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1st Ireland/Scotland/UK travel w/ questions

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My partner and I are traveling to England, Ireland & Scotland in September for 3 weeks. We are going to try and keep the schedule pretty loose and not rushed. My partner has Aunts/Uncles/Cousins around Newcastle & Manchester.

We are planning 1 week in Ireland (Dublin & Galway), 4 days in Scotland (Edinburgh/Glasgow), and a week and 1/2 throughout England (Newcastle/London/Cardiff/Liverpool/Manchester/Sunderland/York/Leeds/Nottingham).

Being the first time I've ever been overseas, I obviously wanna see SOME of the touristy things but I also wanna get out of town and see the country side. I love driving and doing road trips so driving for several hours, is not an issue for me. (Our band did a 10,000 mile tour last year completely around the U.S.)

Here are my questions:

1.) Rental Cars:
A.) I understand we wont need them in London and Dublin because public transport is so good. In England, I wanna get one to enjoy the drive through the country sides. However, since we're only seeing a couple cities in Ireland, would it be worth it to get one for a couple days to go from Dublin to Galway and back or would it be better to take public transport?

B.) Insurance: I assume my U.S. car insurance does not cover international car rentals? (I have State Farm). Some people have said some credit cards have rental car coverage but I dont have a credit card, only a debit card. Or is it just worth it to pay the extra for the Collision Damage Waiver and not worry about it? Here in the US I usually decline it since my car insurance covers me.

C.) Credit Card: I understand rental companies require a credit card (not a debit card). I dont have one but my friend who's coming with us says she may be able to use hers. (Although I'd rather not have to pay for a 2nd driver since I'll be doing all the driving). From what I've read, they tend to put a hefty security deposit on the card. Is that correct?

D.)Ireland to England: Am I correct in thinking its better to just fly from Dublin to Glasgow and rent a car in Glasgow rather than renting the car in Ireland for the entire 3 weeks and taking it across the ferry and returning it to Dublin when we fly home?

2.) Cellphones:
A.) I have an unlocked iPhone I'm using on T-Mobile. We want to have a cellphone in order to make local calls, check times/prices/contact family in England. I understand I should be able to just bring my unlocked iPhone with me and pick up a local SIM card in England? Will we need a separate SIM for England and for Ireland? Aside from Craiglist or Ebay (I dont trust sellers on there), is there anywhere someone can suggest to pick these up?
B.) Or would it just be easier to buy one of those Pre-Paid cellphones like they have here in the US? I assume they have them there as well.

3.) Discounts: I've signed up for Groupon, Livingsocial and KGBDeals in the UK and Ireland and have been keeping an eye on all the deals they have on hotels, bed & breakfasts and even see 1/2 Off deals for the Hop On/Hop Off bus. Are there any other deal sites you can suggest?

4.) Aer Lingus: In order to afford this trip, I'm selling off some stock I get from work. I thought we would splurge and try and fly first class (especially since we're flying from Seattle to the UK and my long legs already make it difficult in coach). I found a good price from Orlando to Dublin on Aer Lingus for $900 in Business class. I wanted to find out what peoples opinions are of Aer Lingus.

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