Sept 29 – Oct 6, 2021 “Epic Fun in the Emerald Isle”
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Come feel your spirit soar as we travel along the rugged shores of Celtic Ireland, savoring rich traditions of music, dance, food and endless spraoi mór! (Large Fun). Our past groups couldn’t get enough of the Emerald Isle. It’s our 11th AFS trip and possibly our best ever as we take in the most iconic sites, explore some uncharted territory, connect with locals and have heaps of fun along the way. Been here before? Not like this. With each visit, Ireland becomes more beautiful and more a part of your soul. With “Luck of the Irish”, the tourism board expects this to be a record-breaking year for visitors.
From County Clare to County Meath and parts in between, you’ll get amazing photos of sweeping green landscapes. Take in the haunting beauty of the pure, unspoiled landscapes and enjoy new friendships with a people who share thousands of years of culture. Travel along the dramatic Wild Atlantic Way to experience the real Ireland! Feel the thrill of standing on top of towering sea cliffs of Moher. Sense the warmth of pubs in Killarney where locals beckon you to dance. And mingle in Dingle while tasting artisan foods that melt in your mouth. On this new AFS Itinerary, we feature a full day to indulge yourself at the Dingle Food Festival tagged by locals as “The Best Weekend of the Year!”
The adventure begins with an epic time in Dublin’s new Epic Museum of Immigration. Then, get down with the locals at a true Irish House Party and kiss the Blarney stone! Our path on the Wild Atlantic Way takes us along the iconic Ring of Kerry, through the Dingle Peninsula, past the Cliffs of Moher. the bogs of Connemara, the Burren, and to stunning Galway Bay. And no trip is complete without a full-on farm experience and Hen Party at Causey Farm. Get an “Irish pedi” as we walk barefoot through a mossy forest along with some farmyard antics you won’t forget.
We’ve booked charming hotels for you throughout. Airfare is affordable because it’s shoulder season and it’s a short hop across the pond. Ireland is more than a destination, it’s a feeling. Satisfy your wanderlust in pure Ireland, a country that never fails to surprise. The tea kettles are on with a warm welcome to capture your heart and make some Irish eyes smile.
Lonely Planet says…
Welcome to Ireland. A small island with a memorable punch, Ireland’s breathtaking landscapes and friendly, welcoming people leave visitors floored but looking for more.
Ireland of the Postcard. Everything you’ve heard is true: Ireland is a stunner. The locals need little prodding to proclaim theirs the most beautiful land in the world, and can support their claim with many examples. Everyone will argue over the must-sees, but you can’t go wrong if you put the brooding loneliness of Connemara, the dramatic wildness of Donegal, the majestic mountains of Mourne, the world-famous scenery of counties Kerry and Cork, and the celebrated Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland on your to-visit list.
Tread Softly…History is everywhere, from the breathtaking monuments of prehistoric Ireland at Brú na Bóinne, Slea Head in Kerry and Carrowmore in Sligo, to the fabulous ruins of Ireland’s rich monastic past at Glendalough, Clonmacnoise and Cashel. More recent history is visible in the Titanic Experience in Cobh and the forbidding Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. And there’s history so young that it’s still considered the present, best experienced on a black-taxi tour of West Belfast or an examination of Derry’s colourful political murals.
A Cultural Well. It’s become almost trite to declare that Ireland operates a cultural surplus. Its main strengths are literature and music, where Ireland has long punched above its weight, but it is well represented in most other fields, too. Wherever you go you will discover an abundance of cultural expression. You can attend a play by a literary great in Dublin, toe-tap your way through a traditional-music session in a west-of-Ireland pub, or get your EDM on at a club in Belfast. The Irish summer is awash with festivals celebrating everything from flowers in bloom to high literature.
Tá Fáilte Romhat. On the plane and along your travels you might hear it said: tá Fáilte romhat (taw fall-cha row-at) – you’re very welcome. Or, more famously, céad míle fáilte (kade meela fall-cha) – a hundred thousand welcomes. Irish friendliness is an oversimplification of a character that is infinitely complex, but the Irish are nonetheless genuinely warm and welcoming, and there are few more enjoyable ways of gaining a greater understanding of the island’s inhabitants than a chat with a local.
