1. YOUR DRIVER-GUIDE
During your O’SHEA TRAVEL Vacation, you’ll have reliable assistance available at all times from your driver-guide. He will give you an inside perspective on your destinations, and will be supported by both our Irish and U.S office. In addition to driving you safely, he will take care of your every wish, assist you on arrival at accommodations, make dinner reservations and sightseeing suggestions, and generally remove the normal worries associated with organizing a trip.
Please note that Irish law dictates that a tour driver is restricted in the number of hours he/she can drive daily and weekly. For every 4 ½ hours driving a break of 45 min is required. He then can only drive for another 4 ½ hours in a 16 hour period. After the 16 hour period driver must have 11 hours rest. A good way to explain this is through the following examples:
1. Driver starts at 7 am his day is down at 11 pm and he must not drive until 10 am the next day
2. Driver starts at 7 am finish at 7 pm rest 11 hours start again at 6 am next day
Please work with your driver to adhere to the above restrictions.
2. BEFORE YOU GO ON YOUR VACATION
Passport and Visas
Passport: U.S. citizens require a valid passport for travel to Ireland. To safeguard against possible delays at passport and custom checks abroad, your passport should be valid for at least six months following your scheduled return to the United States.
To obtain a passport, call or visit your nearest Passport Agency or local post office. You can renew by mail if you obtained it within the last twelve years and it’s in the name you want on your new one. If you are applying for a new passport or renewing in person, check with your post office to see if it accepts passport applications. If it does not, you will need to apply in person to the nearest Department of State Passport Agency or to the Clerk of the County or State Court.
With your passport application, you will need:
1. Proof of citizenship: Your birth certificate or a certified copy, naturalization papers, or a previous passport.
2. Two full-face passport photos, 2" x 2" in size, black-and-white or color. Snapshots are not acceptable.
Visa: U.S. citizens do not require a visa to visit Ireland.
Travel & Health Insurance
Travel insurance is the best way to protect you against financial loss and is highly recommended. The most useful plan is a comprehensive policy that includes coverage for trip cancellation and interruption, default, trip delay, and medical expenses (with a waiver for pre-existing conditions). Without insurance, you will lose all or most of your money if you cancel your trip or have to cut it short, regardless of the reason. Default insurance covers you if your tour operator, airline, or cruise line goes out of business. Trip-delay covers unforeseen expenses that you may incur due to bad weather or mechanical delays. Study the fine print when comparing policies. Before embarking on your travels, one of the most important components of travel insurance is its medical coverage. Check if your existing health insurance policy covers you in the unlikely event of medical attention and hospitalization. If not, health insurance is strongly recommended and will provide peace of mind and cover the cost of medical bills incurred should you get sick or injured while traveling.
Visitors who become ill while in Ireland are eligible for free emergency treatment at National Health Service Accident and Emergency hospital departments. If however, you are admitted to hospital as a patient, or referred to an outpatient clinic, you will be asked to pay unless you are a citizen of a European country or a resident of a country, which has a reciprocal health-care agreement with the Ireland. You do not need an International Certificate of Vaccination for entry to Ireland.
WHAT'S THE TEMPERATURE?
Average highs (taken at 2 pm) and lows (taken just before sunrise) in °F.
APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV
High 55 60 65 67 67 63 57 51
Low 39 43 48 52 51 48 43 39
Note: The data cited above reflect average temperatures tabulated over the years for Fodor’s World Weather Guide and other sources. Figures do not indicate current weather conditions. As your departure date approaches, you may wish to monitor current overseas weather patterns through major newspapers, various Internet sites, or the Weather Channel. Remember: weather is never 100% predictable. Be prepared for a +10° or -10° deviation from any weather report you obtain.
Web Sites: Daily worldwide weather reports can be found on the web sites listed under “World Weather” at the end of the Handbook.
Regional Weather Information
Irish weather is traditionally fickle, even in summer—when temperatures usually range from the low 50s to the upper 60s, though over the last decade, the spring and summer seasons were often glorious with many sunny days in the 70s. Nonetheless, chilly east winds may blow through, so come prepared for anything. Autumn generally comes early, bringing mist, showers, and brisk weather in the 40s. Except for a strip along the east coast, the country receives some rain at least 200 days a year. This wet climate is responsible for Ireland's verdant beauty.
