Trip planning advice

July 10, 2015

My husband is really into triathlons. He is also from Ireland. Last year, when he heard about a half-Ironman in Dublin in August 2105, he immediately signed up to register (that’s a process in and of itself). He got in and, wanting to be a supportive wife, I am forced to schlep along with him to Ireland.

Woe is me.

To top it off, one of my dearest friends is joining us for the trip.

How will I ever survive?

In all seriousness, this trip is going to be ridiculously fun. Having been to Ireland a few times before, I feel like we’ll be able to hit all of the important must-do things while still maintaining enough free time for unplanned adventures.

Planning a trip like this can take a lot of work. It helps if you break it up into different planning sessions. I’ll have a few posts over the next week or two about executing a successful trip. Here is a rundown of how we planned this trip.

6-9 months out

1. Passport updates. Having gotten married and changed my name, I needed to send in for a new one. Don’t wait until the last minute unless you’re okay paying for expedite service and dealing with a bit of stress (I wasn’t, so I did mine early).

2. Come up with some flexible dates. This will help in purchasing your tickets. We were a bit limited by the race date but we chose to keep that at the beginning of the trip to fully enjoy the vacation after.

3. Start looking for tickets early. Since I’ve taken this trip before, I had an idea of what prices would be. That was helpful, and we were able to avoid buying a few times when prices were higher. By giving us enough time to look, we saved a significant chunk of change.

4. Once you know dates, come up with a general route. We got together one afternoon in March with a map and calendar and roughed out three different routes we could take. We let the ideas percolate for about a week and picked one after factoring in transportation and how scheduled/unscheduled we wanted to be. Then start booking places to stay (I’m sure you can guess this will be coming in a post soon too!).

4-6 months out

5. Set aside specific travel money. We decided early on that we would take a chunk of our tax refund and save it for this trip. If that’s not an option for you, set aside a bit of money from every paycheck. Again, make sure you start early.

6. Think about what you want your trip to be. I will have more on this in an upcoming post, but for now, know that you can do anything from touristy/guided trips to free-reign adventures.

1 month out

7. Start researching the weather. Ireland is having some great weather at the moment, but it’s notorious for being rainy and windy at the drop of a hat. Layers will be key. Which brings me to another post about packing, coming next week!

8. Now that you have your route solidified, create a more detailed itinerary. Look into every city you’re staying and decide what are the must-dos and what are the would-like-to-dos. Do any research you might need on hours of operations (some places are closed random days, so take that into account) and bring your list with you when you go.

1 week out

9. Gather all your essentials: tickets, passport, money. My mother-in-law is great about reminding us about these three items every time we go anywhere. You can buy pretty much anything else, but you’re stuck without these three. Also consider medications and making sure you have enough before you leave. And adaptors so you don’t fry any electronics.

10. Start packing!

This is a basic rundown of how we’ve planned for our trip. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a few more posts coming with more information about packing your suitcase, packing for the airplane, booking places to stay and more. As they say down south, y’all come back now, ya hear?!

Thanks to my awesome cousin Michael for letting me use his photo for the post image. He’s my coolest cousin, just ask him!

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