I went to Dublin back in 2014 on a spur of the moment trip with my fellow Fairie, and little sister, Jess. I was in my first year at university and as she was not yet 18 I had to claim responsibility for her whilst going through customs!
Dublin is supposed to be a fairly expensive city, however, there are lots of ways to cut the cost of your trip. (These tips can often be used when visiting other cities too.) The biggest thing I learnt was to be very careful with personal details on flights. When buying the tickets I put ‘Jess’ instead of ‘Jessie’, as my sister never uses her full name. (Don’t tell her I told you it!). To change the details, I was charged despite it obviously being the same person. So be warned, a stupid mistake can end up costing you big!
For this trip, we stayed in an Airbnb just outside of Dublin which helped save a lot of money and was a wonderful experience, even if we did have to share a bed. Airbnb isn’t always the cheapest option. It depends where you are going but it is always worth looking into. It is possible to find somewhere that can save you money in more ways than one.
Firstly, Airbnb can often be cheaper than hotels, and even hostels, since people are often just trying to make a little extra money for their spare rooms rather than trying to make a large profit. We stayed with a lovely couple who were renting out their spare room to save money for their wedding. (They have since got married and had a gorgeous baby.) It’s wonderful to think that, even in a small way, we helped that happen. Additionally, they came and picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at the end of the trip (free of charge) which allowed us to save money on often expensive airport transfers. Although not all Airbnb hosts will offer this service, it is always an added bonus if they do. It can be worth asking if they work/travel near the airport. Most Airbnb hosts are happy to help in every way they can. On top of this, many Airbnb accommodations will offer use of a kitchen or some food facilities. This means you can avoid eating out at expensive restaurants and instead buy some food from supermarkets to make yourself. Jess and I opted to get a few sandwich bits to make packed lunches. We were able to use the fridge to store these while we were there.
If you’ve never used Airbnb, I cannot recommend it enough.
My second tip is to not be afraid of budget airlines. Whilst all airlines experience some problems, such as striking, under normal circumstances budget airlines are not as bad as you might think. They make their money through other means such as charging for luggage and picking seats, but there are ways around this:
Baggage can cost quite a bit, but, it is possible to go on a trip with just hand luggage, especially if you’re only going for a few days. (Read my tips for packing hand luggage here.) Ryanair offers a relatively large hand luggage allowance of one bag plus one personal item, including small handbags or laptop bags. For the most part, as long as the bag fits the dimensions the airline is unlikely to weigh it but they are within their rights to do so. Always make sure you check the luggage restrictions with your airline before you go. Recently, Ryanair has changed their baggage restrictions. You can find out more about this and what it means to you here.
In terms of seating, don’t bother with paying extra to book specific seats, unless you really want to sit in seat 9B because that’s your favourite number and your dogs first initial… or something like that. You’re also unlikely to be in a seat you specifically don’t want to be in – most airlines don’t have a row 13. Paying for seats is a waste of money especially if you think that doing this is the only way to guarantee your group can sit together (you also might find you want a break from them all after spending a fortnight together!). Airlines use computer algorithms to fit different groups of people around each other. Usually, you will find you’re sat next to at least some of your group. And probably all be relatively close together. In my experience you can often end up with better seats on planes that do not allow you to book seats free of charge. On the day, better seats may become available. You will always be allocated the best available once the airline know how many people are flying and in what size groups. You may also get free upgrades to the extra legroom seats. This happened to myself and my sister on this trip. These seats need to be filled as these are the people who would operate the doors in an emergency situation. Edit: Ryanair now purposely seat you away from each other if you do not pay to pick your seat. Even when there is plenty of room to sit together on the plane! However, as far as I’m aware they are the only airline that do this. This may become more common though. If other airlines realise they are missing a trick to get extra money out of people they may follow suit!
Finally, like many other major cities price comes down to where you are. We stayed outside the city centre as, even after you’ve factored in the price of buses, it was much cheaper than staying somewhere in the city. Restaurants are also slightly cheaper. This meant we could eat near to where we stayed a couple of times rather than in the city. In the village we stayed in, there was a very nice Italian restaurant.
Stay away from the Temple Bar area if you’re worried about money. This is a very popular area full of bars and restaurants. It is largely overpriced and caters to tourists. Meaning that you’ll get the stereotypical Irish ‘culture’ but see no locals in sight. The establishments here can essentially charge what they want. They know that tourists will pay it since it is a famous area and they don’t always know how much food and drink normally is. It is much better to go to a smaller local pub. This will give you a more realistic view of Ireland and a cheaper eat. Just follow the locals!
Dublin was wonderful and we had a lot of fun. Our Airbnb hosts were wonderful and we learnt a lot about Irish history and culture. Although one day I would like to go back as I wish to see more of the Irish countryside. If you visit, I recommend going to the Leprechaun Museum. It is a folklore and storytelling experience and was great fun. I also enjoyed the Kilmainham Gaol which shows how prisons in several different periods would have looked and been used. It also gives some information about the history of Ireland, especially their independence. Another must-see is the Jeanie Johnston, a replica 19th-century immigrant boat which is moored along the river. It shows the fascinating history of the potato famine and Irish immigrants looking to start a new life in America. That and I really like tall ships. There was also a wonderful zoo, a castle and many different things to see in the city such as statues, churches and parks. I’d definitely recommend Dublin for anyone looking for a short city break.