Plan Your Ireland and UK Self-Drive Vacation

General FAQs

Do I need a passport?
Yes! All US citizens must have a passport that remains valid 6 months beyond the dates of your trip. All non-US citizens must check with their local consulate for documentation requirements. If you do not have a passport, one may be obtained through your local post office, which also offers expedited processing. ALL NAMES PROVIDED TO TENON TOURS MUST BE AS THEY APPEAR ON YOUR PASSPORT (first and last names only). You may want to make a copy of your passport and leave it at home with a friend of family.

Do I need a Visa?
Travelers from the European Union, the United States and Canada do not need a visa to enter Ireland, the UK or most Western European countries for stays shorter than 90 days. If you hold a passport from a different country or plan on staying for more then 90 days, please check with your local consulate.

Consider Registering with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program).
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to a foreign country. STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. Click here for more information.

When should I arrive at the airport?
Play it safe and plan to arrive 2.5 to 3 hours prior to your scheduled departure time to allow for any unexpected delays in traffic, check-in, security, or long lines at the newsstand!

What is the currency in Ireland and the UK?
The local currency in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro (€) and Pound Sterling (GBP) in Northern Ireland and the UK (£). Current exchange rates can be found at xe.com.

When should I exchange my US dollars?
We recommend exchanging around $100 before you leave if you would like to have cash upon arrival. You can then withdraw money from local ATMs in Ireland and the UK as needed, or use your credit card (Visa & MasterCard recommended). The ATMs will give you the bank’s best exchange of the day. You may also exchange a small amount of money at your hotels. We do not advise exchanging a lot of cash at the airports as they generally give you a less competitive exchange rate. Banks in Ireland and the UK are generally open from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Mon-Fri. All are closed on weekends. Some close for lunch hours. Be advised that many credit cards charge an International Transaction Fee for charges on a credit card of about 1-3%. Traveler’s Checks are NOT accepted at most locations outside of airports so we do not recommend them.

IMPORTANT: Many banks will freeze your debit/credit card after the first few transactions to protect against fraudulent use unless you advise them of your travel dates. It is extremely important that you call your issuing bank for all debit/credit cards(s) pre-departure to ensure that you will be able to withdraw funds and use your card overseas.

Will somebody pick me up at the airport upon arrival?
Generally there will not be a Tenon Tours representative at the airport upon your arrival unless you booked a private taxi. Please follow the directions you were given on your transfer vouchers and/or travel documents in order to locate your appropriate transportation company (car, bus, private taxi).

When will I be able to check into my hotel/hostel/B&B in each city/town?
Typically, check-in is 3:00pm, although many places will allow you to check in earlier once rooms have been cleaned and inspected. Luggage can be stored in a secure area for early arrivals.

What type of beds and room configuration should I expect in the hotels?
A double room is designed to accommodate two people and will have either one double, queen, or king size bed; a twin room will have two single or double beds depending on the hotel/B&B. At times, there may be one double bed and one single bed and you will have to either flip a coin or ro-sham-bo your roommate for the big bed. Triple rooms typically have two double beds or a double and a single bed. We cannot guarantee three separate beds for rooms of three, unless specifically noted.

Do the hotels have hairdryers?
Most hotels have modern accessories, although specific offerings vary by hotel. We recommend you check the hotel website for details pertaining to complimentary and optional inclusions and services.

What is the electrical current/voltage in Ireland and the UK? Do I need a converter?
Unlike the US and most European countries, the UK & Ireland’s electrical current is between 220-240 volts, 50 cycles A/C and work off a flat three-pin plug. An adapter is necessary and can be found in most duty-free shops in the airport, Brookstone, Bed Bath & Beyond, or in most hardware stores or pharmacies such as Walgreen’s.

Is there internet access available?
Yes. Nearly all hotels offer Internet access in their lobby or wireless access throughout. There are also Internet cafés scattered throughout the major cities/towns. There is normally a cost associated with using the Internet at public terminals.

What meals are included?
A full breakfast or light breakfast is included daily at your accommodation (unless otherwise noted). Please check with each specific hotel or B&B for their serving time as most end by 10am.

Where should we eat?
We suggest checking with the front desk at the hotel or asking locals for recommendations based on what you’re looking to eat and how much you want to spend. Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales are very friendly and hospitable countries when you are looking for suggestions or are needing questions answered.

How much money should I bring for my trip?
It varies greatly from one person to another, but we recommend budgeting €/£100 per day to allow for lunch, dinner, drinks, gratuities, and other expenses. For food: lunches can range from €/£10-20; dinner between €/£15-30, not including drinks. This is just a guide to help you budget accordingly. You can also find fast food in the range of €/£4-10.

