When I started planning a trip to Ireland for the very first time, I didn’t know what I would need to plan a trip. Now, I have dozens of sites bookmarked and items I’ve purchased over and over again. I decided to put it all together on this Ireland Resources page.
I hope that what we use and why we use it is useful to you as you plan your first trip to Ireland.
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Packing for Ireland Resources
We kind of have the packing for Ireland thing down pat now. When we packed our last trip, I pulled out my iPad, looked up this post and used it to help me pack in under an hour (no joke!). It helps to have laundry done beforehand though. ;-)
Packing Cubes: If you can’t tell already–I am a type A traveler and that also applies to my packing style. I love that I discovered packing cubes. They really help me stay organized while in Ireland. I can stuff my clothes, socks, electronics, and all sorts of other odds and ends in these babies. After we arrive at a new B&B and I open my suitcase, it doesn’t look like an apocalyptic mess anymore. By the way, save the clear zippered packaging from new sheets or curtains for a quick and cheap substitute.
Ear Plugs: Definitely not the sexiest item on this list, but I don’t travel anywhere without these babies. I hate having things in my ear, but I hate not being able to sleep on a plane or in a noisy hotel room more. I’ve tried at least 10 different types of ear plugs and I think these are the best. They are basically what I remember as a kid my mom putting into my ears when we were swimming to block out the water. They do a pretty great job of blocking out the noise too. There are six pair in each pack but I use one plug for both ears because they are pretty big.
Small Backpack I am not a purse girl, especially when I am traveling. The straps always slide off my shoulders and I tend to leave it around where I shouldn’t. I prefer a small backpack that keeps my hands free and my stuff secure, particularly my journal, snacks and water bottle.
Woman’s Columbia Waterproof Jacket: This is my exact jacket for Ireland and I love it. It’s lightweight and roomy enough to have layers underneath. My favorite part has to be the hood because hoods are always too big on me, but this one fits and has a slightly longer lip at the top, which keeps the drizzle away from my face.
Men’s Columbia Waterproof Jacket: The same jacket above for men.
Women’s Hiking Shoes: Shoes are little different from jackets or backpacks–you certainly wouldn’t want to order these without going to store to see if they fit (or checking the return policy). But if you are new to hill walking in Ireland and want a solid shoe, this is as good a place to start. Both Joe and I have Columbia hiking shoes and find them really comfortable. If you are a casual hill walker and aren’t doing much elevation climbing you should be able to get away with a running/walking shoe.
Men’s Hiking Shoes: A good Columbia hiking shoe for men. This one is waterproof. Ours aren’t, but there have been many a hill walk that I wish ours did a better job of keeping the water out.
Women’s Walking Shoe: Again, I probably wouldn’t just buy any shoe online, but this is the pair I have brought to Ireland for years now and I really like them. They are super lightweight and really comfortable for long days. The material is almost mesh-like, so if they get wet during the day, they usually dry overnight and I can wear them easily the next. I will admit they aren’t the most fashionable of shoe, but when I am walking on a cliff side or in a cathedral I am not usually thinking about what is on my feet.
Walking Sticks: We bought our walking sticks in Ireland at a Dingle sports store. I wish we would have bought them prior to our trip because they were expensive. So expensive that we only bought one set and each took one pole. For each trip in Ireland, we pick a mountain to climb like Mount Brandon in Dingle, Errigal Mountain in Donegal, or Knockanaffrin in Waterford. I wouldn’t have done any of those without a walking stick–they really help save our knees especially on the way down. If you aren’t doing much ascending or descending on uneven terrain on your hill walks, you probably don’t need a walking stick.
Small Collapsible Duffel: This may be my favorite item on this whole list. A collapsible duffel bag is the perfect place to store dirty laundry, souvenirs or the overflow that occurs when everything was perfectly in its place before you left but somehow doesn’t fit in your suitcase anymore. I shove mine in a top zipper of my luggage and pull it out a couple of days into the trip to help keep me organized.
Large Collapsible Duffel Bag: How many souvenirs you plan to buy may determine how big of a bag you need. :-) I like to have two different sizes especially so we have something that houses our dirty laundry for when we drop it off at a laundrette.
