$672.06 + 67,324 Amex MR
Economy class on Aer Lingus x2
After hours of frustration that an Aer Lingus ticket booked with 50k BA Avios would somehow be more expensive than booking with cash, I decided to use my Amex points to cover the cost of a ticket. There were cheaper flights available, but they’d have been at weird times and require layovers in Germany? 🤔
$889.41 + 50k IHG + 25k Starwood
AirBnB x3, Castle x1, Holiday Inn x2, Westin x1
If I had to change one thing about our trip, I’d have spent more time in the Irish countryside and less time in the cities. For our one night in the country, we got to stay in a beautiful castle next to a field of ponies in a lush room with a two person jacuzzi. Just look at how gorgeous this is:
And that castle stay cost less per night than the sketchy, illegal AirBnB we stayed at in the bad part of Dublin, for which we picked up our keys– I kid you not– in a lockbox attached to the barred windows behind an abandoned building.
Car rental, parking, tolls
We got a small hybrid, which managed to last the entire week without a fill up. Fiancé did all of the driving; I have a hard enough time when driving on the right side of the road. 🚘
Lots of restaurant food, most of it mediocre.
I am going to be honest: I did not have high expectations for Irish food. Our first dinner in Dublin, the mushy orange paste on my plate had been so boiled to death that I could not tell whether it was tomato or carrot. 🍅🥕?
When we took trips out of the cities, I found it much easier to find good food. The best by far was the multi-course dinner in the castle we stayed at. They took something as simple as chicken broth and took it to the next level. Note to self: the secret is to cook down to a concentrated stock and clarify with eggs. Sadly I forgot to take pictures of it and, really, most of the food, so you get the above shot of a kind of mediocre suburban mall meal instead. 🤷
My advice? When in the cities just go for the Indian food or cook your own meals; save the pubs for the rolling countryside. Be warned though: even at the best of places, though, the flavors were still quite subtle (read: if you like heavily spiced food, you will be disappointed).
Activities & Sights
Victor’s Way, Dublin Fringe Festival hip hop performance, National Museum of Ireland – Arts & Archaelogy, Book of Kells, falconry lesson, seaweed oil massage with brushing, Black Cab Tours, Giant’s Causeway, Irish Linen Centre, Newgrange monument tour
As Fiance’s first international trip and our designated honeymoon to boot, it was important to me that our trip to Ireland be special. Cue the $350 falconry lesson and $130 seaweed massage. 🐣🌿💆
You hear that? That’s the sound of my soul leaving my body. 😱👻
Jokes aside, I am glad we splurged on this special occasion. We got slow motion footage of real life hawks dive bombing us for food and Fiance’s skin has been sooo soft since his exfoliating massage. Absolutely worth it.
That said, the frugal traveler could get by in Ireland in a lot less. Ireland is replete with beautiful natural wonders and inexpensive historic sights to visit.
I personally recommend the willing traveler head north to visit Giant’s Causeway if at all possible. We didn’t manage to walk on the Carrick-a-Rede bridge while in the area, but have heard great things about it too.
Avoca scarf, tweed vest
Fiancé bought himself a scarf and a tweed vest that’ll be part of his wedding outfit. Usually I would also get gifts for my friends when traveling abroad, but I didn’t see anything I thought they’d like.
Luggage fees, airport parking
These are the “unforced errors” of our trip. As in, it would have been so easy to circumvent these costs if we had planned ahead. In particular, Fiancé came straight to the airport from work, which ended up costing us $300 in parking fees. If we had researched the parking options and he had dropped the car off at home and taken a taxi or instead, or even if he had just used the economy lot, we could have easily saved $150-250 on that item alone. Sigh.
- Flights – $672.06
- Accommodations – $889.41
- Transportation – $986.49
- Food – $640.78
- Activities & Sights – $644.90
- Shopping – $247.04
- Other – $490.26
Total spending: $4,570.93
Honestly, I am not thrilled with how much we spent, about a thousand dollars more than what I had expected for this trip.
Part of the mistake here was that we approached planning in a divide and conquer fashion. I booked the flights and hotel while Fiancé dealt with the auto-related items separately, so I ended up greatly underestimating how much the big ticket stuff would cost. Had I known our car rental and parking would be so expensive, I might have suggested we go to a better value destination. Or, at the very least, been a lot more proactive in curbing our expenses on “Food” and “Other” to compensate.
The other reason for the overrun here was that Fiancé’s mother is very generous and offered to let him use her card for whatever as a wedding gift. And I think it may have, ahem, caused him to be looser with the spending than he otherwise would have been. 😑
All in all though, I’m glad we took the time to have a nice vacation together. The next international trip on the horizon is a friend’s wedding in Copenhagen, but we haven’t decided whether we’re both going to that yet or just me. In any case, I would like to squeeze in one more fun travel experience before we have kids.
Have you ever been to Ireland? Traveled anywhere fun lately? Any recommendations for Copenhagen?