Why not start your gap year off by discovering more about the British Isles. It may not strike you as an exotic location, compared with Thailand, but knowing more about the countries closer to home will help your future employment chances. Employers love to have intelligent, curious workers who have an interest in what makes their economy, and therefore business, tick. Ireland offers a wealth of landscape, industry, history and politics as well as music and entertainment too. Here are some great tips for travelling to, and around, Ireland on your gap year.
Flying into Ireland from the UK is easy. Aer Lingus, the national carrier of the Republic operates from nine airports in the UK and nine cities across Europe. Dublin, Cork and Shannon are all only an hour from the UK and Dublin is the main airport for the Republic of Ireland. There’s a frequent bus service from the airport to the city centre so transport to your accommodation should be easy. Flights from outside of Europe are frequent, although often involving one change at a continental European airport.
The alternative method of reaching Ireland from other European destinations is by sea ferry from the UK or France. If there are a few people travelling in a car or camper van, this can be a very economical way of getting there. The high speed ferry from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dun Leary) takes only 90 minutes. Other ferry services run from Fishguard, Pembroke and Swansea in Wales. You can also travel from France to Rosslare or Cork.
If you are planning on travelling around Ireland, then a car is a good idea. The roads can be rough and difficult to navigate in rural areas. You drive on the left in Ireland. However, if you only want to stay in Dublin, owning a car can be more of a nuisance than it is worth.
The bus service in Ireland is good value for money and runs between all major destinations. Rail is another way of travelling around, and both rail and bus networks are run by CIE. At Dublin airport you can buy prepaid, advance and discount tickets from the CIE information desk. You can also pick up maps and information too. DART is the Dublin Area Rapid Transit transport network. It covers 25 railway stations in the county. Dublin Bus (Bus Atha Cliath) is an economical way of getting around the city. There is an airport link from the city centre every 20 minutes from early morning until 11pm. You can also buy advance tickets from Dublin Bus Head Office on Upper O’Connell Street. An alternative to public transport is using specialist backpacker tours. The best known of these is Paddywagon, but they all offer slightly different packages, depending on the kind of travel experience you are looking for.
Expect to pay between £10 – £20 for a room in a hostel or dorm, depending on when you go. If you are planning on staying in Dublin for a longer period of time, think about alternatives to hostels. Be aware that short term rented accommodation is not easy to come by, and keep an eye out on noticeboards at the university or in bookshops. The situation is particularly difficult at the start of the university term in September time. Hostels in Dublin in the summer are very busy, so you will need to prebook to be sure of having somewhere to stay when you arrive.