My husband and I will be renting a car in Dublin and driving throughout Ireland for three weeks beginning at the end of August. Would you please share your advise/experiences with car rentals and insurance as well.
Kathy - Are you going to be spending a few days in Dublin before you start your driving? If so then I would suggest picking up your car after your visit to Dublin. Our family used Auto Europe when we rented last year and we also opted for the Super CDW. Also you may want to look at picking up a cheap car navigation that has maps of Europe included.
We will need the car upon arriving in Dublin, as we will head to Trim from there. We will turn it in upon our return to Dublin, and then spend three days without a car in Dublin.
Kathy, About 6 years ago, I rented a car & drove through Ireland, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was able to see things and go places that public transportation cannot. I was driving by myself, which was a challenge, but overall I am glad I drove. This was my first time driving outside of the U.S. Here are a few things that I learned: 1) I did not drive in Dublin, but rented a car as I was leaving. 2) I purchased the Zero deductible Super CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) Insurance through the rental car company. It was more expensive and did seem overpriced, but it gave me a peace of mind as I traveled. 3) I rented a car with an automatic transmission. It did cost more, but will allowed me to concentrate on the road & not have to worry about shifting. I did not have any problems getting a car with an automatic transmission. However, I booked well in advance. 4) On narrow roads, and driving in general, I drove slowly. When I saw many cars behind me, I found a spot to pull over and let the cars pass. The Irish drivers waived & honked in appreciation! I found Irish drivers to be very courteous. 5) It would be helpful if one of your travel partners act as a navigator with a good map, sitting next to you.
6) The "spokes" of a roundabout only show the next town over, not your destination. Thus, before entering a round about, have your navigator look up correct "next town". This will allow you to exit the roundabout correctly and head in the right direction. The hardest thing I found was judging the distance between the passenger side and the curb. Finally, I always had to remind myself to stay on the left. I hope this helps. Have a great trip!
We have had success with Autoeurope as well. We drove in Ireland in 2002, and I think I paid around $450 for a six day rental. Pricing it out for a return trip next year, I am finding it's around $80-100 per day including super CDW. With regular CDW your deductible is around $2000, not acceptable for us. (I would like nothing more than for someone to tell me how I'm all wrong and there is a way to rent for $50 a day in Ireland with full insurance). Manual transmission is a lot cheaper. But I have drive on the left on three separate trips and even though I can drive a stick, I would not want to do it while also driving on the left. I have also driven in about seven or eight countries in Europe, so no newby here. We did not have any trouble at all driving in Ireland, the reason for the high accident rate has more to do with the preponderance of two lane roads. We did not even find them that narrow for the most part. Portugal is also supposed to be terribly dangerous, but we did not have any problems there, either. Get a smaller car and bring small luggage. The trunks keep getting smaller in rental cars, because they want more room for bells and whistles on the dash. For a compact car, figure two carry-on size bags. We have always traveled with 25" Eagle Creek bags, but for the first time they would not fit in the boot of the car on our recent U.K. trip.
Kathy, we just got back a couple of weeks ago. We picked up our rental at the airport after we left Dublin. It was easy getting on and driving the freeways, thru big towns, but that was about it. I have driven in most EU countries, and thruout the US, Canada, and the Caribbean, etc, and this was the most stressful driving I have EVER encountered. We rented our car thru Autoeurope; we usually use them, and have been very happy with them over the years. We paid approx. $300 US for 9 days. Our supplemental insurance policy (covered the collision and theft deductible, etc) cost approx. $35 US. I purchased it thru a broker in the EU. It covers stuff that the rip-off rental Super CDW do not: windshields, tires, wheels, towing, putting in the wrong fuel, etc. I just put claim in since I was an idiot and put gas in my diesel car..... Here are my rules/advice: 1. Buy lot of insurance; you're going to need it. You should have seen the left side of my rental. Every one of my friends has either dinged or damaged a car in Ireland. 2. Get the smallest darn car you can find; you will be really glad you did. Ours was one step above the bottom...and it was waaaaaaaay too wide. 3. Look right! Do this first...then left, at any intersection.
