You don’t have to look far to find help when planning a trip to Ireland.
Every Tom, Dick, and Patrick will give you their two cents worth on when, where, and what to do in Ireland.
But what about the things you aren’t supposed to do in Ireland?
The no – no’s.
The common mistakes that people (including me) make when planning a trip to Ireland?
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If you are planning a trip to Ireland in the future (when everything gets back to normal in the world of travel) then you are on the right page.
This backward Ireland tips guide will help stop you from making some of the mistakes that we have made on our past trips to Ireland and to help ease you into the Irish culture nice and gently!
Planning a Trip To Ireland. 20 Common Mistakes To Avoid
Ireland is right up there on my list of unique and underrated destinations in the world and it isn’t until you go for yourself you will understand why.
We have visited Ireland both with our kids and with friends numerous times.
It is true what people say about Ireland; it is the balm of the soul. I love the place and if this is your first trip to Ireland I know you will love it too.
I could talk for hours about this beautiful country and its people and I can also give you lots of tips for travel in Ireland that will tell you everything there is to know about the country.
But this time I’m not here to go easy on you. Sorry.
It’s time to get real about Ireland and what its people expect from you.
Nobody likes to look like a fec*kin eejit, so remember this talk when you begin planning your trip to Ireland and you will travel around Ireland feeling secretly smug and confident.
#1 Not Trying The Fish ‘n’ Chips
Until I visited Ireland with my kids I didn’t know just how delicious the fish and chips were.
Don’t come to Ireland and expect to be on a diet. No way. The food is far too good. Order the fish, chips with tartar sauce and eat them with your fingers. Delicious.
#2 Moaning About The Weather in Ireland
The weather. It’s changeable. If you want lots of warm sunshine then I suggest you visit California.
Ireland is known to have four seasons in one day so be prepared for it!
You can read my post on what to pack for Ireland or if you need some quick tips then I suggest you did as we did and travel with a stylish and lightweight waterproof poncho. They are perfect for when you get caught out unawares
Do not moan about the weather. Leave that to the English (we do it better than anyone). Whinging doesn’t change the fact that it’s pouring down.
Just make sure you add a poncho and an umbrella to your vacation checklist and you’ll be all set.
Remember, the reason Ireland is called the Emerald Isle is because of its forty shades of green – all made possible by the lovely weather variations!
#3 Forgetting Your Bug Spray
So you came to Ireland instead of California – fabulous! Remember though; just because Ireland has rain and is green and lovely it doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of bugs that bite!
We found around the cliffs of Moher to be especially buggy, so bring a repellant that works.
#4 Being Offended By Swearing
Don’t be offended by how much the Irish folk swear; it’s who they are and what they do. It’s what makes them beautifully special.
When I first visited I’ll admit, I was shocked. But then again I am an English prude and I wasn’t familiar with the many Irish terms.
Know that the word fecking isn’t meant as the same thing as our ‘f” word so try not to visibly flinch when you hear it said about ten thousand times a day.
#5 Leaving A Tip
Unlike America, it is not obligatory to tip in Ireland, in saying that, if you have received good service then 10% is always appreciated.
If you are dining with a party of 6 people then the service charge will probably be included in the bill. Check before you go and put down any extra.
Know that when you buy a drink in a pub in Ireland it is not common practice to tip the bartender, although if the same person has been pouring your drinks all night then a friendly “and one for yourself” (meaning ‘take the price of a drink and put it into your tip jar)’ will never be refused.
#6 Ignoring The Possibility Of Housesitting in Ireland
You are going to LOVE me for this tip.
We have just spent three months house sitting around Europe with our two kids. we estimated that we saved ourselves roughly ten thousand dollars on accommodation.
I’ll say that again. Ten grand.
On our last visit to Ireland, our family spent three weeks house sitting in this gorgeous farmhouse outside Kilkenny and it was truly fabulous.
House sitting is the perfect way to experience a country properly (and for free). I urge you to look into it if you haven’t already. It is the best. I have included a screenshot from today’s email from housesitters. I get these every day. People in Ireland looking for sensible and mature people to stay in their homes.
Click here to check out the housesits that are available in Ireland RIGHT NOW.
#7 Not Trying The Guinness
There is no way that you can go to Ireland and miss out on the opportunity to savour this iron-rich brew.