Wild Atlantic Way. Ireland’s western coastline is one of the world’s most stunning shorelines – a 2500km necklace of jagged cliffs, crescent strands and latticed fields strung out from west Cork to northeastern Donegal. This official driving route is richly decorated with the panoramic pit stops you came to Ireland to experience.
Cork to Kerry. Ireland’s southwest corner is packed with scenic highlights along its 463km coastline, skirting around the best known (and most explored) peninsulas in the country.
Kerry to Clare. Clare’s coastline is justifiably renowned throughout Europe for its dramatic cliffs, shaped over aeons by the crashing waves of the relentless Atlantic.
- Loop Head This narrow shelf of headland, surrounded on both sides by the sea, has a long hiking trail between the tip and Kilkee. The views – of the Dingle Peninsula to the south and Galway and the Aran Islands to the north – are mesmerising.
- Cliffs of Moher Ireland’s most famous cliffs rise 203m from the sea and their majesty entirely justifies the busloads of visitors that come, gawp and leave in wonder. For the best views, head south for about 5km along the southerly trail to Hag’s Head.
Clare & Galway. Wildness abounds in Galway, even beyond the crazy nights in its namesake city. Connemara is a stunning wilderness of bogs, mountains and glacial lakes, while the Aran Islands’ dramatic desolation is at the heart of their beguiling beauty.
Welcome to Dingle Town. Framed by its fishing port, the Dingle peninsula’s charming little ‘capital’ manages to be quaint without even trying. Some pubs double as shops, so you can enjoy Guinness and a singalong among hats and hardware, horseshoes and wellies. It has long drawn runaways from across the world, making it a cosmopolitan and creative place. In summer its hilly streets can be clogged with visitors; in other seasons its authentic charms are yours for the savouring.
Although Dingle is one of Ireland’s largest Gaeltacht towns, the locals have voted to retain the name Dingle rather than go by the officially sanctioned – and signposted – Gaelige name of An Daingean.
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
Sept 29 – Leave the U.S. Full details in AFS Trip Tips.
Head out from home and make your way to Dublin
Sept 30 – Arrive Dublin D
Arrive in Ireland’s capital city and make your way to the Brooks Hotel Dublinin the heart of Dublin, 62 Drury St. You should be able to store your luggage if you your room isn’t ready.
The group meets in the lobby for a 2pm afternoon of touring, starting with the appropriately named Epic Museum. Epic recounts the story or Ireland itself and how immigrants made their way across the globe. Located on the docks, it has interactive displays as well as personal histories to help tell the story of Ireland’s immigrants.
Afterward, even those without Irish roots will be transformed to true native with our Welcome Dinner and shindig at the Irish House Party.Located in a beautiful 18th Century townhouse, The Irish House Party features traditional Irish music and Irish dancing at its very best, performed by All Ireland champion musicians, dancers and entertaining presenters.
Overnight: Brooks Hotel Dublin (1 night)
Prepare yourself for some of Ireland’s most picturesque farmlands as we travel through the midlands to make our way south to Cork. Known as the Rebel County, Cork has always been an important seaport. It was founded on an island in the swampy estuary of the River Lee, but over the centuries has grown to spread far beyond
We pass through on our way to explore the famous Blarney Castle and those who dare, can kiss the famous “Stone of Eloquence” found in the upper levels of the fortress. There’s time for some serious shopping at the famous Blarney Woolen Millen, known for its wool sweaters and Irish heritage items.
Our next stop is the incredibly scenic fishing village of Kinsale. Soak up the salt air in this postcard-perfect village and take time to sample some of the local cuisine during free time for lunch.
We return to Cork for the evening where we stay in the centrally located and appropriately named Imperial Hotel. It’s located on the island in the River Lee where Cork had its beginnings. Your evening is free to wander the quaint city streets or venture to the nearby shopping and restaurant district.
