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It's Been Awhile

I'm looking to go to Ireland. It's a huge part of my bucket list. I'm not sure if I should go solo or with a tour. I'm nervous as I haven't travelled in quite awhile - solo or not.

Any suggestions?

Posted by
1202 posts

Would you be comfortable driving in Ireland without a navigator? Not only does Ireland drive on the other side of the road, the steering wheel is on the opposite side too. If this makes you nervouce then take a tour.

Posted by
759 posts

Tour= People. Shared experiences. Diner mates. Go with a group; you will have a much better experience.

Posted by
2080 posts

Make up your dream itinerary first, then evaluate how it would be accentuated by being solo or with a group. Ponder things like: Do you like driving? Do you like cities or rural travel?
You could also do a combo--stay in a city for a week by yourself and enjoy the ease of doing what you want when you want to. Then, go on a tour where you can interact with others and share notes, and get out in the countryside where solo travel might have some downsides. good luck!

Posted by
6355 posts

Going solo independently doesn't necessarily mean you have to drive yourself. There is public transportation in Ireland and you can also hire a car and driver for a day if that works better or join day tours occasionally if you feel the need to be with other people. Ireland is a very easy country to navigate independently.

I think the main things to think about are two. 1. Have you traveled solo before and enjoyed it? If not, then maybe a group tour would be good. 2. Where in Ireland do you want to go, what do you want to see? Are there tours that encompass your desired itinerary? If not, then maybe going on your own is the way to go.

I have traveled extensively independently and I have also taken group tours, both have worked well for me. Usually it depends on how long of a trip I want to take and where I want to go and if my choice of destination is easy to do as a solo woman (some places just aren't).

Posted by
1978 posts

Per Nancy, a cost-effective alternative to a full-blown organized tour would be to arrange your own basic itinerary (flights, accommodations, etc.) and then rely on the occasional day tour to supplement independent explorations according to your particular interests.. That way you wouldn’t need a car - could use trains and buses to connect the major cities, settle in for a few days and visit nearby attractions at your leisure. Staying in B&B’s would be a good way to mix with the locals a bit, and maybe make new friends in the process while still preserving your independence.
Do try to include time in the North if possible.

Posted by
580 posts

How much time do you have? If you don't have much time and if you have a lot you want to see, then a tour might be best. You'll cover a lot more ground faster. Also consider where you want to go. Although public transit is available it's not great if you want to go to Dingle, for example. And if you want to spend more time in just a few places then some sort of mix of day tour and independent tour might be in order as suggested above. Some of the bigger tour operators offer 2 or 3 night excursions that might fill in some gaps if you went solo.

Posted by
3314 posts

Age, any mobility issues, introvert or extrovert. If you have mobility issues a tour might be best. If you’re young and get on a tour with older people (or vice versa), you may feel out of place on a tour. If introverted, traveling solo might suit you just fine. Does the tour go to the places you want to see or do you want to see off the beaten path sights. Would you be happy with somebody planning your time, on a fixed time schedule, being herded around, and possibly where you eat at least some meals. If traveling solo, you need to determine if you’ll use public transportation or rent a car. There are advantages and disadvantages to each transportation mode. Once off the main roads, I didn’t think the roads were well marked in either the Republic or Northern Ireland so a good GPS is a must. There are advantages and disadvantages to tours and traveling solo, so it’s really a matter of what you’re comfortable with. My wife and I are not tour people and the only reason we went on one tour (Peru) was so others would arrange all the intra-country transportation (planes, trains, and busses).

Posted by
5086 posts

Either way, a pub, when there’s music there, will get you into a group, and there’s no obligation to drink. Hopefully you’ll get in a pub or two, or three . . .

My two trips have both been with my husband, us traveling on our own, but with guidance from Rick Steves’ and other guidebooks.

First trip, down the west coast from Galway to Dingle, with side trips to the Aran Islands and Skellig Michael, were by bus, bicycle, and ferry. Flying into Dublin and home from Shannon.

Second trip was a round trip into and out of Dublin, with a bus again to Galway, a small plane ride out to the largest Aran Island, then back on the mainland, driving a rental car clockwise around the coast, through northern Ireland and Northern Ireland, and back to Dublin. All were memorable and fabulous.

Having one person drive and a co-pilot to remind them to keep to the left, but not so far left that you’d go off the road or hit a hedge-covered wall was helpful, if you’re not a regular left-side driver. On your own, I can certainly imagine getting around on the good Bus Eireann bus system. They have an Irish Setter, rather than by a Greyhound, on the sides.

If you go with a tour, I hope you’ll find one that covers several parts of Ireland, and includes visits to historic places, perhaps including the Neolithic sites in the Boyne Valley, the Burren in western Ireland, and the things I listed above. The wait will have been worth it, when you get there!

Posted by
1202 posts

The problem with Ireland, public transportation does not run along the Dingle Peninsula which is a must see in my opinion.

Posted by
5086 posts

Taxis do run in the countryside, so a private ride is possible, if you find a driver to phone and coordinate arrangements.

Posted by
6355 posts

I'm sure the Dingle peninsula and the town of Dingle are very nice, but after two trips for a total of 4 weeks around Ireland I've not made it there and I don't feel at all deprived. Sure if you have your heart set on going to Dingle it's probably best to take a tour that goes there or rent a car, although you could probably pick up a day tour from Killarney or Tralee or hire a car and driver for a day. If you wanted to stay in Dingle (for a night or two) without a car there are taxis from Tralee but might get a bit pricey.

Posted by
625 posts

Hi BW,

I think if you are somewhat nervous, then take a tour. At our travel group in St. Louis the other week, a member told us she has traveled solo and taken 17 of RIck's tours. An Irish company I used in 2015 that I would not hesitate to use again is https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/driftwood-tours. A fantastic tour company that picks up in Dublin. You would have a couple of days in Dublin on your own before the tour. A tour will just take the stress out of driving. I drive in the UK all the time, But sometimes it's easier to have someone else doing all the work for you. The cost of the tour over independent travel is not as bad as it may at first seem when you factor in the rental car, gas, hotel meals, etc, and with a tour, you get to hear all the things about Ireland that you would not get on your own necessarily. Also, you will get to meet people in the evening for a chat and a drink while you listen to music. Ireland is a great place to test the waters with solo travel.

Margaret

Posted by
6076 posts

Take a tour, and add extra days on your own. Best of both.

Posted by
104 posts

I agree with Stan. I have been a single traveler for a few years now and I take tours but add a few extra days upfront. Tours usually start in major cities and there’s always more I want to see. I never stay after the tour however, for me when it’s over I’m ready to go home. Once I started traveling on my own it didn’t take me too long to figure out my travel style and feel comfortable. Whatever you decide, enjoy! Ireland is beautiful, I’ve been there twice already and I’m planning a third trip in June 2022 (assuming COVID cooperates).