Although I can answer a lot of questions about Irish travel… when it comes family travel, I certainly don’t qualify as an expert. So when two family travel questions came in this month, I went directly to Jody Halsted from www.irelandfamilytravel.com who stepped in to share her wisdom. — Corey
How do you plan a family vacation to Ireland for under $2,000? That’s our vacation budget for a week’s stay and we usually go to Florida. Flying there is cheap, to Ireland, not so much! — Dena from Michigan via email
The short answer is, unfortunately, you don’t plan a trip to Ireland for under $2,000. Unless you live on the East Coast and find a crazy low fare, flights will eat up that budget. And then you have car rental (or train fare), lodging, entertainment, and food to add on.
My advice is that you plan to take that trip to Ireland in 2-3 years. Make it your goal. Begin to budget for it, foregoing dining out, morning lattes, cable TV, and unnecessary ‘stuff’. Consider a cheaper, more local getaway for a few years instead of the Florida vacation. Maybe even create a written budget – and include a monthly stipend for Ireland Vacation (my family does all these things).
Watch airfares (Airfare Watchdog has a great tool for this) so you can get a sense of when the most affordable tickets are likely to be available. Don’t be averse to traveling in the ‘off season’ as demand- and therefore prices- are lower.
When you are ready to take that dream vacation, pick a central location and rent a self-catering cottage. The cost for a week is lower than nightly B&Bs, plus you will save money on food as you will cook many of your meals – and be able to pack lunches and snacks for during the day. And be sure to read 10 Tips that Will Make Your Trip to Ireland More Affordable.
Or maybe all that budgeting and planning will leave you with an incredible vacation budget and you can really splurge!
I would like to know more about the preferred places that would be best to take a family vacation in Ireland. Somewhere a five year old very curious little boy would really enjoy but the parents as well. — April via email
There are just so many places to recommend! Ireland is an incredibly family-friendly country and you’ll find fun activities for kids — and their parents — all over the country.
A few of our favorites:
- Irish National Stud, County Kildare (30 minutes from Dublin). Acres and acres to explore, 2 amazing gardens with plenty of tunnels and rocks for climbing, and horses.
- Birr Castle Demense, County Offaly. Science rules at Birr Castle Demense. The science center is popular with kids for its hands-on displays, and the extensive parklands are filled with pathways, mazes, and what was the World’s Largest Telescope until the 1910s. And we can’t forget Ireland’s Largest Treehouse!
- Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, County Fermanagh. The caves may be the highlight of this goepark, but there is quite a lot more to do – from exploring Florence Court to finding a hidden and ruined castle in Castle Caldwell Forest.
- Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, County Clare (just outside Shannon and Limerick). A castle you can explore top to bottom, a village to wander through, animals to pet, and a fun play area. To extend the craic, stay for the Traditional Irish Night in the corn barn (additional fee).
- Killarney, County Kerry. This is the area I recommend for first-time family vacations in Ireland. It truly has everything. Castles. Horse-drawn carts. Huge national park with fun playground. Animal parks. Magical waterfalls. Scenic drives. Beaches. And an easy day trip to Dingle to visit Fungi, Oceanworld Aquarium and eat Murphy’s Ice Cream.
- The Chocolate Garden of Ireland, County Wicklow. Chocolate. Need I say more? In addition to being one of the best artisan chocolate houses in Ireland, you can also do hands-on chocolate workshops. Even if you don’t attend a workshop, be sure to stop for an afternoon treat. You can enjoy it while the kids run out the sugar on the playground.
I hope these answers have been helpful and am always happy to help families who want to make their Ireland travel dreams a reality!
Jody Halsted is a writer & photographer of captivating travel escapades, family foibles, and objective critiques. Living the dream in Iowa; dreaming of living in Ireland. You can connect with Jody on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.