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Solo retirement travel

Just pulled the trigger. My first trip is to heritage. I'm going it alone....10 days to 2 weeks. I really don t know where to begin....escorted tour (not that appealing), semi escorted tour, or on my own. I'm very fit and want to be active every day......friendly and outgoing. HELP!! Where to go/stay etc. I appreciate any and all suggestions!

Posted by
2081 posts


welcome and congrats on your new job.

you may want to sit down and figure out WHERE you want to go if you want to make the most of your $$$ and time there. YOu can wing-it, but you may not make the most of your time & $$$.

There is no reason you cant do a blend of guided tour and solo.

You can start buy geting some guide books on Ireland, using Google and asking on here, but you will get everything under the sun as what to do/see.

You may want to say what floats your boat. so others more intimate with Ireland can get a better grasp on what you like.

Dont forget, you will loose 1 day to get there.

Places to stay - you may want to say how $$$ youre willing to spend and if you have a particular life style you want to enjoy.

Do you want to drive? you may want to say if you do or dont.

happy trails.

Posted by
5703 posts

Just returned from my 2nd visit to Ireland and NI. In 97 did it solo (Dublin to Dingle) and then had friends join me as we went from Dublin, to Belfast, to Galway, to Cork, and back to Dublin. This time mostly Belfast staying with friends but did a jaunt from there to Dingle where I based for four days. Each time I drove and found having a rental allowed freedom to explore. On this trip had not included the Gap of Dunloe on my itinerary but noticed in route to Killarney the directional sign and made the turn. Hiked a mile and a half of it, then returned to my rental and drove through it. Was my favorite day of the trip. Stunning beauty. Saw 4 hikers, 2 rock climbers, 1 horse cart with 2 passengers and two bicyclists the entire sojourn and countless sheep. Bliss. Grab Rick's Ireland book and figure what it is that excites you about the island and then take a map and figure where you want to go and what you want to see. Knowing the distances help plan an itinerary. I loved staying in Dingle, ( hanging with the locals at Foxy Johns Hardware store and pub, the quiet roads of November, hiking the Dingle Peninsula, the beauty of Killarney National Park, longs strolls along the beach at Ventry, and at Inch Beach. Only one storm and that only lasted half a day. Once you figure out what important to you it's best to find a place or two to base for 3 to 4 nights and make day trips.

Posted by
31303 posts


I'd also like to congratulate you on your retirement, and your promotion to your new job where "every day is a Saturday".

I can also highly recommend the RS Ireland tour. The tours provide at least one free day as well as free afternoons or evenings, so there's lots of time to "do your own thing". Both the lead Guides (who may be "singing Guides") as well as the local Guides are exceptional, so you'd likely learn a lot more about the country by going with a tour. It's also nice to have a small group to share the experience with. If you could add a few days to your trip, you could also travel on your own to see specific places connected with your heritage.

You can also tour on your own if you prefer. The Ireland 2014 Guidebook would be an excellent resource to plan your trip, as it has a LOT of good information on hotels, restaurants, sightseeing, etc. With the book and suggestions from the HelpLine, it will be relatively easy to plan a self-guided trip to Ireland. One of the main issues with Ireland, is that the transportation can sometimes be a bit challenging for those that don't want to drive. Some places have rail links and others are served by Bus, so getting around by public transit can be time consuming in some cases.

You might enjoy watching a video on the tours. This is the long version for Ireland, which was presented at one of the Test Drive A Tour Guide sessions (more of these sessions will be held on Jan. 18th in Edmonds - they're free but of course you'd have to get to Seattle). There are lots of other videos on YouTube.

