I love to travel. I love (almost) everything about it – I love being at the airport watching people, I love sitting on a plane and have captive time to just read or watch a movie, I love meeting new people, eating new food and seeing places I’ve never seen before.
The obvious problem is the amount of time and money available to travel. When I was in university I had a chance to travel a bit but since then I have been working to build a practice, had very little vacation time and no disposable income.
In the last couple of years I have started to have a little bit more leeway in all of those areas but I also realized after that night in the hot tub with my girlfriends I realized I can’t risk waiting for the right time because I might never getting to all of the places I want to see.
Make time for friends
A few years ago (in the middle of the aforementioned busy period) I realized I had not seen my fabulous friend Colleen in more than a year. She also has a young family and is a busy professional and we hardly even spoke. I had this feeling that I would wake up in 10 years and I would have no friends because they all would have slipped away from these years of being busy.
Colleen and I made a pact that once a year we would go somewhere together so that even if our lives are busy we will reconnect and foster our friendship regularly so it won’t be the ashes from the fire that is life with young kids, household responsibilities and a busy job. It has always been a weekend in the fall, we have gone Christmas shopping or just spend a couple days somewhere close. Last year we realized that in 2017 we both turn 40 so we decided that we should make this year a bigger trip.
We both decided we could use about 1 week of our vacation allotment for the year for the trip which restricts where you can go because of the time to travel there. From the east coast of Canada it can take several hours to get almost anywhere and because I live in Saint John, NB, which is a small place, you have to fly somewhere to get anywhere.
We didn’t want to go somewhere in Canada or the USA and based on proximity, interest in the destination and travel time we have decided to go to Ireland!
The planning, making mistakes and a shout out to Linda at Westjet
I have to say the planning part of the trip is probably the most fun for me. We sat down with our computers and worked it out together. The first thing was to look for a time and flights, and we lucked out to find a sale right after Christmas on Westjet, so we went ahead and verified the flight numbers with eachother (we were each booking separately on our own computers) and booked.
Then we set to find accommodations and a car rental. Colleen offered to start on the first night so I said “great I’ll start on the last night – Saturday in Dublin would be fun” to which she replied “but we are flying back on Saturday”. Have you guessed it? Yes I had booked to come back Sunday and she had booked to fly back Saturday – YIKES! So here is a good tip – if you call the airline (both Air Canada and Westjet have this policy for sure) within 24 hours of your booking they will make a change for free (subject to the price difference in available fares)– which lucky for me Linda at Westjet did without a hitch and she even took a couple minutes to tell us the highlights to her two trips to Ireland just last year. So more than just being fun planning together it was practical because we caught the problem and fixed it before it cost more money or lead to me being alone in Dublin for 24 hours. A HUGE shout out to Westjet and Linda for great customer service!
We went on to plan most of the outline of the trip and booked hotels and here is what it will look like.
September 15 Drive to Halifax and fly overnight to Ireland
September 16 Arrive Dublin, get rental car and take day to
explore and drive to Galway
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD
September 17 Hike – Cliffs of Moher
September 18 Driving south and castle day
September 19 Hike – Killarney National Park
September 20 City day in cork
September 21 Blarney Castle and Kilkenney Castle
September 22 City day in Dublin
September 23 Fly home
I know you are probably thinking “I can’t afford to do that”. This trip is actually very reasonably priced. The easy part is that because I am travelling with a friend so we are sharing the cost of a lot of the expensive stuff (like hotels and car rental). The other big thing is finding a good price on the airfare and being flexible to move your dates around to improve the fare – we are only paying $650, all in, round-trip from Halifax to Dublin. We are also staying out of the big cities, especially for accommodations and we are using a lot of AirBNB spots, which has the added benefit of giving each of us our own room.
Its not cheap for sure and we could do it cheaper (I’ll have to write about my recent hostel experience in California) but it is infinitely affordable and I am already sure absolutely worth the time and money.
More to come
Please come back and check out the trip itself which I will blog about when I get back. But more importantly, get out there and see the world, travel at home or abroad, explore and have your own something special to look forward to. I have set a countdown clock to the trip, really for myself, because as we trudge through the winter and get back into a busy workload after Christmas having something to look forward to is very valuable.