10 Reasons To Take A Vagabond Tour of Ireland
By Nancy Schretter, Editor
Ireland ranks high on the list of dream vacations for many travelers. In fact, a recent Virtuoso report ranked Ireland as one of the top ten most popular destinations for vacations this year. Ireland is as appealing to first–time visitors as it is to return guests. Once vacationers have experienced the warmth and wonder of Ireland, they quickly find themselves planning their next trip.
Ireland is a magical destination, particularly when experienced off–the–beaten path through the eyes of locals. For over fifteen years, Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland has offered award–winning family–friendly trips that show guests a side of Ireland they’re unlikely to see any other way. Their multi–sport trips are particularly good choices for active families who want to dive deep into Ireland and discover the treasures this extraordinary destination has to offer.
If you’re planning to take an Ireland family vacation, here are ten great reasons to explore the Emerald Isle with Vagabond Tours of Ireland:
1. Fantastic Ireland Vacation Itineraries. Planning an Ireland family vacation itinerary can be challenging, especially for first–time visitors. Vagabond’s trip planning experts make it easy, combining years of extensive experience with deep insider knowledge. Even seasoned Ireland travelers will be surprised by what Vagabond manages to uncover. Vagabond artfully combines Ireland’s breathtaking scenery and fascinating history with multi–sport adventure activities like hiking, cycling, sea kayaking and horseback riding. Families can select any one of Vagabond’s exceptional Ireland itineraries including the 7–day World Tour of Ireland and 8–day Wild Irish Rover Tour, named one of the ‘Top 50 Tours of a Lifetime’ by National Geographic Traveler magazine. These tours depart from Dublin and primarily focus on special spots on the west coast of Ireland along a coastal route known as the Wild Atlantic Way.
2. Hassle–Free Trip Planning. There’s no need to spend dozens of hours laboriously combing through the Internet and guidebooks to research and plan your trip. Vagabond has already taken care of everything for you. Just pack and go. Vagabond’s handy packing lists make that simple, too. Vagabond guests can choose to add a number of optional activities to their trip and the company’s helpful staff is great about answering questions. Kids on Vagabond group trips are often in their teens or older, although children ages 8–10 and up are generally well–suited for a Vagabond group tour. Vagabond also offers private tours of Ireland and can easily accommodate toddlers and young children on those trips.
3. Exploring Ireland Off–The–Beaten–Path. Ireland is filled with amazing experiences, stunning scenery, rich cultural traditions, and some of the friendliest people on earth. Vagabond Tours of Ireland takes guests off the beaten path in Ireland, allowing them to see Ireland like a local, soak up Ireland’s culture and discover hidden gems that most visitors never see. Since Ireland is incredibly popular, some well–known locations are packed with buses and tourists. In contrast, however, Vagabond’s customized Mercedes and Land Rover 4x4 tour vehicles may be the only ones parked at places guests visit. These special spots can only be found through vast local knowledge. Rob Rankin, founder and owner of Vagabond Tours, understands how key it is to showcase Ireland’s appeal this unique way, even at its most popular sites. “At both the Cliffs of Moher and The Giants Causeway, our Vagabond guests can hike along the cliff tops for miles to the main destination points,” says Rankin. “They have this all to themselves and it’s really very special.”
4. Flexible Schedules. The word “tour” can sometimes conjure up visions of large groups with set–in–concrete itineraries and regimented schedules. That’s not the case with a Vagabond trip. The Vagabond vacation experience is not overly structured and there’s plenty of free time to explore and make memories of your own. Vagabond’s adventure group tours are limited to no more than thirteen guests. While lodging arrangements and some key itinerary pieces are fixed, daily schedules can change based on weather conditions and the interests of the group. “It takes a lot of work on the ground to deliver a flexible itinerary and we ask a lot of our team to do this,” says Rob Rankin. Vagabond tours work well for both families and multigenerational groups, because there’s always something to keep everyone happy.