Travel Journal: There is honestly no better souvenir than your very own thoughts from your time in Ireland. Someone gave us a journal for our honeymoon, our very first trip to Ireland. I was diligent about writing what we did, where we ate and how we felt. It is one of my most valued possessions. We’ve kept the tradition up for the most part but, I will be honest, there have been trips when I wasn’t as steadfast. I’ve always regretted it later. Get a journal. Write in it. You will treasure it forever. I promise. This is my new favorite one. It has different sections so you don’t have to come up with what to write (including what you ate, did, how much you spent…handy!).
Travel Pillow: I am not a terrible sleeper on overnight flights. I can usually conk out for the time that the lights are out between meal services. However, I will say that a good pillow helps. I picked this one up on a whim at Newark Airport several years ago. It is expensive (well at least I think so), but I have taken it on every flight since (I am shocked I haven’t lost yet). It squeezes into a small case and I usually attach it to my backpack/carry-on so it’s not taking up any valuable space in my luggage.
Water Bottle: I always have a water bottle with me, but especially when I am traveling. Airports, airplanes, and long car rides are so dehydrating. This bottle from Amazon is my most recent favorite. I love that this one actually fits in my car cup holder and I can switch out the lid depending what I am doing–running or traveling. I always make sure my bottle is empty before I go through security and then I stop by a quick service counter to fill it back up before I get on the plane. No waiting for the flight attendants for me!
Electronics in Ireland Resources:
Travel Adapter: A travel adapter is really important as the plugs in Ireland are different from the US or most of the rest of the world. We have a universal adapter that we use to charge our electronics. If you have multiple phones, cameras or laptops in the family, bring along a power strip (affiliate link) to charge more than one item at once. Or grab this adapter which has four usb plugs built-in.
Travel Converter: Most of the time an adapter will be all you need for your electronics in Ireland. But if you are charging anything with a motor (say an electric shaver) or something that produces heat (for instance a curling iron or hair dryer–see below), you will need a converter to protect the item that you are running and the electric system you are running on.
Hair dyer (Non-Affiliate) I am always asked about hair dryers in Ireland. Ninety-nine percent of B&B’s and hotels have a hair dryer in the room or at the front desk and so there is really no need to bring one to Ireland with you. For those that know they will be traveling to Ireland or the UK a lot, you can purchase one online before you go, but you can also pick one up at a department store when you arrive for less money. Do not bring a US (110 Volt) hairdryer to Ireland and expect to use it with an adapter. It will cause a fire (I am not even kidding, I’ve heard horror stories)
Canon DSLR Rebel: I picked up a Canon DSLR camera a couple years ago. Man do I love it. I was a complete beginner, and yes, I shot in auto and the other presets quite a bit. I have slowly gotten better and it has become my everyday camera (even though DSLR’s are generally big). I just love how the photos come out so crisp. I bought mine used on Craig’s list so check there first. You never know gems you might find second hand. If you want something smaller, this is my go-to (Non-affiliate). The best little camera that will fit your pocket hands down.
Memory Card: This one is simple. Unless you are solely using your cell phone for photos, you’ll need some place to store the pictures you take. I like a SD card with a lot of storage. I tend to go with the philosophy that the more pictures I take the better. I can delete the bad ones out after I get home.
Favorite Books & Maps for Ireland:
Ordnance Survey We love Ordnance Survey maps. There really isn’t a better map of Ireland for driving, hiking or simply planning. You can choose a map for the entire country of Ireland or small regions with very rural roads displayed. Joe and I even have a few maps for mountains we’ve walked like Mount Brandon in Dingle and Slieve League in Donegal. If you buy online, notice the price is in Euros and the shipping may take a bit longer since it coming from Ireland. Ordnance Survey maps can also be found in gas stations, book shops, souvenir shops and tourism offices in Ireland.
Back Roads Ireland: Joe surprised me by purchasing this Back Roads Ireland book for me one year. Usually I am not a big fan of pre-determined itineraries because they are so prescriptive, but I have been really happy with how this book is laid out. Like all the DK Eyewitness guides, there are lots of pictures and great descriptions. What’s different about Back Roads is its really great advice on how to string a series of places together in one itinerary.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: This is my favorite travel book about Ireland for first-timers. When you don’t really know where to go or how to even start planning. I always suggest taking a look at an Eyewitness Travel Guide and write down the places that get you super excited and make you say “I want to go there!” After you’ve done that, you can begin digging a little deeper and using other guidebooks to find out more and round out your itinerary. Our local library has a bunch of Eyewitness and other guide books. Always check out your options to get free information from there too.