Overnight – Imperial Hotel Cork (1 Night)
Oct 2 – Kerry to Killarney (B)
Today, you will experience one of Ireland’s most stunning scenic drives as we make our way along the famous Ring of Kerry. Inhale the breathtaking sights of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks as well as coastal views of beaches and cliffs which line the Iveragh Peninsula. This unspoiled region is the heart of what Ireland calls the Wild Atlantic Way. We’ll stop along our journey to allow you to take photos of the rugged coast and even take some time to walk around Killarney National Park.
In late afternoon, we’ll check into Killarney’s International Hotel. This hotel is truly and old-world gem, steeped in history. You’ll fall in love with Killarney itself and its nearby pubs and shops where locals will welcome you as their own.
Your evening is free, and we are offering an option to step back in time and tour the region in a manner which has been used for centuries – Jaunting cars or horse-drawn carriages to show you the hidden delights of Killarney, the National Park & the famous Lakes of Killarney.
Overnight: Fairview Hotel Killarney (2 nights)
It’s all about food as we spend out day at the Dingle Food Festival!! This lively event takes part on the nearby Dingle Peninsula in the beautiful fishing town of the same name. This little village on the Wild Atlantic Way is worth a visit on its own but this festival makes it even more fun. Organized for and by the locals the entire town comes alive for the festival with cookery demonstrations, over 50 market stalls, workshops, street entertainment, children’s events, wine tastings, whiskey tastings and much, much more.
In conjunction with all of the street activities, Dingle offers a “Taste Trail” to the local restaurants. The 9 ticket book costs about $25 and allows you to also visit over 70 venues around the town offering tastings of the best food and drink the Peninsula has to offer.
Overnight: Fairview Hotel Killarney
Oct 4 – Galway (B)
After breakfast, we continue our coastal trek to County Clare and the port of Tarbert where we take a short ferry ride across the wide River Shannon Estuary. The Shannon is the longest river in the entire United Kingdom. We then head along the Clare coast to the towering Cliffs of Moher. This spectacular wall of sandstone that reaches to almost 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and runs for more than eight and a half miles. Stand near the edge and watch the sea crash below. You can also climb the small fortress called O’Brien’s Tower for spectacular views.
We then make our way to the harbor city of Galway on Ireland’s west coast where we’ll overnight at the Galmont Hotel, not far from where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean. The city’s hub is 18th-century Eyre Square, a popular meeting spot surrounded by shops and traditional pubs that often offer live Irish folk music. Nearby, stone-clad cafes, boutiques and art galleries line the winding lanes of the Latin Quarter, which retains portions of the medieval city walls.
We’ll take some free time for lunch and then explore the area, visiting the Benedictine Abbey of Kylemoreon the grounds of Kylemore Castle. We also hope to be able to cross the rugged boglands of Connemara. The entire region is stunning with its coastline of tiny coves, bays and fishing villages.
The evening is free to explore the buzzing nightlife of Galway City where live music fills the pubs!
Overnight: Galmont Radison Hotel
Oct 5 – County Meath B/L/D
Our day will take us back east across Ireland to County of Meath, north of Dublin. Known as the Royal County, it derives its name from the Second Century AD as a territory for the High Kings of Ireland.
We will have a lively day at Causey Farm, where we’ll get the full experience of what it’s like to be on a real working farm. Begin by making your own Irish soda bread for your lunch, see a sheepdog demonstration and then ride on bales of hay on the back of a trailer to the local bog where you will learn how to foot turf. You’ll totally earn your lunch of your homemade bread and Irish stew while competing against one another to see to can do the best Irish Jig.
We end the day at the luxurious Trim Castle Hotel. Located on the grounds of a historic Norman castle, the Trim is the perfect place for us to end our journey with a scrumptious AFS Farewell Dinner to toast each other on a vacation well done.
Overnight: Knights Brooke Golf Resort (1 night)
Oct 6 – Head back to the U.S (B)
Following breakfast, its time to head back to the Dublin airport for flights back to the U.S. (You may want to add a couple of days here pre or post-trip because there’s so much fun to be had in Dublin: Guinness Brewery, GoT Tour, Wicklow Mountains Day, shopping Gafton St., new foodie tours, Trinity Collage, Jameson Distillery, musical pub crawls and more.)
