When Mallory and I began planning our trip to Ireland the first decision we needed to make was whether or not we were going to rent a car. We knew that we wanted to see as much of Ireland as we possibly could on our seven-day trip there, we just didn’t know how we were going to get around the country. We did research on trains, buses, and rental cars and came away with the decision that renting a car was the way to go. And I would say we chose RIGHT!
Here are some things you will want to keep in mind when it comes to renting a car in Ireland:
Manual transmissions are king.
I heard that you should not plan on being able to rent an automatic vehicle in Ireland and that they would be more expensive if you did. Therefore, I recruited a couple of friends of mine who own manual transmission cars to teach me how to drive a manual a couple of months before our trip. Needless to say, I knew how to drive a manual, but I was not comfortable driving a manual. Luckily, we ended up receiving an automatic car which was not that much more expensive than a manual (thanks AutoSlash!) and did not need to put my stick shift driving skills to the test!
You will drive on the left side of the road/right side of the car.
Everything is backward from the United States. Driving on the left side of the road/right side of the car was tricky, don’t get me wrong, but you adjust pretty quickly and it’s no issue. The maneuver I found most difficult to remember how to do safely was turning right when having to cross traffic. Other than that, no problems.
Another thing you should know is that the roads are very narrow in Ireland. Like… very narrow. On many roads you will drive on, we Americans want to treat it like a one-lane road, but not the Irish. They will fly past you going the opposite direction while you are hardly going 25 mph and gripping the steering wheel as if your life depends on it. There were a few stressful times I thought we were going to get side-swiped or run off the road, but we didn’t. We did make some friends from Texas who had also rented a car and they took off a side mirror in Cork. This leads to my next topic.
Make sure you have insurance coverage!
When we picked up our rental car, the company representative offered me insurance at an unreasonable rate that I turned down immediately. However, I had to sign that I would pay $20,000 if the car was totaled/stolen while in my possession. Prior to our trip, we had just received a travel credit card that had rental car protection so we were able to drive knowing we were covered and wouldn’t be out $20,000 in the event of an accident! So check your credit card coverages before your trip to see if they will insure your car.
Have cash handy for tolls.
One thing we did not arrive in Ireland prepared for is having cash for tolls. There were some booths that would accept card but many took cash only. Luckily we had spare change for the majority of our trip until the LAST toll booth we had to drive through when getting into Dublin and they gave us an I.O.U. so when we got back to the States I had to call Ireland and make a payment over the phone. So, when driving in Ireland, be sure to always have ~10€ on hand!
Renting a car is worth it.
While we were on the fence before our trip as to whether or not to rent a car, we were so glad we did. We drove from Dublin to Galway, around Connemara National Park, to the Cliffs of Moher, to Cork, to Kilkenny, and back to Dublin. We also got to go on as many detours and side trips as we wanted. I would say the Emerald Isle is best seen by car! If you’re ready to pull the trigger, visit AutoSlash.com where they will help you find the best rate for your trip.