Ireland Tips & Tricks

Ireland Expert  Michele Erdvig has picked up many "insider" tips and tricks as she has traveled through Ireland for the past 40 years. On this page she shares some of her favorites with you. Make your Ireland Dream Trip easier and read on…

Money Tips

$100 Bills: Do not bring 100 dollar bills to Ireland, but lesser denominations. Because of the high incidence of counterfeiting Irish banks won't cash them.

ATM Cards: Check with your bank in advance to see what charges are associated with using your ATM card in Ireland. Some banks charge a conversion fee. Your ATM card should be linked to your checking account not your savings. Be sure to put enough money in your account in advance to cover your expenses in Ireland.

VAT: Over 17% Value Added Tax is included in most of your purchases in Ireland. Though you cannot get a refund on things you consume like food, drink, lodgings, car rentals, gasoline, etc. those who live outside the EU are entitled to a refund on gifts they purchase. As you shop collect your  refund forms and keep them all together. Fill them out before leaving Ireland and turn them in at the airport. Your refund will either be given to you in cash, credited to your credit card or sent to you as a check, depending on which company was involved. There is a 2-3% fee charged for refund processing.

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Saving Money

Restaurants: Have an early bird dinner or eat at restaurants that have a Value Menu.

Sightseeing Admissions: If applicable, senior, student and family admission tickets can save you money. The Irish government runs many sites in Ireland and you can buy a pass to all their sightseeing attractions for around €21 per person (pass available at the sites). Those ordering Michele's book or a Deluxe Itinerary will receive a free coupon brochure.

Multiple Night Stays: If you stay at the same lodging for two nights or more ask about a discount or special rates.

Special Offers: When booking a hotel or other accommodation online look for a click through for "special offers". Many places have weekend specials, mid-week specials and holiday offers that may include extras like dinner, golf, spa services, etc.

Golden Years: Those 55 and over are eligible for Golden Years Special Offers at many places around Ireland. Senior discounts usually apply at the various sightseeing attractions.

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Credit Cards

Cards Accepted in Ireland: The most widely accepted are Visa and MasterCard followed by American Express. Discover is not accepted.

Notify Your CC Company in Advance:
When you decide which cards you are taking on your trip, call each CC company to inform them of your travel dates and where you will be traveling. Otherwise they may flag your account for suspicious activity and freeze your account.

International Surcharge: Most CC companies such as Visa & MasterCard charge a 1% conversion fee but you still get their excellent low exchange rates. Some issuing banks have started adding 2-3% or more on top of that, which can add a lot to your expenses. However, there are many banks that do not charge extra. Call yours in advance to check on this issue. It might be worth your while to get a new CC if yours has extra fees. Some banks that do not have added charges (for certain cards) are  MBNA, Fleet, USAA & Capital One. Check with them for details.

Charge in Dollars, Euros or Pounds Sterling? Before handing over your CC for purchases instruct the clerk to charge in either euros (Republic of Ireland) or pounds sterling (Northern Ireland). Do not let they charge your card in dollars! If they do the company, shop, car rental or restaurant you are dealing with will get a cut for themselves at your expense. You usually get an unfavorable exchange rate. This is called dynamic currency conversion and usually does not benefit you.

Phone Numbers: Toll-free numbers generally used to contact your CC company probably will not work in Ireland. If a regular number is not listed on your CC, call the company in advance of your trip and make note of the number in case you need to contact them. They will accept collect calls from abroad.

Making Reservations

Dates: When emailing or writing to a B&B for reservations, be sure to spell out the date. Do not use all numbers. Europeans reverse the month and day when using numbers and this could be confusing.

E-Mailing: Be patient when e-mailing for reservations. Many B&Bs do not look at their messages every day. If you don't get a reply in a few days, send your inquiry again and state in the subject line that you are re-sending. In the off-season many B&B owners take their own vacations, so you may not receive a speedy reply then.

Phone or Fax: To phone the Republic of Ireland from the US or Canada dial 011 + 353 + area code (minus the 0) + phone number. To phone Northern Ireland from the U.S. or Canada dial 011 + 44 + area code (minus the 0) + phone number.

Cheap Calls: For calls from the US to Ireland try using a dial-around service: Cheap Phone Calls

Time in Ireland: If phoning for reservations keep in mind that it is five hours later than Eastern Standard Time in Ireland.

Confirm: If you have made your reservations far in advance, shortly before starting your trip reconfirm your reservations. Bring your confirmations with you.

Handicapped Parking

A handicapped parking disk/sign that has the internationally recognized wheelchair symbol on it will be honored in Ireland. It should be displayed on the dashboard of your car when parking in handicapped spaces. In some pay-and-display car parks vehicles displaying the disabled person's parking sign get free parking. Drivers should check the car park notices or ask an attendant for details.

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