Land Price $ 1896 pp twin share
Based upon 29 participants
Includes: AFS GTL all meals and tours listed, entrance fees, transportation, first class accommodations, guide
Not included: Gratuities
- Land prices per person twin share. Trip price based on a minimum number of participants.
- Single rooms limited with $ supplement. Cost varies. Email us for availability. AFS will find you a roommate.
- The earliest we present group air is 10 months prior. We’ll send email to ask who wants it. A minimum number of 12 is needed.
- Please review AFS Terms and Conditions, Heading Abroad with AFS, Covid Policy. Travel insurance is important nowadays. It’s rare, but we reserve the right to modify schedules, tour and hotels.
- Read Trip Tips on its own tab next itinerary for latest details.
Brooks Hotel Dublin City. https://www.brookshotel.ie/?
Imperial Hotel Cork
Fairview Hotel Killarney (2 nights) https://killarneyfairview.com
Knightsbrook Hotel. https://www.knightsbrook.com
- All prices are per person twin share. Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies. Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably. AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”
- Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.
- Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
- We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary.
- Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!
AFS Trip Tips Ireland 2020
Prepare to be delighted by the Emerald Isle with its hauntingly beautiful landscapes, historic villages and friendly faces with the warmest welcome. We’ve sent many groups here but made this getaway special along the Wild Atlantic Coast. I know all of you have been to Europe, but surprisingly few you have yet to visit this Gaelic country that always reinvents itself with more new things to discover. Come fill your heart with Ireland!
We have a wonderful group of 38 travel lovers, a perfect medium size group to make new friends. After final payments are in we will send your room and email list. Note some hotel changes to the itinerary! See daily itinerary. -Suzy
Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information. Updates will be posted here. Please check back from time to time.
IMPORTANT PAYMENT DATES –
- 2nd DEPOSIT: MAY 1, 2020 None
- FINAL PAYMENT: JUN 2, 2021 (we are trying to move this back)
We prefer checks for Final Payment. Credit card fees are costly for a small company to absorb. While we build costs into smaller deposits, we incorporate a $60 credit card convenience fee as a line item on each invoice in order to defray processing costs. When paying by check, deduct this $60 amount.
Make your payment out to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080. If you won a contest on a past trip and have a coupon, mail it in and we’ll process it just like a payment made by check. You may review at any time your balance, booking information, and profile after logging into www.afstravelers.com.
First, we want to thank you for your booking! We are sincerely blown away by your support these past few months. It validates the trust and values on which AFS was built. As the world moves into re-entry and countries open, so will we. Travel is as a shared experience. Together we will press on and travel fearlessly. Below are new guidelines for you to travel with confidence but they do not preclude you from having fun and enjoying your trip.
For your protection, we want you to be proactive with the following new traveler health and safety protocols that involve teamwork and personal responsibility. We will try our best to keep you up to date on these adjustments as we all understand things are constantly changing. It’s a huge challenge to know everything on all airlines, airports, hotels, etc. around the world. We are monitoring all tourist boards, travel trade press, the mega tour operators and more for the latest available information.
All our trips are different, so specific plans may be circumstantial. As life itself, all travel comes with some inherent risk the minute we step out our door. Ultimately each of us must be responsible for our own actions along the way. We are working directly with each country to know the best practices at every destination. That being said, we have a blanket procedure below that will be practiced on ALL AFS trips, such as social distancing and wearing face masks at certain points during the trip. Our local guides will brief you on specific procedures upon arrival. We are in close communication with our suppliers and local teams to ensure they follow appropriate safety standards along the way. They are fully committed to ensuring your well-being! Each region has different requirements for travelers which we must follow. All tour companies are learning how to adapt to local conditions. Please understand we reserve the right to amend any policies and appreciate your understanding in this unprecedented and unpredictable time. It is your responsibility to review the modified AFS terms and to carefully read the steps below regarding COVID-19.
