About Michael

Michael Thompson is the quintessential Celt, with interests from Irish history, to music, culture, scenery and more. He has traveled widely in Ireland and other Celtic countries, and has consulted with many people regarding travel to and within Ireland. As a travel professional, Michael is a certified destination specialist for Ireland and Scotland.

When traveling, be prepared for the unexpected

You only expect to sleep in an airport during a major weather event, but mechanical problems can ground you as well. Would you be prepared?

You only expect to sleep in an airport during a major weather event, but mechanical problems can ground you as well. Would you be prepared?

The more you travel, the more experience you gain, and we learn from experience. However, we will never learn everything, so it pays to be prepared for the unexpected.

Just got back from a trip that illustrated that point very well. I keep refining my packing system every trip, getting lighter and more efficient. Got it down to one carry-on bag for a six-day trip. Still had more clothes than I needed because I bought some at the destination. However, than can backfire too.

I kept telling my wife not to dress or pack for the cold and snow we were having in Denver, but for the slightly wet sixty-degree temps predicted for San Francisco. And since my daughter and I often buy souvenir hoodies at her dance events, I purposely did not pack warm clothes, to leave room coming back.

Everything worked out as planned, until about an hour into the flight, when the captain announced we had a “pressurization problem.” Options were explored, but we wound up returning to Denver. Nice airplane at the next gate we could use to get back in the air, but the crew was no longer “legal” to fly to California. So we had to spend the night in the airport, or get a motel for 4 hours. The latter didn’t seem worth it.

Apparently, it gets pretty cold in an empty airport at night, and the only “24-hour” restaurant in this major facility closes for a couple of hours right around our boarding time for the new flight. The nice vouchers provided by the airline never did get us our badly wanted breakfast. I can sleep nearly anywhere, and did so for an hour or two, but others just shivered under the complimentary blankets.

I’m seriously reconsidering my usual packing routine. For one thing, since Southwest Airlines allows two free checked bags, my “one carry-on” austerity philosophy seems pretty irrelevant. (Although I’ve never lost my luggage that way.) For an airline where that wasn’t true, I am really looking at wearable options. I already do cargo pants, and a fishing shirt with lots of pockets. I wonder if I got one of those travel vests if I could forgo luggage altogether. I do love the unencumbered lifestyle, except when it means I’m volunteered to carry another family member’s suitcase. Live and learn, right?

Take a Thanksgiving trip to Ireland

Spend part of your Thanksgiving in an Irish pub

Spend part of your Thanksgiving in an Irish pub

Lots of people travel within the U.S. for Thanksgiving, visiting relatives or the like. What about popping over to Dublin for a week instead? Since Europeans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving like Americans do, there are not as many people traveling this time of year as there are for Christmas and New Year. That means smaller crowds and cheaper flights.

For instance, we did a search for flights departing on November 25, returning December 2, from Denver to Dublin. The fare was $853 per person round trip, including taxes and fees. A comparable search for Christmas (December 23-30) was $1145.

Ireland will be less crowded this time of year as well, with the peak tourist season well behind us. That makes the natives less stressed out and even friendlier than they were in the summer when contending with crowds of boisterous Americans.

Some attractions won’t be open of course, so check ahead of time if you have a particular activity in mind. The weather can also be a bit less pleasant, though it doesn’t get as cold and snowy as Colorado can this time of year. And the nicest thing is, if it does get cold outside, there’s no better place to shelter than a good Irish pub.

Take your Thanksgiving break in Ireland this year. You’ll be glad you did.

Tips for saving money on your trip to Ireland

Ireland can be the trip of a lifetime without costing you your life's savings.

Ireland can be the trip of a lifetime without costing you your life’s savings.

Hoping to travel to Ireland this fall, but dismayed by the cost? There are ways to save money that will actually make your trip more pleasant.

First, stay in a B&B or Guest House, rather than a hotel. AirBnB is a great resource for both international and domestic travel. A whole apartment in Kinsale, with a view of the harbor can cost as little as $85 on AirBnB, whereas hotel prices can easily go for two or three times that much. On top of that, you have the ability to cook for yourself — you’ll save a lot by not eating out for every meal.What do you think?

