Ireland – Do the Math (Part 2)

The Art of Love & Money - Ireland - Do the Math

So, you want to go to Ireland?  I want to get you there!

I shared all the numbers in this blog post.

Last week, I did a little math highlighting why I don’t recommend carrying your dream trip on a credit card by paying the minimum amount due.  I showed you how you can set aside $300 a month for 19 months to make your dream trip a reality.

But maybe you have objections going off in your head – ‘I won’t pay the minimums – everyone knows better than that!’  or ‘ Just where am I coming up with this magical $300 a month?!’

I’ll take you there:

Airfare $1,052.52

Monthly Payment: $300

Interest Rate:18.74%

The Art of Love & Money SavingsCalc-BankRate-Ireland-300-airfare
Credit Karma Credit Card Repayment Calculator

So, at this point, it only took 4 months to pay for the airfare and it cost just an additional $39.  Not too shabby.  I mean, you might still be paying for the airfare when the trip portion becomes due, but overall, not bad.

Let’s look at the overall cost of the trip on the credit card at $300 paid a month.

See this blog post for the full breakdown.

Total $5,835.82

Monthly Payment: $300

Interest Rate:18.74%

The Art of Love & Money SavingsCalc-BankRate-Ireland-300-full trip
Credit Karma Credit Card Repayment Calculator

One thing we can all agree on – paying $300 a month on the credit card is far better than paying the minimum amount due.  In this scenario we pay $300 a month for 24 months and it costs us an extra $1,175.

Let me just tell you – that’s a lot of Guinness!  Imagine the friends you would make in Ireland if you bought everyone in the pub a round!  And it wouldn’t cost $1,175.  I mean, I don’t think.

To be honest, I’m a little sad we didn’t do this now.

Alternatively, you can put $300 a month aside for 19 months and you could earn a whopping .075% annually .

The Art of Love & Money SavingsCalc-BankRate-Ireland-300-full trip
Bankrate Simple Savings Calculator

In this scenario, you meet your goal of $5,800 in 19 months.  If you save for 2 years instead (the time it took to pay off the credit card at $300 a month) you have $7,253.00.

$1,435 more than you need for the two week trip.

That’ll pay for the new tires on the car that you need the week before you leave, for the jumper cables you have to buy when you get home and your battery is dead in the park and fly, and the clothes and the shoes you just have to have to go to Ireland.

Trust me, I know.

Earn interest, Don’t Pay interest.

So now, where are we getting this $300?  Well, this may be a little trickier.  Especially if you already have debt payments and this little exercise has made you squeamish.

If there is debt, I would start paying it down before you go on any big, dreamy trips.  See my family’s hierarchy here, or better yet, make your own.

The average car payment in America is now over $500 a month according to Experian.  Maybe you go all Dave Ramsey on your car.  Maybe you get a part time job or a side hustle, maybe you go after a promotion at work or get a dream job.

I can’t promise you you can go to Ireland in the next 19 months, but I do think it can be within reach of most Americans to travel a lot more than we do – but first we need to prioritize our income, set a plan, be intentional and following it through.

I want for you to live your best life, your most fulfilling dreams – go places you have always wanted to go and do the things you have always wanted to do.  Even if you think it’s out of reach.  Especially if you think it’s out of reach for you.

Sláinte,

Rachelle

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Head over to Credit Karma and Bankrate to play around with your own numbers.  Set a plan in motion today to get to where you have always wanted to go.

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Ireland – What to Do

The Art of Love & Money - What to Do

We began our journey in Dublin, then drove to Belfast, on to Mohill (County Leitrim), then to Salthill (County Galway), Killarney, Blarney, Waterford, and Celbridge.

There were day trips to The Cliffs of Moher, Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey, The Irish National Stud and the Japanese Gardens.

The Art of Love & Money - Map of Ireland Trip 2017
The Art of Love & Money – Map of Ireland Trip 2017

I will recommend a few of the places that we enjoyed – our absolute favorites along the routes, as well as highlight a few places that we missed – sadly!

I wish we had more time to explore.  It sounds like 13 days is a plenty long holiday – but I could have spent 13 days in Dublin alone and still not have seen and done everything I would have liked to do.  I hope one day I get to travel more immersive.  I want to live in the cultures, stay and learn the languages, prepare the foods, get to know the people as friends and neighbors.  But in the meantime, here is what we did that I can happily recommend you do as well.

Dublin

Phoenix Park – Lovely Park in the City Center.  Expansive, green grass, lovely landscaping, ponds, structures covered in moss, people walking their dogs, and kids in strollers, lovers having a picnic on the lawn.  Really quite lovely.

The Art of Love & Money Phoenix Park Dublin Ireland
Phoenix Park Dublin Ireland

Trinity College -Stunning architecture, cobbled sidewalks, a massive old tree and the best doors and archways and windows! We went on a Sunday, didn’t see the Book of Kells, but I was so impressed wandering around at the architecture that I didn’t mind missing it one bit. I wish we would have hopped in on the yellow umbrella tour while here, but we didn’t know it was free at that time. I would have loved to learn about the history while there built in 1592!

