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Saturday, February 19, 2011

May the Luck of the Irish Be With You 2.19.11

Céad míle fáilte, or ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’ to Shereen Travels Cheap. Saint Patrick’s Day is bearing down on us in a few short weeks and you know what that means? Green beer and stupid hats? Maybe, but that’s really only if you’re an American and can turn any holiday, traditional or obscure, into a reason to get drunk and cause a ruckus. At least you’re fun and know how to party! In Ireland, you will likely find NO green beer, shamrock sunglasses or green felt leprechaun hats, unless it is marketed solely to tourists. In fact, inIreland Saint Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday to commemorate the day that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland (Supposedly, though I suspect there weren’t any there in the first place. Easy task!)

With the holiday in Ireland becoming more secular and less celebrated came a brilliant idea from the government! Giant festivities to get people worldwide interested in traveling to Ireland to join the parties and soak up the culture! Meaning MORE tourism. Amazingly, the first festival to be held in Ireland didn't occur until 1996 and it was only one day. Since then, it has grown into a week-long celebration of all things Irish that draws hundreds of thousand of visitors every year who come to party, join parades, watch concerts, witness fireworks, attend sporting events, take in theater performances and, of course, to drink beer.

Are you a Shereen Travels Cheap Subscriber yet? If not, please take a moment to do so by entering your email over on the right. (Please tell your friends where they can find me, too.)

It might take a bit of luck to find a great deal on travel, but if you know what you’re doing – or you have me! – then it’s not so much luck as it is brains. Leprechauns are known to be crafty little guys, but you can outsmart them by turning the tables and not letting them find your pot of gold. In other words, don’t part with everything in your wallet trying to find them. Instead, find big savings at the end of the rainbow!

St. Patrick’s Day, unlike other holiday times, doesn’t seem to be a drain on your wallet. Actually, it seems to be CHEAPER to travel to Ireland during the festivities than other times. For example, you can book a great tour package with Celtic Tours World Vacations for under $1000 per person. 9 days/7 nights Go-As-You-Please vacation package includes RT airfare, 5 day car rental, accommodations, hotel to airport transfer, full Irish breakfast daily, Hop-on Hop-off Dublin Bus pass, phone card and 25% off discount to the Shannon Region. You may buy the land and air package, but if you find a better airfare, you can buy just the land package and save some money on your trip. For an additional fee, you can add tours to your itinerary, such as the Ring of Kerry tour.

Speaking of airfare deals, American Airlines has its European Fare Sale going on right now and you can fly round-trip from just $425. That’s a big savings over regular rates. Book by March 3rd and travel by April 17th. That works perfectly for any Saint Patrick’s Day travel you have planned. You know what’s even BETTER? Dublin is a listed end destination! Convenient!
Here are some useful links to get the most out of American Airlines and be the first to know about their super sales:

Awesome Fact: Witness the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the whole world in DripseyIreland ofCounty CorkThe parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village's two pubs.

Get yourself a Dublin Pass. As always, I am recommending the city pass for those visiting Dublin. Not only is it a great deal if you plan to do a fair amount of sightseeing on the Emerald Isle, but it also it lets you skip the queues at the ticket booths. Your Dublin pass comes with an airport-city center transfer, entrance to over 30 top attractions, the Croke Park Experience (for those of you who are sports lovers), discounts on dining, shopping, etc. and even unlimited public transportation! Purchase online before you go to save 20% off. Your Dublin pass is valid for 12 months from purchase and “activates” upon your first use.

My Goodness My Guinness! Do you love Guinness like I do? How would you like a FREE pint? If you’re in Ireland, take a walk through the Guinness Factory and see how it’s made, enjoy a free pint at the end of your tour and take in all of Dublin from the 360 degree view in the Gravity Bar on top of the factory. Before you leave, make sure to stop into the visitor centre and museum to view old adverts and pick up some souvenirs. Here’s a good tip: purchase your entry ticket(s) online to bypass long queues and get 10% off (the not-so-cheap admission price of 14 Euros) or use a Dublin Pass that includes admission.

Do you prefer Jameson whiskey? You can take a distillery tour of their factory as well! Again, your tour ends with a good size “sample”. You can volunteer to do a taste-test, and if you are chosen it includes 3 Irish whiskeys, a Scotch whiskey and an American Whiskey and then a fancy diploma saying you took the taste test. Take a trip through the gift shop and buy a nice bottle for the rest of your trip or send some home for you, family or friends. The tour lasts about an hour and the distillery is open 7 days a week, but you can make reservations online and save 15% off the admission price of 13.5 Euros.