3. PACKING FOR IRELAND
Travel light: A good rule of thumb is to gather together everything you want to bring; then bring half of that. Eliminate all but the essentials and start packing a few days before you leave. That way, you'll have time to think—not worry—about what you might be forgetting. Remember, too, you will probably be buying gifts and souvenirs; leave ample room for them in your luggage.
Casual dress: In this age of informality, low-key seasonal apparel is perfectly acceptable. Basic pants, shirts, walking shorts, everyday dresses/skirts, supportive shoes, and functional outdoor clothes are recommended. Men do not need jackets and ties; women do not require fancy dresses or high-heeled shoes. Only at deluxe city restaurants is nicer dress required; if you plan to dine at one, bring something respectable to wear. Otherwise, a small selection of your favorite everyday outfits is fine for all activities.
Summer: For travel during the summer months, pack an assortment of seasonal garments: short-sleeve shirts and comfortable slacks or shorts for daytime; the evenings, however, can be chilly, so bring along a cotton sweater and a fleece jacket.
Spring: For travel during the spring, pack an assortment of seasonal garments: light pieces and cotton sweaters for daytime; and slacks, long-sleeve shirts, warmer dresses, and a heavy sweater or fleece jacket for evenings.
Winter: For travel during winter months, include clothes for moderate temperatures, but also take some cold weather gear—warm pants, socks, turtlenecks, fleece top or wool sweater, rainproof jacket (ideally with a zip/out insulation layer), gloves, and hat. The most practical travel wardrobe consists of items that you can wear in layers. Then you can easily add or remove a layer according to any fluctuations in temperatures. Your outer jacket should be roomy enough to comfortably fit over your sweater or fleece top.
Rain gear: Regardless of your month of travel, rainfall is certainly a possibility. We suggest you bring a folding umbrella and waterproof shell. Water-resistant walking shoes are advantageous in case heavy downpours pass through.
Recommended Travel Gear
Traveling in foreign countries brings you into new and strange situations, and though it's often fun to do things as the locals do, it can be irritating when simple daily habits, taken for granted at home, are upset. An ample supply of your favorite toiletries and health remedies are crucial for your personal comfort. To help make your vacation as convenient and pleasant as possible, please review our lists of suggested travel gear on the following pages, and pack accordingly.
We advise you not to pack aerosol cans; they tend to leak during air travel. Also avoid packing glass bottles; use plastic containers instead. Leave at home checkbooks and any credit cards not essential for your trip, valuable jewelry, and, in general, anything that you would hate to lose.
Camera gear. Include a flash, extra batteries, and plenty of fresh film or digital memory cards.
Daypack or waist pack. Either is ideal for carrying your wallet, glasses, tissues, etc. on sightseeing tours and other activities. They free up your hands and are relatively comfortable because, unlike a shoulder bag, they evenly distribute the weight of your belongings onto your back or hips.
Spare eyeglasses/contact lens. If you wear either, bring a spare pair of glasses and your prescription. For contact lens, include extra cleaning solution.
Sunglasses. Protect your eyes from the glare by wearing sunglasses with 100% UV block and a neck strap for “on/off” convenience.
Sun hat or visor (seasonal). Depending on your travel season, you may want to take a sun hat. A wide-brimmed one provides the most protection: it shades the back of your neck as well as your face.
Sunscreen with SPF 15 or stronger (seasonal). Oil-free brands feel best on the face.
Travel money bag. For added security at airports and on sightseeing excursions, carry your cash in a money belt or neck pouch.
Washcloth. If you prefer to use a washcloth, please bring your own. In Ireland, they are not a standard hotel amenity.
Packets of decaffeinated coffee/sweetener. “Decaf” is not always available and sweetener brands vary. If you prefer to avoid caffeine or have a preferred sweetener, please come prepared.
Daily essentials: Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss; hairbrush or comb; shaving items; deodorant; cotton ear swabs; shampoo/conditioner; shower cap; body soap; etc. Trial sizes are perfect for travel. You can also buy travel-size plastic bottles, and fill them with your favorite brands from home.
Moisturizer and chapstick. Soothing after a day in the wind or sun.