Irish Whiskey Museum – We had the best time in here!  We were waiting for the Yellow Umbrella tour to start from the Tourist Center so we popped over next door.  Unfortunately did not have time to do the tour, so we “self-educated” in the tasting room.  That’s my kind of museum!  The bar staff was lovely and we had the place to ourselves for about twenty minutes so we had a really great education and then met some more tourists from all over the world.  Loved the Top-Shelf Whiskey flight.

The Art of Love & Money Whiskey Museum Dublin Ireland
Irish Whiskey Museum Dublin Ireland

Yellow Umbrella Tour –  Free walking historical tours of Dublin.  Very interesting and knowledgeable!  Polite, friendly guides, great way to tour the city and meet tourists from all over the world.

YellowUmbrella

Yellow Umbrella Pub Crawl – By far the best night spent in Dublin!

For a very reasonable fee, you get a walking tour of the pub district not far from the meeting spot on the North side of Dublin (under the Spire). This is a great way to hang out with other tourists from around the world, and local Dubliners. Our guide, Peter, was outstanding – friendly, knowledgeable, happy to answer any question you might have.

Starts with an Irish beer sampling and lesson on the brewing process in the basement of one pub, ramble on to the next pub with a table upstairs, have a Whiskey, a Gin & Tonic with a lesson in the distilling process, then you can choose to order yourself a meal (buy your own), then gather up the tour group and stroll over to another local pub, enjoy a Guinness with more informative lesson on the Guinness pour, quality control, and why Guinness tastes better in Dublin than anywhere else in the world.

Cap off the evening with an authentic Irish jam session and pay as you go at the last stop while you get to know your fellow travelers and enjoy a remarkable evening you will never forget.

Enroute from Dublin to Belfast

Newgrange Megalithic Burial Site – an ancient burial tomb 5,000 years old.  Remarkable step back in time and even more impressive engineering feat to line up the tomb window  with the Winter Solstice.  The stunning views and panoramic landscape from this area alone are worth the trip.  Entry through the Bru na Boinne visitor’s center only – so make sure to set your GPS to that destination – and not Newgrange itself!  It was quite the disappointment to have to run around and go back for the bus.  The walk from the visitor’s center to the bus was charming and we took some great photos along the path.

The Art of Love & Money Newgrange Boyne Valley Ireland
Newgrange Boyne Valley Ireland

Belfast

Political Mural & Peace Wall Tour – Ask the hotel’s front desk to arrange a pick up for a personal political mural and peace wall tour around Belfast.  The guide was knowledgeable, had been born and raised in Belfast, and brought us to each political mural location, helped us out of the car and took our photos in front of each attraction.  Our guide included a 15 minute stop at the Irish Republican History Museum.

The Art of Love & Money Political Murals Belfast Northern Ireland
Political Mural Belfast Northern Ireland
The Art of Love & Money Ireland Peace Wall Belfast Ireland
Peace Wall Belfast Northern Ireland

City Center – Ask your guide if he can also drive around the City Center if you don’t have time to do a walking tour of the downtown attractions. Check out The Queen’s University, St.Anne’s Cathedral, Cathedral Quarter, City Hall, The Crowne Liquor Saloon, and The Europa Hotel.

The Art of Love & Money City Center Belfast Northern Ireland
City Center Belfast Northern Ireland

It was really great to have a cab who could pull over and park close to the entrance, snap a photo and get back on tour.  I would have rather had time to walk it, but this was the next best thing.

We Missed: The Titanic Museum, SS Nomadic, and the city center walking tours

Mohill

Walk the grounds at Castle Lough Rynn, have a formal tea time or an Irish Coffee at the bar.  Sit in the many seating rooms on the first floor, enjoy the views, the fireplace, and the company you meet.

The Art of Love & Money Castle Lough Rynn Mohill County Leitrim Ireland
Castle Lough Rynn Mohill County Leitrim Ireland
Castle Lough Rynn Walled Garden Mohill County Leitrim Ireland
Castle Lough Rynn Walled Garden Mohill County Leitrim Ireland

We Missed: The town Shannon-on-Carrick

Enroute to Salthill

The Cliffs of Moher – Breath taking views.  Spend several hours here walking up and down the different paths along the cliff line.  Go into the tower and enjoy the views and the friendly tour guides.

The Art of Love & Money Cliffs of Moher County Clare Ireland
Cliffs of Moher County Clare Ireland

Galway/Salthill

Salthill Promenade – Enjoy a stunningly gorgeous walk along Galway Bay on The Wild Atlantic Way. Lovely open, expansive views of the steel gray water.  Rocky shore line covered in seaweed.

The Art of Love & Money Salthill County Galway Ireland
The Art of Love & Money Salthill County Galway Ireland

Quay Street – Lively Shop Street  and outdoor performers.  Great live Irish music and talent along the sidewalk paths.

