That first trip out of the United States can be a bit intimidating. Anytime you step off into the unknown will have some trauma attached to it. After you have completed the experience you wonder why you were so uptight. Other than a few family trips to Mexico (which I don’t really count) our first trip with all the family was to England. It was easy to do (they allegedly speak English), but watch out, as your kids will easily become addicted to international travel. These days we can hardly keep up with them.
A suggestion I would make for that first foreign trip would be to travel to Ireland (they also allegedly speak English). We have now visited the Republic of Ireland twice and have had two delightful trips. You can do the country either by guided tour or a self drive holiday. I must admit, and from my writings you would suspect, that we always try to go for a bit more adventure (or excitement) and thus always do our own thing and avoid the tours.
Our most recent visit included a week of driving around Western Ireland. Getting used to driving on the left side is not too much of a problem. You and your passengers just have to keep thinking, and yelling, keep to the left! I suggest a rental car with an automatic transmission so you also don’t have to retrain yourself with a gear shift on your left side. A trip to Ireland in the late spring or early fall is just perfect, as often it is not raining, the temperature is pleasant, and the crowds of the summer tour buses haven’t started, thus you can visit and explore without a lot of hassle.
Both of our Ireland driving trips featured bed and breakfast vouchers. This is a system where you are provided with a guidebook that includes over 1,150 listings of bed and breakfast homes throughout the Republic and Northern Ireland. Those B & B’s that accept vouchers are clearly marked with a “V”, which includes most of the properties. Take a look at www.tandctrade.com and it will explain all about the system. We have bought our vouchers on both of our trips through travel agents. Two of the companies that provide these prepaid vouchers are www.avantidestinations.com and www.cietours.com. On our most recent trip we bought, with the assistance of our travel agent, through Avanti as it was a bit cheaper than C.I.E. All of the vouchers were en suite (you get your own bathroom and don’t have to go down the hall) and included a full Irish breakfast, and in some cases ordering from a selection on a menu. I am still trying to convince Mary Ann to provide smoked salmon with my scrambled eggs!
In this modern age of cell phones, we have an unlocked phone, so you can buy a sim card in any country you go to, and thus can use the phone in that country. We usually would decide about a day ahead as to what town we would be in, then select the B & B we wanted, and then call them for a reservation. Also in this generation of the internet a lot of people just book on the B & B website which is listed for each property. Using B & B’s, and farmhouses, is a lot of fun as you can meet and talk with a lot more natives, and also meet travelers from all over the world. The B & B industry is becoming very sophisticated, with a lot of homes built specifically for the purpose, rather than a conversion of a regular home.
My suggestion is that Ireland is small enough that you can easily tour most of the country on a 10 day visit. You can fly into either Shannon or Dublin, pick up your rental car, and then make a circle tour around the country, returning to wherever you flew into. Such an itinerary would not require driving more than five hours a day, allowing a lot of time for exploring.
Now that you know how easy it is to start an adventure in foreign travel, call a travel agent. By the way, if you don’t have a passport yet, apply right now so you will be ready to go at a moments notice!
Kinsale B & B
(Published ABA Senior Lawyer Division Voice of Experience newsletter Winter 2007 issue) (Published in Spring 2008 JD Record)