Do keep in mind, however, that there are scammers out there. If you use a service such as AirBnB, be sure to contact the actual owner to conform the reservation.

If AirBnB isn’t for you, try staying in an old school bed and breakfast. Rick Steve’s tip is that a B&B offers double the warmth and half the cost of a hotel, plus all the local knowledge you could possibly ask for (and breakfast!).What do you think?

And, if you’re down for it, a hostel can be the most inexpensive option of all. There’s always the dorm-style lodging if you’re really cutting costs, but they’re not the only possibility. With the demand for cheaper travel options past just the backpacking hoards, hostels are becoming a bit more swanky and are adding more private rooms.

When you fly to Ireland, don’t travel on peak days. According to FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney in an article from USA Today, this means traveling on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Since most business flying happens at the beginning and end of the work week and most vacationers like to travel Friday through Sunday, airlines drop prices to try to fill seats on “off” days.

Also, don’t book too early or too late; it can actually play against you when it comes to airfare. Quartz suggests buying tickets about 60 days out for international travel to avoid paying too much for your flight.

Picnics save money. Ten dollars buy a fine picnic lunch for two anywhere in Ireland. Stock your room with drinks and munchies upon arrival. You can pass train rides enjoyably over a picnic meal. Many grocery stores have elegant deli sections.

Speaking of train rides, be sure to travel like a local. If the residents take the train or bus, why are you going through the expense and hassle of renting a car? In cities such as Dublin or Galway, you can often walk to most locations, and sometimes a taxi is cheaper than the bus. If you’re going out into the countryside, a car makes sense; not so much in the city.

Don’t rely on your credit card. Many locations won’t accept them. Ireland, for example, has a system of cards with chips embedded to help protect against fraud and can’t take an American card without them. (NOTE: More and more American banks are now switching to the Chip and Pin system as well.) Rick Steves also notes that many of the places that offer better bargains, like craft shops and independent bed and breakfasts, may not accept plastic. Use ATMs rather than travelers checks. You’ll get your cash cheaper and faster. While ATMs give the best possible rates, they do come with transaction fees. Check with your bank on fees and exchange rates before you go. Minimize the fees by making fewer and larger withdrawals. Take out enough for 4 or 5 days. Keep out enough for the day ahead and store the extra cash safely in your money belt.

Now is an excellent time to travel to Ireland because the off-season starts in October, and it’s a great time to look at booking your trip for the spring shoulder season of April and early May, before the main tourist season gets started and prices go up.

Tips for safe travel

The sightseeing bus can be one of the best ways to explore a new city.

The sightseeing bus can be one of the best ways to explore a new city.

Travel is up and prices are down, according to the latest travel industry statistics. Adults 50 and over are some of the nation’s most frequent travelers and some of their happiest memories are those spent traveling with family. As you plan your next trip to Ireland, it’s important to take steps to avoid being victimized. By taking time to prepare before leaving, you can significantly diminish your risk and focus on enjoying your hard-earned trip.

Consider the following tips to protect yourself while you’re away from home:

Safeguard your belongings. Before you leave, make copies of your travel documents or scan them and email them to yourself – that way your documents won’t go missing even if your bags do. Also, keep at least one source of money, such as a credit card, in a place other than your wallet or purse. Keep your passport and most of your cash in a money belt, and have just enough money in your wallet for the day’s expenses.

Prepare your home before you leave. Unplug all major electronics and turn off the main water supply. Also, have a friend keep an eye on your home, if possible. A security system can also add peace of mind. Modern security companies offer a variety of 24/7 monitoring packages that include smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detection. They also offer home automation solutions that allow travelers to adjust their home’s lighting remotely and receive security alerts on their mobile devices.

