To book ahead or not to book ahead?

May 27th, 2012, 12:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2012
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To book ahead or not to book ahead?

I have always been a book ahead person, but we usually pick one or two places and stay put. This will be a different trip, as we're renting a car and driving. I'm having a very, very hard time coming up with a plan, mainly because there seems to be just so much to see and do.

For sure we have 15 nights starting September 8, flying in and out of Dublin. I'm inclined to book Dublin for the first two nights, pick up the car in the morning, visit Newgrange, then on to Belfast and a prebooked hotel. That leaves 11 nights, assuming one night by the airport.

Visit the Giant's Causeway - now I'm lost. Somehow see Connemara, Burren, Dingle, RoK, Glendalough, Rock of Cashel.

I expect we'll quit driving each day by about 3 - 4. Is accommodation in the roughly 100E range difficult to find each day? Without spending hours trying to find it?

Booking ahead gives me security and comfort, but no flexibility if we really want to stay an extra day somewhere, or conversely, want to push ahead.

Is there a strong argument either way?
sugarmaple is online now  
May 27th, 2012, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2,842
Standard answer I give on the TA forum

Winging it the t2p way. or how we did Ireland before we moved over.

Book the 1st and last nights. Pin a Michelin 712 map on an empty wall. Decide any must see places and pin them. work out some stepping stones(towns) on a rough route. get a list of 3 guest houses and 1 hotel for these potential places. email the hotels and ask if there are (1) any events or festivals locally on your possible dates. (2) if the hotel is doing any special offers on your possible dates. Talk to your host and ask in the local pub what's worth seeing. Phone ahead at breakfast for the evening accommodation. Only book one night at once, if the place is good or there's things to do and see within a 30mile radius book an extra night.

Tourist Information Bureau are great and will always find you a bed for the night. Provided there is one available and of course provided they are open! not much fun knocking on doors at 6pm.

You have your route more or less planed out but only having 11 nights means something has to give, That would be the North or in my case the south west.
Tony2phones is offline  
May 29th, 2012, 06:47 AM
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Thanks for your answer tony, you give excellent, practical advice, that seems to always cut right to the heart of things. Just what I lack and very much appreciate!

I just got home with the map, and will spend some time poring over it.

When you say the south west, I'm assuming that means Kerry, Dingle? I'd really like to see the North.

If we do the north, ending in Galway, after doing Belfast, perhaps Donegal and Connemara, Burren, where to next?

So that's 1/2 nights Dublin, 1 in Belfast, 1 in Derry then perhaps Clifden or Ennis for a couple of nights.

It would be nice to see either Kerry or Dingle - any thoughts?

I realize I'm still working this through...but now that I have my map, I fell MUCH better equipped
sugarmaple is online now  
May 29th, 2012, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2,842
Everyone Assumes that I tell everyone to avoid Dingle All the time. Not true. Dingle is fine if folk have the time to go out onto a peninsular for a day as part of a journey. It is not a touring base which some people want and it is not worth a day on a rush through road trip.

Anyway. This is a map I put together for twiggers a bit back.

lonnggg post

There are a couple of bits cut mainly the South East corner and Mayo although if possible I would recommend Achill Island and the coast run from Westport.

Clifden Arts week will be on late Sept and would recommend a night or two there, maybe catch a drink in Connellys.
Tony2phones is offline  
May 29th, 2012, 09:07 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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My sister and I traveled to Europe together every year for eight years, and we usually reserved hotels, transportation, etc., ahead of time, but for our trip to Ireland we decided to play it by ear.

We booked our first night (nights ?) and our last nights and then winged it in between. Our trip was in September, so we didn't think we'd have trouble finding available rooms.

We had consulted a couple of guide books and knew pretty much which towns/areas we wanted to visit, so all we had to do was to stop by a likely-looking hotel and ask if a room was available. It worked very well.

Our rule of thumb was that we would be on the road for no more than 3 hours a day. We made this rule after I had a little fender-bender in England at the end of a long day. We didn't think it would have occurred had I not been tired. (I always did all the driving on our trips.)
Pegontheroad is online now  
May 29th, 2012, 04:03 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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I think you will be okay not booking ahead because you are going in the shoulder season. I like Tony's suggestion of having an idea of where you think you would like to be at the end of the day. If you do your research and have the names of a few places that appeal to you in an area, you should be okay.

That being said, I like to book ahead, but that is my comfort zone. A lot depends on what is going on in the area. We tend to travel to Ireland in April and October. My first choice of B&B would not have been available to me last month if we had not prebooked since it was in Galway on a weekend and there was a big rugby match going on.

Another time we got a great suite in a hotel in Cork at 6 pm, (after the TI office had closed) for the price of a b&b. But I was a nervous wreck for an hour or so.

Can you fly into Dublin and out of Shannon? And a final thought, try to spend more than one night in an area. You won't feel so much like you are just passing through on your way to the next place.
allisonm is offline  
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