5. Expert Guides. Experienced group travelers know that great guides make great tours. Vagabond seeks out and trains the best, and they’re a gifted group. “Our guides need to have a variety of superpowers including likeability, an encyclopedic memory, great storytelling ability, humor, empathy, organization, reliability, patience, an Olympic–standard sense of direction, and bus driving licenses,” says Rob Rankin. Vagabond’s guides make the trip seamless, expertly driving down meandering roads while navigating the complex maze of group needs and interests, weather conditions, timing and traffic. Guides are a combination of travel concierge and a master of ceremonies as well. They share facts about Ireland’s history, cultural insights, Irish tales and folklore, jokes, and songs. With some sort of sixth sense, Vagabond guides have an uncanny knack of knowing just what their group needs at the moment and always have expert recommendations for pub lunches, activities and great spots for dinner. Trips wouldn’t be the same without them.
6. Awesome Multi–sport Activities. Vagabond’s active tours are perfect for families who want to jump right into their vacations, fully experiencing the many facets of Ireland. While Vagabond’s tours include well–known sites like the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle, they also allow guests to take in the best of this remarkable country through hiking, cycling, horseback riding, sea kayaking and small boat excursions. Multi–sport activities are great bonding experiences and Ireland offers a wealth of these opportunities. Vagabond has hand–picked the best options and providers, making booking easy and eliminating the stress. Families are likely to make their most vivid memories riding Irish Cob horses along deserted Ventry Beach, slipping on a wetsuit to go sea kayaking in Dingle Bay, cycling through scenic Killarney National Park and exploring Skellig Michael, an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site featured in recent Star Wars movies. These activities add so much to the trip and allow guests to experience Ireland in a way that would be hard to do on their own.
7. Memorable Experiences. Today’s travelers want to feel like they’re truly connecting with the places they visit, not just seeing them through a window. Vagabond’s tours offer the kinds of unique cultural connections and authentic Irish experiences today’s travelers crave. Some of my most vivid memories from our Vagabond World Tour of Ireland trip were watching sheep herding and talking with a sheep farmer and his son at a local farm, stopping for pints at venerable Irish pubs and soaking up the local culture, enjoying traditional music sessions in Dingle and Kenmare, wandering through ancient castles and abbey ruins, walking to stone circles and centuries–old monuments, and taking a boat out into Dingle Bay to see Fungie, Ireland’s beloved bottlenose dolphin. Unlike most wild dolphins traveling together in pods, solitary Fungie seems to prefer interacting with humans. Fungie has been a resident of Dingle Bay since 1983 and shows up consistently, delighting vacationing families and locals alike.
8. Classic Irish Hospitality. Ireland is known for its postcard–perfect country house hotels and welcoming spirit. Staying at these special places is a memorable part of any Ireland vacation. “We want to give our guests an intelligent, high quality and contemporary experience in Ireland, one that showcases the very best of Irish hospitality, great scenery and fantastic history,” says Rob Rankin. Talk to any Vagabond guest and they’ll wax on about their favorite dining spots and hotels, whether it’s lakefront Gougane Barra Hotel, lovely Spanish Point House, or spending a night in an Irish castle. Overnight castle stays are included in some Vagabond itineraries but if not, simply opt for a pre– or post–tour stay at Clontarf Castle Hotel located just a ten–minute drive from Dublin’s city center.
9. Over–The–Top Moments. Expect the unexpected on a Vagabond tour. Every day brings new adventures and “wow” experiences, some spontaneous and others planned. My favorite example is our group’s surprise picnic lunch high on a secret hilltop overlooking dreamy Inch Beach. We felt like we were on top of the world, and our Vagabond guide topped it off with handcrafted Irish coffee made on a customized stove. It was truly incredible.
10. Stress–free Peace of Mind. Families and multigenerational groups don’t have to worry about driving along Ireland’s back country roads, schedules, traffic, weather or anything, really. The same goes for making lunch and dinner reservations, activity bookings and transportation. It’s all taken care of. All you have to do is relax, enjoy Ireland, and make memories together. That’s the way a great family vacation should be.
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