What if I run out of medication during my trip? Do I need any special vaccinations?
If you take prescription drugs, ensure that you have an ample supply for the duration of your trip and always carry them in your hand luggage. If you rely on medication, glasses, contact lenses or dentures, it is a good idea to carry a prescription with the generic drug name so it can be filled abroad. Ireland and the UK have medical facilities of similar standards to North America and no special vaccinations are necessary to travel here.

Should I get travel insurance?
We recommend purchasing travel insurance. Tenon Tours offers a tour protection plan to cover your trip plus airfare – whether you purchase airfare through us or not. Travel insurance is affordable and gives you the extra peace of mind should anything happen during your trip. For specifics on our travel insurance coverage, contact your personal travel specialist.

Are you supposed to tip in Ireland and the UK?

Food/Drinks: Some restaurants will include a service charge in the bill. If the service charge is not included it is customary to leave between 10-15% depending on how you valued the food and service. Generally people do not tip in pubs when only purchasing drinks but they do tip when purchasing food.

Transportation: No tipping is required for drivers of public transfers. If your tour does include private transfers or a tour guide (such as on our optional tours) it is customary to tip between €/£2 to €/£5 per person based on the service and information provided by your driver.

What is the weather like in Ireland and the UK?
Ireland and the UK have mild, temperate climates which produce temperatures in the high 70’s during the summer months and the low 40’s in the winter. Spring and autumn temps usually hover around 50 degrees (F). Rain is very common and tends to appear at the most random times so make sure you plan accordingly. However, we have found that it never rains in the pub… or so the saying goes.

What type of clothing should I pack?
The dress is extremely casual in Ireland and the UK so we recommend packing as you would prepare for a weekend away in the states. You can never go wrong with a general mix of casual and comfortable, as well as a bit dressier if you’re one to frequent nicer establishments. However, a light rain-resistant jacket and small travel umbrella are must-haves!

How many suitcases am I allowed to travel with?
In most instances, you are allowed one piece of checked luggage and one carry on, although some airlines are even charging for the first checked bag now. It is best to check with your scheduled airline for specifics regarding size, weight, and number of items allowed.

What is the time difference in Ireland and the UK?
There is a 5-hour time difference between Ireland and the UK and EST. 12pm New York = 5pm Ireland and the UK.

What is VAT and how do I get it refunded?
In Ireland and the UK, almost all consumer products are subject to Value Added Tax — VAT, for short. VAT is a “hidden tax” — already added into the purchase price of any souvenirs bought on a visit (there are two notable exceptions in Ireland and the UK: no VAT on books and no VAT on children’s clothing and footwear). Americans are entitled to get a refund of VAT paid. In order to get this refund you have to get a VAT-refund form at the time of purchase from each store in which you shop. This is very important! Unlike business travelers, tourists aren’t entitled to refunds on the tax they spend on hotels, transportation and meals. Tenon Tours also has FexCo Tax Cards available for their clients. If you did not receive one and would like one, please contact us.

How do I make phone calls while on my trip? Does my cell phone work?
Depending on your cell phone plan/carrier, your cell phone will work in Ireland and the UK but will come with connection fees and minute charges. Digital Phones with GSM capabilities and an International roaming agreement will work but we recommend you contact your mobile company to see if they have a specific plan available or it will be expensive. Local cell phones are available for rent through Tenon Tours.

To Call…
…Ireland/UK to the US – dial 001 before the number – example: 001-781-435-0425 (Tenon Main Office)
…America to the UK – dial 011 44 before the number – example: 011-44-20 7499 9000 (American Embassy)
…America to Ireland – dial 011 353 before the number – example: 011-353-1-668-8777 (American Embassy)
…Ireland to the UK – Dial 00 44 before the number
…The UK to Ireland – Dial 00 353 before the number

(Hint: if you’re dialing an Irish phone number and it starts with “0,” dial “011-353,” drop the first “0” in the Irish phone number, and dial the rest of the number normally.)

Self-Drive Tours

What if I pick up my car before the time on my confirmation?
If you arrive to pick up your car before your confirmation time and a car is available they will let you pick it up early. If you pick up the car early your return time will then change to the same time on the day you need to drop it off as car rentals are valid for a 24-hour rental period.

Are the pedals set up the same on manual cars in Ireland and the UK as in the U.S.?
The pedals are set up the same on cars in Ireland and the UK, though everything else in the car is reversed as the driver’s side is on the right of each vehicle. Reminder – you’ll shift with your left hand!

