August 5, 2017 was the best day of our lives thus far. We held hands, spoke our vows, cried a little, and left as husband and wife. We feel so blessed by the beautiful day that we got to spend with our family and friends. We had planned our honeymoon for months leading up to our trip and learned a good bit through the planning and the actual honeymoon, so I thought I would share some tips. John and I had the adventure of a lifetime for our honeymoon. We spent 10 days traveling in Ireland and Scotland and, man, it was great (and pretty exhausting)!
I’m not a professional travel planner, and I was working full time and planning the wedding while we planned our trip. Needless to say, there were little mistakes in our planning and we learned a lot in the process. Here are a few trips for a trip to Ireland and Scotland:
Don’t book a connecting flight with RyanAir
Just don’t do it. While RyanAir is fantastic for very cheap and very short flights, they are not reliable. Our RyanAir flight was 30 minutes late, while never actually “delaying” the flight. We stood in a boarding line for 30 full minutes as the sign and all of our airport updates said we were, in fact, boarding. Nope. So if you are flying between Ireland and Scotland and need a cheap flight, go RyanAir. But if you have to make another flight or a specific train, don’t risk it.Bring a tripod
This may not be as big of a deal if you are outgoing, but we are surely not. John and I ended up getting some great photos of the two of us with our fairly compact tripod which let us set up my camera and then use my phone as a remote from where we were. It worked out so well in front of some amazing views!
Be gracious with yourself
There were times where we felt downright silly. Where we sat at a restaurant for an embarrassing amount of time before realizing we had to order at the bar, or before realizing they weren’t just going to bring us our check automatically. We gawked as someone tried to speak to us with a thick Irish accent… and we had no idea what they were saying. We had to try to take it lightly when it was very clear that we were the only Americans in the room. We didn’t want to be embarrassed, but when you just don’t fit in in an area, embarrassment is likely.
Read rental car policies thoroughly/ take public transportation whenever possible
Did you know that Ireland is one of few countries in the world that is not covered for rental car insurance by most US credit card companies? This is one of the first facts I saw when we started researching transportation. More research brought age restrictions, price increases based on country of residence, and more frustrations by the day. We were extremely thankful we were able to rent a car at all, as a few of the cities we had plans in were only accessible by car. We did end up paying twice what had been quoted when we made our car reservation, but we got a cute little car and everything worked out. No matter what, being prepared and aware of the policies will help you out.
Try something new
Whether it be sampling a new food or drink or driving on the opposite side of the road, take advantage of being in a new country! For example, I ended up finding the world’s best ice cream by sampling a flavor I probably wouldn’t have chosen on a normal day (hint: please try Murphy’s Dingle Sea Salt ice cream during your lifetime) Find some locals and ask them how they spend their free time, or what their favorite restaurant is, and hope they don’t say Johnny Rockets or some other American themed restaurant.
Read reviews and blogs online
I spent a lot of time reading blogs before our trip to prepare for the tourist areas we would be visiting. We learned that the best time to visit the Cliffs of Moher was late in the afternoon, once most of the tour buses would have already left. We learned how to get spots on a boat to the Skelligs after seeing posts online about it (tip: you have to reserve a spot months ahead of time). We read reviews and found the best restaurants in the areas we were in. Reading ahead of time pays off!
Expect long lines at the Dublin Airport
We were unaware that the Dublin Airport was one of few airports in the world with US preclearance. US preclearance allowed us to avoid going through customs when we arrived in NYC, but it also made us scarily close to missing our second flight in one day. Prepare for your international flight out of Dublin by leaving an extra hour of time before your flight, as you will have to go through security twice, be photographed, and go through customs all before your flight. Not to mention… the Dublin airport is filled with LONG stretches of walking between gates and security.
Expect lots of political talk
We found out quickly that Europeans immediately want to talk about Trump when you mention where you’re from. Be prepared to make light of how terrified you are of our country’s future when making small talk. On a side note, Irish people adore JFK. You will see photos of him hung in people’s homes and in stores in every city of Ireland. Sweet, Irish-Catholic JFK.
There you have it! Ireland and Scotland were incredible destinations for our honeymoon and we strongly suggest everyone else make a trip there at some point! I will blog again soon about the different places we went and things to do in different areas, so be on the lookout!