Q & A: She Wants to Travel; He Wants to Stay Home — Can a Trip to Ireland Remedy Their Differences?

An old ram at Cnoc Suain, Co Galway.

An old ram at Cnoc Suain, Co Galway.

This will be a first trip to Ireland for my husband and me (our first trip off the American continent!), and we have very different ideas about the aftermath. I’m hoping it is the beginning of a lifelong travel hobby. Whereas he is expecting I will calm down with travel, and we won’t do a trip this big for another decade or two.

So, much is at stake! To ease him into it, I’m planning to split our week-long trip between two farm-style bed and breakfasts, where he can have some downtime to enjoy the nature and the farm, while I can still work in some time to see some lovely cathedrals! Do you have any suggestions on two counties where a home-body cowboy and a crazed tourist might both have successful holiday?

— Erin via email

Wow. The pressure is high. Let’s take a deep breath and see what we can do…

A trip to Ireland has changed many lives, so I’m confident this trip will do that for you and your husband. That said, I’d suggest you put thoughts and expectations of future travel out of our mind until after you get home. Instead, continue putting your energy into making this the best trip possible… this is a first overseas trip for both of you, so there’s no telling how either one of you will respond to this “new” type of travel.

I think you’re wise to focus on rural Ireland… and to limit the ground you cover. My suggestion would be to look at the west coast counties and use Shannon Airport as your arrival and departure airport (this will make driving a much easier experience). Counties Kerry, Clare, Limerick, Mayo, Galway, and Tipperary are all great options. If you’re choosing a farm stay, you won’t have to worry about your accommodations being in an area that’s too built up (www.bandbireland.com has a category for those types of B&Bs and/or you could post on the Ireland Yes forum – http://ireland.activeboard.com/f176051/ask-michele-ireland-travel-forum/ to get user recommendations).

To help you along with your bigger goal of ongoing travel, it’s important you accept the fact that no trip is perfect… there will be stressful moments. People who do that, tend to have a much better trip… and are more enthusiastic about future travel. Here are a few things to anticipate:

  • you’ll probably feel a bit confused when the car rental person starts talking about extra insurance and explaining that your credit card probably doesn’t cover it like it does in other countries
  • the first 24-hours of driving are going to be stressful
  • food prices can be about 25% higher than what you will pay in the US
  • petrol (gas) will be about $8 a gallon
  • you are going to get lost and might get to meet an interesting local when to ask for directions
  • it will probably rain

A few other tips:

  • don’t count the days you fly in your tally of touring days (so 7 days becomes only 5 days of actual touring)
  • talk to your B&B hosts (if you spend 3+ days in a farmhouse B&B, you’ll probably get to know your hosts pretty well if you ask them questions about the area and farming in Ireland)
  • try to stay within 90 miles of Shannon on our first night (most places in Clare, Tipperary, and Limerick work)
  • spend your last night near the airport, it will save loads of stress (Bunratty, Ennis, and Adare are good options)
  • check out www.infiniteireland.com – they focus on first-timer trips to Ireland
  • Here are some our best posts for first-timers www.irishfireside.com/start-here/

If you have suggestions that might help Erin inspire lifelong travel in her husband… please leave them in the comments below.


Author: Corey

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  1. We traveled to Ireland this summer with our 3 children. I think that you are wise in choosing to base yourself in a rural area. We enjoyed that much more than the cities. Clifden is an absolute favorite of ours. We stayed at a great townhouse in a refurbished Coastguard Station. You can read about some of what we did at my blog. http://mapesfamilyadventures.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/sheep-cows-stone-fences/ My kids found traveling much more enjoyable when we didn’t have too much on the daily agenda.

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    • I’ve driven by that old Coastguard Station, but never stopped. Looks like you had a great trip.

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  2. See how this trip goes…If it’s something he likes that will spark his interest in further travel, if it’s not something he likes or enjoys he won’t change his mind…

    That’s when I’d look into taking trips with tour groups…Perhaps when he sees you going off alone (which isn’t what you want, but if you want to travel badly enough it may be what you have to do), he might all of a sudden get interested too…

    Good luck and have fun!

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  3. It’s a must go and see its the best place in the world been there last year going back next year.

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  4. I didn’t come across one part of Ireland that I didn’t enjoy. Have fun and enjoy your trip where ever you end up.

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  5. I may be in the same boat!!! He’s just so “German”!!

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  6. Hi Erin/Corey

    A few years ago my wife and I stayed at a place similar to what you describe. It’s an actual working farm, but has a bunch of little cottages, which are perfect for a romantic weekend (or longer) getaway. It was Croan cottages in Kilkenny.