The Art of Love & Money Quay Street County Galway Ireland
Quay Street County Galway Ireland

Take a day trip to Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey.   We didn’t mind the drive one bit once we got going.  The Wild Atlantic Way breaks into fields of penny walls and sheep dotted landscape, the views along the way were absolutely stunning.  Some of the best pictures we took were here.

The Art of Love & Money Connemara National Park County Galway Ireland
Connemara National Park County Galway Ireland
The Art of Love & Money Kylemore Abbey County Galway Ireland
The Art of Love & Money Kylemore Abbey County Galway Ireland

Brigit’s Garden – Magical fairy land gardens.  Very quaint and charming.

The Art of Love & Money - Brigit's Garden - Ireland
Brigit’s Garden County Galway Ireland

Killarney

The Ring of Kerry – Dare to brave the narrow, winding roads for what is said to be the most spectacular views in Ireland, or take a coach so that you can enjoy the whole trip through the panoramic views of the bus windows.  Along the coach route, stop for an Irish coffee, a replica bog village, and a cafeteria style lunch with a seriously stunning view.

The Art of Love & Money - Ladies View County Kerry Ireland
Ladies View County Kerry Ireland

Town Center – Lively town center full of shops and pubs and friendly locals – you can meet some new friends in any given pub, share a Guinness and a laugh over the Traditional Irish music.

Blarney

Blarney Castle and Grounds –  Don’t miss this attraction – even if you have no need to kiss the Blarney Stone and already possess the gift of gab.  There is SO much more here than I would have ever imagined.  The gardens alone were worth the trip and the price of admission.  We wandered happily through the gardens for hours, every twits and turn revealing a new wonder.  The castle itself is really fascinating – the climb is an adventure to the top.  The thick walls let little sunlight through, the stairs are narrow and slick, made of what appears to be marble and natural stone.  It feels like making your way through a cave, even as you are climbing up.  The views from the top are majestic.

The Art of Love & Money - Blarney Castle View from the top-Ireland
Blarney Castle View from the top Blarney County Cork Ireland

You made it this far, go ahead, pucker up and give that stone an upside down and backwards smooch.

Enroute from Blarney to Waterford

Dunbrody Famine Ship -A replica famine ship that brought passengers to the New World.  Sounds much more romantic than the treacherous journey actually was.  A historical reenactment  displaying the horrors of life endured those brave enough or downtrodden enough to leave.  Eye opening in every sense of the word.

The Art of Love & Money Dunbrody Famine Ship New Ross County Wexford Ireland
Dunbrody Famine Ship New Ross County Wexford Ireland

JFK Memorial Statue U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is highly regarded and celebrated in Ireland.  Five generations from famine immigrant to the most powerful man in the World.  Now, that’s something to be proud of.  You can shake his hand on the boardwalk along the levy in New Ross, County Wexford.

We missed: JFK Homestead

Waterford

Waterford Crystal Showroom – Wander around this spectacular show room and feast your eyes on the master artistry that has been practice for generations in County Waterford.  Stunning display.  If you are lucky, the gentleman in the corner will be engraving crystal at his desk while you stroll through.

The Art of Love & Money Waterford Crystal Waterford Ireland
Waterford Crystal Showroom Waterford Ireland

We missed: Waterford Crystal Factory Tour

Enroute from Waterford to Celbridge

Kilkenny Castle – Explore a fully renovated 13th Century Castle.  This is what you imagine when you imagine stately castles – if you can even fathom the sheer size.  It’s humongous and the lovingly crafted, detailed renovation is impressive – Everything from rugs to wallpaper were recreated from scraps found of the original print and color.  The art gallery is a beautiful masterpiece.

The Art of Love & Money - Kilkenny Castle - Ireland
Kilkenny Castle County Kilkenny Ireland

Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens – Visit the home of Ireland’s most famous race horses, take a tour from a guide to learn all about the stud process, explore the beautiful and serene Japanese Gardens. Don’t forget  the natural beauty of St Fiachra’s Garden surrounded by the commercial stud farm.  Stop by the museum to learn the history of racing in Ireland as well as the unheard of philosophies and practices of the eccentric William Hall Walker and reverence for astrology.

The Art of Love & Money The Irish National Stud County Kildare Ireland
The Irish National Stud County Kildare Ireland

Sláinte chugat,

Rachelle

Sláinte chugat. (sounds like Slawn-cheh ch(k)oo-at) Cheers, literally translates Good health to you.

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Go on and explore Ireland virtually.  Check out the places listed online.  Daydream a little.

Headed to Ireland?  Send me an email if you want some trip advice – I’d love to share what I learned with you!

Ireland – Do the Math

The Art of Love & Money - Ireland - Do the Math

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

Last week, I shared all the numbers in this blog post.

This week, I want to do a little math for you.

We save for our trips by setting aside a certain amount of money per month that is automatically drafted to our travel bucket savings account.

