Creating an Ireland Itinerary


Creating an Ireland Itinerary: 6 Super Practical Ways To Fill The Time Before Your Trip

How do you plan a trip when you have a vast, almost insurmountable chasm of time between you and your destination?

How do you get excited when it feels like your vacation is eons away?

Oh, my dear friend.  Pull up a chair and a cup of tea. Let’s chat. There is so much to do!

Stephanie eating a cinnamon bun

Those that plan a year or even two years in advance have The. Best. Trips.


While, yes, Ireland is a quintessential host, and you’d have a great time even on a whim getaway, those who plan a year, two years, or even three years in advance…

Eyeries Village, West Cork, Ireland
Eyeries Village, West Cork

They can uncover experiences that will be the most meaningful, having a deep, more connected, and immersive experience when they finally arrive.

They get their pick of where to stay and what to do.

They snag experiences only available to early birds.

And they have the opportunity to read, plan, and anticipate their trip (and research has proven those that have a trip to look forward to are happier (it’s true!)).

As much as I hate waiting for a trip, I do love having something to look forward to, and I’m all about creating better, more meaningful experiences in Ireland.  So I figured I should roll up my sleeves and get work. Do it with me?

This is part one of six super practical ways to fill the time before your trip.

Creating an Ireland Itinerary

Reading an Ireland travel book

Creating an itinerary is the most time-consuming part of planning a trip to Ireland.

You don’t want just any old trip. Ireland is a dream destination. So you dig in and start learning about the different regions and places to go.

But then you realize for such a little country, Ireland can be incredibly difficult to plan. SO. MANY. CHOICES.

I have been there more times than I can count.

Narrow down your choices:

Instead of “what all can I fit in?” or “where all should I go?”, create your route by thinking about “what will have the most meaning for me?”

This is a pretty big mental shift, and it’s easy to dismiss its value.

Creating an Ireland Itinerary on Paper

I promise you, though, changing how you think about your experience in Ireland will drastically change how you actually experience Ireland.

What you find meaningful will be different than everyone else. Meaning is how you differentiate your trip from the masses. It is how you create unique and memorable experiences that elevate a trip from nice to the one you cherish for the rest of your days.

Finding meaning is how Ireland Travel Coaching became so popular–by helping people identify what would be the most meaningful for them, matching it with treasured experiences, and then creating an Ireland itinerary that is doable and incorporates it all.

You can work with me, but if you’re reading this, it probably means you’re an independent, savvy traveler and want to get started on your own (you rockstar, you), so here’s my best advice.

How to Create an Ireland Itinerary with Meaning

Creating an Ireland itinerary on a computer

A. Select one or two pillar destinations–spots that are so important to you that you feel you will not have been to Ireland until you have visited there. Notice, I only said one or two. It isn’t a bucket list, but rather places that you know will have particular meaning for you (like an ancestral hometown or a destination you dreamed about since you were a child).


B. Decide the types of experiences that will have the most meaning for you. Perhaps you love the outdoors and being active, so you want to incorporate hiking, cycling, or golfing. Maybe you’re an avid knitter and want to seek out farms, textile shops, or artisans. Decide the kinds of things you want to fill your time with and seek out one or two pillar experiences related to that.

From here, prioritize a list of other places or things you’d like to incorporate. Then, play connect-the-dots. Weave the primary destinations or experiences into an incredibly unique and treasured route that perfectly fits you instead of going to places because friends, family, or the internet says you should.

Jerpoint Abbey, Co. Kilkenny Ireland
Jerpoint Abbey, Co. Kilkenny

Creating an Ireland itinerary is challenging, but don’t let it overwhelm you.  You’ve got time, so use it to your advantage. :-)

A few more tips:

  • Make sure you spend at least two nights in each location you choose, which will allow you a full day to explore the destination without having to rush.
  • Pick a zone–break the country into roughly four quadrants. Each quadrant is worth at least a week’s exploring. Resist the temptation with Superman (or Super Woman!) strength to hit every corner of the island in one or two weeks. Pick an area or two and stick with it. You will be so happy you did.

4 Regions of Ireland

  • The most memorable experiences in Ireland are usually the ones we don’t plan at all. So don’t strive for perfection. Aim for meaning, and everything else will fall into place. ?

Ok–your turn. Tell me. As you are creating your Ireland itinerary, what’s one meaningful experience on it?

For me, I want to visit the estate my family likely worked on in the late 1700s.  Eeek!  I’d love to hear yours!

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  1. I like your idea of the 4 quadrants. Both my trips to Ireland were self driving, but the first trip we covered too much. Flew into Shannon and out of Dublin. My travel companion was interested in megalithic sites, so we spent a lot of time on back roads. My 2nd trip was easier because my travel companions wanted to avoid Dublin( having visited China the year before). We flew in and out of Shannon and concentrated on the Killarney to Galway area. Much more relaxing and a week’s stay in a cottage near Tralee! Both trips were planned by me with my companions needs my primary concern. Ny next trip will be about what I want to see and do!?

  2. I have very mixed feelings about this. My trip to Ireland was actually set and planned for October of 2020. A 50th birthday present to myself. I had been planning and saving up for it for 2 years. Since my mom died in 2018. Thanks to Covid it was postponed until April of 2021, and there is still the very real possiblity that it won’t happen, and either get postponed again or cancelled altogether. This was going to be my First time traveling outside of the US. This was/is probably going to be a trip of a lifetime to never happen again. I don’t make a lot of money, and I don’t get a lot of time off work. The thought of now having to wait until 2022 or 2023, just breaks my heart in so many ways. I have worked hard for my money. I have worked hard for my time off. This is not just something that gets handed to me every time I fancy a trip.

    1. Oh Lorie, I am absolutely heartbroken for you. You must be devastated. Ireland would have been such an amazing way to celebrate your 50th. I hate that April is looking so grim and you’re looking farther out once again. I haven’t lost all hope on fall for some, but the experts aren’t predicting a strong recovery for the masses for some time. I wish I had better or more encouraging news. Sending lots of hugs. ❤️

  3. Ireland is my birthplace. I have been drawn back there ever since I left–fifty years ago! I never fail to find fascinating new things, or to tire of re-visiting my favorites.
    One of my rules of thumb is to stick to the “raised edges of the saucer” — the rough, mountainous regions all around the coastline.

    1. Some of my favorite spots too!! Donegal, Kerry, Clare, Connemara, Wicklow, Causeway Coast, West Cork….oh my heart. ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Stephanie, sure enjoyed your information! We are looking for help in planning a relaxing southern/southwestern Irland trip in October 2021. Been to Dublin twice, and Galway, Cliffs of Mohor, Aran Islands..Want to stay in two B & B’s for 3 – 5 days each , Cork and west area.

    1. You are just going to love going to Cork and West Cork (it may actually be my favorite part of Ireland!). Do reach out to me at to chat about your plans. I’d love to hear all about them and see how I can help! ❤️

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