Pocket-size tissues. Handy for a myriad of travel needs.
Packets of moist towelettes. Enable you to easily clean your hands when water and soap are unavailable.
Hanging toiletry bag. Perhaps one of the most useful travel accessories ever invented! The attached hook allows you to hang it from the back of your bathroom door or knob, freeing the counter of clutter. Inside pockets store your items in an organized fashion.
Travel alarm. If you're used to waking up by alarm, you may want to take along a travel-size one with you. Otherwise, you can request a wake-up call.
Electrical converter & British-style 3-pin plug adapter. For details on the type of adapter you’ll need, please see the “Travel Practicalities” section of this handbook.
Reading materials. Perhaps a novel, magazines, or a guidebook.
Home address book. For sending postcards and adding the addresses of other travelers you're bound to befriend during your trip.
Jet Lag Precautions
You will feel better on the first days of your trip if, shortly before you leave home, you start to adjust to the different time zone in Europe. Since you will cross several time zones to reach your destination, you may lose many hours of regular sleep. On arrival, your body then will have to suddenly adjust to new sleeping and eating patterns. The result is jet lag. Its symptoms are fatigue—often compounded by insomnia and general restlessness—irritability, and vague disorientation. You cannot totally avoid jet lag; but you can minimize it. Here's how:
Start your trip well rested. Try to begin a gradual transition to your new time zone before you leave.
Switch to your destination time zone when you get on the plane. Attempt to sleep and eat according to the new schedule.
Try to sleep on overnight flights.
Avoid heavy eating and drinking caffeine or alcoholic beverages right before–and during–your flight.
Drink plenty of water and/or fruit juice while flying.
After arrival, avoid the temptation to nap.
Don’t push yourself to see a lot on your first day.
Try to stay awake your first day until after dinner.
5. TRAVEL PRACTICALITIES
Water in Ireland is safe to drink. If you wish to use bottled water for drinking, it is readily available.
Ireland operates on an electric current of 220 voltage a.c., 50 cycles and outlets take the British (three-prong) plug adapter. If you bring any small American appliances, you will need a transformer/adapter kit to operate them at hotels in Ireland. Since converters tend to burn out, we suggest you take only dual voltage appliances that work on both 110 and 220 or 240 voltages. Kits can usually be found at your local hardware store. Another option is to use battery-charged appliances—then you don’t need a plug adapter or converter, just an ample supply of batteries.
Your accommodation can assist you with making arrangements for these services.
6. Money Matters
Whether you tip, and how much, is always at your own discretion, though your recognition of a job well done will be much appreciated. For those of you who have asked for suggestions, we offer these guidelines. The amounts suggested reflect the standard tipping amounts that we recommend on all our programs. In Ireland, tips in euros are preferred but dollars are also accepted.
Driver: Driver (Group size 12 +): €4-6 euro per person, per day
Driver (Group size 4-12): €5-7 euro per person, per day
Private Car Tour Guide: €7-10 euro per person, per day
One way airport transfer: €10-20 euro
One day tour: €25-50 euro
Group Tour Guide/Driver: €5-8 euro per person, per day
Misc: Porters: 50¢ per bag
Chamber Maid: 50¢ per person, per day
No tipping required for bar tenders
Restaurant: 10-15% approximate (group of 6+ usually has tip included)
ATMs are widely available in Ireland. PLUS, Cirrus, and other bank networks are available on most of them. Always ask your bank before you leave home about the number of withdrawals you may make abroad, and also check to see if your PIN must be reprogrammed for Ireland. A reminder: Don’t forget to memorize your card’s 4-digit PIN number. You must know it to make cash withdrawals.
Note: Many banks have begun imposing a fee every time you use an ATM in a foreign city.
Generally, banks are open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm; banks are closed on Saturdays. To exchange cash and Traveler’s Checks you will need to have your Passport with you. PLEASE NOTE: We recommend you bring a debit card if possible, this will allow you the flexibility of accessing money at your convenience, you will not have to rely on bank hours for the exchanging of money.
Visa and Mastercard are accepted throughout Ireland. American Express is rarely accepted. DISCOVER credit card does not operate outside the US.