Even if you are not a beer drinker.
Having doubts? What if I told you that Guinness not only has high iron content but it helps make your bones stronger, improves your memory and helps with weight management?
There you go.
You’ll be a skinny genius after a couple of pints.
#8 NOT Saving Money in Dublin
Guess what? Seeing the sights in Dublin needn’t cost you the earth!
If you plan on staying in Dublin then you can get The Dublin Pass. It was the best thing we ever bought. It saved us a lot of money (not to mention that this pass kept my kids VERY happy!)
Am I an affiliate for them? You bet I am – they saved us a fortune when we stayed in Dublin.
We bought a 3-day pass and I tell everyone I meet to do the same. Here’s why.
- FREE Entrance to over 30 attractions (we worked this out – it saved us roughly $96 per person!).
- They send you the pass straight to your phone and then all you have to do is flash it whenever you go to an attraction (or if you prefer you can collect it in Dublin or they can send it to your home address in a proper parcel)
- Here’s why I loved it the most: When you purchase ANY Dublin Pass you get a FREE 24-hour ticket to ride the hop-on/hop-off bus around Dublin!
My kids LOVED this as it meant we could get to know the city properly (we actually spent almost all day just riding around with our coffee and pastries – it was fabulous) You also get a free airport shuttle included in the price of the pass too!
Although the initial outlay for the pass may seem a bit pricey you will not (I promise you; I tried) find a better way to save money and see the things worth seeing.
#9 Confusing The Word ‘Sorry’
This is one of my favourites and applies mainly to our American friends.
When you are talking to an Irish person and they don’t hear what you say or they misunderstand you, they will say “sorry?” as a question.
Don’t confuse this for meaning they have done something wrong and they are apologising. They’re not. It’s simply their way of saying “what did ya say?”
“say it again my love, I didn’t quite catch that”
Sorry. The Irish say it a lot. It’s not always an apology.
#10 Not Getting The Best Travel Insurance
I’m not here to tell you about insurance, but I included this tip simply because when we hired a car in Ireland we saved ourselves hundreds of dollars because we had excellent travel insurance.
Make sure you have excellent Ireland travel insurance.
We travelled the world for a year with our kids and as you can imagine, my husband did stacks of research on which was the best insurance policy. Take my word for it; this company cannot be beaten.
Whichever insurance you have, make sure that car hire excess is included so that you don’t wind up paying for expensive extra charges when in Ireland.
#11 Calling Musicians ‘Buskers’
I’m sharing this Ireland travel tip as it was a mistake I made when I was in Ireland and I was very embarrassed when I was pulled up on it. So, I thought I’d share – in case you do the same thing.
I was in an Irish pub and there were two fabulous guys playing instruments and entertaining the crowd. After they had finished I approached them and gushed: “Wow! That was fabulous! I have never heard such talented buskers!’
You could have heard a pin drop in that pub.
As he took a swig of his Guinness, one of the players looked at me straight in the eye and said (kindly, I might add) “madam. We are NOT buskers. We are musicians”
That was me told. Lesson learned.
Here is a little video we made of those very musicians playing in that pub.
You see me at the end (BEFORE I made myself look like a fool!)
#12 Failing To Shake Hands
It is common practice when you meet a local Irish person to shake hands (a more common practice amongst men it seems).
Offer a nice firm handshake in return (no one likes a willy limp handshake after all) and know that you should expect to shake hands again once you depart. It will be seen as bad manners if you stick your hands in our pocket and walk away from the conversation.
If you are a smoker about to visit Ireland know that you will be standing outside on the pavement – a lot.
In 2004, Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace, along with no smoking in bars, restaurants, enclosed public places, education facilities, healthcare facilities and on public transport.
However, smoking is still permitted in prison, so if you find yourself in a spot of bother while in Ireland, rest assured that you can still have a fag in jail.
#14 Not Trying The Black Pudding
You cannot visit Ireland without trying the Clonakilty black pudding. It. Is. Divine.
First made in the 1880s with a recipe that has remained a secret to this day, this delicious Irish delicacy is a must-try.
And for those of you concerned about the health benefits of black pudding know that Clonakilty black pudding does wonders for those with an iron deficiency.
So after a pint of Guinness and a black pudding breakfast you should be able to return home feeling like Popeye!