    You take care of yourself as regards meals etc, but from what I can remember they do serve food there. We didn’t avail of it, preferring instead to venture in to the nearby towns. The setting is beautiful and quiet, and there is a wealth of typical Irish archaeology etc nearby e.g. Kells priory.

    I wish you the very best in your quest to transform your husband into a world traveller 🙂


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  7. In Ireland, less really is more… less structured stops for sight-seeing means…more time to stop for the pleasant unexpected moments

    I am glad to see that you are thinking farm stays, as that will help him to see the similarities in the rural lifestyle.

    He will, perhaps, be more invested in this trip, if you find things to do that cater more towards his interests. The Irish Stud in Kildare might be worth a stop. Up North, Connemara National park and the Connemara Pony inhabitants might pique his interest.

    I am seeing rural, wooded hikes and waterfalls… Beara peninsula and Dursey island perhaps…Not as far south …the Dingle peninsula would fit the “rural” category or in the Northwest… Donegal…in all her wild glory…from the Sliabh Liag cliffs to Malin Head.

    I was one of a merry band of four cowboy performers traveling about Ireland two summers in a row. Of all the places we traveled, we felt most at home in Donegal, the Burren region of Clare and on Inis Mor. Where ever we went,the locals showed a keen interest in us. The American West holds quite an appeal for most Irish.

    Also take in to consideration when you head over… Mid May to early June means less tourist traffic on the roads. Less tourist traffic and rural areas means a more relaxed drive is possible…

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  8. These are great tips, and I’m willing to bet on one thing- even if your husband doesn’t get the long-distance travel bug, he’ll probably still want to return visit to Ireland! Enjoy!

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  9. Please don’t let ANYONE stop you from traveling! I know that you would much rather travel together, of course, but if this trip doesn’t change his mind about it, don’t let it stop YOU from seeing the wonderful world out there. Hopefully, he will fall in love with Ireland (as most people do!) and it will encourage him to travel again! All the very best!

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  10. For those of us with wanderlust, it is difficult to imagine someone who doesn’t want to explore new places.

    I agree with Corey that the west coast will likely be the best destination for a ‘slower’ paced trip. I would head north from Shannon and into Galway and the Connemara region. You’ll find plenty of space to relax and just ‘be’, as well as the cathedrals you yearn for.

    I would watch your husband very closely on this trip. Make note of what he really enjoys – and what he doesn’t. That way you can look at destinations with activities or solitude he enjoys. And there are always day trips that you could do solo.

    If nothing else, you could find a women’s traveling group to join with for future travel.

    Good luck- and enjoy the magic of Ireland!

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  11. I concur that the west coast is wonderful place to see for first time travelers. Only wish that it was possible to follow the advice to “fly into Shannon,” but that is getting more difficult everyday. You may well have to fly into Dublin to get a decent rate, and fewer airlines go into Shannon than before. We all seem to prefer Shannon or Dublin for the airport entry, but it’s an unfortunate challenge to get a good rate/flight into there. If you go into Dublin instead, I would suggest Kilkenny for the first night, a wonderful walking city.

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  12. I actually love this question! Probably because it sounds a whole lot like me. I have a pretty deeply ingrained wanderlust and while my husband likes to travel, he isn’t dreaming about it night and day like I am.

    I think the best advice is to let this trip do it’s magic all on it’s own. Ireland has a way of convincing people the value of travel. The first time we went to Ireland, I am pretty sure we weren’t even on the plane home before we started planning our next trip (and I didn’t even need to twist his arm!).

    One thing is for sure–you will have a great time! As Corey said, hiccups will inevitably happen. But if you use them as a way to talk to the Irish people (i.e. asking for directions or hanging out in a pub during the rain) your experience will be the better for it.

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  13. See if you can take in the Rock of Cashel on your travels. I saw it for the first time last year and was amazed. Killarney is a favourite spot for me – some lovely spots out on the Muckross Road. The Lake Hotel in Killarney is a favourite of mine. Also, have a look for Ireland’s Blue Book. Dunbrody in Co Wexford is lovely and there’s a ferry that will take you to Waterford in a few minutes. Great beach near Dunbrody at Duncannon and Hook Lighthouse is worth a visit. At the other end of Wexford, in Gorey, Marlfield House has fab accommodation. In Galway, I like Currareevagh House. Wherever you settle for, I hope you have a wonderful trip and that it will be the first of many.

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