Patrick's Travel tips
Information that will make your Ireland Tour easier.
These Travel Tips are written for our tour groups to Ireland. If you are not part of one of our groups. I hope they help you enjoy Ireland.
Warning! If you plan on driving in Ireland. Do Not Drink Alcoholic Beverages for 24 hours before getting behind the wheel! Ireland has the strictest Drunk Driving Laws in the world.
They are serious about this law.
Baggage Allowance on Aer Lingus and most airlines
A maximum of 1 Bag per passenger. (We STRONGLY suggest 1 bag per passenger)
A maximum of 50 lbs in total weight.
Infant baggage allowance is 22 lbs in addition to one collapsible stroller.
No one bag to weigh more than 50 lbs.
Baggage exceeding your free allowance will incur charges: approx.
Baggage weighing between 80 lbs – 100 lbs will be charged €40/$50.
Baggage weighing between 101 lbs – 140 lbs will be charged €80/$100.
Any additional bag over the 2 free bags will be charged at €80/$100 per bag.
Carry on Luggage
• Baggage restricted to one piece per passenger.
• The maximum dimensions for a cabin bag are 22in x 18in x 10in.
• Baggage, labeled at check-in, must weigh under 13 lbs and be small enough to fit in overhead bins or under your seat.
• Additional small items (cameras, personal stereos, overcoats, handbags) are allowed.
• EU security rules regarding liquids, gels, and aerosols in cabin baggage apply.
• Flights departing the USA are subject to TSA security rules.
• Passengers in Row 1, or at an emergency exit, MUST store baggage in an overhead bin
When the US government put restrictions on the amount of liquid you can carry on an airplane, checked baggage increased. The number of baggage handlers has not increased. This is one of the reasons for an increase in damaged luggage. Handles have on occasion been separated from their bags and lost, along with the luggage tag. For this reason, we suggest writing your; name, home address, and phone number on a sheet of paper and laying it on top of your clothing inside your luggage. When airport personnel opens lost unmarked luggage this makes it easy for them to identify the owner. Anne took this one step more. She photo-copied her passport and put it inside her luggage with the names and locations of our hotels.
Why use carry on Luggage?
Many people pack a change of underwear in their carry on Luggage, they want to be prepared in the event the airline misplaces their checked luggage. It's a good idea. Although we have restrictions on the size and amounts of liquids that we can carry on a plane, that's not enough reason to stop carrying on a bag.
The airlines have limited liability for lost baggage. On international flights, their liability is $9.07 per pound of baggage! If you check a bag on an international flight that weighs 50 pounds (the maxim weight) the most you could collect from the airline is $634.90! And some things are not covered.
Airlines are not liable for the loss of; electronic equipment, jewelry, cash, photographic equipment, life-saving medication, computer equipment or similar valuable items.
So if you are taking one or more of these items on an international flight keep them with you. Don't put them in your check in baggage. Put them with that change of underwear and a magazine in your carry on luggage.
Calling the USA
The most inexpensive way to call the USA from Ireland is with a pre-paid calling card. Pre-paid phone cards are widely available both in the Republic and Northern Ireland and both are convenient and effective to use. They are meant to be used at a pay phone. If you make a call from your hotel room you’ll most likely find extra charges when you check out.
Patrick's Tour Guides carries an Irish cell phone while traveling in Ireland. Incoming calls don’t cost, so feel free to give the number to your family and friends that might want to reach us while traveling.
If calling from the US the number would be: 011 353 87 697 1342
If a person (the caller) is in Ireland the number would be: 087 697 1342
Republic of Ireland: Emergency Police, Fire, Ambulance: Tel: 112 or 999
Northern Ireland: Emergency Police, Fire, Ambulance: Tel: 999
These numbers are free of charge but should only be used in cases of genuine emergency.
On answer, state which service you require, wait to be connected to that service, and then clearly state the location of where the assistance is required.
Unlike the US, hotels in Ireland rarely supply a 'face cloth' in the bathroom. We suggest packing a face cloth in a plastic zip-lock bag.
The best available exchange rate is from an ATM. The Plus and Cirrus logos are now displayed at many ATM locations. The worst exchange rate and fees are at the airport. Don’t exchange currency at the airport.
If you don’t have a bank check card, get one.
Tell your bank and Credit Card Company you are going to Ireland.
Bring your PIN code(s) - consisting of numbers, NOT letters (European ATMs have numerical key pads only) - to facilitate use of both ATM and credit card(s) (becoming increasingly important with new "chip & pin" technology).
Ask your credit card and bank check card companies for emergency numbers (suitable for international access - not those starting with 0800) to report loss. Always keep these numbers with you while traveling (but separate from cards and checks).
Taxes VAT “Value Added Tax”
Information on VAT and tax refunds
International shoppers may be entitled to tax refunds on the purchases they have made, but keep receipts and know that you may have to show the purchases you made at the airport.
Most European countries levy a value-added tax (VAT), which is a form of sales tax that varies from country to country but can run up to 34 percent of the total price of goods. However, since the tax is usually included in the price and is not added on at the cash register, it is virtually undetectable. The rate itself depends on the product category – the rate is higher for luxury items such as jewelry and is lower for basic items such as food from the grocery store.
