It’s time to pack your bags. The final stages of preparing for your trip to Ireland are approaching. You have your passport. You’ve checked that the date is still valid for the days you are traveling. The dog and cat have gone to the kennels. Based on years of transatlantic travel I have listed my seven essentials to pack for your trip to Ireland.
I am a firm believer in traveling light. For sightseeing a day pack is handy and it can double as your flight carry on. A wheelie suitcase will stream through the airports on departure days. Make sure the suitcase is half empty. You will pick up souvenirs. Wear the heaviest pair of shoes on the flight. You don’t want to be schlepping extra weight around.
There are always personal essentials, which I have not added to this list. These are to be considered universal requirements. I won’t burden you with the amount of room I have to factor in for reading material while I am traveling. This may well have been the critical motivator for my spare packing philosophy. I’ve even got a collapsible cane that fits into my wheelie suitcase for days that my arthritis growls.
1. Ireland uses the same electrical voltage as the UK. Get an adapter for UK voltage. You’ll know it’s the right one if it has 3 pin plug. Continental plugs are two round pins. You’ll need the adapter to power up you cell phone or use hair styling appliances. Check with the manufacturer that you favourite appliance is compatible with an adapter. Some are and others will not work. Appliances sold as ‘travel’ generally are versatile enough. Also look for descriptions such as ‘dual voltage’; travel hairdryers frequently fit the bill. Most hotels and B&Bs can provide an iron if your packing gets particularly creased.
2. The Irish climate requires waterproof and shower proof outerwear year round. Make sure your shoes are especially leak proof and that you pack socks that are particularly comfortable and don’t chaff. Try them out before you leave home. Footsore sightseeing is no fun. I advised a friend to buy a micro fleece hoodie for trip to Ireland in September. With a rain slicker for heavier showers she made it through the trip just fine.
3. Ireland’s temperate climate requires that you wear layers. Make sure to pack a sleeveless tank, short-sleeved and long-sleeved t-shirts and either a pullover sweater or fleece or cardigan. Temperatures can rise and fall within a day. You’ll be glad to have at least one layer to meet every eventuality.
4. A smallish notebook and pen that fits in your pocket, handbag or day pack. You will be overloaded with information and people say the most interesting things! Note them down when you are back in your hotel room or in transit between sites. You’d be surprised how many people want to remember the name of that charming little place with the pub, with the dog, you know the one? But then can’t remember the name. Urrrgh! Put important addresses, email addys and contact numbers in the back of this notebook. Make a note down of your passport number in case it gets lost or stolen.
5. Your camera or camcorder will also be useful ways to jog your memory. Remember to pack your chargers (see Tip1 – you’ll need to power them up regularly) and bring spare memory cards! Have some batteries if you don’t have a charger. You can buy them here but having a few to be getting on with in an emergency is much less stressful.
6. Buy traveller’s checks in local currency – that would be euro for the Republic of Ireland and pounds sterling for Northern Ireland. It is easier to cash a traveller’s check in local currency. Hotels will cash your dollar checks but you pay for the privilege. Banks will give the best rates of exchange in rural areas but they may limit how much you can cash on a single day.
7. If you take medication make sure you have enough for your trip. Get a paper copy of your prescription – and if you are as reliant upon wearing corrective lens as I am then make sure you have your glasses’ prescription, too. Or a spare pair of glasses. Have a small first aid kit as well with Band-aids and blister packs just in case you didn’t heed my advice about footwear and comfy socks (as per item 2.)
Bee Smith created Irish Blessings Tours to serve travelers to Ireland who want the unique and inspirational packaged for their group’s desires and needs. Bee seeks the source to manifest your dream Irish vacation according to your budget and time scale. She has a special interest in Fairy folklore, Celtic Spirituality and the Natural Heritage of northwestern Ireland and Northern Ireland. In 2011 Bee became one of the first trained tour guides that act at ambassadors for the UNESCO designated Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. Send her your dreams for your Ireland vacation package to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While I know that it is conventional to read guide books (or this blog) to choose what to see and do in Ireland, I have always found that going at things a bit slant has proven more enriching. Besides, you have a lot of dreaming to do in anticipation of your trip. Guide books will help you with logistics but they don’t necessarily nourish the trip dreamer in any of us.
For this reason I have chosen seven (non-fiction) books that will whet your interest and help build anticipation for a tour of Ireland. These are the books that I have chosen to help interpret what you are going to be seeing on your tour of Ireland. There is a genre of books that recount other’s tours around Ireland. They are very entertaining and I’ve enjoyed several of them. By all means read them when you have a bad case of itchy feet. But while these might help you be patient as you wait for you take off date, they won’t help enrich your tour around Ireland. For that reason, although there are a number of fun and well-written books they haven’t made the final cut on this list.
- The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog: The Landscape of Celtic Myth and Spirit – Patricia Monaghan’s book is part scholarship and part memoir with an artful juxtaposition of ancient and modern Irish themes, places and spiritual sensibility. The reader will get well acquainted with how myth plays out in Ireland’s geography.
- Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends – Marie Heaney (Nobel Laureate Seamus’ Mrs) gives a succinct retelling of Ireland’s legends and myths. While Monaghan will give you a sense of place, Heaney outlines the story in full, which will greatly enhance your sight seeing.
- Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology - Poetry is intrinsic to Irish culture, but with so many really good poets you could assemble quite a library. An anthology is the answer, exposing the reader to a wealth of Irish poets, including excerpts from Kavanagh’s The Great Hunger. I particularly like this anthology because it includes Irish language poets in translation. The translations are done by the top flight of Irish poets – Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, John Montague and Michael Hartnett.
- Ever Ancient Ever New: Celtic Spirituality in the Twenty-First Century – Even if you are not particularly interested in Celtic spirituality, Whelan’s book is a great explanation of the Irish Celtic sensibility and how it has developed from megalithic times to the advent of St. Patrick. If you are traveling to a country like Ireland steeped in both spirituality and religion, even if you are an agnostic, your tour of Ireland will be greatly enhanced by grasping the principles that have guided life on this island for millenia.
- Complete Irish Wildlife (Collins Complete Photo Guides) – Ireland is mostly rural and you are likely to encounter unfamiliar birds, flowers, insects, etc. in your travels. This handy guide has a a complete flora and fauna with colour photographs to help you identify. If you don’t have this in your rucksack when you tour Ireland you are sure to regret all those unanswered questions! In the absence of a naturalist tour guide this book will be invaluable.
- To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings – The late John O’Donohue did much to explain and reflect on the preoccupations of Celtic consciousness with his best selling Anam Cara. This book will help prepare you for your trip to Ireland with a blessing. It will also acquaint the reader to all manner of practice Irish blessings for the conventional occasions as well as offering of way of seeing the blessedness of less welcome circumstances.
- Meeting the Other Crowd – The great Eddie Lenihan was a famed storyteller from County Clare. In this book, co-authored with Carolyn Eve Green, you will get initiated into the fairy culture of Ireland. Lenihan is steeped in the oral storytelling tradition and Green has rendered it to capture that oral telling of the faeryfolk. Well worth reading if you plan of doing some fairy hunting on your tour of Ireland.
All of these books will make good armchair travel experience. But while you are preparing for your trip to Ireland you can spend many happy hours getting acquainted with the culture that has been shaped by the land and the stories they have told to explain it all.
Bee Smith created Irish Blessings Tours to serve travelers to Ireland who want the unique and inspirational packaged for their group’s desires and needs. Bee seeks the source to manifest your dream Irish vacation according to your budget and time scale. She has a special interest in Fairy folklore, Celtic Spirituality and the Natural Heritage of western Ireland and Northern Ireland. In 2011 Bee became one of the first trained tour guides that act at ambassadors for the UNESCO designated Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. Send her your dreams for your Ireland vacation package to email@example.com.