This post is first in a series where I provide details of the trips I have taken with my family as examples for you to follow. If you have trip suggestions (destinations) for family travel for which you’d like a see a trip plan, leave a comment and I’ll contact you for details.
When I plan a trip, I find it’s important to decide in advance what the goal of the trip is: to relax, to explore, to have an adventure. This drives all the other planning decisions.
After BigB was born, we spent most of my maternity leave in Ireland to be closer to family. We invited friends from the U.S. to come visit us while we were there. We also wanted to relax and enjoy each other’s company as we adjusted to being a family of four.
Number of Guests : 10 (us + 6 visitors from the U.S.)
The number of people in your party drives accommodation and transportation decisions.
We needed to find accommodation which was just big enough for four, affordable and yet would have room for more when needed. The Tibradden Cottages, two houses and an apartment, are nestled in the hills in South Dublin.
For me, price and space are the most important factors in choosing accommodation.
I can’t imagine staying in a hotel for eight weeks with children. They need space to spread out and be kids. Thankfully there are plenty of self-catering options available in all parts of Ireland. We chose a rental property in the greater Dublin area so that we could be close to family yet have our own space and be away from the traffic and stress of the urban area. We chose a location which wasn’t too rural to facilitiate day trips into the city.
The facilities are spacious and immaculately maintained. There are sheep roaming the hills behind the property which CAM found fascinating – especially when the sheep hung out at the back of the house. Tibradden is a short drive to the nearest in-city neighborhood from which public transportation into town is available.
In 12 years of flying with kids, I’ve learned that it’s easier to take one long flight than many short hops.
Aer Lingus offers routes between many U.S. cities Dublin and Shannon. Since Aer Lingus does not fly from Seattle, we flew to Heathrow with British Airways and then on to Dublin.
Think twice about renting a car, you may not really need it.
Dublin Bus, DART and LUAS provide plenty of in-city public transportation options. If you plan to travel around the country, check out the services provided by Irish Rail and Bus Eireann first. Depending on where you plan to visit, you may be able to stick with these services all the way – which will save you money and the heart-stopping anxiety to which any freeway-driver is susceptible when driving on a two-lane road that’s only slightly wider than the car itself.
If you do rent a car, investigate agencies and prices before you leave. You will get a much better rental rate if you book in advance. And above all else, keep in mind that it’s dangerous to drive while jet-lagged.
Photo credit: flex_plex
There are many, many dining options in and around Dublin. Here’s a few of my personal favorites:
- Brunch with kids at The Elephant and Castle in Temple Bar
- Dinner with traditional music at Johnny Fox’s in the Dublin Mountains
- For a more contemporary dining experience, check out Venu in the heart of downtown.
It feels like I should mention some bars here, but truly, there are too many good places to meet with friends, have a drink and enjoy genuine Irish convivality in Dublin (and around the country) to list – it would take up the whole page. It’s actually more difficult to find a bad bar. Start with The Palace on Fleet St. and ask the barman to suggest the next bar for you to visit. I bet everyone within earshot will have an opinion on what your next port of call should be – and they’ll be happy to share that with you.
Attractions and Entertainment
CAM trying on some of the paraphernalia provided at the Dublinia exhibit. A great stop for kids.
Fun things to see and do:
- Visit the Old Library at Trinity College
- Have a picnic lunch and feed the ducks at St. Stephen’s Green
- Visit the National Gallery of Ireland
- Wander up to Christchurch Cathedral. Older kids will enjoy the medieval crypt.
- Take the bus out to Phoenix Park. Let the kids run off steam in the wide open spaces. If you’re traveling with little ones, leave enough time to visit the zoo.