What I Use: Ireland 2015

What I Use: Ireland 2015

I’m heading to Ireland for about 10 days starting Monday night. I’ll be taking a lot of pictures and working while traveling around the country. Here’s what I’ll be bringing along.

This one is a personal trip: my wife and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary and her parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary too, so we thought it would be nice to take a trip together. Since we’re all of Irish descent, and they’ve never been, what the heck. The timing is a bit tough, as we’re doing our normal home swap at the very end of July—this year’s destination is Lyon, France—but what are you going to do? We can’t help the timing.

I’ll be writing about the home swap next month, but we made more traditional travel plans for this trip. My wife and I have been to Ireland several times, and have traveled all over the island, including to Northern Ireland, but we wanted to provide her parents with a sort of “Ireland 101” trip that focused on the high points of the south, and gave us two extended periods of downtime, in both Dublin (in the east) and Galway (in the west). Here’s the rough path we’ll be following. We start in Shannon, head south and then east to Dublin, and then to Galway.


Accommodations. My wife worked with her mother to find a combination of hotels/bed and breakfasts and Airbnb locations, the latter of which will let her parents briefly experience the local living experience we get on home swaps. We’d been investigating Airbnb for a while now, but this will be our first time actually use it, and I’m curious to see how this goes.

Car. We rented a standard-shift Ford Modeo station wagon, and while I don’t have much to say about the vehicle yet, you should know this if you’re traveling to Ireland: the normal car insurance you get with a credit card doesn’t apply in Ireland, so you need to buy insurance too. And then buy additional insurance to cover the $1200 to 1600 deductible that normally applies. Suffice to say that the cost of all this insurance will double or triple the price of the rental. But you need it since Ireland is full of tiny, twisting roads. And you drive on the other side of the road, which can be harrowing. (Oddly enough, the overall rental price was still reasonable and came in at about $50 per day.)

Luggage. As with my previous trips this year, I’ll be traveling light, aided in part by the ability to do laundry during those two extended stays. And as noted previously, I use and recommend Rick Steves carry-on bags and luggage, more specifically the Veloce Shoulder Bag and the Rolling Carry-On, the latter of which is simply wonderful.


Computer. I’ll be working on the trip. So I’ll finally travel with the Lenovo ThinkPad T450s I first wrote about a few months ago, and have configured it to dual-boot between Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. I’ll also bring an iPad mini for reading and a movie rental on the plane.


Phones. I’m going to bring multiple smart phones, in part for testing purposes: Lumia 1520 (which is my current daily driver because I’ve updated the 930 to Windows 10 Mobile), iPhone 6 Plus (with which I’ll be testing an add-on OlloClip Active Lens that provides 2X optical zoom and wide angle lenses, and the Lumia 930.


Data. Last summer, I found an excellent and affordable data SIM at Orange in Spain, but this time I’m just going to go with AT&T’s newly-renovated Passport international plans. I chose the mid-tier Passport Plus option, which provides unlimited messaging, 300 MB of data, and phones calls for 50 cents per minute. I added it to my iPhone because AT&T makes a Passport app for iPhone (but not Windows Phone) that will also automatically connect the phone to free Wi-Fi hotspots all over Ireland, and I was surprised by how good the coverage seems. (We’ll see how it works in real life.) We of course chose places to stay that had Wi-Fi.


Schedule. As noted, I’ll be working during the trip, but won’t be on a normal schedule. I like to get some writing done every day, though, so I’d imagine I’ll be publishing pretty regularly when I can. But I will try to at least post some photos here and/or in Office Sway, as I did with my recent road trip across the United States. Also, I’ll be checking in beer with Untappd; I understand there is a serious craft beer movement happening in Ireland, and that certainly wasn’t the case the last time I was there. I’m really looking forward to that.

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