I'm hoping for a little advice/information about traveling abroad. I have never traveled outside the U.S. and my wife and I are thinking about taking a trip to Ireland. What I want to know is, approximately, how much is a trip for two to Ireland (airfare, hotel, in-country travel etc.)? I'm thinking $3000 should do it but I am basing that on nothing. I realize this is a pretty vague question but I am just hoping to get some ballpark estimates and possible travel hints. Thanks.
You don't indicate how long you're going for. It depends on your tastes and where you're flying from, I'd say $3000 will only buy you about a week in Ireland.
Europe - and Ireland - is brutally expensive right now because of the exchange rate. Northern Ireland, which is on the pound, and Dublin are in the heart attack range, where everywhere else is only in the "cringe every time you reach for your wallet" range. Basically, imagine a New York vacation and then double the price. Travel packages don't include a lot of incidental costs which will eat you alive. Want a simple meal in a pub? You're talking 20 bucks at the least. Cup of coffee (not Starbucks, just coffee)? $4 in Dublin. A pint of Guinness will set you back 6 or 7 bucks. Europe is literally twice as expensive as 5 years ago, and probably 3 or 4 times as expensive 10 years ago before the Euro. If you're flying from the East Coast airfare shouldn't be that bad - you can definitely get $500 and less round trip in off-season, and maybe even in the summer. But everything else will make you feel like a third-world citizen trying to vacation in the United States.
Now is really not the time to vacation in Europe if you're on any kind of budget at all. I'm guessing since it's your first time out of the country you're looking for somewhere that speaks English and there isn't a ton of culture shock. A really neat place with much the same culture and landscape as Ireland (but without the cool accents) that is a ton cheaper is the Canadian Maritimes (Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island - New Brunswick is more French-Canadian). Plus they drive on the right side of the road.
Having spent time there, go regardless of the money. It is expensive but if you avoid tourist traps (Dublin, Blarney stone, etc.) and travel the countryside it can be affordable. Skip the tours and rent a car. Use the B&B service. Use the tourist menus. Go before or after the summer peak. Either May/early June or late August/early September. Avoid hotels as they are ridiculous. If it looks touristy, it is.
And Guru is right. But find a travel agent who ahs been there.
Off season you should be able to find flights for about $700 a piece.
Wouldn't be the best person to speak top on accomodation as I freeload off friends when I visit, but B&Bs can be found relatively cheap (less so with exchange rates mind), particularly if you're willing to stay outside the main tourist areas.
Drink's (alcolohic) should set you back about $7-8 a pop. Dinner for two in a decent pub/bar about $40-50.
Avoid ANYTHING that looks like an 'authentic' Irish theme pub unless recommended by someone you trust. They smell the tourist money coming I tell ya.
Taxis in Dublin are also pretty pricey, so you might want to look into car rental in advance, particularly if your travelling around a bit.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/03/10/pandas.zoo.ap/index.html Another freedom taken away by the Bush Administration - we don't get to see Giant Panda's mate this year. Here's hoping for happiness for Tian Tian and Mei Xiang...