Protect your identity. A recent survey on identity theft revealed that 30 percent of travelers have experienced identity theft while traveling or know someone who has. Leave unnecessary items, such as Social Security cards or unneeded credit cards, at home. If you have your passport, you don’t need other forms of ID such as a state-issued driver’s license. Leave the bulky wallet at home. How likely are you to need your local discount cards in Ireland. Public wi-fi can be risky, so never enter secure information on a computer in a cyber cafe or businesses that offer wi-fi. Generally, make purchases with a credit card instead of a debit card; credit cards often offer better fraud protection. And use passwords for access to your smartphone or tablet. A variety of identity protection services are available to assist with proactive identity and credit monitoring. Check out Lifelock or Trusted ID for information.

Prepare for emergencies. You spent months planning and saving for your Ireland trip, but it can be ruined in a split second. If you’re traveling abroad and get sick or injured, hospital costs could be extreme – even for relatively minor injuries. Check with your health insurance provider to see if you’re covered while out of the country. If not, check with your travel agent. Travel insurance plans can include valuable medical coverage, trip interruption to protect your investment and more. Always a recommended precaution.

Enjoy that trip, and the peace of mind that come with being prepared.

Eight things to remember for your trip to Ireland

OK, so you have your plane reservations, and your mail stopped. What else do you need to take care of before the big day arrives? Here are eight suggestions that will enhance your peace of mind.

Cell Phone

Cell Phone Wikipedia.org

Cell Phone

Contact your phone company and check on their policies for international calls. If your phone company’s plan is too expensive, you might consider buying a phone with prepaid minutes, or purchasing prepaid calling cards.

Credit Cards

Credit Cards Wikipedia.org

Credit Cards

Contact your credit card company and let them know where you’re traveling and when. That information will alert the card company that your overseas charges are not fraudulent. You should also check out their rates for purchases made outside the US and/or cash advances. Generally, it’s better to use an ATM card to withdraw enough cash for a few days at a time.

Itinerary

Itinerary Wikipedia.org

Itinerary

Make two photocopies of your key travel documents. Those include your passport, itinerary, hotel and airline confirmations, driver’s license and credit cards (front and back). Leave one copy in the US with a friend or family member, and take the second copy with you. If these critical records are lost or stolen, the photocopies can help you replace the documents.

Medications

Medications Wikipedia.org

Medications

If you take medications, bring a physician’s note with you. If you run out or lose your medicine, the doctor’s note (along with your insurance card) can facilitate getting the medicine refilled. Carry your medication in the original container you receive from the pharmacy or drug store.

Emergency cash access

Emergency cash access Wikipedia.org

Emergency cash access

Emergency plan for cash access: Have a plan in place so that money can be sent to you if your cash, credit cards or travelers checks are stolen. A popular method is to send money through a money transfer firm, which allows a friend or family member to electronically send funds to a foreign country. You can receive cash, get a bank deposit, or have the payment posted to a credit card. You’ll find that the currency exchange rates are reasonable, and that the fees for these transactions are low.

Travel Warnings

Travel Warnings Wikipedia.org

Travel Warnings

The State Department provides important warnings and alerts, based on reports from embassies and consulates throughout the world. A warning means that the local consulate would have difficulty helping a US citizen in distress in a foreign land. A travel alert can involve a demonstration or a severe storm in a particular country.

Passport

Passport Wikipedia.org

Passport

It makes customs officials more comfortable if your passport remains valid for several months past the time you visit. If your passport is near expiration, get the passport renewed. The US State Department website explains that it may take 4-6 weeks to process a passport. Keep in mind that a passport is required to return to the US if you travel by air.

Health Insurance

Health Insurance Wikipedia.org

Health Insurance

Check with your insurance company to see if overseas medical treatment will be covered by your insurance policy. Typically, your policy will require that you meet a deductible before coverage is paid for under the plan. A deductible requires you to pay out of pocket for medical expenses, up to a certain dollar amount. Make sure that medical expenses paid overseas are included in your deductible total for the year. If you find gaps in your coverage, discuss them with your insurance agent or ask your travel agent for supplemental insurance.

What to do in Ireland

One of the archaeological wonders on the Dingle Peninsula

One of the archaeological wonders on the Dingle Peninsula

Many people dream of a trip to Ireland, but when the time comes for their dreams to come true, they start asking questions such as where to visit, what sights to see. Here’s my short answer to those questions, along with a bit of advice.
The first issue is the timing of your trip. One thing I’ve learned is that “shoulder season” is far less crowded and more enjoyable than the peak season. June, July, and August are the heaviest part of the tourist season in Ireland, so if you can travel in May or September, you’ll generally be able to enjoy the same experiences with smaller crowds, and the locals will not be as stressed.

