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Traveling Ireland/Scotland/England Without a Car


Mar 5th, 2014, 12:14 PM
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Traveling Ireland/Scotland/England Without a Car

Alright fellow travelers, I need some advice!
I will be visiting the United Kingdom this summer, focusing on southern Ireland, northern Scotland and the Scottish Isles, and the southern part of England.
I am planning to fly into Shannon as it's the cheapest ticket I've found so far and I am on a rather tight budget.
Here's the catch--I'm only 21 going on 22, so I won't be able to rent a car, which seems to be the biggest obstacle so far.
Highlights that I don't want to miss include the following:

Ireland: Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle, the Burren, Galway, Glendalough, Newgrange, Belfast if I can make it work, Isle of Man

Scotland: Loch Ness, Oban, Callanish, as many of the Isles as I possibly can, Lindisfarne, Glasgow, St. Andrews.

England: Avebury, Stonehenge, Tintangel, St. Michael's Mount, Arundel Castle. I have already done London and parts of northern England before so I'd like to focus on the bits I haven't seen before.

I'm not an overly touristy type, though I do want to see some of the popular spots. Mostly I'm looking to see as much as possible on the lowest possible budget. I want to be blown away by the natural beauty.
I will be arriving in Shannon on May 22 and I will be staying until the last day in June.

All advice is more than welcome!
hillarydzi is offline  
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Mar 5th, 2014, 12:41 PM
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My advice is to think like a local. Real people live in those places too and many don't have cars. Think trains and maybe more importantly, local buses. I like off-the-beaten path so I look for websites with schedules of local buses and often do my planning with these routes in mind. They're a cheap way to get around and you can find websites using town names for local councils and bus companies that run the buses. It's a great way to put together a very comprehensive itinerary. Trains between the big towns and for major jumps in locale and buses from there. You can also use "coaches" for longer rides between places instead of trains, less expensive. Sometimes even specials with fares as low as a £ or €.

It can be great fun putting it all together. Tourist Information Centers (TICs) in any good-sized town will likely have schedules too.
MmePerdu is offline  
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Mar 5th, 2014, 12:51 PM
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First things first: "southern Ireland" isn't part of the UK. The Republic of Ireland (most of the island) is a separate country, and Northern Ireland is part of the UK. I say this because it is not something you want to get wrong while you're there!

If you haven't already bought your transatlantic tickets, look at a multi-city ticket, flying into, say, Glasgow or London and out of Shannon. They usually aren't much (if any) more expensive, and even though flying into and out of Shannon may look like the cheapest option, you'll need two flights to and from Great Britain if you do that. So it's not as cheap as it looks at first glance. If you do the multi-city for your transatlantic flights, you'll just need one flight to Ireland. Several years ago I flew from London to Kerry (Killarney) on Ryanair and worked my way up to Shannon; I'm not sure if that flight is still running, and we rented a car, but if you click on my name, my trip report from 2007 might be helpful.

I'm not familiar with that many of your destinations, but for some you may be locked into a day tour - for example, seeing the Ring of Kerry, you could take a day tour from Killarney (which, for Ireland, is fairly well served by public transport). Those will add up in costs pretty quickly.
jent103 is offline  
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Mar 5th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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With that much travel some kind of bus or rail pass should be investigated - In Ireland see if they still sell the Irish Rambler pass good on buses and perhaps trains - buses go everywhere in Ireland and often are more convenient than the train.

In Britain too buses run a dense network rivalling the vast train system. Check National Express for bus passes - http://www.nationalexpress.com/waystosave/index.aspx

and for trains which for the UK are IME more comfy than buses and especially on long-distance routes faster check out the bargain BritRail Youthpass - for anyone under 26 that lets you just hop on any train anytime - full flexibility and those type tickets often cost a fortune. Check the following sources for lots of great info on British trains and passes - www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.seat61.com. Or you can do the discounted train ticket way - check www.nationalrail.co.uk for a myriad of discounts - often with restrictions such as being train-specific and non-changeable non-refundable and as the cheapest ones are sold in limited numbers must be booked weeks in advance in stone often to guarantee.

There are some sweet train lines in Scotland, including two of the most scenic ones in Britain - the Maillag to Glasgow line being always called one of the top scenic lines in Europe (some scenes from Harry Potter being filmed on it) and the Inverness to Kyle of Loch right up there too - a nice route goes Inverness to Kyle of Loch - bus over to Island of Skye for whatever time - leave by ferry from southern Skye to Maillag then scenic train via Fort William and the desolate Rannoch Moor to Glasgow.
PalenQ is offline  
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Mar 5th, 2014, 01:22 PM
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Oh I guess I should clarify--I'll be going to Italy for a job at the beginning of July and my airfare if covered for that, so that's why I figure flying into Shannon will be most cost effective.
hillarydzi is offline  
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Mar 5th, 2014, 11:45 PM
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For England, Wales and Scotland, use www.transportdirect.info

I believe www.translink.co.uk and www.journeyplanner.transportforireland.ie do a similar job "over the water" but I have no personal experience of using them.
PatrickLondon is offline  
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Mar 6th, 2014, 07:34 AM
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If you're in the Tintangel area then be sure to pop by nearby Clovelly - very very famous seaside town that literally spills down to the sea with one main gauntlet lined by old cottages - formerly donkeys were the means of transporation but animal rights groups put an end to that I believe. Anyway for something different check out Clovelly!

PalenQ is offline  
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Mar 6th, 2014, 09:25 AM
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I'm looking to see as much as possible on the lowest possible budget.>

check out the many youth hostels dotting both Ireland and Britain - and even things like camping barns in Scotland and Ireland;s hinterlands. Get a copy of Let's Go Europe - unparalleled coverage of youth hostels and cheap accommodations and hostels are a great place to meet other folks your age from all around the world.
PalenQ is offline  
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Mar 6th, 2014, 10:05 AM
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In Ireland, trains don't reach many places; you're more likely to get to where you want to go by bus or coach. There are multiple bus companies, and a pass might restrict you to only one.

I've never tried pricing any passes in Ireland, but I've tried in England and Scotland and found that it's almost impossible to save any money with the Britrail pass, or any other pass. You can usually save a lot more money by buying your tickets well in advance online, in which case you can find great discounts. It's true that you sacrifice some flexibility, because you usually can't get refunds on these tickets, but if money is tight, you probably don't want to pay double for flexibility. You can also get cheaper tickets on some routes by traveling off-peak, including on weekends. I've used www.thetrainline.co.uk to find tickets, but once I've found which train company covers the route, I also check on that company's web site, where I've sometimes found better prices.
bvlenci is offline  
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Mar 6th, 2014, 10:34 AM
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also check www.nationalrail.co.uk - they do not charge the booking fee I think trainline does and yes the individual rail franchise's site can be cheaper like for East Coast Line trains I believe they are 10% cheaper than booking thru the two other sites that book any UK train.
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