- If you are in a high-risk group, you should not choose to travel
- It is your responsibility to check resources provided below as well as your airline Covid policy and requirements. You may need to complete pre-boarding questionnaire declaring you are healthy to board and will adhere to new onboard hygiene procedures. Also, you must check for any change in flight schedules or updates on airline website
- You may need to show proof of health such as a doctor’s wellness note. You cannot have any COVID-19 symptoms such as sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, fever over 100.4 and verify you have not been in contact with someone who tested positive for CV in the last 14 days.
- Follow safety measures on trips: frequent handwashing, bring your own hand sanitizer, exercise social distancing whenever viable or advised, wear a face mask when recommended.
- Travel insurance is a must nowadays. worldnomads.com is both excellent and affordable. Please note we are not responsible for additional cost due to quarantine or illness.
Thank you for your understanding and flexibility. Together we can support each other and fully enjoy our vacation.
Helpful CV resources –
Below are helpful links to Facts and Stats for you to reference as you gear up for all of your travel domestically and abroad in 2020.
Facts about Coronavirus- Symptoms/Transmission/Precaution/Treatment
CDC Entire Situation Summary
US State Department Travel Advisories
Country Specific COVID-19 Information
Salanda Williams is Your Fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader – not a guide, but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly)
Salanda knows Ireland well and has decades of experience in the travel industry and has worked over 12 years as a travel consultant for one of the world’s largest management companies! She has been on dozens of AFS solo travel tours over the years. With a passion for nature and unique culture is, she chooses and has led some of our most exciting adventures – (Kilimanjaro, Mt Everest base camp and Galapagos to name a few.)
I call her “gadget girl” because she always comes equipped with the coolest new travel items – pocket-sized washing machine and video recording sunglasses. She video-recording 6 continents, 60+ countries, all 50 states, and countless islands! Her preferences are international destinations with action and a focus on nature. But she’s thrilled to fly you anywhere. We received many emails praising her excellent performance and attention to detail. Salanda has never met a stranger in this friendly to all. Everyone will appreciate her leadership and astute leadership skills.
Where’s the Private Group Facebook Page? –
The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.
Where can I find the FB link?
In a departure from the past, the Private FB Group Page will be created and emailed to you when the Final Payment is due (about 4 months prior to the trip).
Why are we are doing it this way?
We have found that some bookers never read Trip Tips and jump right to the Private FB Group Page assuming that they will get all trip info needed. But, this is not true; often, they only receive misinformation and rumors. We considered dropping the page, but many enjoy it and so we are keeping it as a compromise. Note – Important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted here in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing!
Trip Prep –
- Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
- Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after your return date and has two blank pages. We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy.
- To speed through US Customs, download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
- Notify bank and cc companies of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
Fitness level – 2 (No trouble walking)
Air – No group air.
USA round trip to Dublin, September 29 to October 6. It’s easy to get own air by search engines like Google flights. Consider Aer Lingus, United, American, JetBlue and many other airlines. This provides flexibility to extend trip or even add on a stopover somewhere else.
If you need help getting your own air, call our friend Rizwana who’s an air expert. Call or text here at (734) 752-9331. Give her your exact airdates, destination, passport name and details with birthdate.
Without Group Air no arrival transfer provided– Fewer people booking our group air nowadays because they find better rates on their own directly from their hometown or use points. When everyone flies on their own, they arrive at scattered times, making it impossible to provide a group transfer on arrival. Therefore you’ll need to consider Uber or sharing a taxi ride with a group member. Here is a great planning resource – www.taxifarefinder.com.
We will have a single return airport transfer at the end of the trip at a time that will accommodate most schedules. If your time doesn’t work out, you’ll need to make your private transfer or taxi.
Doing Own Air– You may arrange your own air from your hometown. We like Google Flights and Skyscanner. We highly recommend that you not rush to buy air until a Group Air is set (when offered). If your arrival or departure times do not align with Group Air times, you’ll need to arrange your own airport/hotel transfers.
If you need help getting your own air, call our friend Rizwana who’s an air expert. Call or text here at (734) 752-9331. Give her your exact airdates, destination, passport name and details with birthdate.
If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins.
