How Much Does It Cost? Part I: Transportation in Ireland

Every few months or so Joe and I do a thorough budget check to make sure we are on track to get ourselves back to Ireland soon. Luckily, I have kept tabs on how much it costs to travel Ireland, so I know we need a pretty good chunk of change to travel how we want.

But, here’s the thing, in our house, travel is one of those undeniable truths. Something that we MUST do. Something that I value as much as water or air. We budget our day-to-day lifestyle around having this experience most years (5 out of 8 married years—not too shabby!).

Joe and Stephanie on Trip #4 in the Connemara Mountains
Joe and Stephanie on Trip #4 in the Connemara Mountains

We scrimp and save (like seriously, please no one judge my current wardrobe circa 2004), and somehow we find ourselves on vacation again and all the sacrifices seem worth it.

Over the next several posts, I’ll give you the scoop on how much our 2014 trip cost, including the embarrassingly large quantities of chocolate (where did all of that go anyway??). We had two full weeks on the ground and absolutely fell in love with the sunny south east.

First up, we’ll detail our expenses for transportation in Ireland. On deck, you can expect posts about our accommodations, activities, food, souvenirs and miscellaneous expenses.

By the way, all of our individual expenses are listed in euros, but the total amount for each category is converted to US dollars. At the time, the currency exchange for US dollars to euros was about 0.74 (meaning every time we spent 1 euro, it actually cost us 1.36 US). I use to keep up to date on the current rates.

Airfare: $924.47

Airfare can be one of the most expensive parts of a trip to Ireland, especially if you are buying more than one ticket. By taking advantage of points from purchases on our credit card, we were able to get one round-trip ticket to Ireland this year almost free.

Aer Lingus Plane
Our plane from JFK to DUB (and, it appears, our in-flight dinner)

For example, we use a Chase Sapphire Preferred card for all of our daily purchases throughout the year to get Ultimate Rewards points. We also take advantage of the card’s Ultimate Rewards Mall to get extra points when we shop online (hello leaf blower—thank you for helping me clean my yard and giving me 250 extra points for Ireland).

We transferred 60,000 points to United Mileage Plus (United airline’s frequent flyer system) and paid the security fee and airport surcharge. The total for this ticket to Ireland was $51.40. :-)

The other ticket we purchased directly from United for a total of $873.07. We bought both tickets in January for travel at the end of May. If you live out west or make your purchase close to the travel date, you can expect to pay more. However, deals do occur. You can sign-up for the Aer Lingus email list to keep informed on upcoming sales.

*Side note: As always, I’d never recommend using a credit card if you can’t pay the full amount each month.

Double side note: United is a code share partner with Aer Lingus. Meaning, when you book with United you could fly on Aer Lingus. Both of our flights to and from Ireland were actually operated by Aer Lingus.

Car Rental: $1063.06

The next big expense is the car rental. Some people choose to travel Ireland by coach bus; we choose to go by car. The freedom and independence we have by renting a vehicle is worth every shiny penny.

This year we tried Easy Tour Ireland’s “all-inclusive” rate from Hertz. It was a little cheaper than the other providers and, for the sake of science (or in this case, Infinite Ireland), we decided to check them out. Here is a screen shot of our confirmation email.

Easy Tour Ireland Rental Car Agreement

I don’t know about you, but I found it a little confusing. When I read “fully inclusive, no hidden charges,” I don’t expect to be doing any math.

The quote shows the weekly Super Cover Excess Waiver (which is super important) is €112/week, but we were renting for two weeks and one day. I brought out my trusty calculator and figured that I would spend €240 for excess insurance for 15 days. We weren’t planning on purchasing Personal Accident Insurance, so I didn’t factor that into my cost. All in all, I assumed I would pay €765.30 (€525.30 total estimated + €240 excess).

The actual total was €781.66, a difference of €16.36 from my calculation. This wasn’t a huge difference, but it also wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

We reserved an economy size automatic and were given a Seat Mii (have you ever heard of a Mii car before?? Neither did we). We had a little trouble getting it started and then getting it up to speed. It drove almost as if it originally had manual transmission but was converted to an automatic. Is that even possible?

Silver Car
Our trusty transportation in Ireland! Ain’t she a beaut? :-)

Still, while it wasn’t his dream car, Joe (our family’s designated driver) got used to its quirks. All in all, our experience with Easy Tour Ireland was ok. Not the best, not the worst. I would consider using them again if the price was significantly lower than the rest.

For a two-week trip to Ireland with an automatic and full insurance in the month of June, we budget around $1000.00. If you travel between October and May or choose a manual, you should pay much less.

Petrol: $157.83

We drove 1539 kilometers or 956 miles in 15 days, which averages about 64 miles/day. By accepting the fuel option from Hertz, we saved about €0.45 per liter on our first tank. Hertz filled the tank with petrol when we picked up the vehicle. We were to bring it back empty. Any fuel left was theirs to keep.

Top Petol Station
This petrol station is proud to be Irish! Pic thanks to Flikr user Jennifer Boyer.

We filled the tank 1.25 more times before dropping it off almost entirely empty on June 7th.

  • Hertz on May 24: €49.39
  • Gala on June 1: €51.66
  • Amber Oil on 6: €15.00

Each mile we drove cost $0.16.

The average price per liter for June 2014 was €1.55.

Parking: $53.31

This year we seemed to spend quite a bit on city parking fees. I suppose this is mostly because we didn’t stay in towns too often and were required to pay when we used the city lots.

