Pros and Cons of Renting a Car in Ireland
Americans traveling to Ireland often join tour groups and travel around the Emerald Isle in vans or buses. Relying on a tour guide lets you relax and take in the sights and information the tour provides, but for more seasoned travelers, a tour may be too low key. Adventurous tourists seek out less-traveled sights and out-of-the-way corners of their destinations. One of the best ways to see a large area completely on your way is to rent your own car.
A tour will take you to tourist hotspots, but will probably only cover one or two regions of Ireland. For example, many tours spend several days in Dublin and the surrounding area. If you travel south, your tour might hit Cork and Blarney Castle, then travel through the Ring of Kerry. A tour of the west will bring you to Limerick, Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. Around and in between these tour stops, Ireland has countless historic, artistic and scenic points of interest, and quaint local destinations.
The internet allows you to book a car rental before you embark on your trip. Keep in mind that driving in another country differs in many ways from driving in America, and make sure you take out extra car rental insurance. Let your insurance company know you will be driving in another country. There are several pros and cons of renting a car in Ireland to consider before you decide whether to make such a commitment.
● Visiting acquaintances: Many Americans have friends and relatives who live on the Auld Sod. Renting a car allows you to take day trips right to people’s homes and to stay as long as you like.
● Convenience: Your tour might be taking day trips to popular tourist spots, but what if you’re a fan of Irish literature or an amateur historian? While there are designated Irish literature tours and tours of castles and ruins available, all the members of your party might not be interested. If you have a car, you can pick and choose your destinations.
● Relaxation: Some may think it’s more restful to rely on a tour guide to plan each day, but many travelers prefer to make their own schedules. Ireland has bed and breakfasts and quaint old-fashioned tourist cottages spread across the island. You can pick a few days to drive through the remote areas of the country and stay in these small establishments while marveling at the scenic farmland and ubiquitous ancient ruins.
● Driving on the left: As in most European countries, in Ireland people drive on the left side of the road. The driver’s side of your rental will be on the right, the opposite of cars in the U.S. Operating the vehicle from the other side and driving on the left will take some getting used to, so give yourself time to practice before you head out on a long excursion.
● Standard transmission: With a few exceptions, rental cars in Ireland have standard rather than automatic transmission. You’ll need to know how to operate a stick shift to drive the car, and then get used to using it from the opposite side.
● Fuel: Cars in Ireland use both petrol, or gasoline, and diesel fuel. Find out which one your rental car uses, and make sure you fill up with the correct fuel at the gas station. Using the wrong fuel can damage the engine and you’ll be charged for repairs.
● Getting lost: Ireland’s streets can be confusing, and many streets aren’t always clearly marked. If driving around in circles and staring at maps frustrates you, trying to make it around Ireland on your own may not be for you.
Size is another factor when you rent a car in Ireland. Europeans generally pay more for fuel than Americans, so small and subcompact cars have remained popular. This can be a pro or a con, depending on your travel preferences. You won’t be able to bring lots of luggage with you, but you won’t have to spend a lot on gas either. Plan to travel light, and you’re ready to go.
Photo credit: Dunguaire Castle by Sedoglia/flickr
Author Sandy Landsford is an accountant and blogs for carinsurance.org.uk, a site where you can get cheap car insurance. Get a quote today!