As for itinerary, I’d recommend a circle tour of some sort. The perimeter of the island has most of the sights, and because Ireland is so small, you can easily access the interior from most of the coastal areas. Here are some general suggestions, followed by stops you should consider.

Fly into either Dublin or Shannon airport. Dublin is usually cheaper for airfare, but if you spend much time on the west coast, Shannon is more accessible. And if you enjoy the music, there are a number of places in the West to tempt you. Doolin and Ennis, for instance, have some good trad sessions and pubs.

Speaking of pubs, that’s where the locals are, and that’s where you find the real life of Ireland, especially if you stay out of the big tourist areas, such as Temple Bar in Dublin. Great exciting nightlife if that’s what you’re after, but not the authentic Irish experience.

On the same line, the local atmosphere is much more relaxed and “real” if you stay in a bed and breakfast, rather than a hotel. Pay no attention to star ratings and such; that’s an expression of how luxurious a place is, not how much fun you can have there. Why pay people to treat you like a tourist when you can explore the lives of real Irish people. For instance, I often ask a tour guide or bus driver where they go for a pint after work, rather than for a recommendation. I want to interact with normal Irish people, not just with smiling faces employed by the tourist industry.

Package tours are a mixed bag. For first time travelers to the Emerald Isle, they offer a reasonably priced package and an enjoyable experience. However, I find a lot more joy in getting off the beaten path. The package tours are often less expensive because of the volume, and the fact that the big corporations that offer them don’t pay their drivers and guides all that well. Those people then have to supplement their income. They do that by making arrangements with certain attractions that pay them for bringing in tourists and especially shoppers. So, on these tours, you often find yourself in a big coach, following other big coaches to the same destinations, which usually include as much or more in the way of shopping as they do in scenery or activities. If you like the predictability and safety of the group, and knowing exactly what you’re in for, they can be a reassuring option, but if you’re willing to do a bit of your own research and risk the unknown, you can find a much more magical experience.

So, destinations. South of Dublin, you’ll find the gorgeous Wicklow Mountains, along with Powerscourt Gardens and the historic ruins of the monastery at Glendalough, along with the town of Cong, where the Quiet Man was filmed, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. It’s a classic.

In the nearby interior, you’ll find the town of Kilkenny, with its narrow medieval lanes, cathedrals, and castle; and the Rock of Cashel, with its dramatic hilltop hodgepodge of church ruins overlooking the Plain of Tipperary. Cashel was once the seat of the Irish kings and home to Brian Boru, the only true high king in Irish history. A bit south and east of there, along the coast, you can see the very enlightening Dunbrody Famine Ship, and learn how so many Irish left their homes during the 19th Century famine years. Farther south and west along the coast is Kinsale, a tempestuous center of modern Irish cuisine, and Cobh, near Cork, the harbor from which the Titanic began her fatal voyage. And if your heart is set on kissing the Blarney Stone, it’s near Cork.

From there, you can follow the crowds to the beautiful Ring of Kerry, or find even more enchanting magic with fewer people on the Dingle Peninsula. Stop for lunch on the way at Tralee, home of the famous roses, and find a B&B in Dingle town. Take the Slea Head tour around the peninsula and see ancient stone huts and the Gallarus Oratory, then you’re back in town for some of the finest traditional pubs around.

Up the west coast, take the ferry across the Shannon River, driving or riding along the Burren and view the Cliffs of Moher, majestically towering over the sea. Stay in Galway, home of the youngest demographic in Ireland, with its vibrant night life, and take a ferry out to Inish Mor, the largest of the three Aran Islands. As you land at the seaport in Kilronan, hire a small coach to take you out to Dun Aenghus, an ancient stone ring fort, and enjoy the views and commentary along the way. Have a pint and some lunch in one of the fine Irish pubs and then board the ferry back to Galway.

