Ireland: Tour or No Tour

Old Dec 30th, 2009, 09:45 PM
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Ireland: Tour or No Tour

Hello All-
Would appreciate your help. My wife and I are planning a family vacation to Ireland and we are trying to decided whether a tour or No tour would be the best. I know it depends on many factors, including expense, but if you could consider that aspect as being equal which would you recommend? We recognize that there are advantages in each, such as not having to worry about getting around versus the flexibility of being able to do what we want, for a tour versus no tour respectively.

We would probably like to fly into Dublin and go from there to wherever we choose to see. We live in Los Angeles so it looks like we'd be connecting flights in New York.

Again, I recognize it depends on several factors but "you'll need to do more research to figure out where you want to go first" as a response will not be much help.

I would prefer if you told me which you did (if you have done both even better) and whether you liked what you did and perhaps what you would do differently. Thanks
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Old Dec 30th, 2009, 10:18 PM
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"<i> . . . . a response will not be much help</i>"

Well we really can't help you much since you have given us very little to work w/

You say a 'family vacation'. Does that mean mom/dad/kids, or a multi-generational trip w/ grandparents etc, how many?

If you mean children - then few if any tours would be suitable. But w/o knowing any more than what you've given us -- that's about as much as I can advise.

BTW - flying into Dublin is not always the best option. That bit about figuring out where you want to go makes a huge difference - very often Shannon makes more sense than Dublin.
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Old Dec 30th, 2009, 10:48 PM
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In the absence of any specifics - timeframe, family demographics, etc. - consider this one vote for "no tour".

Wife and I have been to Ireland 3 times and each time we've done our own thing. Language barrier is not an issue. B&B's are plentiful so finding lodging is usually not a problem. Public transportation is less than stellar so the only reasonable way to travel on your own is to rent a car. Roads are not the best which causes travel times to be longer than they appear on a map and must be taken into consideration when planning an itinerary. Consider flying open jaw in/out Dublin/Shannon [or Belfast if you want to visit the North] to eliminate back tracking.

Hope this helps you make a tour/no tour decision. Post more specific questions if you want help on developing your own itinerary.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 12:34 AM
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World2travel - if you're happy to be told when to get up, how long you can spend at any one stop, where and when to eat, be taken to 'souvenir outlets' at every opportunity, and take your chances with the company you'll be keeping for the duration of your tour, then you'd probably be OK with a tour group.

We travelled Ireland at our own pace, stopped at many small, interesting sites that could never have coped with large/multiple bus crowds, and got away from the touristy areas as much as possible. We were still free to visit the 'iconic' sites, but also were are able to mix more with the locals, and stop whenever the fancy took us.

So here's a vote for No Tour! Happy travels, Di
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 04:05 AM
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Some others are right in that there is limited information that allows posters to give considered responses, however, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Most on here are anti-tour. I believe, however, that with many people, situations, circumstances, that tours can make a lot of sense, whereas with other people/situations, going on your own makes sense.

With a tour, you are on their schedule, true enough, but on the other hand, depending on the tour company and specific tour, you do have a lot of time on your own, too. With a tour, the hotels and driving and luggage handling is done for you. Some meals are included, but you also can go it alone anytime you wish, too.

Insight Vacations ( http://www.insightvacations.com/us/ ) has a great Country Roads of Ireland tour: http://www.insightvacations.com/us/s..._begin_id=9079

They also have shorter Focus on Ireland tour: http://www.insightvacations.com/us/s..._begin_id=9079

and an Irish Elegance tour: http://www.insightvacations.com/us/s..._begin_id=9079

If you want a 15 day tour to both Ireland and Scotland, they try this one: http://www.insightvacations.com/us/s..._begin_id=9079

We travel on our own, plus take tours, and love it both ways. Of all the tour companies we have used, we like Insight best for it value for the money.

If you have not been there, or to Europe, before then a tour is a great way to get an overview of a country or region. You see the major sites, get into popular sites without standing in line, etc., and it is often cheaper (depending on arrangement you make on your own) to do a tour.

Best wishes.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 04:08 AM
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BTW, in addition to what I said above, if you do wish to go on your own, a great flight/hotel package, or flight car rental package, can be had at Go-Today.com

Here is a link for there Ireland packages: http://go-today.com/site_gtweb/irela...ons.asp?p=1169
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 04:22 AM
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I vote for on your own for all the reasons stated above. If you don't want the responsibility of driving, making all the arrangements, etc, you might hire a driver of car/van to take you where you want when you want. If you are travelling with a family group, hiring a driver lets everyone be able to concentrate on the scenery; no one has to be concentrating on a map or the road and no one gets mad over mistakes in navigating and driving. You can stay in smaller places than

Do let us know your interests, your rough budget, your numbers, your time frame and there are many here who will be glad to help.

Whatever you decide, have a great time!
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 08:26 AM
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All (or at least most) of group tour "pros" apply to adults, and often older adults. W/ children, all or most pros go away. That is one reason we need to know what you mean by 'family vacation'.

• Having to be dressed and w/ all luggage in the hall at 7 or 8 AM every day

• Confined to a coach for long periods most days

• Few choices where to eat

• Being assigned to sit in specific seats on the coach and rotating on a set schedule.