Since all arrive different times, you’ll need to meet at Brooks Hotel located in the heart of town. Transfers are simple. Use the Airlink bus for 7 Euros that departs every 15 minutes from the airport into Dublin and stops near Brooks Hotel, or share a taxi. A great planning resource for taxi transport is: www.taxifarefinder.com.
Meet Up With Group- On SEPT 30 by 1:30PM Brooks Hotel in Dublin or a briefing.
Accommodations – Please see the Air/Lodging tab on this website for details. Hotels can change, but it’s rare. Google each to see how cool the properties are.
Brooks Hotel https://www.brookshotel.ie/
Fairview Creek https://killarneyfairview.com
Radisson Blu Hotel (Galmont Hotel & Spa) – https://www.thegalmont.com
Knightsbrook Hotel. https://www.knightsbrook.com
Note – If first time to the EU, rarely will you find a washcloth, ice with drinks, butter with bread, or choice of salad dressing. Hotel rooms are small, and may not be available upon arrival and will be ready by mid-afternoon.
Baggage – Think light to ease your burden – not like you’re fleeing your homeland! This trip is safari style as you’re moving to different properties 5 times. 1 carry-on bag & 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45 lbs are standard. Weigh on a bathroom scale. This weight limit is set for our porterage and luggage vans that have limited space. Cargo space on train is limited!
If you pack pre- or post- trip luggage, please make plans in advance as to where to stow excess baggage. Be sure to attach an ID tag to both pieces of luggage. Leave space for great souvenirs and gifts.
Don’t Over Pack!
This trip is so easy and think layers for a Fall climate. Simply pack casual clothing including a light jacket/sweater/fleece for long flights and cool mornings and nights. Also bring sun protection, a daypack, a wide brim hat, comfy sneakers/walking shoes, an umbrella, raingear, and swimwear for spa.
Weather – Weather is unpredictable in fall with average day temps being in the 60’s but cooler at night. Check Google Weather for climate in Ireland a week prior to departure.
Electric – Cell phones and tablets don’t need a voltage converter, but you will need an adapter plug. Correct wall plugs for Ireland are type G, the 3 pronged socket plugs as used in larger parts of Europe. Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. AFSers often leave charger cords in their rooms, so be sure to double check your room before check out.
Money Matters – **YOU WILL NEED SOME CASH** for personal tipping, meals, and shopping – $300 USD should suffice. I convert half of it upon entry. Be cautious when withdrawing local currency from an ATM. The safest ATMs to withdraw from are at airports, banks, or hotels. Independent ones are risky. Always shield your pin number when entering info.
Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I use my credit card for most purchases. Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.
Currency – Current Exchange Rate (approximate)
$1 USD = €0.93 Euro
Follow the link https://www.oanda.com/currency/travel-exchange-rates to create a conversion cheat sheet.
Gratuities It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, drivers, ground staff, etc. Guidelines have increased globally, but around $12 to $18 per day should cover all for the trip. $85 has been added to your invoice for ease of distribution by Salanda to all staff throughout.
Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly. All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I personally carry a stash of $US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. AFSers will roll bags to their own rooms. If you choose to use bell staff or a porter, please tip $2 USD. Restaurants – 10-15% unless you note that tip is already included. For group lunches or dinners, please leave $1-2 USD for wait staff.
An article link about tipping when traveling is below:
Communication – Internet is available, and internet cafes are abound. With cell phones/smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Roaming rates (used by Facebook and other apps) are expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, What’sApp and Facebook messaging when using Wi-Fi are best! I don’t know anyone who makes calls home nowadays. Stay off of public Wi-Fi without using VPN if possible. Never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad.
Want affordable data in many countries abroad? We’ve been using Skyroam. All the data you want to use Bluetooth for to access your devices is for just $10 per day. See https://www.skyroam.com for details.
Be Smart –
- “Avoid Hackers on Vacation,” experts say! Thieves not only want your money, but also your hard-earned frequent flyer points. Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN. It’s worth the cost. In hotel rooms, hide iPads or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
- Grab a hotel business card before heading out in case you get lost.