4. Get an automatic; it does not cost that much more. Trying to shift that darn 6 speed and find the right gear was not easy. YOU are CONSTANTLY having to change gears. 5. Bury your right front wheel on the center line. Yes, it looks like you are going to hit the oncoming traffic, but you are not> if you don't do this you will constantly listen to your Better Half scream as you hit the brush on the edge/side of the road. 6. Get a diesel. Awesome mileage! Just make sure that you use the correct fuel.
cont. 7. Bring your GPS from home loaded with Irish maps, and a Michelin map of the country. The GPS was mandatory drving thru towns; the maps verified the GPS picks and ensured that we were going on the best roads, etc.
8. Take your time driving from one venue to another. Allow lots of time for sightseeing trips. One day we went from Dingle to Galway, and stopped at the Cliffs of Mohler, and did the Burren. It was too much, and I was totally overwhelmed. When we were driving the narrow roads I never saw one site unless we stopped; all I could do was concentrate on the road. Seriously, Ireland is amazingly beautiful. Take your time and use your wits, and you will do fine. (Hopefully!)
Last experience 9/2012. 3rd time Ireland, 6th time "wrong side". Go small small small. Your stuff will fit in the back seat, but be careful about leaving things there, theft. A "World MasterCard" will allow you to avoid local CDW. You must get a current letter from MC stating you are covered in Ireland, and for the time period you are there. Your plans for Dublin are spot on. Bus into or out of town about 10 euro 1 way, 15 euro return. For your drop off, I would drop luggage and 1 person at the hotel, let them settle in, unpack, familiarize, while 1 person drives to airport to return the car, then bus back to hotel on a return ticket. About 1 hour total. Then 2 bus to the airport for departure. I always get a stick, no big deal if you can drive a stick, contrary to what I originally thought, after a few minutes it is almost automatic. Driving left side still takes 3 times more attention that shifting. (PS I am 64). My last rental was from Sixt Dublin, 11 days 110 euro total, all taxes, insurance. Used "World MasterCard" letter for CDW. Nissan Micra 3 cylinder, great mileage. Could not believe it. However, have not been able to duplicate that rate for my next trip. All I can now find is about 1/2 again. Absolutely buy two Ireland sim cards from Tesco, about 10 euro each. Free Tesco to Tesco calls. Calls to US about 2 euro cents. We left Ireland after 14 days with 1/2 the time left, and called each other, US phones, Ireland phones at will all the time, as much as at home. Of course you will need two Ebay Quad Band cheap phones, about $25 each. Unless you are newlyweds, over 3 weeks you will be going your separate ways at times, big stores, shopping, etc. Use WiFi for your laptop or smart phone, it's everywhere. These rates assume you will be in "Ireland", not "Northern Ireland", a totally different country.
PS, I noticed 1st night in Trim. Nearest Tesco is 15 minutes away in Navan, great small city for stocking up all kinds of supplies, etc.
Don't miss Newgrange and buy your Heritage Pass there.
I had to laugh, reading Steve's account of driving in Ireland - was very similar to ours! Agree about staying nearer the center line than you think you need to be. We had our two kids this trip, so fitting four suitcases in was a challenge (but it helped that we got upgraded to a more spacious BMW!). I agree - if it's just two people, get the smallest car you can. Also, our son contributed some navigation with an occasionally working GPS from the back seat, and that was really helpful. With a good map and GPS, if possible, you should be fine. Road signs are usually good, but in some places, hard to find, or non-existent. It's stressful for the driver on the narrow, windy roads (eg. nearly all of western Ireland), so changing drivers everyone once in awhile is good. Also agree about planning distances - we did Ring of Kerry / ferry crossing at Tarbert/Killimer to Kilkee one day, and then the next day, Cliffs of Moher, Burren, to Galway. Those were two LONG days, and if we were to do them again, we'd have planned shorter distances. First time to Ireland was south, this time was middle, and hopefully next time will be north. Have a great trip to our very favorite country!
"A "World MasterCard" will allow you to avoid local CDW. You must get a current letter from MC stating you are covered in Ireland, and for the time period you are there. " I have told my story about trusting credit card insurance many times here on the Helpline over the years. It boils down to this: I, too, was "covered" by MasterCard for rental car insurance. I had it in writing, I called repeatedly before my trip just to reassure myself, and I left. When I had a small accident, they found a reason to deny my claim and I was on the hook for the damages (less than $500). Of course, they knew I wouldn't pursue it legally, since it would cost a lot more to take to court than I would get back. Credit cards and their insurance companies are not in the business of paying claims, and they will do what they can to avoid it.