Anytime we get “extra” bonus money I add it to that account because right now, travel is our highest priority.  All of our other hierarchies are in good shape – we didn’t start here and we didn’t get her overnight, but here we are, living the life.

I’m kidding.  In actuality, it’s been twenty years of living and working and saving and trying to get ahead and some days we were like what the hell are we doing wrong?

Maybe we should live the life we want to live today instead of waiting for tomorrow.

Life is short.

And while I DO want to live for today and I DON’T want to put my life on hold until someday, we hold strong to we want to pay as we go, even if it means sacrificing in the short term and even if it means we go on trips less frequently.

That said – put a plan in action!  I do feel like we waited entirely too long, and settled far too frequently – so I think there is a middle ground here.

Work hard, have a plan, be ambitious in your earning potential.  Make a dream list – and then make a plan to put it into action.  Let that plan inspire you to reach farther – don’t settle for someday.

Let me show you the math:

Airfare $1,052.52

Minimum Payment: $25

Interest Rate:18.74%

IrelandAirfare
Site Credit: Credit Karma Credit Card Repayment Calculator

But, wait!  There’s more.  See this blog post for the full breakdown.

Total $5,835.82

Minimum Payment: $94

Interest Rate:18.74%

FullTrip
Credit Karma Credit Card Repayment Calculator

Full Disclosure: I don’t know what the actual minimum payment on this amount would be because we paid our balances in full from our travel account as soon as they came in.  I don’t play around – I’d slip up and get hit with the 29.99% interest rate and never , ever forgive myself. 

I looked up the minimum payment calculation and it’s clear as mud.

MinimumPayment Due
Citi Minimum Payment Due Calculation

At first, I thought, I can’t post this, I don’t have all the facts.  But then I realized, most of us consumers don’t understand all of the credit card details, so let’s just do a best-guess analysis on Credit Karma and you can decide for yourself if it’s a game you want to play.

Okay.  So let’s go back to that example above for the total.

Minimum Payment Intrest
Credit Karma Credit Card Repayment Calculator

Look at that interest!  Now, you didn’t pay $5,835.82 for the trip, you paid $21,244.

Shut the French door!  How did that happen?!

18.74% of $5,835.82 is $1,093.64.  So maybe you thought it would cost in the ball park of $6,929.46.

$5,835.82 is $1,093.64 = $6,929.46

Not a game I want to play.

But, no.

Sadly, you could have taken this trip nearly four times for the price you paid.

The interest compounds daily and the majority of the payment goes to interest not principal.

Not to mention that it’s nearly 19 years later.  Talk about time flies.

Earn interest, Don’t Pay interest.

Wouldn’t you rather do that?

Check back with me next week for the final math calculation.

Sláinte,

Rachelle

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Head over to Credit Karma and play around with your own numbers.  If you don’t owe on credit cards – GREAT!  But still, go over and plug in some numbers.  That way if you ever get tempted, you’ll know what kind of fire you are playing with.  If you already have credit card debt – don’t beat yourself up!  Just plug in your numbers and make a plan!  You got this, and I’m here to help.

Monday Motivation

The Art of Love & Money - No matter how long the day, the evening comes.

Dá fhada an lá tagann an tráthnóna.

Pronounced: Daw aw-dah on law tog-ann an traw-no-nah.

Translates: No matter how long the day, the evening comes.

(No matter how bad things are, they will end)

Think of your last bad day.

If you can remember, how was your next morning?

Or the week after?

Perhaps you can’t remember.  But for me, I have lived through enough cycles of life now that I am starting to realize – it will get better!

If you can cut your bad days short – do it – go to bed early and see if things aren’t better the next day or the day after that.

Not all bad days can be fixed this way – by no means am I suggesting that you skip out on your responsibilities.  Sometimes you just have to handle your business, but some days are better left to tomorrow.

Can I just say – that daylight savings is all about going to bed early?  Is there anything I love more right now than coming home, rushing through a quick to-do, eating dinner and turning in early with a good book?  Ahhhhhhhhh.  Maybe only my heated mattress pad. Or my thick winter down comforter.

Turn in early tonight,

Rachelle

ACTIONABLE STEP: Keep a journal of your days – look back on your bad days and then skim through to the next couple of days.  Stop and appreciate the best moments of each day.  Even the bad days have moments of good in them.  A sunset, a pretty leaf blowing  across the sidewalk, a candle burning in the window.  Pay attention to the good, and hold on through the bad.