Both tours were highly recommended by those that took one or both of them.

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Twitter: @shereentrvlschp

Obviously, no matter where you are, you are bound to be near some St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on March 17th. Almost every city has an Irish pub that throws a huge party where everyone gets rip-roaring drunk, pretends their Irish, wears crazy stuff and takes a cab home (hopefully) in the wee hours of the morning to sleep it off. In Portland, that party can go on for many nights, depending what day St. Patrick’s Day falls on. Our popular restaurant called Kells takes up an entire city block with tents full of vendors and music and all things Irish and people have been known to take days off of work, just so they can start their weekend partying early. A great way to find such celebrations is your local paper’s entertainment or local section and online. What’s On When has listings for entertainment and goings on in most cities worldwide.

Want to take Shereen Travels Cheap everywhere you travel? You can! Join other subscribers on Amazon and read me on your Kindle? Don’t have a Kindle? That’s okay, too. Download the FREE Kindle Reading App for your web enabled device (i.e. iPhone, iPad, blackberry, android…) and get instant updates as soon as new posts are published. Easy!

And if you’d like to at least see a bit of Ireland even if you can’t visit, check out some of these movies to enjoy the rolling green countryside and Irish lilt:

Angela’s Ashes
Boy Eats Girl (kitchy rom-zom movie)
The Crying Game
Darby O’Gill and the Little People
Far and Away
The Informer
Laws of Attraction
Leap Day (best sightseeing in a movie, by far)
Michael Collins
P.S. I Love You (my pick for 2nd best sightseeing movie)
The Secret of Roan Inish
Tristan & Isolde
Waking Ned Devine

This is by no means all of them, just ones that I know are probably available through Blockbuster, Netflix, Redbox or your own DVD collection. Find a more complete list HERE.

I hope that with these deals and tips, you can enjoy Saint Patrick's Day and Ireland to the fullest. Drink responsibly and may the wind be ever at your back! Cheers!

In the coming weeks I’d like to answer some reader questions on budget travel, or just travel in general, as I find that there are many people out there that have similar questions and this could be helpful to a lot of you. If you have a question, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will work on getting them answered in the following blog posts. And, of course, you can always post questions on my Facebook page, which will be answered as quickly as possible.

I love this travel bag! It's perfect for those that like to cruise and need to bring "formal wear", since it can take up so much space. The SkyRoll Garment Bag conforms to carry-on regulations and can fit under the airplane seat. Since most cruises go to tropical locales, it can be easy to pack two people's travelwear in a regular carry-on and also share the SkyRoll for one-two formal outfits each and shoes. I was told that an ex-Marine officer was able to pack theirs in such a way that they fit 4 suits, 8 shirts and accessories in his SkyRoll. While most travelers won't need that much, it does say something for the capacity of this compact bag. It has room for suits and dresses and has zipper pockets for tops and other clothing and a separate zipper pocket for ties and socks. The inside cylinder is perfect for shoes, belts, toiletries and anything else you might need. The structure of the bag helps to eliminate wrinkles. It is easy to carry, with a padded strap, and has self-repairing zippers. It would make a great addition to any traveler's bag collection.

This is the spot to look for new, cool stuff in the Shereen Travels Cheap world. In case you’ve missed the last couple of weeks, links to older guest posts have been moved to the sidebar on the right and there is also a nice list of links to my favorite sites that are super useful to travelers and money-savers. Makes it much easier to find what you may have read about in a previous blog post, but can’t quite remember the name. I hope this is more user-friendly for you.  

Next week, Ebates will be kicking off Travel Week and they asked me to help start it with a blog post on budget travel. Who am I to say “no” to such an attractive offer? Stay tuned for a link to my guest post and in the meantime, you can check out their other awesome money-saving suggestions on their blog.
THIS week, I was given the honor of working with Independent Traveler and sharing with their readers my tips on how to beat the a la carte fees that are now the norm when it comes to air travel. I’ve given my most handy tips on saving on baggage fees, airplane food and more! Independent Traveler is a super great resource for people who book all their travel on their own and can help you find excellent deals on all your trips.

If you have a travel or money-saving blog/website that you would like me to write a post for, I am always happy to do so. Contact me HERE with details.

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