Irish Coastal Walks, 54 Walks Around Ireland’s Coasts: by Paddy Dillon. This out of date book is my favorite hill-walking guide for Ireland. It was published in 2001. So yeah. It really is out of date, but the descriptions of the types of walks, the scenery, views, etc. are spot on. I almost always use it for my initial research and then I find the walk on Mountain Views or in a Collins Press Guide (see below) to read other reviews and make sure landmarks haven’t changed.
Collins Press Walking Guides: If you are truly interested in spending a day or two in Ireland doing a little hill walking, pick up one of these guide books. They are invaluable during the research stage, but even more so when you are actually on a hike–describing landmarks, turns, streams, etc. There are several books and at least one for each region of Ireland. We are getting quite the collection now. They are so pretty all in a row, making our haphazard Ireland bookshelf look like there is some semblance of order.
Go Wild Magazine: I am one of those people that picks up every glossy brochure at rest stops, tourism offices, and accommodations. I love to pour over all the possibilities of things to do and see in the area. Not living in Ireland, I usually only get to do this when I am actually over there. Unfortunately, most of the time I find something crazy amazing but it is too late to add it to our current itinerary. Enter the Go Wild Magazine. It is one of those high-end tourism magazines printed and distributed all over Ireland, but you can access it online. Being a travel consultant, I love the interviews with industry insiders and articles like “48 hours in…” I always get great ideas to add to my list.
Ireland: A Novel by Frank Delaney. I listened to Frank Delaney’s Ireland on audio several years ago, and it is still one of my most favorites. I mean, that Irish accent! Whether you are interested in Irish history or just like a really good read, this big book is worth the time. Delaney weaves dozens of story lines in and out of this historical fiction book. From the country’s turbulent history to the strong tradition of storytelling, I was completely hooked, entertained and even learned a bit in the process. If you’ve never used Audible, you can grab it for free (and keep it) with their 30-day trial.
Travel Insurance is a very personal decision. I used to say get it if you think you might need to cancel.
I say GET IT.
Life is crazy. 2020 taught us that in more ways than one.
When you are planning a trip of a lifetime. You invest a lot of money. What is an extra couple hundred bucks knowing your investment is secure?
Square Mouth (Affiliate) (Non-Affiliate) Square Mouth is an aggregate travel insurance site that allows you to get several detailed quotes without having to contact multiple providers. It will show you the lowest prices and every detail about each policy. I love it because it describes what’s included way better than any other site I know and you can filter by certain terms (like only Cancel for Any Reason policies–which I highly recommend). They work with some of the best travel insurance companies that super reputable and reliable (I’ve used several myself).
Travel in Ireland Resources
When is the best time to go to Ireland? Sometimes when you go can have a lot to do with how much money you will spend (read: it is cheaper outside the months of June, July and August). In this post we talk about when is the best time of year to go and what the weather is like.
Tips for saving money. Tips for packing. Tips for travel to Ireland. You get all of my best tips in these posts: 31 Practical Tips for Your Trip to Ireland and 31 Ireland Travel Tips You Won’t Find in an Guidebook.
Best Debit Cards for Avoiding Foreign Transaction Fees Your debit card/ATM is the best (and cheapest) way to get money in Ireland. However, fees vary by bank and can really add up. Be so be sure to check with your bank or credit union to determine how much they charge. If it is a lot and you have time, you may want to check out your other debit card options. Joe and I have an account with a local credit union just for our travel fund that doesn’t charge anything to withdraw cash abroad.
This Currency Converter tool is handy to help you figure out the conversion from Euros to Dollars or any other currency.
Travel Consulting: I am an Ireland Travel Coach, a modern travel consultant dedicated to helping you create the Ireland trip of a lifetime. I work one-on-one with travelers to support them through planning a trip to Ireland. Maybe you could use a sounding board for your grand Irish adventure? Or perhaps you’d like to a fully custom itinerary created together without all the work? I’d love to help support you in creating a wildly memorable trip to Ireland!
One final note: I, unfortunately, do not own or have any influence over these companies. You will need to speak with the company directly to resolve any issues with a product or service. However, I genuinely love everything listed above and are more than happy to provide details about our experiences with them. I take my recommendations very seriously, so feel free to contact me with any questions.