I think it’s a great idea to learn something about the place you travel, to take a bit of the culture and sayings with you when you go.  Ireland is a land of many sayings and phrases.  The Gaelic language is not something that I picked up on – although I did look up how to say hello, thank you and goodbye before we departed for our travels, the only phrase that comes naturally to mind is Sláinte, which is said as “Cheers!” before a drink, but means “Good Health”.
I found all of these sayings after my trip, although I did have many an Irish man say different phrases and try to teach me how, repeat after him.  I, sadly, can not remember them.
 I looked these all up on the website Gaelic Matters.  I encourage you to go and read  through the website.  It is fantastically well done with a wealth of information on the Celtic culture and the Gaelic Language.  The Gaelic Language is in danger of becoming unknown and we were told while we were visiting that people are now enrolling their children into lessons to keep the language alive.
The old sayings are charming, full of wisdom and wit, and these Motivation Monday series are meant to honor the spirit of the people of Ireland.

 

Ireland – What to Eat & Drink

The Art of Love & Money - Ireland - What to Eat & Drink

My husband and I recently returned from our trip to Ireland!

We began our journey in Dublin, then drove to Belfast, on to County Mohill, then to Galway, Killarney, Blarney, Waterford, and Celbridge.

The Art of Love & Money - Ireland - Over night stay Map
Ireland – Map of Itinerary

I will recommend a few of the places that we ate – our absolute favorites along the route, as well as a few dishes you should try while in Ireland – regardless of where you find it!  I will say, the pub food in Ireland is amazing, and you can’t go wrong by asking any locals where to eat nearby.

I also highly recommend asking the waiter/waitress what their favorite thing on the menu is.

Nancy Hands, Dublin, County Dublin

Warm, cozy, pub environment with candles burning on each table.  I could be wrong, but it seemed to me even the locals were eating here and enjoying their food.  A Guinness is included in your Red bus hop-on hop-off  bus pass, so there are plenty of tourists here as well.  A few tour buses did pull up to drop off their passengers, but they had plenty of seating and wait staff available to accommodate them.

Bonus: Walking distance to Ashling Hotel

Order: Liberties’ Dublin Coddle

Nancy’s Famous Dublin Coddle of Potato, Bacon Chop, Sausage & Onions.

The Coddle was recommended by the waitress and oh, my yum!  Basically a gigantic pork chop that tastes like bacon.  The meat is thick, savory, tender, and juicy.  I ate every last bit on my plate.

Fratelli’s Belfast, Northern Ireland

I must say we had some incredible Italian food in Ireland!  When we stayed in Belfast we asked for a recommendation from the hotel staff.  They pointed us down the road to Robinson’s Bar & Bistro.  I totally recommend you stop in here for a Guinness and to watch the game with the locals.  Unfortunately, the kitchen was closed so we had to ramble on in search of a meal.  Next stop was The Crown Liquor Saloon.  I would also highly suggest you grab a whiskey in here.  The woodwork is stunningly detailed.  We wandered in, saw no food being served and no seats available and wandered back out.  If I had to do over again, I would have gone back after dinner for a night cap just to savor the architectural details of the place.  It is across the street from The Europa, the most bombed hotel in the world.  Our taxi tour guide brought us there the next day on our city tour and took our photos outside.

Long intro but I am about to get to the point:  After finding the charming Fratelli’s and scoring a cozy window seat on a couple of love seats facing one another, we were so glad that there was no food to be found in the first two places because we would have never had found this place!  The Italian aroma smells amazing in here, you pretty much know you can’t go wrong with any of the menu items as soon as you walk through the door.

Order:

Bottle of Montes Cabernet Sauvignon

Chorizo, Chicken, Tomato & Chilli Ragu

Garlic Bread Rolls

Creamy carbonara linguine – Thick cut cured bacon, onions & garlic in a white wine cream sauce

Cheesecake Al Cioccolate Bianco E Pistacchio

The Pie Maker, Galway, County Galway

We loved, loved, loved this place.  Be advised:  It’s tiny.  Minuscule.  But what it lacks in size it more than make up for in flavor, charm, and spunk. Our server was incredibly friendly even though he was incredibly busy and the only server working the four tables and the bar counter.  Yep.  That’s all the room there is.  You literally wait outside the door for someone to come out, and then you can go in.

The Pie Maker has a menu of savory pies for dinner followed by sweet pies for dessert if you left room for it (or if you are willing to eat in regardless.)

So, so good.  I still have not stopped thinking of the pastry tops.  The mashed potatoes on the side were the perfect compliments.

Order:

Chicken & Mushroom Pie

Beef & Galway Stout Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Roasted Pumpkin Pie

John M Reidy’s, Killarney, County Kerry

The perfect ending to a perfect day.  We spent the day riding around on The Ring of Kerry Tour bus and finished up at Reidy’s which was a charming pub/coffee shop.  Nooks and crannies every which way you turn this old candy shop turned hang out is a happening spot.  No matter what environment you are looking for, I’m certain you can find it here.  I saw people drinking cappuccino and studying, others having a smoke out back on the patio, we sat in a quiet corner enjoying a Whiskey listening to 90’s rap music and snapping selfies as we reminisced about the day’s sight seeing.  As we went to leave, we walked through the pub where the beer is on draft and there was a lively crowd listening to live traditional Irish music.  Needless to say, we lost several hours here and aren’t one bit sorry about it.

