The Art of Love & Money - Ireland Behind The Scenes- foggy hills green foreground

Ireland – Behind the Scenes

So, you want to go to Ireland?  Want to know how much a trip like ours cost?

The Art of Love & Money - Ireland

I can show you.  I can show you so that you, too, can take your dream trip off of the shelf and make it happen.  My goal is to help hard working, ambitious people do what they love, what they have always wanted to do with their money.

Below is a behind the scenes look at what we did to get there once we started to take action on it, and not just say we’d like to go there someday.

First, we started by saving.  We saved for this trip a few times.  There were a couple of times that our kids had needs above our own, and we always prioritize our money with our kids’ needs and the well being of the family ahead of our travel plans.  You can read more about our hierarchy of financial priorities here.

When the time had come that I was confident we had set aside enough to pay for the trip, we began the researching stage.  Pinterest, travel blogs, Groupon deals, local travel agencies, internet travel agencies, airline flights – I gathered the data in my head, printed out prices, made a file and compared the prices to the Capitol One 360 savings account set aside for travel.  I had seen some packages for $1700 per person and then I added $1,500 for airfare as a guess…when we had about $4,500 in the savings account I was ready to begin booking – and I continued setting money aside in the travel account in the meantime.

Airplane Tickets

I bought airplane tickets in mid-August.  First, I determined how long we could afford to stay, by pre-pricing the trip for the dates we had in mind, I checked around a few blogs and asked the travel agent about how much money we would need for spending money.

The flights to Europe are down, I had been hearing – so I thought – now is as good a time as any!

The flight is often the biggest investment of time and money so our general travel philosophy is to stay as long as we can on one flight.

I did a Google Flights search and signed up for Next Vacay to track pricing.  When I was happy that we had the lowest price I had seen, and got the email from Next Vacay that there was a direct flight from Chicago to Dublin,

I booked.  I signed up for the Airline credit card to earn the bonus points.  I’m not sure this was worth the hassle, yet, but I did it.  I’ll let you know if I ever use these bonus points.

We used American Airlines Citi card and the sign up bonus was 50,000 points if I spent $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

After signing up for the card, I booked the flights on American Airlines using the credit card and AA rewards numbers I signed for my husband and myself.

2 Roundtrip, non-stop flights to Chicago: $1,052.52.
AAdvantage Miles Reported to American Airlines: 2,306.
2 points earned for every $1 on American Airlines. 1 point earned for every $1 spent elsewhere.

Trip Itinerary

Lodging including a Full Irish Breakfast, Car & GPS Rental, Some excursions

I searched travel companies high and low for Ireland tours.  There are a ton of options from Groupon Getaways, a myriad of internet travel agencies and the local mall travel agency had 3 different touring options that they offered me.  As I mentioned in this post, the first thing you need to decide is whether or not you are comfortable driving or would you prefer a group tour?

We decided to go with Authentic Ireland because they focus only on Ireland, Scotland and England and I am a sucker for their branding – I mean, who can turn down authentic?

Authentic Ireland  has an office in Dublin and one in the U.S.  My travel agent was based in California and that is who I dealt with on an ongoing basis.  While in Ireland, it was helpful to me to be able to email the local Dublin office.  First of all, their timezone was inline with mine while abroad, but more importantly, the on-the-ground knowledge and experience of living in and traveling the country regularly.

This proved especially helpful when Hurricane Ophelia swept in from the Atlantic while we were there.  We stayed safe, but the news coverage had us questioning the practicality of traveling on the roads and power outages in areas along the route.

I finally pulled the trigger on the trip when we booked the airline tickets and I had confirmed dates.

I paid the $100 down for the travel agency and then waited to pay the remainder of the balance when it was due in full – 30 days before departure.

I did this in place of trip insurance. The travel agency has a cancellation period that will hold your deposit so that you can re-book if you have to cancel your trip.

It was a bit of a gamble, and I think I’d recommend trip insurance the next time around.

Trip insurance would cover the cost of the trip AND the airline tickets AND anything else that could go awry while away, but it does add a few hundred dollars to the bottom line.  I had no intention of cancelling, but you never know what could go wrong.  This was the only time I had done without trip insurance and I was second guessing myself when the third hurricane to hit Ireland since they began records in 1854 was brewing in the Ocean before we departed the U.S.

Authentic Ireland 13 Day self driving tour: $2,590
AAdvantage Miles Reported to American Airlines: 52,956.
2 points earned for every $1 on American Airlines. 1 point earned for every $1 spent elsewhere. 50,000 points if you spend at least $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Spending Money

We took the AAdvantage Citi card with us on our trip.  We used it for every transaction – food, entertainment, pubs, you name it swipe, swipe, swipe.

Lucky us – our credit card statement ended a few days into our trip so we came home to the first portion of the bill from the trip.  We came home from our trip, unpacked our suitcases, got settled in and opened our mail to discover our damage.

The first five days had cost us $648.65.  In my head, I had accounted for about $100 a day, for 13 days, so I was estimating $1,300 spending in total.

When I called to make the first payment and found that the trip total, including reimbursement for two excursions canceled due to high sea was $1,754.74.

Spending Money: $1,754.74
AAdvantage Miles Reported to American Airlines: 1,755
2 points earned for every $1 on American Airlines. 1 point earned for every $1 spent elsewhere.

So, as you can see, we went over our spending money pretty significantly.  When we travel we do, eat and drink what we want without regret.  Having the money set aside upfront in cash allows us to splurge.

We did bring Euros and British Pounds since we were also visiting Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.  We used the cash for tips and cab/bus fare everything else was a credit card transaction.

2 Roundtrip, non-stop flights to Chicago: $1,052.52.
Authentic Ireland 13 Day self driving tour: $2,590
Car Park Chicago, IL: $138.56
Pocket Cash: $300 converted into Euros ($250) and British Pounds ($50 for 2 days)
Spending Money: $1,754.74
For a Grand total: $5,835.82

Which does NOT include the clothes and shoes and travel accessories we just had to buy for our trip.  Or the Jumper cables we had to buy upon return because we didn’t have enough time to disconnect the battery before the shuttle to the airport upon departure, or the new tires that my husband’s car needed the week before we left.

Note to self:  Just like a house renovation, add 10% to the cost of the trip for unexpected expenses that will come up.  I tend to set aside an additional $1,000 in the travel fund because my spending pattern is save, save, save, SPLURGE.  Know thyself.  And plan for it.

It also doesn’t include the left over pocket change we still have to exchange.

But it does include the kennel stay for our sweet Coco.

If this trip seems out of reach to you, don’t despair!  We travel more high-end than our at home daily lives, but that doesn’t have to be the case for you.  You could go for 7 days instead of 13, or you could stay in B&B’s all of the days instead of the luxury hotels.

Check out Nomadic Matt of more budget friendly trip itineraries and tips.

Total AAdvantage Miles Reported to American Airlines:
2 points earned for every $1 on American Airlines. 1 point earned for every $1 spent elsewhere.

So, that’s it.  A peek into the cost of a trip of a lifetime.

Except I hope to do a trip like this every year from now on.

Next week I’ll show you the math on why I don’t recommend using credit cards to pay for a trip unless you have the cash to pay for it upfront, and how to get that cash set aside for what really matters to you.



ACTIONABLE STEP:  Is there a trip you have been meaning to take?  Start researching the cost today.