*COVID-19 Pandemic killed this trip but hopefully this is the plan for summer 2021*
This summer we will be traveling to Ireland for 2 weeks as a group (7 people while in Dublin then we pair down to 6 for the rest of the trip). It is a mix of family (my godmother/uncle) and her coworkers. As the official trip planner it was my job to find accommodations that suited us. This was not an easy task, I have planned trips for 6 before but those were all family, this time I needed to make sure to leave flexibility for a mixed group. In this post, I am going to describe not only our accommodations on this trip but, more importantly, why I picked each option. Hopefully my thought process helps to keep us sane & enjoying the trip!
Read more: Travel Tips: Traveling with Family
Dublin is the city of arrival for everyone so I decided each traveling party should get their own accommodations here. My godmother’s group (4 adults) are getting 2 hotel rooms at the Hilton (I think) while Will and I are kicking back in a hostel (saving $$$$). The first party gets into Dublin the morning of June 22 and Will and I do not get in until that evening (long layover). This way that first day in Dublin each group is 100% in control of themselves and no one is waiting for me to arrive in country.
Will and I find hostels fun, but most importantly, they are a way for us to save a bit of money while on vacation. We would never stay in hostels for the whole vacation – no one wants to share a sleeping/showering space for that long! But for a few nights, it’s totally doable. The hostel we picked was Abbey Court. I never book a hostel with less than a 7/10 rating, and try to always stick above an 8/10. Here are some of the key things I look in a hostel:
- Are linens/towels included or for rental?
- How close is it to the things I actually want to do?
- Reviews about cleanliness? (foreigners are usually more forgiving than Americans)
- Luggage storage/check in/out times?
- Do they provide soap/shampoo/conditioner? (usually not)
- if traveling solo or with an all-female group…safety of the neighborhood & hostel security?
I usually don’t care how large or small the room is, I sleep the same regardless. In this hostel, Will & I are sleeping in a 34 bed room. This is definitely the largest space I have slept in in a hostel but the reviews said there are curtains and partitions that make it feel more intimate.
- Budgeted: $150/per person
- Actual Cost: $193/4 nights/2 people (hostel) & $1,000/4 nights/4 people (hotel)
- Driving time to next Location: ~1 hour (we are stopping at Powerscourt Estate & Glendalough monastic site on the way)
Glendalough, County Wicklow
This cutie AirBnb is our base for the Wicklow Mountains & the monastic ruins of Glendalough. For this AirBnb I was looking for a rustic location, because one of the main reasons we are going to Glendalough is to get out of the city and into the peaceful countryside. This was not THE cheapest AirBnb but the location and gorgeous photos were worth it (the cheapest option was only ~$20 less so it wasn’t that big of a leap). I booked this accommodation first because the options were a bit more slim in this area than others and I didn’t want to lose the property. I literally could spend all day on that porch though!!!!
- Budgeted: $100/per person
- Actual Cost: $580/2 nights/6 people (plus I got a $14 cash back perk from my bank) (~$97/pp)
- Driving time to next Location: ~4.5 hours (but we are stopping in Kildare & the Rock of Cashel on the way)
Read more: Best Year Ever! Ireland Summer Trip
Cahersiveen, County Kerry
This was actually the last accommodation I booked because I kept changing what city/town should be our base to access the Dingle Peninsula. I hopped between 3-4 different locations before settling on the tiny town of Cahersiveen. In the end it made more sense than the other base towns due to a few reasons:
- It is about 2 hours from the Rock of Cashel, which is our previous stop on the way; all the other locations were about 3 hours away
- It is only 1 hour way from Dingle Town (the “gateway” to the Dingle Peninsula) while another location was about 2 hours away (I had looked into staying in Dingle Town but it was inconvenient for everything else I wanted to do)
- Killarney is about an hour away & has some cute things to do on our “rest”/flex day
- It is about 2 hours away from Adare Village (apparently the “cutest village” in Ireland) which is on our way to the Cliffs of Moher (I had looked into staying in Adare Village but it made more sense to stop by on our drive to stay there)
- It is not a touristy location which is going to be such a nice break
Our accommodation is not the “cutest” option here, I went for savings on this location. But the apartment is light and airy and in a good central location. PLUS it has three bedrooms and three baths; this is the halfway point of our trip where we will probably want/need a little separation. The location is perfect for each party to do their own thing in the evenings without having to worry about transportation. This is actually the first time I booked using VRBO and honestly, I prefer the user interface of AirBnb. VRBO just had a ton more options than AirBnb did in this particular reason and the price was AMAZING!
*Disclaimer: I book this at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak so I think that’s why the price was $100 less than what I saw before.
- Budgeted: $150/per person
- Actual Cost: $426/3 nights/6 people (plus I got a $10 cash back perk from Rakuten) (~$71/pp)
- Driving time to next Location: ~3.5 hours (we are stopping at Adare Village & the Cliffs of Moher on the way)
Doolin, County Clare
This AirBnb cost more than the other apartment/house options in the area but by this point I had saved so much money on the other accommodations I was willing to “splurge” a little. The other options in the area were bland, think like that scene in a Wrinkle in Time when all the kids bounce the ball at the exact same time (go read the book if you don’t know what I’m talking about; you have the time – we’re quarantined!). I did not want my accommodation by the Cliffs of Moher to be in a suburb so I went the opposite direction: a cottage on the seashore. PLUS it is close to the ferry landing for the Aran Islands.
- Budgeted: $80/per person
- Actual Cost: $574/2 nights/6 people (~$96/pp)
- Driving time to next Location: ~4 hours away (we are stopping in Athlone for the oldest pub in Europe & Clonmacnoise Monastic Site)
After Doolin we head back to Dublin to fly out. I will be flying out that same night (July 3) to London for my Oxford Summer Program that starts on Sunday, July 5 while everyone else will spend the last night in Dublin to fly out July 4th.
Read more: Travel Tips: How to Plan a Balanced Trip
At one point in my planning I figured we would split up a few nights on our accommodations but that proved to complicate matters (with only 2 rental cars) & not the cheapest option. In light of the fact that 6 of us will share close quarters for most of the trip (excluding Dublin), I wanted to make sure I picked a mix of town/country accommodations and places large enough that we were not all sharing one bathroom the whole time. The secret to a good trip with a large group is making sure everyone has space and time for themselves.
P.S. Before you ask, yes I am aware this trip could get seriously alter or canceled depending on the coronavirus pandemic. We are not leaving until late June so I am hoping we can still go by that point. All of these accommodations were purchased before/at the beginning of the outbreak but I am making no further purchases until we have more information.