Why are automatic cars so much more expensive?
Automatic cars are in much higher demand than manual cars in Ireland and the UK because of international visitors not used to driving on the opposite side of the road or driving a manual.

What is included in my car quote?
Your car quote includes all compulsory insurance – Collision Damage Waiver insurance (CDW with an excess/deductible), theft protection insurance (TP), sales tax (VAT), unlimited free mileage, third party liability insurance, one driver (unless otherwise noted), airport surcharge, free road map of Ireland or the UK and 24-hour peace of mind break down coverage. We highly recommend that you read through all of the terms and conditions of the car rental so you are familiar with what is included and what is not, as they will present you with several options upon pick-up (increased insurance, GPS, etc.).

What is the Super CDW?
The Super CDW is additional insurance you can add to your regular CDW for an extra cost. The Super CDW insures against the CDW deductible amounts. Tires, wheels, fuel contamination and loss of keys are not covered by premium. Daily cost is approximately €/£12.00-22.00 EUR depending on car category.

Are there age restrictions to rent a car in Ireland and/or the UK?
Yes. In Ireland, the driver must be between 23-80 years at the time of travel. Certain conditions apply for drivers 76-80 years old, and elderly drivers may have to provide additional documentation to rent a car. Drivers aged 23-24 years are restricted to the economy-sized car class and pay a daily surcharge of €26.00. If you are 23, 24 or 75+, please let your travel specialist know at the time of booking. In the UK, drivers must be 25+, no exceptions, and there is no upper age limit.

Can I rent a GPS navigation system?
Ask your travel specialist about how to include a GPS and mobile phone rental in your Tenon Tours self-drive tour package, otherwise we rent GPS/mobile phone bundles for $20 per day. If you’d prefer to rent from your car rental company, you may rent a GPS only (normally around €/£10-15 per day) from them.

Inputting GPS Coordinates:

  • For GPS coordinates, use the first format listed in the GPS: (h ddd.ddddd°)
  • If the coordinates given read: 52.710743, -8,878969, they should be converted and entered into the Garmin GPS as : N 52.710743 and W 008.87896
  • The first coordinate given is Latitude (North/South). Ireland and the UK are north of the equator. The second coordinate is Longitude (East/West). If negative, it is west of the Prime Meridian line, (Ireland and the UK are west of the Prime Meridian) if it’s positive it is to the East.

Details on the M50 motorway toll (Ireland only)
Toll booths replaced by new barrier free tolling system. Customers should be aware that there is not a cash payment facility at the tolling point on the M50 motorway (Dublin’s Ringroad). Drivers of all vehicles using the section of the M50 between Junction 6 (N3 Blanchardstown) and Junction 7 (N4 Lucan) are liable to pay a toll.

  • How much is the toll?
    Cars cost €3. If you are renting a car, please ask the car rental reservation agent about the electronic toll as they have a brochure that will explain where the toll is and how to pay it.
  • Where can I pay?
    There are various ways to make this payment; all of your options will be given to you upon pick-up of your car, but if you’re concerned please ask a representative at your car rental company!

Self-Drive Hints

You may think that the main idea you need to keep in mind when driving in Ireland and the UK is to stay on the left side of the road. That’s important, true, but there are a few other details to remember when you’re doing a road trip in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland and the UK.

Automatic vs. Manual. Many overseas rental agencies charge a premium for automatic cars. If you’re used to driving an automatic at home, you may not want to try to save a few bucks by renting a standard. You’ll have enough on your mind without worrying about stalling the engine on Ireland and the UK’s hilly roads. Ignore this advice, and you too may end up with a frustrated passenger yelling from the backseat, “Clutch! Use the clutch!” Or you may develop your own version of Irish driving mantra, invented such as when the car starts wandering toward the shoulder every time you change gears: “When you shift, you drift.”

Park the cell phone. In both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and the UK, driving while using a handheld cell phone is illegal, and fines are steep.

Remember that every drive takes longer than you’d think. When passing through towns, major highways often morph into traffic-clogged two-lane streets. Farm vehicles are allowed just about anywhere, including most four-lane roads. So the 260 mile drive from Belfast to Cork can take four hours or close to six hours. On the bright side, most of the scenery you could be crawling past is very pretty.

Rent a monster car at your peril. Roads are narrow (particularly those marked “R” on Republic of Ireland maps), and they’re often lined with parked cars or dense hedges. If you enjoy having side mirrors, forgo the SUV.

Learn to handle roundabouts. They can be terrifying, but you can’t escape them. Just remember that traffic already in the roundabout, and traffic approaching from the right inside the roundabout, has the right of way.

