Hello, My husband and I and our two small children have traveled Europe this way last year and have before when it was just the two of us, with not making reservations until the day before or just finding a place in a town. I know they have a lot of B&Bs along the way but wanted to know if it would be something that we would need to make reservations for in advance or if it was generally easy to find accomodations as we travel.
It sort of depends on when you are traveling, but in general it is easily doable in Ireland. I always travel there in shoulder season, and I never book ahead (with a rare exception when I stayed in Dublin). I have just pulled up to one that looks nice, and knocked on the door. You can get a directory of B&Bs from www.discoverireland.com or at the Tourist Information when you zrrive, so you could plan ahead a little. All B&Bs have signs, and you will see them all over.
My wife and I did this very successfully on several stops in Ireland in 2002, when the Euro was trading at $0.80 and before the Celtic Tiger economy drove prices through the roof. I think you would not have to worry about being able to find a room, but you might not like the price you would have to pay. Likewise Europe travel in general, better to book ahead to get the best balance of location, quality, and price. The margin for error has gotten a lot smaller over the past fifteen years, in my opinion, and Ireland has become one of the more expensive countries.
Nancy's right; there are probably more B&B's per capita in Ireland than in any other European country. We always try to stay at B&B's, and a guidebook series that we've found helpful over the years is Karen Brown's. Her recommended places tend to be a bit high end (not always), but we've always found them to be very reliable with regard to quality. Here's a link: http://tinyurl.com/payh4al
When I was researching b&bs for England I noticed some didn't allow young kids. I don't know if that is an issue in Ireland or not but you might want to check.
We don't book ahead of time but we always go off season. There are many,many B&B choices, we just pick one that looks nice, ask to see the room and have never been refused. Don't know about traveling with small children but some places might have family rooms. As stated above, get the book on B&b's and they might have info you need for family rooms.
We have travel to the UK many times during the summer and have traveled this way. We never ever book B&B's ahead of time. When we saw one we liked we stopped, asked if they had a room available, never had any trouble finding one and never spent more then 15 minutes finding one.
This really appeals to me but I was wondering what you say if you decide to not book after viewing a room? Maybe its the polite Canadian in me but after using their time to view the room I'd feel so much pressure to take it. Has anyone declined a room and if so how did it go? Thanks.
You exchange 'thank you' s and press on. It's not the first time for anybody. You don't toss spuds at their place and they don't throw tacks under your tires.
Several years ago my wife and I purchased a week worth of open vouchers for use at B&B's. We were given a book that listed by city which b&b's were part of the program. We checked our book when it was early evening and would call and go see what they had to offer. I really liked that the owner would show you the room and what they had to offer and never put pressure to stay. We had never stayed this way before, but it was very easy and each night worked out well.
Andrea, you can say something like "We're going to go away and talk about it. Thank you for showing us the room."
Every town has a tourist board. We would stop in and book accommodation for the next town we were visiting. They are able to look up your criteria and see what's available. Then they'll book it for you for a few Euro. This way we weren't locked into dates. We found some great places this way.