# 15 Trying To See Too Much
If you only have a week or ten days in Ireland try your hardest not to cram too much in.
We have all done it. Made an itinerary, stuck to it rigidly and then returned home feeling as though we needed another holiday to get over it.
Pick your excursions carefully and use your time wisely. Only use reputable tour companies that can offer you the maximum experience for the cost.
This gorgeous Cliffs of Moher tour includes a guided walk and an Irish pub lunch meaning that you get to see a famous site and also experience a local part of Ireland. Click here for details on the Cliffs of Moher tour.
Remember, Ireland isn’t going anywhere.
Best to spend quality time in three or four locations than it is to zip around the country and say you have ‘done’ Ireland.
#16 Not Seeing Enough of Ireland
The opposite of what I am saying above. (Don’t forget, this is an Irish post so I’m allowed to do things differently).
Ireland is one of the most beautiful places in the world. You HAVE to make the most of your time here So put the map down and get out there and do it!
And don’t use money as an excuse not to see lots of things in the capital.
Don’t be too scared to explore. While it is true that the little town down the road might not be mentioned in any of the guidebooks, you might just arrive and discover the best little local pub in Ireland.
The beauty of Ireland is its sense of adventure and if you are to really enjoy this country as it is meant to be enjoyed then get your brave pants on and get off the beaten track.
Unless you have just a weekend in Ireland, there is so much more to see in Ireland than Dublin.
Yes, Dublin is a beautiful city, but there are far fewer touristy places to see while you are in Ireland. Personally, I think Kilkenny is far nicer than Dublin.
Get out and explore the other parts of Ireland – you won’t regret it.
#17 Not Buying A Round In A Bar
If you make friends in Ireland and are asked to go to the pub for a drink know about ‘the round’ system.
The group of friends gather in the bar and the first person will ask everyone ‘what are you having?” (meaning what do you want to drink?). They will then go to the bar, order and pay for everyone’s drinks.
This does not mean that that person is rich and kind and is offering to cough up for everyone’s drinks for the whole evening, no, they were simply the first in to buy ‘ a round’.
When everyone has finished their drink the ’round’ now moves to the next person in the group who goes to the bar and pays for everyone’s drink. And so the round continues until you are all either off your face or penniless.
Either way, don’t leave before you have bought a round or you might find yourself friendless for the rest of the trip.
#18 Not Hiring A Car
I have heard so many people advise against hiring a car in Ireland because the roads are so narrow and twisty and it is dangerous.
Yes, the roads are narrow but please don’t let this put you off or you will miss out on some of the best places in Ireland to explore.
Keep the size of your hire car to a minimum, that way it won’t feel so intimidating when you come to parallel park in narrow streets!
We only ever use this company for car hire in Ireland. They found us the best price and were super easy to deal with.
Click here to see how you can save money on car hire in Ireland.
If you love to travel but could use a few tips on how to do it more often (for a lot less?) then join me!
#19 Ignoring Road Manners
Remember these tips for driving in Ireland and you will be ok.
Drivers in Ireland are generally courteous and it is common practice (especially in rural Ireland) if another car is coming towards you (and the road is too narrow for both of you) for one of you to pull into a farm gate entrance or a layby (a passing place on the road).
The Irish will say thank you for this kind gesture by waving one finger from the steering wheel or flashing their lights.
I can testify that horse riders in the countryside of Ireland are treated with a great deal of respect and kindness. Cars slow down almost to a stopping point when they see horse riders and drive super slowly until the horses have passed safely. Please make sure you do the same.
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# 20 Forgetting To Drive On The Left
I’m sure you know this already but in Ireland, they drive on the left. It’s easy to get confused – especially on the countryside narrow roads where there is only room for one car anyway! Stay slow, keep left and you’ll be fine!
Ready To Start Planning a Trip To Ireland?
So, that’s it. You are done. 20 big fat common mistakes that people usually make when planning a trip to Ireland. What did you think? Have you been to Ireland and made any of these mistakes yourself?
I would love you to comment below or leave me a message so that we can continue to prevent other people from looking like eejits in Ireland – and don’t forget! If you enjoyed this post then please share it with someone else who might love it too!
If you love to travel but could use a few tips on how to do it more often (for a lot less?) then join me!