Other things you must try in Ireland:

  • Porridge with Jameson Whiskey
  • Fish and Chips with Malt Vinegar
  • Lamb Stew
  • Guinness Stew
  • Coddle
  • Bacon & Cabbage
  • Fried Brie
  • Any and all cheeses
  • Streaky Bacon
  • Irish Coffee
  • Hot Whiskey/Hot Toddy
  • Guinness
  • Smithwick’s Irish Ale
  • Redbreast 12
  • Yellow Spot
  • Green Spot
  • Powers Signature
  • Powers 12
The Art of Love & Money - Ireland - Smithwicks-Guinness
The Art of Love & Money – Ireland – Smithwicks-Guinness
The Art of Love & Money - The Whiskey Museum - Dublin, Ireland
The Art of Love & Money – The Whiskey Museum – Dublin, Ireland

Sláinte chugat,

Rachelle

Sláinte chugat. (sounds like Slawn-cheh ch(k)oo-at) Cheers, literally translates Good health to you.

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Go on and explore Ireland virtually.  Check out the places listed online.  Daydream a little.  Make this Irish Coffee Recipe this weekend. 😉

The Art of Love & Money Irish Coffee Recipe

Ireland – Behind the Scenes

The Art of Love & Money - Ireland Behind the scenes - How much the trip cost

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.

Sláinte,

Rachelle

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

Monday Motivation

An rud is annamh is iontach.

Pronounced: On rud iss an-niv is ee-on-tach(k)

Translates: The thing that’s seldom is wonderful.

Isn’t it true that we, as humans quickly become accustomed to nice things and wanting things to fall a certain way (in our favor, for sure)?

But, I do believe that you can’t fully appreciated the beauty of the hills without the dark shadows of the valleys, that certain moments in life are more precious the fewer and farther they are in between.

For instance, my husband rarely buys me flowers.

I know! It’s baffling to me, too.  Since I love flowers more than anyone else I know.

There are women who get magnificent – large, artfully arranged flowers from their husbands so often that they sometime haven’t even cleared away the old vase before another one is delivered.

But not me.  I get flowers very rarely…

but when I do?

Special.

Even the grocery store bouquets are wonderful.

Maybe it’s when you drive to work and hit all of the green lights, or when your favorit uncle comes to town, maybe it’s when you get high praise from your boss.

May you experience something wonderful today,

Rachelle

ACTIONABLE STEP: Think about what is rare and wonderful in your world.  Maybe for you, it’s a snowfall.  We get snow often here in the Midwest and everyone’s favorite pass time is lamenting the cold weather, but if you live in Georgia and you get snow – Hooray for everyone – it’s a white Christmas!  Comment below what is rare but wonderful in your world.

I think it’s a great idea to learn something about the place you travel, to take a bit of the culture and sayings with you when you go.  Ireland is a land of many sayings and phrases.  The Gaelic language is not something that I picked up on – although I did look up how to say hello, thank you and goodbye before we departed for our travels, the only phrase that comes naturally to mind is Sláinte, which is said as “Cheers!” before a drink, but means “Good Health”.
I found all of these sayings after my trip, although I did have many an Irish man say different phrases and try to teach me how, repeat after him.  I, sadly, can not remember them.
 I looked these all up on the website Gaelic Matters.  I encourage you to go and read  through the website.  It is fantastically well done with a wealth of information on the Celtic culture and the Gaelic Language.  The Gaelic Language is in danger of becoming unknown and we were told while we were visiting that people are now enrolling their children into lessons to keep the language alive.
The old sayings are charming, full of wisdom and wit, and these Motivation Monday series are meant to honor the spirit of the people of Ireland.

 

Ireland – Where to Stay

The Art of Love & Money Exploring Ireland Where to to Stay

My husband and I recently returned from our trip to Ireland!

We began our journey in Dublin, then drove to Belfast, on to Mohill (County Leitrim), then to Salthill (County Galway), Killarney, Blarney, Waterford, and Celbridge.

OvernightMap

I will recommend a few of the places that we stayed – our favorites along the route.

These suggestions are good if you are renting a car and doing a self-driving tour or if you will be taking a bus or train from Dublin.

We rented a car on our way out of Dublin and I’m not gonna lie – it was a wee bit scary!  I mean, thank God my husband was there to drive me because I don’t know that I would have been able to do it.

The independent woman in me hates to admit that, but, I want to be totally upfront.  If you have never drove in another country before – on the opposite side of the road, with roundabouts at every intersection going the opposite way that the roundabouts at home go, with country roads the width of an alley with shrubbery, hills or stone walls at the very edge of the line lane – you may just want to know what you are getting yourself into.

That said, everything was totally fine and I didn’t see a single accident while we were there.

Just saying.

First decide – are you driving or no?

Then are you comfortable taking a bus or a train?

Then decide on your overnight locations.