Mural and parking sign in cork
They get creative with their parking signs and buildings in Cork City.
  • Kilkenny City: €7.80 for six hours (note: some lots are as little as €2 per day)
  • Wexford Town: €2.60 for approximately two hours
  • Wicklow Town:  €1.20 for one hour
  • Waterford City: €9.20 for approximately 6 hours and moving the car to a different lot after dropping off laundry
  • Cork City: €18.00 for seven hours and 38 minutes
  • Tesco, Mallow Cork: €0.40 for 30 minutes (note: we could have gotten this for free if we just moved the car one lot over, but Joe was being a little stubborn that day. :-)).

Miscellaneous Transportation: $15.09

A cool way to get from point A to point B is by car ferry. Drive on up onto a boat and you can possibly shave off quite a bit of travel time. In this case point A was Ballyhack, Wexford and point B was Passage East, Waterford. Total cost: €8.

Car Ferry
Car Ferry to Passage East.

There is a toll when leaving the airport in Dublin on the M50. Our rental car had a token very similar to the E-Z Pass system in the US, which charged €3.10 to Hertz. Hertz then charged us on our final bill.

Total Transportation in Ireland: $2213.26.

Yikes! That’s a lot of money!  We find that renting a car affords us the most flexibility, so the rental and costs associated with it are worth it for us. If you want to saddle someone else with the driving responsibilities, you can check out Bus Eireann, which has pretty extensive coverage across Ireland. You will be subject to its schedule and will be schlepping your bags a bit farther than you likely want. However with prices as low as €14 from Dublin to Galway, it might be worth looking into if you are on a strict budget.

What are your best tips for saving money on transportation in Ireland?

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  1. Thank you for this post (what a great deal on that airfare!)

    In your upcoming post, can you say a little something about tipping?

    My husband and I enjoyed 14 days in Ireland last December. We are planning our next trip for Summer and would really love to solve this little mystery. (When is it OK to tip, how much is left etc).

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Linda! Tipping is very different in Ireland from the US–its often not required, but if you are inclined 10-15% will do (unlike 20+% in the US). We by no means are experts, but we’ve found these resources helpful:

      I hope this helps and I will be sure to do a post in the future that covers it. Enjoying planning your next trip!

  2. Hey Stephanie
    Great article! Love all the detail!
    Just a quick note on parking. In Cork City (and this is probably true in other towns too) you can save quite a chunk of change by carefully selecting your parking space. For example the Grand Parade shopping center carpark charge 80c for 15 minutes (so 3.20/hour), while just a short 5 minute walk away you can get your first hour for just 1.70, and up to 3 hours for just 5 Euro. ( Over the course of a few hours it can save you quite a bit.


    1. I should have emailed you before we went Liam! Such great sage advise and I am certain with will use that info in the future. :-)

  3. Hi! I just wanted to say that I’m planning a trip to Ireland, and this blog has been incredibly helpful to me! One of the best resources I’ve found yet. :D

  4. I love this new post as I am planning my upcoming trip in April so just four short months away! I emailed Avis and got a quote from them. It says it includes SDW but not the extra super SDW??? Anyway it seemed awful cheap. Then Dan Dooley’s website states it includes everything. Just wondering which one you would go for? I’m only self-driving for 8 days. After reading so many reviews about bad experiences with car rentals in Ireland, I am a little terrified! =)

    1. Hi Ruth! You are right April is right around the corner! I hope you are getting excited! You can always call up Avis and give them your quote to see for sure what it includes. I can say for certain that whatever quote Dan Dooley gives you online is what you are going to pay at the counter (not including Petrol if you opt for it from them). Don’t be too worried about the car rental–if you get the super damage waiver then you will be all set no matter what happens. That’s what we do and it has worked out well for us many times. Good luck (and enjoy your trip!!).

  5. Hi, I just found your site, and it is proving to be very helpful. My friends and I are actually taking a trip to Scotland in June, but we are flying in to Dublin because we have found it cheaper to do that then take a plane from there to Scotland. I was thinking of flying out a couple of days early to spend some time with myself and my camera in Dublin, getting acclimated and experiencing Irish culture. My main question: do you think that it is a good idea for a 28 year old woman (who has rarely ever been out of midwestern America and never to Europe) to be staying in Dublin alone, and if so, what advice would you have for me?

    1. Hi Nikki! Yes! Do it! I know lots of women who have traveled solo in Ireland and loved it. Here are a few resources to get you started. :-)

      My best advice is stay aware of your surroundings, chat with the locals–they will give you great advice, and enjoy yourself. Sometimes I think solo travel is even better than traveling with friends–you get to everything that you want! :-) Have a great time!

  6. I am a 48 year old female solo traveller. I spent time in England Scotland and Ireland two years ago solo and with my 75 year old Aunt. I spent a lot of time by myself and not once did I find myself in any sort of danger or discomfort. I travelled thought a lot of Belfast by myself and felt very welcome.

    That said I was careful, I researched where I was to stay, my surroundings and transport. I didn’t do anything that I wouldn’t do at home in a large city. My theory is to be alert but not alarmed.

    I found all the countries, especially Ireland and Scotland to be very easy for a solo female. I drove by myself all over the place.

    Solo travel is wildly freeing!!!!


    1. Oh thank you so much for that Noleen! I too think its wildly freeing, but haven’t been able to describe it so eloquently. Kind of makes me want to hop of flight today and do it again. :-)

  7. Great Series! What I found: Get an standard (stick-shift) transmission car – its cheaper. Diesel is also cheaper most of the time. And BUY the insurance – Credit Card car rental insurance is typically NOT valid in the Republic of Ireland.

    1. You are so right Chris! If only we drove standard more often. We certainly would save a lot of money forgoing that automatic rental. I second you on the insurance. Completely and utterly worth the extra cost for some piece of mind.

  8. I read somewhere that some car companies won’t let you take their car into Northern Ireland, I guess because it’s taking the car out of the country. Have you found that to be true? We are traveling to Ireland soon and I want to be able to travel into Northern Ireland also.

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