opinion is this; Crime is low in Ireland, much lower than any major city in the US, but I still don’t feel comfortable with more than €500 on my person at anyone time. I am not trying to frighten anyone, because we have never had an incident of theft among any of our groups. And as the week of our tour goes on, there are plenty of Banks & ATMs everywhere we are going, so you will never have a problem getting cash.

(ANOTHER NOTE REGARDING THEFT AND SECURITY:  Don’t leave any of your valuables or passport in your hotel room while gone during the day.  Again, we have never had any incidents, but I have heard from others who have been victimized.  And it is a hassle to get your passport replaced)

A lot of smaller shops, and all of the pubs that are not tied into restaurants or hotels, do not accept plastic, and at the pubs payment is expected upon delivery of the drinks; as a general rule, they don’t do “tabs” like bars here in the states.  Sit down restaurants and larger shops accept all major cards, EXCEPT DISCOVER, and if you intend on purchasing a number of items, it is probably best to do it with plastic.  This is how I normally operate; plastic for sit down dinners and purchases, cash for lunch, pubs, and snacks.

What should you budget for a day of eating and drinking in Ireland?  (these numbers may need to be updated with the inflation over the last few years) This always varies from person to person. Breakfast is covered everyday, as well as all scheduled site admission fees.  Your dinner is covered the first night in each hotel so here is a generalization of what you can expect to pay: conversion is found here 

At the Pub-
Soda:                         €1.65 per 1/3 litre bottle
Irish Beer:            € 3.75 to €6 per ½ litre pint*
Import Beer:             € 4.50 to €7 per ½ litre pint*
Glass of Wine:                        €5 for .187 litre bottle
Liquor:            € 3.50 to €7 per jigger (by Irish law all pours must be measured)
      All mixers are sold separately
      * Irish pints = 20 U.S. ounces
At the market-
Coffee or Tea:                        €2.50 to €4 for large specialty, €2 for regular
Bottle of Water:             €1.50 per 1.5 litre bottle
Snacks and Candy:            €1 to €2.50
Pack of Cigarettes (Box of Fags):           €10 (note: Ireland is indoor smoke free)

Soup and “toasted sandwich” at the pub:              less than €10
Entrees at the pub:                                                €10 to €15 per person
At McDonalds or sandwich shop:            €7 to €9 per person
At inexpensive restaurant:            €12 to €15 per person
At moderate restaurant:            €20 to €30 per person

So, if you budge the following items during your day:
·     Coffee or Soda

·     Lunch

·     Snack

·     Dinner

·     6 Drinks in the Pubs

Low End:  €46.50  = $61.38
High End: €77.00  = $101.65

I always budget $100 per person per day, however some days we spend less, others more, but over the course of the week we look at a total of $750 each.

Regarding identification, unless you plan on renting an automobile, you will only need your passport for identification.

Travel Insurance:  This is a must.  You will especially need Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, and Major Medical.   Your health insurance policy from here in the US will not usually cover you in Ireland.  Check with your insurance agent for travel insurance.  Trip interruption coverage is very important.

IF YOU ARE DELAYED (and I will know because I’ll have your flight information) YOU WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE A CLAIM ON YOUR INSURANCE.  The tour coach will be departing between at 9AM, and if your flight has not yet arrived due to delays, we will have to leave without you and you will need to do one of the following: but I think everyone is due to arrive in the day before.

1. Go to the Bus Eirean Kiosk at Dublin, and find out when the next bus is departing for Tralee, Co. Kerry.
2. Take that bus, then take a taxi from the bus depot to THE ROSE HOTEL, the driver will know where it is.
3.  Once you get to the Rose Hotel, tell the desk that you are with the the Jeepers Bus Tour and you have a reservation.  Leave a message with the desk for me,
Máirtín de Cógáin, and I will get in touch with you in your hotel room so you can join up with us once we arrive in Tralee, probably around 4 o’clock.

OR you can hire a driver at Dublin to take you to the Rose Hotel, Tralee, Co. Kerry

OR, you can hire a driver, call me on my Ireland cell phone (+1310-447-4839) and I will arrange for you to catch up with us somewhere the group will be stopping that first afternoon.

Regardless which option above you use, you will be able to claim any expenses on your Trip Interruption coverage.  That’s why it is important.

*I got this list of what to pack from my good friend Allen Tatman, I wish I was this good at packing light, I am working on it, though.