Packing has never been one of my strong suits. I have a huge aversion to packing lists. My mother handed them to my sister and I since we were little. Maybe that’s why I shy away from them.
But truth be told, I always have one in my head. I travel so much that I always know what needs to go in our bags. I have my boys packing down to a science, bringing as little as possible and assuming I’ll wash a few pairs of socks and underpants along the way. Where I typically run into overpacking is with my own clothing. Naturally, I want to look cute when I pack for a trip to Ireland. Raincoats, warm coats, boots, layers, clean underwear and just the right accessories seemed so important before we left.
Want to know something. None of it mattered. Yes, the outer layers were important (undergarments too). My hiking shoes and jackets were essential. The rest? I ended up doing laundry halfway through our two week trip and could have packed half as much. So, what here is what I would have packed:
Pack for a Trip to Ireland
- 1 umbrella
- 1 puffy jacket (can fit under raincoat. We love this one with a hood and this one, which was super warm!)
- 3 pairs of jeans
- 1 pair of fleece-lined yoga pants (doubles as an under layer)
- 3 T-shirts
- 4 long-sleeve shirts
- 1-2 cardigans
- 7 socks (wool or wool blend preferred)
- 7 underwear
- 1-2 scarves
- 1 purse with a zipper
- 1 Daypack (amazing light weight backpack)
- 1 pair of street shoes (I pack these on every trip and these boots too!)
- 1 pair of hiking trail shoes (these waterproof ones were a lifesaver! )
- 1 warm hat
- 1 pair of fingerless gloves/mittens (like these)
- 1 set of Pajamas
Wear Bright Colors
Ireland is very green, especially in the summer. The rest of the year, it can also be varying shades of brown, red and yellow. The key to packing is to bring your bright clothing. Pack your vibrant blues, yellows, oranges and reds. White also stands out in this deeply saturated landscape. If you want to take photos and be in them, be mindful of what you are wearing. If you only pack black, grey, brown, and even most muted greens, you will blend with the background. Have a little fun and brighten up your normal drab colors when you go away on holiday!
Doing Laundry in Ireland
It was surprisingly easy to do laundry while in Ireland. Most B&Bs, hotels and lodges can point you in the direction of the local launderette. Many places are not self-services; you simply drop off a bag of laundry and pick it up a few hours later. It will be washed, dried and folded for you.
We did laundry in Clifden, Ireland about a week and a half into our trip. One large (and I mean very large) load was thrown all into one washing machine and cost me 10 Euro. I was so excited for clean clothes I gave them another massive bag. Everything took three hours to be ready for pick up.
There are so many backpackers, musical and art festivals throughout Ireland that the locals are used to travelers. They know that people need to do their laundry, so the larger towns and definitely the cities have laundry facilities available. All you have to do is ask where to bring your dirty clothing.
Finding the best hiking shoes for Ireland
I looked high and low for the best shoes to bring to Ireland. I knew I needed something waterproof. We would be doing a lot of hiking and walking. It could also rain the entire time we were there or it could be sunny. I didn’t want to bring my knee-high Hunter rain boots. I was already packing the boys’ rain boots, which were taking up a ton of space in our suitcases. Hiking boots seemed like the way to go. I had bought a pair in Scotland with the kids a few years ago, but they just weren’t comfortable. The boots were stiff and hurt my ankles. They were also very heavy.
When I met the founder and product developer of Altra Running, Golden Harper, in Canada and tried on a pair of their trail running shoes, I figured I’d give them a try. Altra made a low top waterproof trail runner perfect for hiking through Ireland. It came in a lovely pink color that would hit my “bright color” requirement for the trip. They also had a street shoe (or everyday sneaker) that was super lightweight, and would make for a good backup shoe, especially when we got to London. Sadly, the shoes didn’t arrive in time for our trip, but my husband saved the day and brought them when he met us.
Regret and Relief with Altra Shoes
I packed up my old hiking boots, as I had no other option. Two days of hiking and my ankles were a mess of blisters and my feet were sore. Anything had to be better than this. My husband arrived, and oh boy was I right. The Altra Women’s Lone Peak Trail Runner was like a sneaker, but better. They hugged my heel, but I barely felt them on the front of my foot. They looked slightly wider than a normal sneaker. According to Harper, this is how all shoes should be made because it gives our toes room to expand and balance us in the most natural way.
I have never been more comfortable in shoes. I strapped them on and wore them for a week straight. Not one blister. The only time my feet hurt was after hiking the Cliffs of Moher three times, and that had nothing to do with the shoes. I’m just out of shape, and well, that hike is steep!
How were the street shoes? Just as good. I wore them when we were not hiking and they held up just as well. Nothing rubbed my ankles the wrong way. Not one Band-Aid was used to patch up a blister. Both shoes packed up small and didn’t add the equivalent weight that my old hiking boots had added. Oh, and those boots? Yeah, they are in a dumpster in Dublin somewhere.
Travel to Ireland is Unique
The bottom line is this, the climate and terrain of Ireland is unique and therefore it requires a packing list to match. To fit some of the larger items (umbrellas, rain and hiking boots) plan to do laundry along the way. And please do yourself a favor and pack comfy waterproof shoes.
Many thanks to Altra Running Shoes for sending the Lone Peak Trail Runner and Escalante running shoe to take out for a test run in Ireland. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know. I take my footwear very seriously, and have been wearing these shoes around the neighborhood even after our trip. Just ask my neighbors.