Without further ado, our favorite accommodations:

The Ashling Hotel, Dublin City Center

AshlingHotel
Photo Credit: Ashling Hotel

A 4 star hotel in the heart of Dublin, easy walking access to a good bit of the city.  Dublin is a safe, walk-able city and even on the night that we walked 15 minutes in the dark along the river, I was unafraid of being out roaming about.  We walked to and from Phoenix Park, The Red and Blue Bus hop-on/hop-off stop, The Guinness Storeroom, Nancy Hands, as well as the pub district on Capel Street after our Yellow Umbrella Pub Crawl Tour.

The front desk staff was very helpful and friendly, gave great directions and travel tips.  The full Irish breakfast that was part of our package was extensive and delicious.  The room was big, nice, and clean.  There was a hotel bar that came in  handy the night of the storm when the whole country was on red alert. But would also come in handy for the last few night caps if you don’t want to be stumbling around unsure of how to get home after a few too many Guinness.

Lough Rynn Castle, Mohill, County Leitrim

Lough-Rynn-Castle
Photo Credit: Lough Rynn Castle

I can’t say enough good things about the time we spent here.We only stayed for one night, but it would be absolutely fantastic to spend a long weekend here.  The staff is top notch.  We had a blast at  the bar.  We had a fancy  sit down meal planned for this night, but we ended up meeting several groups of people at the cocktail bar and before we knew it hours had passed – we missed the walk around the grounds, the afternoon tea, and the whole getting ready-for-dinner bit.

Good thing that they offer delightfully tasty pub food at the bar!

The next day we did enjoy a stroll about the grounds, even though it was raining.  It was so lovely!

We were literally romping about in the rain, thrilled by every nook and cranny.

Our room was clean and a sufficient size.  The bathroom was luxuriously updated.  I would have loved to have seen the bedrooms done up with old four poster beds and stately furniture to match the hotel facade, but honestly we spent so little time here that it was no bother.  (I did look up the rooms on the website after our stay – and some of the rooms are just as I would have imagined with the four poster beds.  So if that is important to you, make sure you book those rooms in advance.)

I wouldn’t trade our day here for anything, but if we could have stayed longer, I would have thoroughly enjoyed a sit-down tea one afternoon and a 5 course meal another evening.

Salthill Hotel, Salthill, County Galway

hotel_salthill_galway_1
Photo Credit Salthill Hotel

A 4 star hotel across the street from the Atlantic Ocean.  You can easily walk along Galway Bay’s shores everyday of your stay.  The rooms were clean, a good size, and comfortable.  The full Irish breakfast included in our stay was quite nice.

The front desk staff was helpful in giving directions and suggestions of what to do and where to eat.  May I just say – the front desk staff is perhaps the most important element of a hotel stay?  Looking back, the assistance from the front desk staff makes or breaks the entire city experience.  Especially when you travel without a data plan, good directions and great recommendations can really optimize your visit.

At this location, you are walking distance to Salthill downtown, and a bus away from Galway City Center and Quay Street.

Do go down to Quay Street at night!  Pubs have live music, shops are open late, and there are street performers  filling the cobbled streets with excitement and wonderful music around every corner.

Salthill is great location for driving bits of the Wild Atlantic Way and a day trip to Connemara National Park & Kylemore Abbey where you can take in Western Ireland’s delightful landscape along the route.  It was about an hour and a half each way – so I’m sure there is closer lodging to the park, but the drive was very enjoyable and perhaps our favorite day for seeing the countryside.

Celbridge Manor, Celbridge, County Kildare

This 4 star hotel is a hidden gem.  I don’t mean that lightly.  Our GPS did not even register the town of Celbridge – so without the help of a young girl at a Gas Station, we would have never found our way. Be sure to have printed driving directions before you set out to this destination.

We arrived after a very long day of sight seeing and it was a sight for sore eyes!

I wish we could have stayed longer.  I almost would have cut my sight seeing short just to be able to be here during daylight hours.

Celbridge Manor is a stately old manor with modern conveniences.  Our room was more than generous in size and comforts – including a large claw foot soaking tub!  Be sure to take advantage of this no matter how late you arrive or how early you depart in the morning.

We were completely captivated by this hotel – which is really saying something because we were not thrilled with the booking choice practicalities.

We had to leave the hotel before 6 am to catch our flight. We arrived after dark.  As we neared Dublin (the airport departure) we took our exit.  We then drove 20 + minutes down dark and narrow windy roads in what seemed to be the opposite direction of Dublin.

To complicate matters, in the morning, the Hertz rented GPS did not take us to the correct Hertz location even though there was a button specifically for Hertz Dublin Airport location. Again – you’ll want printed driving directions for the airport.  This is *not* the time to be unsure of where you are going and what time you will get there.

The GPS brought us to the city center.  We never did find that location and finally ditched the idea as time was slipping away from us – seeing as there were no airplanes in sight and no room for a runway.

