Ireland was my 37th country—ish. I’m not exactly sure how many countries I’ve been to (it depends how you count! Do you include the Vatican? Are Scotland and England separate?), but I’ve always tried to keep the number above my age. With my 27th birthday approaching and my Master’s graduation to celebrate, my mom and I chose Ireland for the location of our next epic mother-daughter roadtrip.
Or, so we thought.
The more I looked into renting a car in Ireland, the worse the information got. From driving a manual on the left-hand side to exuberant (and apparently fraudulent) fees, the experience threatened to cause me stress and cost a hefty amount—not to mention sacrificing enjoying the rolling landscape and instead spending ten days gripping a wheel as a coach bus careened towards us on a narrow country road.
No, thank you.
Despite Irish friends warning us about the unreliability of public transport and the lack of relevant and recent information online, my mom and I decided to travel Ireland by rail and bus.
And we loved it.
Not only was booking the trains and buses as easy as punching the search into Google a couple of weeks in advance, the tickets were also incredibly cheap—I’m talking seven euros from Limerick to Galway. We wrote down our ticket numbers and printed them out at the station or read them out to the bus driver. The seats on the train even had our names displayed above them!
No, it wasn’t always the most efficient or fastest way to get around, and yes, we did miss some cute B&Bs you need a vehicle to get to, but we got to take in the countryside while meeting locals (and using free Wi-Fi!).
If you’re not rushed for time and enjoy the adventure of public transit or are simply looking for a way to cut back on costs during your Ireland vacation, I highly recommend skipping the car rental and travelling by train and bus.
And as a bonus… you never have to worry about having that pint of Guinness before hitting the road. Slainte!