Budget wisely for gas. You think your gas prices are high? Keep in mind that the price listed is per liter! (Roughly 4 liters make up a gallon.)

Look before you pump. Diesel is more widely available in Ireland and the UK than in the US/Canada. Make sure you’re pumping the right fuel before popping that nozzle in the tank.

Don’t rush! Allow yourself time to get lost, and you’re almost certain to discover a special castle, pub or golf course far off the beaten track.

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Planning Guide

 

How do my tour vouchers work?
Please make sure to travel with the documents sent to you by Tenon Tours. You will have vouchers for various parts of your tour that will act as payment for your B&Bs, tours, transfers, etc. You will have to hand these vouchers in to their respective places so please make sure to have them printed and on hand!
 

B&B Go-As-You-Please Vouchers – Ireland

Should I pre-book my B&B room?
It is advisable to pre-book at least your first and last nights’ accommodation in advance at all times. Rooms in Dublin city and county can be difficult to find unless accommodation is pre-booked. If visiting the capital city, we strongly advise pre-booking all accommodation well in advance. Never count on finding rooms at short notice in Dublin. The website for all participating B&Bs is http://reserveabandb.com/ This site is for voucher use ONLY.

What if I cannot find a B&B with availability?
Should you have a problem finding accommodation when in Ireland, contact any Tourist Information Office or seek advice from your host/hostess in Town & Country Homes. He/she will assist in booking subsequent night/nights for the cost of a telephone call.

Do I have to place a deposit in order to pre-book a room?
There is no charge to pre-book your rooms online; however, a credit card will be required in the case of no-shows or late cancellations (within 7 days). Your host/hostess may also require a valid credit card at time of booking as a guarantee to hold the room(s) if you contact them directly. This system is put in place to ensure that clients are not pre-booking multiple homes at no charge then showing up holding rooms at other homes.

What is meant by an ensuite room?
An ensuite room is a room with its own private facilities such as shower/bath, toilet and hand basin.

What are the check-in/check-out times at B&Bs?
You should arrive for your reservation at a B&B by 6pm. Check-in time is normally between 2pm – 6pm, unless otherwise agreed with your host/hostess. Please note that late arrival, estimated after 6pm, is by special agreement with each home. Check-out should be no later than 11am.

Are the homes checked by B&B Ireland?
All homes are approved to Fáilte Ireland and Northern Ireland Tourist Board standards (the official Irish Tourist Boards) and all of our homes meet these standards.

What is the advantage to using these vouchers?
Using vouchers means you can purchase a packaged vacation that is cost effective, your accommodation is prepaid and you avoid having to carry money to settle accommodation costs, but you are free to take your trip day-by-day for maximum flexibility.

Are there any extra charges we have to pay at the B&B?
A room supplement for Dublin city and county of €7.50 (approximately $12) per room per night applies for the months of June, July, August & September with the vouchers. This charge is paid directly to the accommodation provider and is not included with your payment to Tenon Tours.

Are the vouchers refundable?
B&B Ireland vouchers are refundable if you are not able to find availability or you find alternate accommodations. They must be returned to our office within 14 days of the end of your tour and they are subject to a $15 per voucher restocking fee.

 
B&B Just Go or Circle Vouchers – United Kingdom

Should I pre-book my B&B room?
It is highly advisable to pre-book your B&Bs when traveling in the UK as there are fewer available in the more popular locations. At a minimum, we recommend your first and last night’s accommodation in advance. During the summer, some popular locations require a 2-night stay.

What is meant by an ensuite room?
An ensuite room is a room with its own private facilities such as shower/bath, toilet and hand basin.

What are the check-in/check-out times at B&Bs?
You should arrive for your reservation at a B&B by 6pm. Check-in time is normally between 2pm – 6pm, unless otherwise agreed with your host/hostess. Please note that late arrival, estimated after 6pm, is by special agreement with each home. Check-out should be no later than 11am.

What is the advantage to using these vouchers?
Using vouchers means you can purchase a packaged vacation that is cost effective, your accommodation is prepaid and you avoid having to carry money to settle accommodation costs. This program offers you a lot of choices of itinerary throughout the country.

Are there any extra charges we have to pay at the B&B?
A city tax of £10.00 (approximately $15) per room per night applies for the month of August in Edinburgh and during the summer months in Oxford, Bath, Maidenhead and Cambridge with the vouchers. This charge is paid directly to the accommodation provider and is not included with your payment to Tenon Tours.

Are the vouchers refundable?
Unfortunately, if unused, the Just Go and Circle vouchers are non-refundable.

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