Joe and I officially began planning our 2014 Ireland Itinerary this past week. Squee!
It’s really hard for me not to be super-duper excited. Planning for Ireland makes me feel like a kid at Christmas—drawing up wish lists, dropping hints and being an extra good girl because Aer Lingus Santa is coming soon!
Our planning process hasn’t changed much in the last seven years. We always start by setting aside a few nights for nothing but Ireland research. This is really important to us for a couple of reasons:
- We give our trip the undivided attention it deserves. With so many things vying for our attention, if we don’t set aside specific “Ireland” time, our trip would never get planned the way we would want.
- Setting aside time together gives us a better sense of things that the other person wants to see. We often remind each other of those places when one of us had a bad day or needs a pick me up.
- We get excited about the trip together. It’s great fun to dream, especially together, before, during and after the trip.
So, last Saturday night, we ignored work, dishes and laundry to only concentrate on Ireland. We got out all of our Ireland travel books, popped in some traditional Irish music, and opened our big Ireland road map.
Joe and I both went for the Eye Witness Travel Guide first. It has wonderful pictures and short descriptions of all the major attractions. Apparently, Joe has much quicker reflexes than I do, and he quickly grabbed it off the top of the stack. I happily settled for Irish Coastal Walks and an older version of Frommer’s.
We both flipped to the Southeast Ireland sections. We haven’t touched any part of the Southeast yet and it’s been calling us for a while now. Every time we travel to Ireland, we come up with more things to do for the “next trip.” Our never-ending Ireland bucket list contained so many things in the Southeast it’s not surprising we both gravitated toward it.
It didn’t take long before Joe began sharing exciting finds with me, and I asked if he read about this or that yet. Writing in separate notebooks, we began to list all the interesting things we came across.
For a software developer and a girl who runs an Ireland travel blog, it’s unlikely that we would stay away from the computer too long. We broke out the laptops to Google images of Glendalough, Kilkenny Castle, Jerpoint Abbey and about a dozen more sites. I have found searching Flickr, websites, and even You Tube to be really helpful for getting the feel of a new place.
I knew that most of what we were going to discover in our cursory search would be major tourist spots. For this planning stage that was perfect. We’d dig for secret finds, great restaurants, etc. later.
After making notes on our own, we shared our lists and ranked what caught our eyes the most. Not surprisingly, they ended up being very similar. We both love castles, old abbeys, hill walks and scenic views (what’s not to love?). Inevitably different columns emerged like: Yes, Definitely; Might Be Fun; and Ehh… (really scientific, I know).
Making our initial list will often take us a several hours of dedicated research. However, we were on our game this time and had a good idea of our favorites. So, we pinpointed them on our big Ireland road map. Clusters of attractions quickly emerged around a few different regions in the Southeast.
The areas around Kilkenny, Kildare, Waterford, the Wicklow Mountains, and just south of Dublin are certainly frontrunners for 2014. By identifying key locations and the approximate number of things we want to see in them, we can better decide how to spend our precious two weeks in Ireland. This information along with rules we like to follow (i.e. not in a vehicle for more than two hours in a day) shapes the makings of an Ireland itinerary.
Our plans will likely change a few times. It will also get more and more detailed. As we move along, we’ll share our progress with you. What we will do, where we will eat and stay, and how we made these decisions.
Until then, do you have any advice for us in the Southeast of Ireland? Any suggestions for our “Yes, Definitely” list? We’d love to hear your feedback and integrate it into our planning process.