Last September, my friend (Mrs. WG) and I took the trip of a lifetime – we went to Ireland. I have Irish heritage so I was excited to finally visit the homeland of my ancestors. Dream come true.
Mrs. WG and I had brunch over the Memorial Day weekend and were catching up when, out of nowhere, she said, “We should take a trip. You know, I saw this Groupon…” and I said, “Was it the one for Ireland?” She enthusiastically said yes and we started planning from there.
We didn’t use the Groupon, but we had the trip booked 10 days later. It was a whirlwind. We booked the trip in June and went to Ireland in September. So much planning to do, especially considering neither of us had been to Ireland or the U.K. and had no idea what to expect.
Of course money was at the forefront of our minds: Sure, the hotel and flight were expensive, but how would we access our money once we got there? Ireland uses chip and PIN – would our credit cards work? What about cash? Should we pay the ridiculous bank fees and get Euros from our local bank or wait and try using an ATM in Dublin?
So much of our time was spent researching this and trying to figure out what was best. I didn’t have a credit card that didn’t charge a foreign currency fee so that was my first mission. I settled on a Capital One card. I already have Capital One 360 checking and savings accounts so I have a debit/ATM card to access money from those accounts. Similar to the credit card, there’s no foreign currency fee associated.
The second plan of attack was to pay for as much as possible beforehand. We planned to do tours and go to certain sites so we bought tickets and booked these before the trip to ensure we didn’t have any problems. We booked the hop on hop off bus, Guinness Storehouse, multiple day trips, a boat tour, a walking tour, and a musical pub crawl. That really only left food for us to purchase when we arrived.
The credit card worked flawlessly, as did the ATM card. We used the ATM at the Dublin airport and I got a few hundred Euros. Dublin is accustomed to American visitors and had no problem with running our cards so we could sign instead of using a PIN.
Ireland is a beautiful country with wonderful people. I would love to go back and spend more time on the west and south coasts, since we only spent a little time in Galway during our trip to Cliffs of Moher. It truly was an amazing trip and we had a great time, despite the daily exhaustion from so much walking and sightseeing.
All that worrying for nothing. At least now we’ll be much more prepared if we head back to Europe!