North from Galway, you’ll find the gorgeous scenery of Connemara and County Mayo, also the home of Croagh Patrick, where the pilgrims climb the mountain in honor of Ireland’s patron saint. See Clew Bay and Clare Island, where Ireland’s Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley sheltered in between her trading and rading journeys. North some more and you come to County Donegal, home of Red Hugh O’Donnell, the fighting prince, and the once dominant O’Neill clan who stood off English invaders for many years.
Stay in Derry if you get a chance and walk the walls. This city stands on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, and the history of the strife between these two political entities can be viewed in so many places. But don’t worry about The Troubles; they’ve settled down a good deal, and never really bothered tourists much.

As you continue eastward along the coast, you come to Portrush and Antrim, the northernmost part of the island, from where you can look across the Irish sea and view the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. There are some excellent activities here, including Dunluce Castle, perched high on a cliff over the sea, the Giant’s Causeway, a formation of basaltic columns that gave rise to some wonderful folk tales, and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, built by fishermen to gain access to a rocky island, but now a heart-pounding adventure for visitors as they cross high above the roaring surf below.

Our circle goes on, to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, and home to the shipyards where the Titanic was built. There’s plenty of history here to enjoy, on the way back towards Dublin, but don’t forget to stop at the Boyne Valley’s ancient pre-Celtic burial mounds of Brú na Bóinne and/or the majestic Norman castle of Trim.

Then it’s back to the bustling Irish capital of Dublin, with fascinating tours (historical, musical, and literary), passionate rebel history (Kilmainham Gaol), treasured Dark Age gospels (Book of Kells), intricate Celtic artifacts (National Museum: Archaeology and History), and a rambunctious pub district (Temple Bar). Spend a couple of days here at least. Walk the Ha’Penny Bridge and see the General Post Office on O’Connell Street, where the Rebels of 1916 fought for Irish independence.

These are some of my favorite places in Ireland, and lend themselves to the “back door” philosophy of travel. Get to know the people, the pubs, the churches, the history, the scenery, in a low-pressure, less crowded atmosphere and your “trip of a lifetime” will be even more special.

Travel Risk Map gives valuable information

The Travel Risk Map can be a valuable source of information for your trip to Ireland www.travelriskmap.com

The Travel Risk Map can be a valuable source of information for your trip to Ireland
www.travelriskmap.com

On your next trip to Ireland, check out this interactive risk map before you go. A recent survey of world travelers found that 80% of holiday-makers had concerns about safety abroad, yet less than half actually check the real threat levels before travel. Add to this the fact that these risk factors are continually changing and it can be difficult to know where to turn in order to assess the relative safety (or danger) of a specific locality. Would you know where to find risk advisories issued by the US State Department for instance? Most travelers would have difficulty in locating this sort of information.

This has all changed with the availability of the Travel Risk Map, created by International SOS, a company that describes itself as “the world’s leading medical and travel security assistance company.” The Travel Risk Map is a detailed world map which allows anyone free access to the type of safety and security information that can make all the difference to an overseas trip. The map paints quite a surprising picture, as their own in-house data suggests that nearly 1 in 3 overseas trips involve visiting a country that is more dangerous than the traveller’s home country.

Each country is colour-coded, giving an instant indication of the risk factors at play – ranging from low to very high. In addition there are a number of countries marked as “rapidly developing” meaning that variable risks can be expected there. The map is available in two different formats. Firstly,the company provide a full-screen interactive map, where one can click on individual countries to assess the health and travel risks prevalent there. In addition, you can access (and download) a PDF version; perfect for keeping on hand when internet connections are unavailable.

If you’re planning to head to Ireland, or another country in the near future, it would be a good idea to bookmark the risk map for future reference. Just a couple of minutes spent investigating your chosen destination can greatly increase your knowledge about the risks you may be faced with on arrival.

