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Discover The Emerald Isle - Know Before You Go

Although most of the planning and preparation is taken care of for you, there are still a few things you should know and some details you should take care of to ensure your comfort, safety and peace of mind. Please review the following information before your departure to ensure that any surprises along the way will only be pleasant ones.

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Passports and Visas


It is each traveler's responsibility to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel and a visa if required. IMPORTANT: Visa are generally not required Americans traveling to the European Union.  Passport applications are available at most U.S. Post Offices, as well as at regional Passport Agencies. Passengers requiring visas, whether obtained in advance or locally upon arrival, should ensure that their passport has un-stamped visa pages.

Trip Preparation


A little pre-planning can make your trip go a lot smoother. Several weeks before your trip, make a list of what you will need to take with you. Make sure your personal documents (passports, visas, driver’s license) are in order and that you have enough prescription medications to last through the trip. We suggest that you make photocopies of passports, visas, personal ID and any other important travel documents and pack them separately from the originals. Pack a list of medications including dosage and generic names. If you lose the originals while traveling, you'll have copies for easier reporting and replacement. You may consider bringing a small supply of over the counter medications for headaches and/or anti-diarrhea pills (especially when traveling outside of the USA and Western Europe).  Due to security reasons, many museums have restrictions on the size of bags that can be taken inside and backpacks, carry on bags or large purses may not be permitted. It is recommended to bring a small shoulder bag or purse to use in these situations instead. Avoid placing valuables such as cameras in your checked luggage. Airplane pressure can cause similar pressure in your body, most notably in ears, as well as liquid tubes and bottles. Your physician can suggest medication for decongestion.  As for the liquid containers, we suggest that you squeeze out excess air from those containers and place into Ziploc bags to catch any leaks.

Cell Phones & Calling Cards


You may wish to carry a cell phone while traveling. Check with your cell phone provider if your phone will work in the destination(s) you are visiting or if you can pick up a short Italy plan. U.S. service is dominated by the CDMA technology standard, while most of the world uses the incompatible GSM standard. Some U.S. providers do offer GSM, but you may incur high international roaming fees. With GSM, however, you can often choose to have your phone unlocked and then add a local SIM card for lower fees. If you can access the Internet as you travel, you can take advantage of email or a Skype Internet telephone (VOIP) account for the best value. Alternatively, you may investigate renting a cell phone before you leave or buying an inexpensive phone locally. Some US carriers now have a daily European plan for as low as $10 per day!  You would then use your cell phone as your normally would in the US.

When calling the U.S. from a foreign country, you may also use a prepaid calling card; normally, the only additional charge (besides the prepaid long distance charges) is a local fee of a few cents and possibly a connection fee if you are using your card at your hotel. It is best to check with the hotel’s reception desk prior to making phone calls to avoid unexpected charges.


Making Telephone Calls from One Country to Another


When dialing a number from one country to another, you should proceed as follows: dial your country's Exit Code + destination Country Code + Phone Number.

​Wireless Internet Access


Passengers traveling with WiFi enabled devices (such as a personal computer, smartphone, tablet, or digital audio player) may be able to connect to the internet via a wireless network access point (or hotspot). WiFi access in hotels and/or cruise lines often involves a fee which, in some cases, can be very expensive. Availability of WiFi varies by country, hotel and/or cruise line. Even if WiFi is available, signal strength is subject to local conditions and not guaranteed. Internet availability on cruises is unpredictable due to the ship frequently changing locations while sailing through multiple countries. Passengers requiring internet access may seek out internet cafes or may be able to locate free WiFi hotspots such as libraries or coffee shops. Hotspots can often be located and planned in advance via an online search. Planning ahead may help avoid unnecessary fees.

Staying Healthy While Traveling


Masks may be required on international flights and also at various venues in Ireland.


All travelers should familiarize themselves with local conditions, such as high altitude or required immunizations, which could affect their health. We recommend you consult with your personal health-care provider, the Centers for Disease Control ( and/or the World Health Organization ( for their recommendations.

There are several easy steps you can take to stay healthy while traveling which may help prevent contracting an illness while away from home.


Watch what you eat. Try new foods in modest quantities, and depending upon your destination, you may want to avoid street foods, salad bars, raw vegetables and fruits, unless they have thick peels like bananas or grapefruit.

Stay hydrated. Drink bottled water and avoid consuming ice cubes made with tap water.