In retrospect, I would recommend dropping the rental car the night before and staying in a hotel near the airport and letting the front desk calling a cab to drop you at the Dublin Airport – especially if you are not a seasoned traveler.  The Guarda (Police Officer) we asked directions to the airport to chuckled and said you picked the worst spot in the city to drop a car off.

Alternatively, just ask the front desk to print directions to the airport for you before you go.  I really did not think this was necessary because before we even checked into the hotel, I had looked up Hertz Dublin Airport – and got a destination time – and we set aour departure time accordingly.

That said – be sure to have an extra day in your itinerary to explore Celbridge and stay in the lovely manor hotel.

I am still not over the fact that we didn’t have time to explore the grounds in the daylight.

celbridge_Manor
Photo Credit: Celbridge Manor

We stayed in a few B&B’s along the way too.  If you are interested in those locations – shoot me an email and I’d be happy to share information on those as well.  We enjoyed the owners and the experience of staying in a B&B. The locations of the B&B’s were not in walking distance to the town centers and staying in a house felt a little like sneaking into Grandma’s house after dark – but that’s just us.  I do think the B&B’s were lovely and had a unique charm.  It’s also a great way to bring the price of your trip down when you are on extended holidays.

Sláinte chugat,

Rachelle

Sláinte chugat. (sounds like Slawn-cheh ch(k)oo-at) Cheers, literally translates Good health to you.

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Go on and explore Ireland virtually.  Check out the places listed online.  Daydream a little.

Ireland – The Emerald Isle

The Art of Love & Money - Ireland - TheEmerald Isle

As you may have guessed from Monday’s Motivation – My husband and I just returned from a trip to Ireland!

It was every bit as lovely as I imagined and even the poetic name The Emerald Isle seems unable to cover it’s vast array of beauty.  The pictures we took, as amazing as some of them are, left us empty and longing for the ability to capture it all and take it home with us.

But beauty can not be tamed and put in a box, packaged up like a souvenir and sent to an address to sit on a shelf, it can not.

It must be lived.

It can only be observed.  It must stay where it is found, there for all to experience and enjoy.

I hope you get to go there someday.

Which begs the question: Who is Ireland for?

Ireland is for you if you like greenery.GreenTreeIf you like wide, open space, fresh air and a ‘little’ mist on your face and in your hair.

GreenryOpenSpacesIreland is for you if you love old Cathedrals.ChurchIreland is for you if you like Castles.

KylemoreAbbeyIf you like dilapidated old structures and ivy crawling over them.ShedIreland is for you if you like the Ocean.OceanGrassyShoreThe Wild Atlantic Way and the rocky, pebbly, or sandy shores and the waves that lap upside them.OceanRockyShoreIreland is for you if you enjoy waterfalls.WaterfallIreland is for you if you like stacked stone walls and buildings.

IMG_9715Ireland is for you if you like green rolling fields and flocks of sheep dotting the pastures.SheepIreland is for you if you love Celtic crosses, roadside cemeteries, old stones and mausoleums.CemetaryIreland is for you if you love people.  The people are fantastically lovely, every bit as warm and friendly as we were promised.  They are happy to share their history, their politics, their way of life, their best road trip tips, their favorite travel stories, their restaurant picks, directions to the next attraction, and suggested stop off along the way.

Ireland is for you if you like pubs.RedDoorPubIreland is for you if you fancy a Guinness and/or a Smithwick’s!Smithwicks-GuinnessIreland is for you if you like Whiskey.WhiskeyIreland is for you if you like Irish Coffee.IrishCoffeeIreland is for you if you appreciate street art.WallArtIreland is for you if you like colorful entries.GreenDoorIreland is for you if you like stories, fairy tales, and fables.  If you enjoy having your leg pulled, and quirky little punch lines told with a twinkle in the eye.GrassHutIreland is for you if want an adventure, but don’t speak other languages (other than English).  The signs are in Gaelic and then English.  There is just enough mystery and foreign differences – the brogue, the phrases, the currency, the road signs and driving on the opposite lane – to make you feel totally in awe, while still being able communicate and ask for directions.

We began our journey in Dublin, then drove to Belfast, on to Mohill, County Leitrim, then to Salthill, County Galway, Killarney, Blarney, Waterford, and Celbridge.

OvernightMap
The Art of Love & Money Ireland 2017 Overnight Locations

There were day trips to Newgrange Monolithic Burial Sites, Connemara National Park, The Cliffs of Moher, The Ring of Kerry, The Dunbrody Famine Ship, and the Irish National Stud & Japanese Gardens.

The Art of Love & Money - Map of Ireland Trip 2017
The Art of Love & Money – Map of Ireland Trip 2017

13 Glorious days.  13 days could never be enough, but it was a good beginning.  Even if you can eek out just 7 days, I encourage you to go explore the magic that is Ireland.

Sláinte chugat,

Rachelle

Sláinte chugat. (sounds like Slawn-cheh ch(k)oo-at) Cheers, literally translates Good health to you.

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Go on and explore Ireland virtually online.  Daydream a little.