- Pickpockets are everywhere – especially at night. Never carry your passport outside of the room.
- Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water. Eat clean food and avoid street vendors.
Retail Therapy – There is wonderful shopping in Ireland. Even non-shoppers will find themselves tempted by local goodies. Our past groups have come back with the coolest stuff. Sought out treasures include a Claddagh ring, Aran wool knits, tweeds, Avoca woolen throws, Waterford crystal, Celtic jewelry, pewter, linens, Cavan lace, pottery, whiskeys, shortbreads, milk chocolate, and endless hand crafts.
Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, please know it is always polite to first ask for permission.
Your Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) on our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!
Websites of Interest – Google these sites for awesome in-depth info…
[Note: SINCE I DON’T HAVE THE COMPLETE DAY TO DAY ITINERARY, I DON”T KNOW WHERE ELSE TO RESEARCH SPECIFICALLY!]
Cuisines – There has been an emergence of great food and famous chefs nowadays in Ireland! New versions of Irish stews, cottage pies, Irish sausage pastries, corned beef, soda breads, and white pudding are wonderful. Oysters, cod, and shellfish are musts. Traditional Irish foods to try are Boxty (potato pancake), and Colcannon and Champ (mashed potatoes). Imbibe on Irish coffee, whiskey, ciders, lagers, and stouts.
Roomies – Single supplement rates have significantly increased – if available at all. Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but you can save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching. 99% of our clients are wonderful, and besides, you’re only in your room to sleep at night.
Leisure Time – AFS travelers revel in the element of surprise in new destinations and allow the wind to blow them where it will. It’s best to ask our local expert guides for suggestions upon arrival. We have a full schedule filled with awesome daily tours, but there will also be some free time. Consider spas, castles, horse rides, museums, and music nightly. Google “Things to Do”. We also like Time Out, Trip Advisor, and Viator for some ½ day ideas.
Cool Visits: Book of Kells in Trinity College Library, National Gallery, Abby Theater, Guinness tour, St. Patrick’s or Christchurch Cathedrals.
Walks: Merrion Square for Georgian architecture, O’Connell Street, Dun Laoghaire Pier.
Music: The Cobblestone, The Ploughboys, Johnny Foxes, Eamonn Durrand, Temple Bar entertainment district, pub crawl.
Foodies: Queen of Tarts, Murphy’s Ice Cream, Roasted Brown, Mulligans, Chapter One, Aqua, Bobos, Bas Ass Café, Gruel.
Arranging Pre- or Post- Trip Plans – We often see AFSers on your Private Facebook Page urging others to join them in traveling to other countries before or after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this nor is responsible for side trips.
Emergency Contact – Please call the AFS phone at: 770-432-8225, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone.
Cancellation Penalty – At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Open the following link to review our terms again:
Optional Travel Insurance – If you would like travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 21 days of your Initial Deposit in order to ensure coverage. For more details, click Travel Insurance 101or follow the link: http://travelinsurance101.tumblr.com.
Click Purchase Travel Insurance online or click on one of the links below to purchase travel insurance:
- https://www.travelsafe.com/agent-insurance-plans?a=116C7AB9-8B4C-47AF-AE9E-7D26AB3A6A0E or phone them at (888) 885-7233 and give them the code “ADVGA02”. If you need assistance, I will email the form to you.
If you need assistance, I will email the form to you upon request.
Travel Psychology 101
Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that whenever you travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit. If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?…The unexpected may prove to be a better experience. Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.
Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness. (This goes for your roommate, too. Most of us are used to living on our own; but, have fun while being accommodating and patient when sharing a room with another fellow traveler). Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.
The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy
“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable. It’s designed to make it’s own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman
Cool Articles for Exploring Your Destination Cities –
Five myths about Ireland
Special for USA TODAY
When St Patrick’s Day rolls around, it serves as yearly reminder to consider a trip to Ireland. Yet it’s hard to think of any country more bound up in outdated myths. If you do visit Ireland this year, plan on having a Guinness or two, kiss the Blarney Stone if you must, and good luck with spying on a leprechaun. But also consider these five outdated notions of Ireland before you go. Click to read on…