I’m finally ready to break down what we spent on our trip to Ireland! I know that everyone is curious about the cost of traveling in Ireland and especially how they could travel to Ireland on a budget. I’m here to tell you that it can be done.
Here’s how much we spent in each category. All prices are in US Dollars after conversion.
Note: This post was written before the post-2020 inflation crisis! Some rates may have increased.
One of the reasons we were able to take this trip is that we paid absolutely NOTHING to fly to Ireland. We used 4 Chase cards to earn approximately 200,000 points. First, my husband is also self-employed, so we have some of those expenses going to a Chase Business Ink account (leave a comment below for an 80k point sign-up offer). In the past 2 years, we individually signed up for a Chase Sapphire card and held onto the 50k point bonus. I’ve also had a Chase Freedom card for a long time and strategically use that card only to purchase things in the 5x category.
When redeeming Chase points for travel through the travel portal, you get 25% more value. Our flights were almost $500 per person, but instead of 250k points (at 1 to 1), it was closer to 200k.
We never use credit cards to go into debt, but instead, use them to earn free travel.
If you don’t have credit card points but need to save money on airfare, I recommend a subscription to Fare Drop or Scott’s Cheap Flights. For this Ireland trip, I was alerted to some cheap Ireland airfares on The Flight Deal and kept looking at kayak.com using their low-fare calendar EVERY DAY for weeks. Google Flights is also a handy tool for checking the cheapest dates for travel.
Tip: Use an incognito browser when looking for flights.
Accommodation: Total spend for 9 nights = $1300
Ireland accommodation is very affordable! We stayed 8 nights in Airbnb properties and only 1 night in a hotel (at the airport). The airport hotel ended up being the most expensive at $209 USD. Our cost per night average for the trip was $144. It would be difficult to stay in the USA for that price.
Each Airbnb had 3+ bedrooms. This allowed us plenty of space to spread out and relax. Having a kitchen helped save on dinners and prepare picnic lunches.
Eating out: $800
Eating out was one of the more expensive areas of our budget. We ate breakfast at our Airbnb (except for the last day at the airport), but lunches or dinners were not cheap. The average meal cost for a pub-style meal was $35-$50 for lunch and $60-$90 for dinner (total for the 5 of us). A typical lunch would be sandwiches and fries. A typical dinner could be anything from a cheeseburger meal to ribs or steak. The dinner cost usually included one beer/adult.
Kids meals were easy to come by and cost between 6-10 Euros ($7-11). Typical options were sausages, fish & chips, or chicken nuggets. We often ordered a cheeseburger off the adult menu and had two children split it.
Buying groceries in Ireland saved us from eating out. In Kinsale, we walked to a local grocery for some frozen pizzas and cereal (ahh, the taste of home! Lol)! We made one big trip to ALDI in Killorglin and stocked up for our 4-night stay exploring the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula. This allowed us to pack picnic lunches each day and eat in a few nights. As a side note, I found the European ALDI to be way more fun than her USA counterpart – it offered a lot more prepackaged refrigerated foods to enjoy! They also sold sponge cake (a personal fave from my time in Australia).
Rental Car: $876
Holy car rental fees! Renting a car in Ireland takes a chunk of your road trip budget! On top of the cost of the CDW and theft insurance (an absolute MUST when visiting Ireland), we also had to rent 2 car seats for our youngest kiddos. While most Americans are not comfortable driving a manual – we opted for one! I can’t imagine how expensive an automatic car would have set us back.
Tip: Get the smallest car possible for your family size. We researched mid-sized European sedans for their ability to hold 2 car seats and a booster in the back seat. The Hyundai i40 had plenty of room for our family and our stuff. We always travel with our BumbleBum inflatable booster seat for Jackson. Trust me, you’ll want the smallest car possible once you see the narrowness of the roads.
Our rental came from Europcar and we’ve now used them in Tasmania and Ireland with no issues. Check rental prices HERE.
Gas (petrol) was expensive, BUT Ireland is small and we rented a diesel.
Parking/tolls/trash removal/misc: $50
Expect to spend a Euro or two every time you park in a downtown area. Leaving and arriving at Dublin airport, you’ll pay an electronic toll on the outer belt. We also got hit with a 9 Euro fee for disposing of trash at our last Airbnb. Make sure you keep one or two Euro coins on hand for parking!
Admission fees: $80
Attractions in Ireland were very affordable! Much of our cost savings were thanks to a current Heritage Ireland promo allowing children under 12 to see historic sites for free! We decided not to get the Heritage Card after learning about these savings at our first stop.
Here’s a breakdown of what we spent on admission-
Cahir Castle 10, Rock of Cashel 16, and Charles Fort 10 (only paid for 2 adults, children were free)
Barry’s Walking Stroll in Kinsale -16
Beehive admission on Slea Head Drive 6
The cost to hold a sheep (oh, Ireland) + another beehive on Slea Head Drive -10
Airport Parking in Cleveland: $121
Not directly related to the cost of travel in Ireland, but it is the reality of traveling on any 10-day vacation!? Airport parking was $11/day for the least expensive lot.
So, how much did our family’s trip to Ireland cost?: $3537
If you can get away with hacking the flights, I feel like this is a very comfortable budget for a road trip in Ireland. We didn’t splurge on experiences, but we did enjoy the countryside and meet the locals, which was our main goal. I found Ireland’s accommodation choices to be affordable, considering we traveled at the end of May and the beginning of the busy season.
Our family spent quite a bit on food, but realizing we just spent over $100/day makes it sound more reasonable!? We could have saved money by eating a couple more picnics or staying in for dinner, but part of the experience of travel is trying new foods and not cleaning up after yourself. Or maybe that’s just important to me as a mom?
Have you been to Ireland? Is this cheaper or more expensive than you imagined?
Continued reading – here are my itineraries for Ireland:
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