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I'm a masochist -- I'm planning a trip to Ireland for 8 in summer 2006!

I'm a masochist -- I'm planning a trip to Ireland for 8 in summer 2006!

Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:09 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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I'm a masochist -- I'm planning a trip to Ireland for 8 in summer 2006!

OK, I know I'm in for major headaches -- but I love planning travel (and traveling itself!) and I'm the only one of us that has been to Ireland. There's only one other in the group that's been out of the US!

SOOO it's a girls' trip -- 3 taken, 5 singles, all between 30-40 years old. Most of us have known eachother for years, but haven't kept in touch lately.

We've already decided I can do the planning, and even have a website up so the others can plan along and tweak/suggest. We are planning on two weeks in late June/early July 2006, to take advantage of the July 4th holiday (paid off work). That's really the only time all of us can get off.

I'm figuring on flying over (some from Miami, some from Gainesville, one from Texas, one from California), renting 2 cars (for splitting sightseeing when desired), and staying a week in Dublin and a week in the southwest somewhere.

I've already sent out a questionnaire to each to determine travel habits, pet peeves, style, speed, morning requirements, etc. That way I can 'pair' folks up in rooms and cars so that fewer disasters occur.

My questions:

Anyone know of a way (other than a formal travel agent) of getting a group discount on airfare? Recommendations of places in Dublin to stay? How about a great base for the southwest? Other suggestions I haven't thought about?

Thanks!

Fodor's is such a gem
GreenDragon is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:17 AM
  #2  
 
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Kinsale is my favorite place in all of Ireland, so I recommend it as a base in the SW. Kenmare is also a good choice.

What is the lodging budget per person, per night?
Edward2005 is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:27 AM
  #3  
 
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Ohhhhh, I wish you luck Green

I'm not sure if I can find it, but you should definitely read Crazy Mina's trip report about Ireland. It is a hilarious read but full of great information that might help in planning a girl's trip.

I'll try to find it and post the thread for ya.
TexasAggie is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:28 AM
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Here it is

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=34373959

Enjoy!
TexasAggie is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:29 AM
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What a great trip! When I read the title I imagined a multi-generational trip with diverse folks. 8 "girls" will have a blast.

You can spend hours of the Irish tourist board investigating self-catering and B&B's. I know - I have. We loved staying at B&B's we picked from the tourist board catalog. You may want them to email you the hard copies.

I think you should choose a self-catering in walking distance of a small town with pub (well, would that be every town in Ireland?). That way, you can walk to dinner or for an evening in a pub and walk back without worrying about driving.

Personally, I would spend less time in Dublin and more time in the countryside. I also prefer starting the trip flying into Shannon. Can you tell I love the Irish countryside and was less than keen on Dublin? I think you'll be missing the best of the magic that is Ireland by spending your first week in Dublin. Personal preference of course!

Have a blast!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:37 AM
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Being a resident of Waterford in Ireland's Sunny South East, as it's called, I feel obliged to recommend the Crystal City. You can drive to Waterford from Dublin in a little over 2 hours. I would recommend the Tower Hotel which is in a good central location and we have lots of nice restaurants from Italian to Chinese, Thai to Steakhouses. There's plenty for 8 girls to do and have a laugh!
eiregal is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:41 AM
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From what I have read about group travel, you need to set out the guidelines about money right off the bat. Think about how you will handle restaurant meals when they won't split the check, etc.

I wish I could be the 9th on your trip! It sounds like a lot of fun!
edhodge is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:44 AM
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Definitely less time in Dublin. Three nights, two full days, is plenty for most people. The charms of Ireland are in the countryside and small towns. I agree with the suggestion for Kinsale - it's lovely. Make a stop in Cobh while in that area. With two weeks, you can do a lot! Don't miss the Dingle Peninsula. And yes, Kenmare is another good base in the west. You might also want to consider Galway or Doolen with a peek at the Cliffs of Moher and perhaps a daytrip to the Aran Islands (one of our trip highlights!). Sorry can't help with suggestions for group rates. Have fun!
Karen
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:46 AM
  #9  
rex
 
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Masochist? not in my view... more like fun-seeker.

One thing you might not have considered - - if by chance you think you might become a group of ten, it could be worth your while to talk to the group desk of an airline which could serve all the originating cities.

A group fare need not be all from the same city, though at least one segment has to include all of you (gateway city in the US to Ireland or gateway city in europe to Ireland, for example).

Group fares aren't always the cheapest fares (they typically provide a 10% discount off the lowest applicable published fare), but they do allow you some flexibilities - -name changes up to 30 days before departure for example, and no need to pay 100% until 30 days before - - though you lock in the rate now.

Have fun... planning and traveling both...

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 09:07 AM
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I took a group of 13 to the UK a few years ago. We got our tickets through Cheaptickets which was cheaper than any of the "group fares" I could find at that time. But there are more options now. I'd probably start w/ a local TA and see what they can do, then just start searching.

