Welcome to my little corner of the world where I share tips and recommendations for travel, musings about life, and images from my adventures around the world!

Wander. Wonder. Explore. Grow.

Review:  Great Value Vacations Irish B&B Experience

Review: Great Value Vacations Irish B&B Experience

Portnoo Beach on the Wild Atlantic Way in Co. Donegal

Portnoo Beach on the Wild Atlantic Way in Co. Donegal

*Author’s Note:  I was not compensated for this review.

By now, you have probably seen the Great Value Vacations ads popping up on your Facebook feed. If you’re a Groupon junkie like I am, you have no doubt run across those tempting deals beckoning you to Europe for a ridiculously good price. I have to admit that I’m a skeptic by nature, so I usually lurk around their page, drool, and go into a deep depression because that impossibly good deal to Greece can’t ACTUALLY be without caveats.

But, then, curiosity got the best of me. I booked the Irish B&B Experience. And. It. ROCKED!

Usually, I book all of our trips. Now, if you have a really bad case of wanderlust too, then you know the lengths you’ll go to research every hotel, every flight, every rental car deal, every Trip Advisor review, and, well, you catch my drift. Booking a trip becomes an obsession, and I don’t typically relinquish my control over the process. Hey, it’s my passion. So, giving up just an iota of control was scary at first, but then, oh then, did I see how very, very sweet the deal turned out to be.

Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square located in Dublin

Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square located in Dublin

What We Booked:  Irish B&B Experience

What Was Included:  Roundtrip air into/out of Dublin; 2 nights at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel; 6 nights in B&B’s of our choice; a rental car

Price:  $4700.00 total for three travelers (in July); If you have ever traveled to Europe during July, you know that prices are always at their peak.   When I priced airfare out of our airport, the price of the tickets alone cost $4500. To have eight nights and a rental car included made this an unbeatable deal.

Booking:  We did not buy the Groupon and booked directly from the Great Value Vacations site. The most time consuming part of booking was searching for dates that worked for us. Other than that, it was a snap. Since we booked after their office hours, we received our official documents that contained our itinerary, flight information, B&B vouchers, and car voucher the next day. The file was quite extensive, and it contained instructions on how to book the B&B’s.

Dublin Airport:  I seriously wish that U.S. airports would study the design and logistics of the Dublin airport. Arrival, customs, and luggage retrieval were a breeze. The shuttle to pick up our car at the Dan Dooley rental location was speedy, and the shuttle driver was a one-man Ireland welcoming committee who gave us great tips on where to eat, what to eat, and locations to visit in and around Dublin. Dropping off the car was equally easy. Clearing customs to go home was great because Terminal 2, our port of exit at the airport, is an official US Preclearance location which allowed us to enter the US as domestic travelers. That means no long lines after a Trans-Atlantic flight. Sweet!

What I Loved Most:  You get to plot your course after the first two nights. I love-love-loved being able to book our B&B’s myself. This offers the best in flexible economy travel. Also, Great Value Vacations was easy to work with when I had questions. I found that they answered me promptly and kept in contact with me as we neared our departure date.

Cute friends we made along our way through Ireland

Cute friends we made along our way through Ireland

What You Need to Know

1. The M50 toll road that runs around Dublin does not have toll booths. You have 24 hours to pay your toll at any Payzone outlet which are commonly found at gas stations. Save your receipts to turn in when you drop off your car before departing Dublin.

2.  Even though our car insurance covers rentals, we were required to purchase insurance through Dan Dooley. Plan to pay for this upon retrieving your car. The total cost for the insurance was approximately $400 US dollars.

3.   The drive from the Dublin airport to the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel took around 40 minutes. If you’ve ever driven after a long flight, then you’ll understand how difficult and stressful this can be. Factor in driving on the opposite side of US roads, and you’ll know that you might want to grab a cup of coffee before heading down the M50.

4.  No meals are included in your first two nights’ accommodation. The Fitzpatrick offers room service, but there are restaurants nearby. (More on this when I write about our itinerary in later posts.)

5.  Trunk space in European cars is often much smaller than those found in the US, so we like to use rolling duffel bags. They don’t take up as much space as suitcases.

6.  Upon booking, you will receive a link to Ireland’s B&B network. You must use your voucher number in order to book. Also, you will need to be very flexible in where you want to stay. Your best strategy is to find an area that you want explore and set up a base camp somewhere in that general vicinity. The B&B’s book up quickly! Also, for an additional nominal fee, you can upgrade the type of B&B that you can book. I did this for approximately 6 Euros extra per day. Not a bad deal to get better digs.

7.  If you drive from Ireland into Northern Ireland, be aware that kilometers change to miles, and Euros change to Pounds. You may need to exchange or withdraw money. Be aware of the speed limits, too!

8. The most important piece of information:  Print out ALL of your vouchers BEFORE you leave! Your B&B hosts will need their own copy of the voucher so that they may be paid.

The Takeaway:  I will most definitely book another trip with Great Value Vacations. The easy and stress-free process from beginning to end made for a trip that my family won’t ever forget. The price is unbeatable and the freedom to plan our trip made the experience one that I hope to duplicate in the near future. I give Great Value Vacations a thumb’s up!

**Be on the lookout for my articles covering this trip! I’ll share my B&B reviews, activities, and other tips and recommendations!

Wander Wonder Explore Grow
Twenty Days in Europe, Part 4:  Interlaken and Lake Brienz

Twenty Days in Europe, Part 4: Interlaken and Lake Brienz

Twenty Days in Europe, Part 3:  Base Camp--Wilderswil, Switzerland

Twenty Days in Europe, Part 3: Base Camp--Wilderswil, Switzerland