The map may be found at: http://www.travelriskmap.com/

Ireland side hopes to row to victory in Cardiff Bay

Rowers compete for the Victor Ludorum in the Home International Regatta

Rowers compete for the Victor Ludorum in the Home International Regatta

The four nations of the British Isles are gathering for the 2016 Home International Regatta, taking place now in Cardiff Bay, Wales. Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales are competing to win the Victor Ludorum – or ‘the winner of the games’- in four categories: Senior Men, Senior Women, Junior Men and Junior Women. Last year in Strathclyde, Scotland won the title for senior men and Ireland the Junior Men, while England claimed both the Senior Women and Junior Women’s titles.

The event is now in its 54th year, and has been, for some, the pinnacle of their rowing career. For others – including Sean Drea and Steve Redgrave – it was a first step on the road to World and Olympic Championships. It offers the unique opportunity to watch and engage with top level athletes just weeks before the eyes of the world descend on Rio for the Olympic Games this year.

The course runs from the Penarth end of Barrage to finish at Mermaid Quay, and the open viewing and easy access for spectators means the Home International Regatta at Cardiff Bay is one of the best for showcasing the sport of rowing.

Pack light for your trip to Ireland

You'd be surprised what you can fit in one of these things.

You’d be surprised what you can fit in one of these things.

“I wish I had brought more stuff!” said no traveler ever.

Don’t you always come back from a trip resolving to pack more lightly next time? But we so often break that resolution. Part of the reason is philosophical, a lot of it is practical. Here are some tips and guidelines for avoiding the “pack mule” trap on your next trip to Ireland.

RULE #1: Don’t bring what you might need, bring what you absolutely cannot live without.

Do you find yourself adding things to your suitcase, “just in case”? The most important aspect of packing light is starting with the commitment to taking only the essentials. And if you really think about it, the essentials are a lot fewer than you might imagine. It is literally possible to take an extended trip with only one small carry-on bag. And when you examine the luggage restrictions or surcharges imposed by many airlines, your motivation to do so will certainly increase.

In the United States, we are spoiled by offers for free checked bags, liberal weight restrictions and the like, but even here, those options are dwindling. And wouldn’t you just love the freedom of operating out of one small bag for the duration of your trip? There are some techniques that can help you do that. If you have difficulty envisioning how travel trends have changed over the years, watch an old movie where people took a trip or a cruise with trunks and wardrobes and a portmanteau. Watch Titanic and think, “Would I really want to be burdened with that kind of baggage?” We’ve learned to do with a lot less than they did, and we can do even better if we try. Here are some ideas.

A good, practical way to implement Rule #1 is to ask yourself, “Will I use this every day?” If not, seriously consider leaving it behind. A formal outfit, for instance, may be important for certain business trips, but if you travel to Ireland for pleasure, it’s hardly necessary. Even at a fancy restaurant, they’ll forgive a lot because you’re a tourist and an American. Bring a tie or a fancy scarf to add some zing to an everyday outfit, and you’ve got it handled.

Even for things you use daily, consider your real needs. You certainly won’t need a large bottle of shampoo, or the giant, economy size tube of toothpaste. And you can’t carry those things in hand baggage anyway. Take travel size at most, or leave them behind entirely. Then you’ll have the opportunity for an enjoyable excursion around town, looking to buy those essentials. Use them up, or leave the excess behind when you go home.

Guidebooks are an important asset, but can be very bulky and heavy. Rick Stevesrecommends tearing out the portions you really need for where you are going and leaving the rest behind. After all, you don’t need to know the best B&B in Connemara if you’re only going to Cork and Dublin. If you purchase guidebooks or obtain tourist information after you arrive, leave it where you’re staying or on a bus or train for the next traveler. Friendly, and light.

But how do you fit enough clothes in one bag for a couple of weeks? There are several ways. For one thing, don’t change every day. You’re unlikely to see the same people day after day, and even if you do, there’s no rule that says you must appear different every day. Another option is laundry. Wash out some socks and underwear in the sink and hang them to dry while you’re out sightseeing. Many B&Bs have laundry facilities you can use, or they can guide you to a nearby laundrette. Look for options to lugging around a dozen outfits.