For a somewhat humorous look at Irish logic, have a look at a transcript of THIS actual phone call.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
9363 posts

Ireland is one of the easiest places to get around on your own, particularly if you are willing to drive (on the other side of the road). I have made two solo trips there myself, in addition to two other trips. I start by looking at several guidebooks to determine what I might like to see or do. Then I plot these places on a map and use to determine how far one is from another (add about 25% to their driving time estimates, though). This should help you determine a direction and itinerary. I have found it easiest to land in Shannon if you are renting a car. Shannon Airport is out in the country, a small airport with little road traffic, so it gives you a good chance to get used to the driving before encountering anyone else. Then you could end in Dublin if you wanted, so that you didn't have to backtrack to leave from Shannon.

Posted by
1173 posts

I highly recommend the RS 14 day tour! It was amazing tour, a wonderful friendly country and a great time!!! I stayed in Dublin for a few days before the tour because you are not in Dublin very long and I wanted to see Dublin and all it had to offer. Then the tour begins and you get free time and every nite we went to the Pubs and you have people to go with or not. It really is a lot of fun. It is a great way to see the country and see a lot of things due to the bus doing all the driving. A lot of people post they didn't think they would like an escorted tour, then they write how much they enjoyed the tours. The RS tour tour of 28 people and great guide is truly the way to go!! You can opt out or go on your own to places if you don't want to be with the tour and just let the guide know, but only a few times this has happened ( on my Rome tour which is understandable, a family opted out of the cooking class and in Paris a woman did not go to Versaile as she wanted to take photos of Paris) but mostly people go together to see the sites. You will have to decide, but as a single woman who has been on 11 tours, they are really a great way to see Europe and still have the freedom to eat and tour in your free time. But Ireland is one place that you do not want to be alone as it is so much fun and friendly and all about viewing nature, beauty, sky, ferry ride, staying in B&B"s , hiking, mountains, sea and the pubs. It is not like a big city where you go to museums and churches and it is fine to be on your own. But it is up to you. Have a great safe fun trip.

Posted by
2246 posts

Hi Kathymogan-the absolute highlight of our week in Ireland this past September was our "Archaeological & Scenic" Slea head tour with Denis Ryan. We spent a half day with Denis; you can do a full day too. We learned more about Ireland in that tour than we did in the whole week we were there. He was fascinating, can't recommend him highly enough. You can see it here, there is also a video on his own site, and there's a link here for that:


Posted by
30 posts

Wow, I'm jealous! That being said, I've been on numerous trips overseas by myself and have always had a good time. Read up on Ireland - I've always been satisfied by RS books but don't limit yourself - rent a car and go. Driving on the other side isn't nearly as difficult or traumatic as people make it out to be. Just keep reminding yourself to stay to the left and take it slow through your first couple of turns and round-abouts and you'll be fine. In bigger cities I might take tours of some of the sights, buy rely on books or word of mouth in smaller towns about what might be interesting or fun. Last time in Ireland I flew into Dublin (didn't rent a car until I left - you definitely don't need a car there) and then went north along the coast to Portrush on the Antrim coast. Amazing drive, tons to see, and only about 4 hours, leaving plenty of time for hiking/exploring. There a day or two and then off to Westport, using that as a jumping off point for many different areas. Check out the Anchil Islands. There's also a pub there called Matt Malloy's. Great music and filled with characters. Try exploring, on the way, an area called Slieve League on the northern coast of Ireland. Amazing hikes and beautiful seaside views. From Westport I wound my way, via the Cliffs of Moher, to Doolin. From there I took one of the boats out to the islands and spent a night. Lots of hiking there as well. After that, Dingle. You'll LOVE it there. Then to Kinsale, another lovely port town with good walks all around, and then eventually back to Dublin to fly out. This was my schedule, worked for me, took about 12 days, and when leaving realized just how much I'd missed, making me want to go again. Have a grand time!

Posted by
1888 posts

I find Ireland very easy to do on my own. Have been there three times with family, just returned two weeks ago, and twice on my own. I loved the small towns and small pubs where you can easily talk with locals as well as tourists. Met some great people. Always rent a car as like to be able to stop when we want but that is just our preference. What are your interests, do you have a tour book or a map? Are you driving or public transport and what time of year,all that info will help us to give you advice.