Ireland — My Pre-Trip Preparations

My wife, daughter, and I are about to embark on an eight day trip to Northern Ireland. My daughter and I have never been. My wife has visited many years ago but stayed mainly in the south of the country. Therefore, this will largely be new to all of us. We’re very excited.

We will be spending the bulk of the time (five days) staying with friends in the seaside village of Cushendun. It is about an hour north of Belfast and near many other interesting sights so I imagine we will be doing a lot of sightseeing while there. Then, we will spend the final three days in Dublin before the return flight home. We’ll be renting (hiring) a car at the airport to drive to our final destination. Yes, that means a manual transmission, as automatic ones for hire are more rare and more expensive. Yes, that means I’ll be driving and shifting on the “wrong” side. No, I’ve never had to do so before. Yes, I’m a little nervous about that (but those that have done so tell me you catch on quickly).

There were a few preparations I’ve needed to make before leaving on the trip…

Normally, when traveling overseas, my wife and I take the opportunity to be semi-disconnected. We generally don’t buy SIM cards for our phones and simply rely on wi-fi where we can get it to check email, download maps, etc. For many reasons (not the least of which is the driving we’ll be doing) on this trip we’ve decided to get SIM cards that will work in Ireland ahead of the trip so that we can stay connected. I found this guide on TidBITS to be most helpful in doing so. I pretty much have done exactly what that article explained.

I’ll be trying out a new travel bag on this trip as well — a Pakt One. I took it along on a three day trip to our family cabin earlier this week and really liked it. I’m looking forward to see how it does for a longer trip.

Some of you may remember I did a video of my light packing methodology about ten years ago (seems like yesterday) and maybe I’ll take the time to throw together a video of what I’m packing these days soon. The basic ideas have not changed and, because we are staying at a friend’s house, we’ll have access to a washing machine for the bulk of the trip so that will be nice.

That said, the broad strokes of what I cover in the video remain the same; I can pack a lot less because much of what I’m bringing is designed to wash easily and dry quickly. My socks and t-shirts are all merino wool so that means I can get at least a couple of days wear without needing a wash at all. All of my undies are from Uniqlo’s Airism line so super light weight, comfortable, and pack down to next to nothing (five pairs of the mesh version balled up together are not much larger than a softball. With a pair of jeans, a couple of pairs of Proof Nomad travel pants (the best I’ve ever tried and I’ve tried a few), three long sleeve button-ups I can rotate around, a sweater, and a hoodie I basically have a capsule wardrobe that fits nicely into this bag. I even still have room for my rain jacket, a hat, my minimalist toiletry bag, etc. I can even fit in my laptop, a small notebook, some pens, and other items. The Pakt One is perfect and purpose designed for one bag travel.

Other pre-trip preparations have included…

In all, I’m very excited for this trip and think it will be an ideal way to close out the summer as a family and return refreshed and prepared for the beginning of the school year (which for us starts as soon as we come back). I’m sure you’ll be seeing me post more than a bit more about our travels along the way.