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14 days to travel Scotland and Ireland

Hi

My wife and I are planning a 14 day trip through Scotland and Ireland in July 2020. Any help to fine-tune our itinerary would be GREATLY appreciated.

We were thinking of doing an even split with 6 days in Scotland and 6 days in Ireland, but are open to changing this.

For the Scottish part of the trip, the highlands are a high priority. Both of us have been to Edinburgh before so we will most likely only spend one night on arrival and then head out further afield. The further afield is where we are struggling a bit. Our current Scottish itinerary is as follows:

1 night Edinburgh
2 nights Inverness
2 nights Portree, Ilse of Skye (Is this too far for a 6 day trip?)
1 night somewhere?? Glencoe?

Any advice/ suggested changes would be very much appreciated!

We are nature-loving people and would like to have time enjoying the scenery that these countries have to offer, whilst at the same time trying some good local food and whiskey. If you have any good advice regarding short hikes, restaurants/ foods that should be tried, distilleries please share.

Thanks
George

Posted by
17 posts

How are you planning to move between the two islands? Flying open-jaw or RT?

I ask because I'm currently planning a very similar trip, and the choice of transport(s) radically affects how much time you'll have to enjoy everything else. (i.e. if you're doing Ryan Air Glasgow to Dublin, ending your fun in the Highlands adds the requirement to sprint back down to Glasgow. Similar if you have to burn a day getting from the western-end of Ireland to get back to Dublin for your return trip.)

We're flying open-jaw into Edinburgh and out of Shannon, and I'm looking strongly at Inverness->Dublin for the inter-island flight. In this way, we can work each country in "one direction" with minimal backtracking to an airport to pickup flights.

I'm still filling in our itinerary, but it'll be fun to compare notes in this thread, since we'll be on a very similar timeline!

Posted by
7 posts

Hi mherbst

To be honest, I have never heard the term fly open-jaw before (I googled it and no know what you mean) and also, my wife did all the homework thus far on the trip. We are thinking of backtracking which wastes time, but we are not keen to spend money on large one-way fees for on the rental car; the South African Rand does not travel well to European destinations - although I have been considering flying into Dublin and then out from Shannon, but must still investigate whether this is an option.

I received a little bit of advice and have made some changes. We are still in the planning process, but with the changes, it now looks like:

Ireland leg
Flying in from London to Dublin.
1 night in Dublin
We are considering dropping Northern Ireland off the list as it seems like a lot of effort to get there and with our limited time we are considering leaving it off our itinerary as per below - then rather head SW.
2 nights in Kilkenny
1 night in Killarney
Drive along the WIld Atlantic Way to (or at least along a part of it) to Galway
2 nights in Galway
Must investigate penalty fees with regards to dropping the rental car in Shannon instead of Dublin and then flying from Shannon to Edinburgh... If there is a large penalty fee we will probably backtrack to Dublin.

Scotland leg
Arrive Edinburgh
Pick-up car immediately and drive to Aviemore (I have changed the Scottish itinerary a little - road map is still the same but the overnight destinations are slightly different:
From Edinburgh via Perth to Aviemore (possible pitstop at St Andrew's - must see how large the detour would be?).
2 nights at Aviemore (possibly split: 1 night Aviemore and 1 night Nairn)
Drive Northern route to Ilse of Skye.
2 nights Portree
Drive to Glencoe
2 nights Glencoe
Drive back to Edinburgh - Spend the day and take an overnight train to London to fly back to Cape Town.

What does your planning look like at the moment?

Cheers

Posted by
2953 posts

First, I think your Scotland itinerary looks great.

Second, I haven't heard of any penalties within one country for picking up and dropping off a rental car at two different airports (e.g., pick up Dublin, drop off Shannon). If you were dropping off the car in a different country (in this case, Northern Ireland) then yes, you'd likely be charged a significant fee.

Posted by
5748 posts

Some car rental companies charge for returning a car “open jaw,” and when comparing their rates, return fees can affect the prices. But within the same country, the extra cost is usually not great. Our 2018 Ireland trip, we rented from Enterprise, picking up in Galway and returning it a few miles outside of Dublin. I don’t recall if there was a fee for returning it to a different location, but if there was, it wasn’t more than €20. Your results may differ.

Another thing that can add to the cost of a car rental, although again, probably not enough to ruin your trip, is picking up or returning at an airport. That’s often very convenient, but often comes with an “access charge” or similar fee, charged by the airport and passed on to the customer. Again, maybe €20 or so.

We’ve taken one Ireland trip that started in Galway and worked south, and another that started in Galway and curved clockwise around into Northern Ireland and down to Dublin. As nice as Northern Ireland and its people are, the southern trip was our favorite, by a lot. The southern trip, we landed in Dublin, took a bus (“coach”) to Galway, and flew out of Shannon. The northern trip, we landed and departed from Dublin.

If your Scotland itinerary isn’t set in stone, a bit north of Glencoe is Fort William, situated in a fantastic natural setting, at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Britain, with other mountains close by.

Foods- Ireland (especially along the western coast): seafood chowder, varies in ingredients from town to town. Scotland: Haggis - this is the place for it! And have the best oatmeal in both!

Posted by
17 posts

George,

Definitely at least consider the idea of open-jaw air travel as well as with your rental car. As others have noted, the in-country one-way charges from most car-hires are small. When we were last in Germany, the one-way fee and airport-drop-off fee was less than what it would have cost for us to take the train from the original pickup site to the airport! Going "one-way" actually saved us money.

Similar for the air travel. I would open up a second tab to flights.google.com or kayak and at least try-out a few sample open-jaw options. For our June/July trip, LAX->EDI, SNN->LAX (with layovers at Heathrow for both) was only about $200 more (for 3 seats), and saved us LOADS of backtracking time. In the end, this route buys us almost two more days of new sightseeing (or two days where we can avoid doing nothing but 6+ hour cross-country drives.)

Posted by
216 posts

When you are doing these “open jaw” tickets you can use the “multi-destination” when searching flights. When I first started traveling I was clueless what “open jaw” meant. I kept looking for that darn option and it just wasn’t there! And remember it is leaving from one destination and returning from another. This can decrease the back tracking but I’ve never been able to save money this way. Maybe I’m just not searching right or found the need.

Posted by
93 posts

We're flying into Inverness and out of Edinburgh, and our rental car only cost about $50 (USD) more for the one-way drop off. Considering how much we would spend in gas getting back to our starting point, we're saving money and getting to spend more time in the places we want to see, rather than spending a full day driving back to our starting point.

Posted by
17 posts

This can decrease the back tracking but I’ve never been able to save money this way. Maybe I’m just not searching right or found the need.

It's always a moving target, of course, but I just re-searched tickets for our itinerary and got the following using flights.google.com:

LAX-> EDI, SNN->LAX for 2 adults, 1 child: Cheapest combination $2506
then add: INV->DUB for same passengers: $301 for our inter-island connection
Total: $2807

LAX->EDI round trip, not including inter-island flights (including an extra one to get back to Scotland!): $2824