Another good strategy is well explained by Barbara DesChamps in her book, “It’s in the Bag-Your Custom Travel and Business Wardrobe.” Bring a few items that go together, and recombine them in different ways. A pair of black or khaki slacks can go with virtually any color of shirt or sweater, and you can add a scarf or other accessory to make it even more versatile. For women, a simple skirt can make the outfit a bit dressier You can get by with less than you think. Just get creative in your combinations.

Those clothes you do pack, will take up less space if you roll them. They’ll also be less wrinkled. Bring a pair of shorts for sleeping that can also be used as a swimsuit or workout gear.

A big coat takes up way too much room and doesn’t give you the flexibility of layers. You may be amazed at how warm you can be in a shirt, sweater, and a light jacket. If the jacket is rain resistant, it can also save you the space and weight of an umbrella.

Packing light gives you room for the souvenirs and mementos you may purchase on the way, so don’t forget to leave some space for those. Some people like a vest with pockets, or cargo pants, which can free up more room in your bag.

Remember that not only does a lot of baggage mark you as a tourist, and perhaps a target, getting by with one small bag makes you a lot more mobile. You don’t have to unpack and repack nearly so much, and when it’s time to move along, you’re ready to go. You”ll find you may have to walk a lot more with your luggage than you might have imagined, And you can carry your one bag with you on the bus, train, in a taxi, or anywhere you need to go. Plus, you can completely disregard that warning in the airport about leaving your bags unattended.

Packing light means taking along only what is absolutely essential. You’ll enjoy the freedom and peace of mind of traveling light, as well as the savings in time and money. Best of all, you’ll avoid that regret at the end of the trip over carrying too much.

How will Brexit affect your trip to Ireland or the UK?

The political map of western Europe will be changing Photo courtesy of www.publicdomainpictures.net

The political map of western Europe will be changing
Photo courtesy of www.publicdomainpictures.net

You’ve probably heard by now that the United Kingdom has voted to secede from the European Union after more than forty contentious years. You may be wondering how that may affect your travel plans.

On the short term, the answer is “not at all.” The populace have voted, but now the government of the UK must formally notify the EU that they want to leave. After that, there will be a period of negotiation over the terms of the exit. That process will take a number of months, perhaps a year or two. Meanwhile, it’s business as usual. The UK is still officially a part of the Union and will be for some time.

On the longer term, things are far less certain. The UK is currently a part of the European Single Aviation Market, making flights between European countries virtually seamless. That will change once the exit is official, but it is not certain how. It is certainly in the best interests of both the UK and the EU to maintain close ties, and certainly, travel and trade will figure high on the priority list.

In the words of Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), “The Brexit vote has triggered much uncertainty—financial and otherwise. As leaders in the UK and the EU work to establish a new framework for their relationship, one certainty to guide them is the need and desire of people on both sides of that relationship to travel and trade. Air transport plays a major role in making that possible. There were 117 million air passenger journeys between the UK and the EU in 2015. Air links facilitate business, support jobs and build prosperity. It is critical that whatever form the new UK-EU relationship takes, it must continue to ensure the common interests of safe, secure, efficient and sustainable air connectivity.”

IATA has issued a report on how these events might play out. Here are the main points:

  • The UK has voted to leave the EU – the so-called ‘Brexit’ scenario. Considerable uncertainty remains regarding the precise detail of the exit and it could be 2 years or more before these issues are fully resolved; prolonged uncertainty will influence both the magnitude and persistence of the economic impacts.
  • Preliminary estimates suggest that the number of UK air passengers could be 3-5% lower by 2020, driven by the expected downturn in economic activity and the fall in the sterling exchange rate. The near-term impact on the UK air freight market is less certain, but freight will be affected by lower international trade in the longer term.
  • A big issue is with aviation regulation. The UK faces a trade-off between accessing the European Single Aviation Market and having the policy freedom to set its own regulations.

It is good to remember that the United Kingdom is composed of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. England and Wales voted in favor of the Brexit, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voters opposed it, but all the votes were fairly close. This means there will be a period of division among the population of the UK, which may influence the outcome of negotiations with the EU. There is also the question of how this may affect relations between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which shares the island with them. Since both countries have been part of the EU, barriers and borders between them have faded dramatically in recent years, but will this continue?
We have yet to see.