Ireland’s official currency is the euro. Euro banknote and coin denominations are as follows:
banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500
coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents; 1 and 2 euro
NOTE : Do not bring $100 bills as they are difficult to exchange. Stick to smaller bills.
Sold by various banks, traveler's checks are always a safe bet. Any bank or exchange office will cash them as long as you carry your passport with you.
Calling the U.S from Ireland:
Prepaid international calling cards are an easy and cost effective way to make your international phone calls. Popular with tourists for phoning home and with Irish consumers for phoning friends and family abroad. Calling cards can be purchased at any convenience store or gas station. Your driver will be delighted to help you with this.
Irish telephone numbers comprise an area code and then the local number. A typical Irish phone number would be (028) 20600. Whenever dialing another Irish phone number, one should always dial the complete number (both the area code and local phone number). Should you encounter any difficulties; the local operator can be contacted toll free by dialing 10, while directory inquiries can be reached at 11811.
If calling an Irish number from outside Ireland, first dial your own country’s access code for Ireland, then the international code for the Ireland (353), followed by the area code, dropping the first 0. Taking the above number as an example, the number would be:
International Access Code + Irish Code + Area Code + Phone Number
011 (Code from the US) +353 (Irish Code) +28 (Area Code) +20600 (Local Number)
When dialing a telephone number in Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland the area code will always be (048) and an eight-digit number will follow this.
Important Telephone Numbers :
Emergency services: 999
Operator Assistance: 10
Domestic directory inquiries: 11811
International directory inquiries: 18818
7. FACTS ABOUT IRELAND
Area: 27,136 square miles
Languages: English, Irish Gaelic
Location: Ireland is situated in the Atlantic Ocean and separated from Great Britain by the Irish Sea. Half the size of Arkansas, it occupies the entire island except for the six counties that make up Northern Ireland.
Major Religions: Roman Catholicism 93 %, Anglican 3%, none 1%, unknown 2%, other 1%
Population (2004 est.): 3,969,558
Time zone: Ireland is five hours ahead of Eastern Time: when it is 6 am in New York, it is 11 am in Ireland.
Area: 5,450 square miles
Capital: Belfast (regional); Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, whose national capital is London
Location: Consists of the six counties of Ulster, occupying the northeastern corner of the island of Ireland.
Major Religions: Protestant (mostly Presbyterian) 51%, Roman Catholic 38 %, none or unknown 11 %
Population (1993): 1,631,800
Time zone: Same as the rest of Ireland, five hours ahead of Eastern Time
7. REFERENCE MATERIALS
Internet Web Sites
If you have access to the Internet, the following sites offer good travel information:
International health information
Foreign exchange rates
for PLUS ATMs
for Cirrus ATMs
Travel Products—On-line Catalogs
WalkAbout Travel Gear
Orvis (travel gear)
Foreign languages for travelers
basic terms in more than 70 languages
Travel tips: packing light, choosing luggage, etc.
Net cafe guide
100s of locations around the globe
U.S. Customs & Border Protection - Traveler Information
US Standard to Metric Metric to US Standard
1 inch = 2.54 centimeters 1 centimeter = 0.4 inch
1 foot = 30 centimeters 1 meter = 3 feet 3 inches
1 mile =1.6 kilometers 1 kilometer = 0.6 mile
1 ounce = 28 grams 1 gram = 0.04 ounce
1 pound = 454 grams 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
1 US gallon = 3.8 liters 1 liter = 1.1 US quarts
To convert Kilometers to Miles:
Multiply the first digit by 6. A 40-kilometer drive is about 24 miles (6 x 4). For a one-digit figure, use .6. For a three-digit number, multiply the first two digits by 6; thus, 150 kilometers equals about 90 miles (15 x 6 = 90).
To convert Celsius to Fahrenheit:
Double the Celsius temperature, then add 30 degrees.
For example, if the temperature is 20° C, that’s about 70° F:
(2 x 20 = 40; 40 + 30 = 70).
For Celsius temperatures below zero, ignore the minus sign, double the number, and subtract it from 32.
Thus, -10° C equals 12° F (2 x 10 = 20; 32 – 20 = 12).
To convert hectares to acres:
Multiply the hectares by 2.471.
For example, a 3-hectare area is equal to 7.413 acres: