The romanticized Irish road trip feels like something you should do when you visit Ireland, right? You want to drive the ring road. Driving the Wild Atlantic Way, the Ring of Kerry and seeing Ireland on your own terms sounds like a great idea. Making this happen requires you to rent a car in Ireland though. Sounds easy enough. Book a car online at your favorite site and you’re done, right? Wrong. Unlike most European nations, there is so much more to renting a car in Ireland.
Booking A Rental Car In Ireland
- Manual or automatic
- Unlimited Miles
- Air conditioning
- GPS Navigation systems
- Baby seats
You find the car you think you want, grab the best price and start clicking through pages of agreements. Read those agreements very carefully. The information is worth reading when you rent a car in Ireland. But wait, what size car did you decide on?
What Size Car Do You Rent In Ireland
This is a very important question. It’s important to know that the size of the roads in Ireland are small, especially those tiny (gorgeous) ones you want to take. While we would all love a big SUV to comfortably road trip around Ireland, The Ring of Kerry is not a three-lane highway. You will be passing tour buses.
I was in a standard car (4-doors with a trunk) and I barely squeaked by some cars without having to pull in the side mirrors. In Ireland, bigger is not better. Rent the smallest car you can safety fit into so you are comfortable driving on the roads.
Extra Car Insurance When Renting A Car In Ireland
Yes, buy the extra insurance when renting a car in Ireland. In fact, you have to have it. No rental car company in Ireland will let you take a car without additional coverage. Call your credit card company. Chances are, they will not cover your rental in Ireland. Your personal auto insurance won’t either. The Republic of Ireland is one of the few countries in the world that most credit cards and personal auto companies just won’t cover. Your travel insurance may not cover you either.
Do not wait until you get to the airport to buy insurance. This could cost you up to an additional 700 dollars (US). If you are booking through companies like Travelocity.com or Expedia.com (Expedia owns Travelocity), you can buy additional insurance through a 3rd party vendor. However, call the insurance company BEFORE you buy to make sure they cover the Republic of Ireland. Not all insurance being offered will cover you in Ireland.
I bought insurance through the Irish rental car company and still called them when in Dublin just to double check I was covered. It never occurred to me that a company would sell me a policy that wouldn’t work in the destination I visiting. If you find yourself in this situation, make sure to ask the insurance company for refund.
Get a GPS to drive in Ireland
We all love our Google Maps, but in Ireland, it isn’t always the best option. First of all, you will kill your data. Save it for all of your social media uploads, and invest in a portable GPS for your trip. The little lady in your GPS navigation system may even bring you down some tiny roads Google never would have shown you. I swear we went down more tractor roads than even the locals knew about because our GPS decided it was the faster route.
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Rules of driving in Ireland
Every country has its own quirks when it comes to the rules of the road. Renting a car in Ireland and driving down the highways and local village roads is no different.
- Drive on the left
- The left lane is the “slow lane” on the highway (pass on the right)
- There are roundabouts on the highways
- Tour buses get the right of way. Always. If it is bigger than you, figure out how to pull over safely and just stay put until you can pass.
- Drive during the day; it’s dark out there!
- A tight white dashed line means it is a two way traffic street
- Sheep have the right of way.. especially when they are blocking the road. Have patience.
- Traffic cameras are everywhere. If your GPS tells you one is coming up, do not ignore it.
- Toll roads do exist. Have small change on hand whenever possible.
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