Non-European travelers can, in many circumstances, apply for a refund of the VAT on goods. Always ask at the store, which can usually tell you what the country's minimum-purchase requirements are (usually $80-$200 in a single store) to qualify for a refund. Participating retailers often place the Tax Free Shopping logo on their doors for easy identification.
While the procedure varies, you will usually need to fill out a form at the store, showing your passport. Upon leaving the country, you submit all forms and receipts to Airport Customs for approval. They may ask to see the goods, so have them handy in your carry-on. Items must be new and unused to be eligible for the refund. In some instances, you can get the refund before departure at the Cash VAT Refund desk; otherwise, it will come by mail or can be credited back to your credit card by the retailer.
To be able to claim a tax refund you must be a non-EU visitor to Ireland. Look for the ‘Tax-Free Shopping’ sign in the windows of participating stores. You must complete a valid tax refund document obtained from the retailer and present the tax refund document and goods to Customs on departure from the EU. A customs officer will check the goods and validate the tax refund document. You can receive your refund on the spot at some airports, otherwise, you should mail the validated tax refund document back to the store and a refund will be issued.
VAT is charged on almost everything, but remember that refunds only apply to goods being taken out of the country, not services. While on the coach we will explain the easy way to deal with the VAT and how to avoid the pitfalls.
If you are traveling within the European Union, apply for your refund when you depart from the EU.
Safe and Secure
Make a photocopy of your passport before leaving home. Put the photocopy in your check-in luggage, hopefully, you won’t need it.
Ireland is one of the safest countries in the world. But it’s always wise to stay alert! Ireland’s membership in the European Union brought prosperity for most. It also brought in hundreds of gypsies. The gypsies of Europe have been long known for their ingenious ways to make a living in unethical ways. The usual care should be exercised when using ATMs; avoid making withdrawals at night or in unlit areas, conceal your PIN code, and be wary of assistance from seemingly helpful strangers, however polite or well-dressed. In order to safeguard your card details and your transactions, wherever possible use the special security rooms provided by banks for this purpose. A lost or blocked card should be reported to your bank via its 24-hour emergency number for immediate cancellation/replacement.
In hotels, use the in-room safes or those at the front desk to ensure your valuables are well and truly secure.
Smoking is not allowed in restaurants or pubs. The Republic of Ireland was the first country in the world to ban smoking in public places. With few exceptions, smoking is against the law indoors.
If anyone would like to upgrade to having a private bath instead of sharing the bathroom down the hall, please see Patrick. The additional cost is only 150 dollars a night per room. I’m just jesting.
Such a Deal!
You have probably heard about the duty-free shops at Shannon and Dublin Airports. Just remember they are only duty-free you will not find any deals!
On your return to the United States, you are allowed $800 duty-free. The next $1,000 requires a 10 percent fee. After that, the levies vary according to the article. Some limits on certain items are very specific: One liter of alcohol and 200 cigarettes or 100 non-Cuban cigars (per resident 21 years or older) are allowed duty-free.
Doing the math, if you purchased $1,800 of goods that weren’t duty-free (i.e. 1 liter of Irish whiskey) your effective tax rate would be 5.56%!
If you see something you like buy it. You might see it in another town for 1 or 2 Euros more or less, but you might not see it again. Most of the time, you can do better than the duty-free shops.
If you do owe a duty, it is payable upon your arrival in the U.S. in cash (U.S. currency only) or by personal check in the exact amount, drawn on a U.S. bank, made payable to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Buying Liquor or Perfume at Duty-Free:
The first place you land in America is called your “Port of Entry”. You go through customs at the “Port of Entry”. You must take physical possession of your luggage at your “Port of Entry” to go through customs. After clearing customs, if you have a connecting flight, you take your luggage to the next carrier and check it in. Before checking your luggage with the next airline you must open it and safely and securely pack any liquid in your checked luggage.
The legal drinking age in Ireland is 18. Some pubs will insist patrons are over 21 and carry some form of identification. (Legislation in the Republic of Ireland stipulates that children under 18 are not allowed in premises that serve alcohol after 21:30 hrs. = 9:30pm)
With 'Patrick's Tours', the service charges (Tips) in restaurants, pubs, and hotels are included. Porters about €1 or £ 0.75 per bag. The expected tip for our coach driver and guide is 5 euros per person per day. We distribute envelops to use when tipping the guide and coach driver. Their tip is at the your discretion.
Climate in Ireland
Ireland has a mild, temperate climate:
Summer temperatures generally range from 60ºF/15ºC to 70ºF/20ºC.
Spring and autumn are generally 50ºF/10ºC.
Winter is between 40ºF/5ºC and 46ºF/8ºC.
(Snow is rare, but showers can occur at any time of the year.)
The standard electricity supply is 220 volts AC in the Republic of Ireland and 240 volts AC in Northern Ireland (50 cycles). Visitors may require a transformer and plug adaptor (to covert 2-pin plugs to the standard 3-pin plugs) which can be bought at airports or electrical suppliers. All of our hotels supply hair dryers in the room.
Postal service / Mail Charges
The cost of mailing a standard letter or postcard to the US is:
Republic of Ireland €0.65 Northern Ireland £0.68