Two services hanker to help young travelers in Ireland this year. The Irish Youth Hostel Assn., An Oige, will operate do-it-yourself holiday packages plus several special tours that international travelers are welcome to join.
USIT, the Irish Student Travel Service, is also there to help with bike rentals, a bed-and-breakfast lodging network, and transportation discounts for students and youths on domestic and international services.
For young travelers who would like to join a group, An Oige is operating a special Walking Holiday for international visitors July 12 to 26. Price of the 14-day trip is about U.S.$264. This covers youth hostel lodging, self-cooked meals (outside of Dublin) and rail, coach and boat transportation. You must be a member of the International Youth Hostel Federation and you'll need good walking boots or shoes and a rucksack.
Participants meet at Dublin's Morehampton Road Youth Hostel, then head to County Wicklow on the east coast. Part of the trip is spent on Wicklow Way, the first national long-distance walking route in the republic.
The group then moves on to County Kerry in southwest Ireland where there are opportunities to cycle, swim, fish and pony trek.
Suits Average Cyclist
Cyclists can join a similar trip Aug. 9 to 22. This trip is suited to an average cyclist (some experience). The rate of about U.S.$238 covers accommodations, meals (away from Dublin), bicycle hire and rail travel to the west of Ireland.
From Morehampton Road Youth Hostel in Dublin, participants go by rail to County Galway and then cycle to the County Mayo area where there are opportunities for pony trekking, boating, hill walking and snorkeling.
To sign up, contact the head office of An Oige at 39 Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1. There are no age guidelines on these two trips, so if it's important to you to travel with members of your own age group, ask what the average age of the participants is before you sign up.
Even do-it-yourself travelers might want to check in with the An Oige travel office. Each year it offers a variety of packages for independent travelers that incorporate vouchers for hostel accommodations with either a rail/bus pass or a bicycle.
For cyclists who prefer independent trips, An Oige also produces a free brochure outlining nine suggested tour routes. Each route could be covered in a week and each night you would find yourself near one of An Oige's 54 youth hostels.
Savings for Students
Students can save up to 50% on any long-distance bus or rail travel within Ireland and some ferry cost between Dublin and London by buying a Travelers Stamp from USIT, the Irish Student Travel Service. USIT has seven affiliated offices throughout the country. The head office is at 7 Anglesea St., Dublin. The stamp, which must be added to an International Student ID card, costs about $6.
Students with International ID can also obtain from the USIT office a free copy of the "National Student Discount Directory," which lists over 1,500 reductions they are eligible for in Ireland.
USIT can also help non-students under 26 years of age with discounted ferry/rail fares to international destinations or with finding economical accommodations. USIT has accommodation vouchers that can be used throughout a network of guest houses, farms and country homes that offer bed and breakfast.
USIT also offers bicycle rentals at its Dublin and Roslare offices. You can return the bikes to either location. In Roslare the USIT office is only open between June and September. Rates run about $4 a day or about $24 a week. Second-hand bike sales and facilities to store luggage are also available.
Don't be surprised if you are asked to pay an extra fee when you leave Ireland. A $6.50 departure tax is charged on any transportation ticket sold in Ireland when leaving the country.