We stayed a week in London - renting 3 apartments, and a week in the Cotswolds - in 4 small water mill cottages, and rented 4 cars.

You will probably have it a bit easier since you are all in the same age range and all the same sex (we ranged from mid 30's to 80 and 4 men, 9 women)

In your case I would definitely spend less time in Dublin. It is a good place to visit - but even those on here who LOVE Dublin probably wouldn't recommend 7 days there.

And IF you flew into/out of Shannon, I might evenskip Dublin entirely.

Renting two well located cottages for one week each would give you two bases for touring much of the country via reasonable day drives.

For instance - a holiday rental somewhere in the triangle of Limerick/Killarney/Cork would place you w/i reasonable drives of everythin from Cashel to Dingle/Kerry/Beara. And a cottage sort of near Galway would be convenient for Clifden, Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, etc.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 09:13 AM
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Meant to add - You'll have a blast!

One thing about the self catering and multiple cars - you WIL have some conflicts about where to eat, where to go, how long it takes some people to get moving in the morning, etc.. But having full cottages w/ kitchens gives you sooooooo much more flexibility that staying in B&Bs or hotesl. if a couple of the girls just can't get it together one morning - they can hang around the place, have a leisurely B'fast on their own time and do what they darn well please w/o impacting the others.

And finding B&Bs that have room for 8 will be a bit harder. Renting 3 or 4 bedroom'd houses - ot 2 small cottages on the same farm/village is the way I'd do it . . . .
janis is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 01:10 PM
  #12  
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Thanks for the suggestions so far!

The reason we're starting in Dublin (and I'm seriously considering open jaw Dublin/Shannon) is because many of the girls want to sample Dublin's night life -- 5 are single and LOOKING! We are also planning several day trips from the Dublin area, such as up to Newgrange/Hill of Tara, etc.

Might get them down to 5 days in Dublin (I personally have had enough of Dublin proper, having been there twice already).

We are also considering looking into home exchanges as a cheaper alternative for lodging. Several of us have homes that could work for that.

The budget for lodging that I'm looking at is around $60 per person per night. I think we can get B&Bs for that, certainly short-term apartments.


Oh, and before someone suggests it, as much as I want to see Northern Ireland (west coast), my co-travelers have heard too many stories of IRA bombings to venture north (darn!)

Self-catering is certainly an option we're looking at, and I've seen several that can accomodate 8 people.

Oh, thanks for the airfare/group hint! That's part of what I was looking for My best friend is a well-known slowpoke, so I'll probably not be with her 'mini-group' a lot -- I'm a fast traveler, like one of the other girls, Gladys. Waiting on the other questionnaires to discover who else to 'group'.

Thanks, keep them coming! Reading Mina's report now...
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Old Jun 27th, 2005, 03:49 PM
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Hi Dragon:

Well, I've had a bit of experience here. I just returned from Ireland with a group that totaled 12, though the most together at any one time was 11 (people coing and going at different times). I'll have a trip report about this eventually.

I agree that it is possible to find better deals on the websites sometimes, but it never hurts to try. I don't think that it really matters that you are all girls and in the same age group. It's common traveling style that really makes the difference. You all need to agree that sometimes you will all do something together and other times you will be separate, and that includes dinner.

Things I did right:
I booked all of the rooms and rarely had to pay a deposit. Only self catering reuired that and I got the money back from everyone.

We had multiple gatherings where we talked about what everyone needed to take, passport info, car rental info.

Every couple rented a separate car (well sort of, more on that later). This provided more options for people with different tastes. We could group up for excursions on multiple night stays with no luggage in the car.

Had every room booked WELL in advance. Contacted them all just to make sure.

What I did wrong:

Failed to convince them all of the importance of learning as much about the country as they could to help them decide on what they wanted to do when there. I carefully explained that I was just helping with the planning and that many of them might want to do different things than I. None-the-less, virtually every morning, way too much time was spent trying to give all of the groups ideas on what to do. At night they were only interested in that days activities, not what was going to happen next. Send them all detailed information on the areas that you will be visiting (websites) and actually ask them if they've read them and decided on the things that they like to do.

Since you nobody will be traveling as couples (I presume) this may not be as much of an issue, but occasional privacy, particularly for the involuntary leader, just ain't that easy. nuff said.

Because of an odd number of travelers at one point, one of the car renters was waiting to rent his car until another person left because it would be too many cars. When the one traveler left, my wife suggested that we had plenty of room in our cars and we could triple up and tarde out who carried the extra bags. That was't as much fun as we had hoped.

In my case, having singles of the opposite sex, not remotely involved tarveling and staying in the same room eventually created some friction. Oh well, we all have to grow up sometime.

Some people sort of invited themselves. Again, nuff said.

In the end, I had a fun trip and we ended up doing a lot of things that we might not have done with just my wife and I. We laughed considerably harder than humans should but it was a good thing. I'm very glad we did the trip, but I probably wouldn't do anything of that size again anytime real soon, though someone may try to convince me.