• Often being the only children in a tour group

etc etc

So yep - we need more info . . .
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 09:29 AM
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My 22 year old daughter and myself are going in June 2010..I did a lot of research re the tours, we decided to do a tour. I just did not want the responsibility of driving and setting everything up. This way the Tour company has set up all arrangements..now maybe after going to Ireland one time ..we may go back and try it on our own. I know we have given up some freedom..but also we will have a vacation full of busy days and most of the evenings are to ourselves so able to go off on our own at that time. Hope this helps..
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 10:32 AM
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Agree that the answer may be very different depending on the number and ages of the travelers.

I can't comment on tours - since that's not how we travel - except to note that some don;t allow children below a certain age - and most spend an awful lot of time sitting on a bus.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 05:07 PM
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Thanks all. Ok I suppose I need to give more information.

Well, the family group includes my in-laws who are in their 70s but very mobile, my wife's sister who is in her late 30's, her boyfriend in his 50s, and my wife and I who are in our 30s.

Due to scheduling issues we are confined to a time frame between mid May thru late May.

We are all well traveled and have all been to Europe previously.

Part of the reason why we are going is to learn more about my wife's heritage. Her ancestors are from County Cavan and Northern Ireland.

In addition, we'd also like to see some of the other picturesque areas in Ireland. We do want to spend at least a few days in Dublin but besides that, we aren't set on any particular region or place and are open to any possibilities.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 05:51 PM
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It took some time, but we have stitched together a Bus Eireann itinerary for this May. It's a helpful site, with all the timetables available in print form. Northern Ireland has http://www.translink.co.uk/.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 07:10 AM
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Seriously doubt you will be able to find a tour that includes County Cavan. You might want to consider a short tour of the Republic and visit Cavan and the North on your own. You should have no problem finding tours that cover Dublin, the southern coast [Cork, Ring of Kerry, Dingle, etc.] and the west coast up to Galway. Enjoy your visit to Ireland.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 07:25 AM
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Our trip to Ireland - we arrived in Dublin, rented a car at the airport and immediately went to Newgrange. We stayed in b&bs the entire trip.
Things we visited: Antrim Coast Road, Giants Causeway, Bushmills, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
We then drove to Enniskellin and Belleek where we visited the Belleek Factory. Then into Ireland and visited the sites there. We ended up in Dublin for a couple of days.
If you rent a car be sure to rent an automatic cause with the steering wheel on the right side of the car that leaves you to shift gears with your left hand.
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Old Jan 17th, 2010, 07:26 PM
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Thanks all again. We would appreciate additional input/help now that we've refined our trip a bit more. We'd probably be looking at about 12 complete days in Ireland; 2 days in County Cavan area and 2 day in Armagh region for the family heritage research, 2 days in Dublin, and the 6 days to do some of the "tourist" stuff, which from what I have read, The West and Southern Coasts are where it's at? Questions for you, based on the above itinerary, where would you recommend we fly into? Shannon, Dublin, Belfast or somewhere else? Is Belfast, or any other place in Northern Ireland, worth seeing? Moreover, we'd probably figure on making hotel reservations at least for Dublin but would you also recommend having reservations the Coasts leg or are BB&s and hotel plentiful that we'd be able to find accommodations once we get there? Or does making reservations in advance help with the price? Furthermore, it seems as though food is VERY expensive. What we've read in guidebooks is that an average meal (not including alcohol) will cost in the $40 USD range/person. Is that so? Thank you all for your input - it is extremely helpful!
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Old Jan 18th, 2010, 07:36 AM
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Based on where you need/want to be for research, I would recommend flying into Dublin. Do your first two days in Dublin so you won't have to deal with jet lag and driving right off. You don't need or want a car in Dublin. Do a hop on/hop off bus tour to get oriented. (Do read some guide books to know what you want to see.)

Then get out to the airport, pick up your car and head for Armagh. Do your research, then head to the Antrim coast. there is lots of history and some gorgeous scenery. Dun Luce Castle perched on the edge of a cliff (its kitchen fell into the sea one night a few hundred years ago). The Giant's Causeway. Carrick-a-Rede Bridge. Take a boat trip out to Ratlin Island for the day. Visit the Ulster Folk Museum. Hike or take a short walk) in the Glens of Antrim. There is lots to do in Ulster, but you could also stretch the trip over to County Donegal with its magnificent coastline. Return to Dublin via Cavan.

TThe rest of the country is also beautiful, but think, "We shall return" and focus on one part.

With six of you traveling I would probably suggest making reservations at B&Bs or hotels ahead or be prepared to perhaps split up for the night if you do the B&B route.
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Old Jan 18th, 2010, 07:41 AM
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I posted too soon. You asked about the cost of meals. I have not been back for a couple of years so I can't quote exactly. However, on all of my trips I saved money by stopping in one of the shops and buying the makings of a picnic along the way. Sometimes we ate in our room in the evening--think cheese, bread, veggie nibbles, drinks of your choice and a good pastry for dessert (or be good and have some fruit). Breakfasts are huge and will carry you to a late lunch--cheaper than dinner--and then eat in your room or picnic beside the road at a scenic spot.
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Old Jan 18th, 2010, 11:48 AM
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My experience was that food wasn't that outrageous. I agree that you should stay in B&B's and take advantage of the generous breakfasts. We rarely were hungry for lunch maybe a quick sandwich or soup. We found pub food to be wonderful and portions plentiful. Enjoyed the stew/soups and brown bread. I also found the desserts to be wonderfully fresh, especially anything with fresh cream! We splurged a few times but didn't find it any more than a nice place to eat at home.

If you fly into Dublin, I would definately fly out of Shannon if you plan on touring SW. My favorites (along with many others here) were Dingle and Kenmare. I liked Doolin and also last night in Bunratty.
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