Traveling to Ireland from America

A complete guide on traveling from America to Ireland

You’ve purchased the plane tickets, hotels and Airbnb’s are booked, your dream trip to Ireland is just a suitcase away. Packing for Ireland can become overwhelming and expensive but, it doesn’t have to be. Not sure what to pack? will your chargers work? What about credit cards and currency exchange? Don’t worry, below we’ll go over everything you need to know and pack when traveling from America to Ireland.

Irish Weather

Ireland, it’s so…green…that’s because it rains, a lot. Irelands weather is very unpredictable, I find this especially true the further north you go. When packing for Ireland, keep in mind you will probably encounter rain. Being prepared for the weather will help you enjoy your trip.

The weather isn’t bad, you’re just unprepared 

  Being mindful of your itinerary will help you narrow down exactly what you need to pack shall you encounter rain or, other unpredictable weather scenarios. If you are packing for a trip to Dublin or another city, you won’t need to pack the same items you’re packing for your country excursions.

Weatherproof Your Trip

Waterproof Jacket, Poncho, Umbrella, Ziplock Bags

I packed a tiny travel-sized umbrella which I found at my local CVS, as well as a cheap clear poncho and a waterproof jacket. I only used the umbrella when I was visiting Dublin and it rained. I did see people wearing ponchos in Dublin but personally, I did not find that practical. Walking into a store wearing a large and unflattering poncho while dripping water everywhere wasn’t the look I was going for. Use an umbrella if you’re in a city or town, you can fold it up and leave it at the door or pack it in a ziplock bag.

While in Limerick it rained a lot. I was watching the 2019 Hurling Championship at the Gaelic grounds and it rained half of the match. Everyone was wearing a poncho which could be purchased for $1 outside the grounds. It was seasonally warm so a waterproof jacket would have been too much. Luckily my seat was in the “Mackey Stand” section so I didn’t get rained on too bad since I was covered.

I used my waterproof jacket, windbreaker, and poncho together while visiting the Cliffs of Moher and, the Wild Atlantic Way. With the rain and wind combination, an umbrella is not even an option. I saw a lot of people soaked to the bone because they brought an umbrella which they couldn’t use. While in Donegal I encountered a lot of bog. Bog is basically Irish mud. If I didn’t wear my poncho OVER my jacket, it would have been caked in bog.

“A bog or bogland is a wetland that accumulates peat, a deposit of dead plant material—often mosses, and in a majority of cases, sphagnum moss. It is one of the four main types of wetlands. Other names for bogs include mire, mosses, quagmire, and muskeg; alkaline mires are called fens.”
Boots, Shoes, Heels

Your feet are the foundation of your trip. If your feet hurt or if they are wet, your trip isn’t going to be that fun. Packing the right shoe for the right location is key.

For my planned hiking in Donegal, I purchased a pair of Merrell hiking sneakers. The sneakers were both waterproof and lightweight, making it easy to walk through the damp land while staying comfortable. I did end up getting lots of bog on my shoes, but they easily rinsed off and dried. I used my Merrell sneakers for pretty much everything so, I didn’t have to pack multiple pairs of shoes.

Boots are heavy and packing heavy is not what we want to do. Keep your Wellington’s home and opt-in for a pair of waterproof hiking shoes no taller than ankle height. Ladies, if you plan on going to the city for a night out, skip the heels and pack a pair of leather flats. Flats take up no space, they barely weigh anything and can be worn from day to night.

Tip: Store a copy of your ID and itinerary in your checked luggage.

No matter where you travel, always research the weather averages for both day and night. In 2019 I packed a thin jacket which could withstand temperatures as low as 6.7C or 20F. I didn’t think I would need my jacket, especially since it was June but, I ended up wearing that jacket every day of my trip. At one point I had my thin jacket on with a windbreaker and poncho layered on top.

I packed lots of leggings since they’re light and small to pack. I allowed myself 2 pairs of jeans, 6 T-shirts and 2-sets of pajamas. Underpants, underroos, bloomers, nether garments, whatever you like to call them, pack a pair for each day, plus extra in case your return flight is canceled.

One item I underestimated was socks. I had enough socks for my 5-day trip plus 3 extra days however, between the bog, rain and, unexpected canceled flights I ended up having to buy an extra 3 pairs. Don’t be afraid to overpack socks, you will never regret it. If you plan on hiking, pack a few tall socks. I tried hiking in my ankle socks and within 15 minutes the bog hit my ankles and irritated my legs.

Personal Items and Medicine

Before you pack your entire medicine cabinet keep in mind, the same over the counter medicines we have here in America, Ireland has as well. Only pack travel-sized items. Your local shops and pharmacies like CVS or Walmart carry many travel-sized items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps, shaving necessities, medicines, shampoos, and more. Full-sized personal items weigh a lot and you won’t even need to use all of those products. Save your luggage weight for more important things like souvenirs. Trust me, you will come across a souvenir that you will want so, save the space and weight!

When traveling with prescriptions, keep your prescriptions in BOTH your carry on and checked luggage. In case you need immediate access to your medicine, or your checked luggage is lost, you will not be completely out of medication on a foreign trip.

Do Pack Travel Sized
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Pain Reliever
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • lotion
  • Soap

You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage.

Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream, or paste that alarms during screening will require additional screening.

Electronics, Phones, Chargers

Ireland has a slightly different connection when it comes to electricity. In Ireland the power plugs and sockets are of type G. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. In order to charge your phone and electronics, you will need to purchase a travel adapter plug which is type-G. There are lots of type-G adapter plugs on Amazon. You may also be able to find an adapter at the airport.

