Lighten Your Load: Five Things You Should Leave at Home When You Travel to Ireland

Things You Should Leave at Home When You Travel to Ireland

For the last twenty years, I’ve been hosting visitors to Ireland, and certain items always get packed, but rarely used. Here’s a look at some things you should think twice about before bringing them to the Emerald Isle.

Computers Aren’t the Only Way to Go Digital

Now that phones and tablets have essentially become handheld computers, the days of carrying an expensive laptop are gone. You’ll have more room, you’ll get through airport security lines faster, and you won’t have to worry about theft or damage.

  • Bring a wifi-compatible phone or tablet that will allow you to keep in touch with everyone back home. You might have to hunt a bit for wifi during the day, but most accommodations provide it for free. Install apps that will connect you to services like Facebook, Skype, Google Voice, and/or email.
  • Pack an extra memory card for your camera, so a computer won’t be required to offload the pics; if you want to make a backup of photos, stop by a photo developing shop and have the images transferred from your memory card to a CD. If you fill both memory cards, you can buy another one in Ireland.

Not All Shoes Are Created Equal
Sure, you want to be prepared for “anything,” but most visitors pack shoes they NEVER WEAR in Ireland.

  • Most visitors only wear two pairs of shoes during their entire trip. One comfortable walking shoe (waterproof or water resistant can be useful, but only an absolute must if you’re planning a good bit of outdoorsy activities); and one slightly dressier shoe that can be worn around town or to dinner (if you’re an always-casual dresser, consider making your second pair of shoes a pair you can change into if your primary pair gets wet).
  • Only bring shoes that can be worn with multiple changes of clothes, unless you have a special occasion outfit.

Keep Gifts Simple
Unless you’re visiting someone, you won’t need to bring gifts. Some folks like to bring a little something special for B&B hosts, but that is absolutely not necessary and not expected.

  • If you meet someone you wish you could offer a gift, get their mailing address and send them something when you get home. Getting something special in the mail a few weeks later will remind them of your visit and will be greatly appreciated.
  • If you’re visiting people, consider gifts that are small yet sturdy enough to stand up to travel. Local candy, unframed prints, and fabric items can make great gifts… and remember liquids can be risky when traveling by plane both because of security and leakage.

Printed Guidebooks Aren’t the Travel “Bibles” They Once Were
There was a time when you would have felt lost without a copy of Lonely Planet Ireland or Rick Steves Ireland in your daypack. Today, those heavy, printed volumes just take up space.

  • Download your favorite guidebooks to your portable device. You can access all the info in the book and even “search” the book to find the info you need.
  • Install apps like TripAdvisor to your smartphone or tablet to get access to user recommendations and ratings (just remember, most apps require internet access — downloaded e-books do not).
  • If you’re old-school, you can still lighten your load by tearing out pages of the book you don’t need. It might feel strange “desecrating” a book, but you’ll find you can cut the size in half. And don’t forget that you can purchase the most popular guidebooks in bookstores throughout Ireland.

Pack for Seven to Ten Days… Even if You’re Staying Longer
A lot of travelers don’t realize that if you’re staying longer than a week, you can wash your clothes mid-trip.

  • Schedule a time in your trip when you’ll be spending the day in town or able to get to town in the morning and the afternoon. Most areas have services that will wash and dry your laundry for a reasonable price. While your clothes are laundered, you can go off and enjoy sites in the area.
  • Pack clothes that are interchangeable. That will offer the most flexibility by allowing you to mix and match apparel.

Other Items You Probably Won’t Need

  • Extra or expensive jewelry will only get in the way.
  • A International Drivers License is generally not required in Ireland… especially if you’re from the European Union or an English-speaking country.
  • Your favorite shampoo or body wash can be transferred to smaller containers so you don’t have to bring a full bottle (remember, liquid containers larger than three ounces are not allowed in your carry-on).
  • Euros and/or Pounds Sterling are not an absolute necessity to have before your trip if you use a credit card for purchases and/or debit card to withdraw euros. However, most visitors like to land in Ireland with at least €200 cash in their pocket.
  • Dressy Clothes and shoes tend to require the most care when packing and end up the least likely to be used because Ireland is generally a casually-dressed country. Unless you have plans to eat at a very fancy restaurant or will be attending a special event, leave the upmarket clothes at home.
  • Travelers Checks/Cheques are a thing of the past and are becoming a challenge to cash compared to using an ATM/money machine.

What tips do you have for lightening your travel load? Leave them in the comments.

Author: Liam

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  1. Hi Liam,
    Great article as usual!
    Regarding, “However, most visitors like to land in Ireland with at least €200 cash in their pocket,” I’d like to share advice our mutual friend, the Ireland Expert, Pat Preston (of blessed memory) taught me on the first of my many trips to Ireland with her. I use her advice any time I travel internationally, not just to Ireland: after exiting Immigration Control and Customs, my first stop is an ATM which can invariably be found somewhere in the airport. I’d withdraw that €200 directly from my account, thereby avoiding the fees and bad exchange rates you pay at currency exchanges both in the USA and overseas. Granted, some ATMs have a small use fee, but that is always significantly less than you would pay at an exchange service. Alternately, you can purchase foreign currencies at your hometown bank in the USA where fees may or may not apply. Note well, “bank” does not include “credit unions.” It’s good to have at least some local currency on hand for those situations (e.g., tipping, <€10 purchases) where using a credit card without foreign transaction fees is inappropriate or impossible.

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    • Thomas — Excellent tip and one I use all the time. Like you, Corey and I miss Pat so much.

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  2. That extra pair of dressier shoes. Didn’t wear them. Either time. I left my tinted moisturizer with sunscreen in favor of more packable sample of foundation. The sample was nice, but I needed the sunscreen, especially on that warm sunny day at Dingle.

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  3. Dear Liam,

    Great advice, but let me add a few things that helped us. On our second trip, we were with a lot of family, so communication was important. We purchased the local Tek phones for $15.00, and then purchased a $5.00 card. Calls between these phones are free, so the $5.00 was for anything else, but we never called anybody but each other. Our own cells were ready with international calls, but those were charged a daily rate, by which we made all our calls back home on those.
    And on the clothes, one thought is to select 3 colors and everything interchanges. For me, Black, tan and white with a few color accents. And really, if they can be hand washed, all the better. And in Ireland, the weather is a wee bit unpredictable, so plan on layers. And if anyone plans to visit the Cliffs of Moher, (especially in the fall) a scarf and hat are handy little items. And I have no idea what I would have done without my Columbia jacket while there.

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