Just some random thoughts.

Bill
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Old Jun 27th, 2005, 04:29 PM
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It's better you stay out of Northern Ireland if your co-travelers are that ill-informed.
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Old Jun 27th, 2005, 05:05 PM
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Oh wow, GreenDragon! I was the planner for a 10-day 10-person (all female) trip to Rome and Tuscany this spring. Most of the "Amici di Viaggio" had never been to Europe. I have never been to Ireland, so I can't help you with that part of your trip. It's great that you're starting to plan early though; I worked on our trip daily for over a year.

A couple of important things come to mind, and I'll add more as I remember them. There's a post somewhere on www.slowtrav.com about things to consider when travelling with a group--howto handle the inevitable discord, etc. Our group found the info very helpful.

We met several times for two to three hours each time (we usually included an Italian potluck) to talk about trip plans. This really really helped to get to know each other as travellers in addition to our friendships and proved invaluable.

A couple of specifics. Be VERY clear about expenses. If you have expenses prior to your trip, collect a set amount from each person in excess of what you need. That way you'll have a little cushion, and if you don't spend it on deposits, car rental, etc. you can use it while on your trip to subsidize a dinner or something. We discussed the money expectations many times before the trip and all went smoothly due to this. We each contributed to a food "kitty" for basic supplies for the week we spent at a house in Tuscany. We had a volunteer grocery committee ("membership" varied according to willingness at the particular time).

We took turns settling the restaurant tab, with one person using her credit card and the others remembering their total. Our group usually overestimated what they owed, and any extra went into the food kitty.

It seems to me that your group will be ineligible for group airfares since you're departing from different airports. I think you have to travel the same itinerary to get group fares. We booked separately because some wanted to use FF fares and some of the women went a few days early and a few stayed a few days later.

Dinner (here on the West Coast) prep calls, but I'll monitor this thread and chime in later. If you want to email me privately, I'm at betsyatspeakeasydotorg (add the @ and the dot)
Betsy is online now  
Old Jun 27th, 2005, 05:15 PM
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I forgot the most important thing. We had to place a deposit (The required deposit was 30%, but we collected 50%) on our house in Tuscany, so to avoid possible financial disaster in case anyone dropped out after the depost was paid, we decided to make it non-refundable. If the drop-out wanted her deposit returned, she had to fill her empty space, BUT she couldn't just fill it with anyone, her "sub" had to be approved by the rest of the group. That may sound harsh, but we all agreed to it. One person decided not to go and another filled in. We were glad to have considered how to manage this aspect of the trip before this happened.
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Old Jun 27th, 2005, 08:57 PM
  #17  
 
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Don't bother with trying for a group rate on airfare. We leave Friday with our family of 29 from six different states. We could have arranged to meet at a hub airport in order to get a group discount on the overseas segment, but very glad I didn't contract for it - did better individually, just watching prices for a while, learning trends, and not hesitating to buy when I found something that looked good - prices can fluctuate practically before your eyes at times! We purchased from September to December - the earliest was a "mistake" on the website that was honored! Prices were better for travel before mid June so try to leave as early in June as you can. I did see a short term dip in prices in January or February, down for a couple of the higher priced cities, but never as good as I had already purchased. But I'm retired and had plenty of time to monitor the web! Perhaps you should let each person worry about their own ticket, once you set the dates and airports. Have fun planning!
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Old Jun 27th, 2005, 09:42 PM
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Great advice from GmaMcD re airfare. Twenty-nine people, yikes! Please type a trip report when you return!
Betsy is online now  
Old Jun 27th, 2005, 09:51 PM
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Another thought: GreenDragon, consider giving up the responsibiltiy of assigning roommates. Even though our group are all good friends, the roommate situation was a bit touchy. You might want to suggest pairs, but ask the women to work it out among themselves before anyone even gets on the plane. When you've decided on your itinerary, then you the group can work it out, maybe changing around roommates along the way.

Our house had two master bedrooms, one double room that wasn't as nice as the master bedrooms, and two very small bedrooms with twin beds. Even though we'd worked it out really thoughtfully, there was friction when the folks in the master bedrooms decided not to change midweek to let the others experience the better rooms.
Betsy is online now  
Old Jun 28th, 2005, 01:06 PM
  #20  
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Wow, all great advice! i think I'll add a finance page to our growing website, so we can deal with budget, kitty, and such matters. Thanks!

I'm thinking of delegating as much as I can to other travelers. One of us, my friend Kim, is used to matching folks up, so I will probably ask her to be in charge of the roommate situation. We may be in three places on the trip (Dublin, Kilkenny, Cork?) and therefore the dynamics can shift if they need to.

We've already agreed that 8 is the limit, and that's filled. If someone drops out, I like the idea of nonrefundable deposit and pre-approval...

Ann, I've tried to tell them that Northern Ireland is beautiful and safe, but some of them are worriers.

Thanks everyone for all the great advice, and keep it coming

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