If you have allergies to foods, medications or insect bites, or have any other unique medical issues, consider a medical alert bracelet and/or a physician’s note detailing required treatment should you become ill.

Wash your hands regularly and carry hand sanitizer.

Where appropriate, pack sunscreen and insect repellent (for both active and warm destinations).

You may also want to bring a small first-aid kit with band-aids, antibiotic cream, pain killers, bug bite cream, digestive aids like anti-diarrheal or anti-bloat medications, antacids, and cold medicine. This is in addition to any prescription medications which should be adequate for the entire trip.





Many of our guests enjoy reading about their destination - either in advance of their trip or while traveling - as a way of adding context to their visit. Whether reading a traditional guide book, learning about the history and culture, or simply enjoying a fictional novel set in the destination, a good book can add greatly to your experience. Similarly, a good movie set in your destination helps set the mood before you travel. The following does not constitute an endorsement of any authors, books or films listed, it is merely a collection of guests’ recommendations.


Ireland Books: Nonfiction

  • Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt, 1996). This evocative memoir documents an Irish family's struggles during the Great Depression.

  • Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman (Nuala O'Faolain, 1996). A woman steps out of the traditional shoes she was always told to fill.

  • The Back of Beyond: A Search for the Soul of Ireland (James Charles Roy, 2002). Roy, an authority on Irish history, leads a group of Americans on an unconventional tour through the byways of Ireland.

  • How the Irish Saved Civilization (Thomas Cahill, 1995). Cahill explains how the "island of saints and scholars" changed the course of world history.

  • Immortal Irishman (Tim Egan, 2016). This well-written biography spans three continents to describe the incredible, passionate, and short life of Thomas Francis Meagher.

  • Ireland: A Concise History (Máire and Conor Cruise O'Brien, 1972). This is a riveting account of Irish history from pre-Christian Ireland to the Northern Irish civil rights movement.

  • O Come Ye Back to Ireland (Niall Williams and Christine Breen, 1987). Two New Yorkers adjust to life in a tiny Irish village after leaving their careers for a simpler life.

  • Round Ireland with a Fridge (Tony Hawks, 1997). For a humorous jaunt through the countryside, read Hawks' account of his attempt to hitchhike around Ireland with a fridge.

  • A Short History of Ireland (Richard Killeen, 1994). Killeen's well-illustrated book is among the most accessible introductions to Irish history.

  • To School Through the Fields (Alice Taylor, 1988). In one of the best-selling Irish memoirs of all time, Taylor fondly remembers growing up in a rural Irish town.

Ireland Books: Fiction

  • The Barrytown Trilogy (Roddy Doyle, 1992). This trilogy includes Doyle's first three novels — The Commitments, The Snapper, and The Van — each capturing the day-to-day lives of working-class Dubliners.

  • The Bódhran Makers (John B. Keane, 1986). Keane documents the struggles of hard-living farmers in 1950s Ireland.

  • Circle of Friends (Maeve Binchy, 1990). One of Binchy's many soapy novels, Circle of Friends tells the story of a group of friends starting college in Dublin.

  • Dublin Saga (Edward Rutherfurd, 2004). Rutherfurd's historical saga traces the lives of rich and poor families through key events in Irish history, from AD 430 to the fight for independence.

  • Dubliners (James Joyce, 1914). Joyce's classic short-story collection describes Irish life in the 1900s, told through the experiences of 15 ordinary Dubliners.

  • Finbar's Hotel and Ladies' Night at Finbar's Hotel (Dermot Bolger, 1997/1999). These novels, about a collection of guests at a Dublin hotel, were collaboratively written, with each chapter penned by a different modern Irish author.

  • Ireland (Frank Delaney, 2004). Delaney's historical epic follows Ronan O'Mara on his journey to find a beloved Irish storyteller.

  • The Last Prince of Ireland (Morgan Llywelyn, 1992). An Irishman and his clan are determined to hold onto their homeland following the 1601 Battle of Kinsale, in which the Gaelic nobility were defeated by English invaders.

  • Long Lankin (John Banville, 1970). This collection of short stories by the Man Booker Prize-winning Irish author explores themes of alienation, jealousy, and love lost.

  • A Star Called Henry (Roddy Doyle, 1999). Doyle's political thriller, set in Ireland during the 1916 Easter Rising, is narrated by the young Henry Smart, a soldier in the Irish Citizen Army.

  • Trinity (Leon Uris, 1976). Uris dramatizes the sectarian struggles in the decades just prior to modern Irish independence.


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