When it comes to using your cell phone in Ireland, you may find it near impossible. If you are near a hotel you may be able to pick up some WIFI if you’re lucky. Before booking your hotel or Airbnb inquire about the WIFI connection. While in Dublin I took advantage of the free WIFI and downloaded a few apps like Deliveroo and “My Taxi”. Ireland does not have Uber, but they have “My Taxi”, which is the same thing. Deliveroo is Ireland’s version of our Ubereats/Grubhub. I used Deliveroo while staying in Dublin. I was also able to book a cab from the My Taxi app which took me out of the city. Once I was out of the city, I couldn’t connect to the internet which meant, I wasn’t able to get another My Taxi car to come and pick me up. Luckily Ireland has the friendliest people and a local in Wicklow helped me get a cab.

There are 2 ways you can obtain internet while traveling in Ireland.

The first way is to call your cell phone provider and let them know you will be traveling internationally to Ireland. Your provider will go over the best options for you. Most, if not all cell phone providers offer a temporary international plan which includes talk and data. If you are unsatisfied with your provider’s plans you can purchase a cheap prepaid cell phone once you arrive in Ireland. Prepaid cell phones are disposable and do not need a contract to use.

Your final option for cell phone usage is purchasing a SIM card while in Ireland. This option will only work if your cell phone is unlocked and accepts sim cards which, most do. You can pick up a SIM card at most SPAR and, Tesco stores. You can also purchase a SIM card at Dublin airport, Three, eirMobile, or Vodafone retailers. SPAR and Tesco stores are very similar to our local supermarket here in America so, you will also be able to grab a select few last-minute items you forgot to pack.

Renting, Driving, and GPS

Driving in Ireland is much different than driving in America. In Ireland, cars stay to the left meanwhile, in America we drive to the right.  After the red-eye from JFK to Shannon airport, the last thing I wanted to do was drive on the opposite side of the road but, it wasn’t that hard. It seems scary but, once you’re in the driver’s seat which is located on the right side (USA Passenger seat) you’ll automatically adjust to your surroundings.

One of the first things you’ll notice when driving is that the signs are not in MPH but rather in KM/H (Kilometers per mile). If you see a sign that says 100km/h, that does not mean you are going 100 miles per hour, you’ll actually be going 68mph. The only time you will see MPH is when you are in Northern Ireland.

Many stop signs and red lights are replaced with roundabouts. I know, roundabouts seem super confusing but, it was very easy and less time consuming than waiting at a red light. When you approach a roundabout, you will need to yield. Roundabouts in Ireland can have several exits and you need to be aware of the lane you should be in depending on which exit you are taking. Generally, a good rule of thumb is if you are taking any exit from the 6 o’clock to the 12 o’clock position, approach in the left-hand lane.

I booked my car from Conn’s Rental which is part of the Hertz company. It was really easy to rent from Conn’s, especially since the company is based in Wichita, Kansas. I was able to call Conn’s without any international charges on my phone bill. Conn’s was also offering free GPS with their rentals at the time, which was a big lifesaver. The GPS connection was very spotty for me via Google maps on my phone. The GPS device Conn’s provided worked without missing a beat. When renting, make sure you opt-in for full coverage insurance. You will drive down roads that are made of gravel and rocks will kick up. My full coverage plan included any window, paint damage, or dents made. Please go over the full detail of your rental with the company you are renting from.

The first thing I did when I picked up my rental was VIDEO the entire outside of the car before I even unlocked it. At Conn’s, there were no employees with me to do an initial walk around the car to inspect it of previous damage, which made me feel a bit vulnerable. I did not want to be blamed for any damage to the car, which I did not cause so, the video was a must. When I returned the car, the attendant tried to blame me for damage which was previously on the car before my rental. I showed the manager my video and was no longer liable for the damage. Also, take pictures of any damage you find prior to driving from the rental lot.

Money, Currency Exchange, Credit Cards

Across Ireland, you will find two different types of currency, Euros, and Sterling. Only in Northern Ireland will you need to use Sterling otherwise, the rest of Ireland will use Euros. Before you depart for Ireland you will need to contact your banks and credit card companies to let them know you will be traveling internationally. Make sure your banks and credit cards grant you access to international shopping before you travel.

My go-to credit card when traveling across Ireland is my Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card from Chase. I can use that card everywhere credit cards are accepted without paying any foreign transaction fees. When I travel across to London or Paris, I still get the same benefits as I do in Ireland. My other go-to card is my Platinum Capital One card which just like my Aer Lingus card and offers zero transaction fees. American Express is rarely accepted so don’t worry too much about bringing your Amex unless you used it to book your stay and or flights, cars, etc.

You will need to withdraw money and the best place to do that is at a bank-owned ATM in Ireland. Bank owned ATMs will not charge a withdrawal fee. Do not, no matter how friendly or inviting it looks, use the currency exchange kiosks. I personally have learned this a very, very expensive way. Before departing JFK airport, I thought it would be smart to exchange $1,000 USD for €885. After Exchange fees, I only received around €670! If you use private-owned ATMs, they can charge you a fee of their liking so, always use a bank-owned ATM. You can also contact your local bank and ask them to order Euros for you. You won’t be charged for the order however, this can take up to 3-weeks so, order your Euros as soon as you can. The same can be said for Sterling, you won’t be charged a fee at bank-owned ATMs across Northern Ireland.

The only thing waiting for you is the beauty and wonder Ireland has to offer. Remember to pack light yet efficient, mind your money and the weight of your luggage but most importantly, remember to drive on the left side of the road! No, I’m kidding, kinda’…

Enjoy your trip with an open heart and an electric soul.

Irish Travel Blessings

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sunshine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

May good luck be with you wherever you go, and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow.

May your days be many and your troubles be few, May all God’s blessings descend upon you, May peace be within you, May your heart be strong, May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been the foresight to know where you’re going and the insight to know when you’re going too far.”

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