Are you on your way to the Emerald Isle? If so, you’ve landed in the right place! The weather in Ireland is nothing if not changeable…biting wind and rain giving way to sunny blue skies and warm temps when you least expect it. It’s all part of the charm of gorgeous Ireland so don’t fret; just pack smart so you have everything you need…whether you’re hiking wind-swept pastures of adorable sheep or soaking up the craic in an ancient pub. Here’s what to pack for Ireland for the best trip ever:
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- What to Pack for Ireland
- Packing for Ireland: On the Plane
- Packing for Ireland: In Your Suitcase
- Packing for Ireland: More Useful Items
- Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
- Other Things to Bring to Ireland
- Ireland FAQ
What to Pack for Ireland
Packing for Ireland: On the Plane
With the number of trips I take these days, I’ve got packing down to a fine art. And I’m on a never-ending quest to do more with less! I almost always take a carry-on and backpack as a personal item, even if I’m gone for many weeks.
I’ll often check my bag on the way home if I’ve loaded it down with specialty food items and wine, but it’s always best to carry on if you can. Then, it’s easy to skedaddle out of the airport to avoid a lengthy wait to retrieve your baggage.
The key to making your one allowed personal item count is to make it a day pack that’s large enough to accommodate a jacket and purse. More details and recommendations for both of these below!
1. Noise Canceling Headphones
One of my best packing tips for Ireland is to take noise-canceling headphones! And Bose is the brand you want. While you can also get over the ear headphones, I prefer the ones with the earbuds since they are super comfortable and don’t add weight to my daypack.
When it’s time to bust out a movie or music, just flip the noise-canceling switch and watch the world recede away. These definitely belong on your Ireland packing list! Get yours on Amazon here.
What about your Ireland backpack? This one is my go-to bag for the plane… as well as when I’m out and about during the day. I’m super picky when it comes to day packs due to neck and back issues. However, this one works great! I think it’s because the straps are so padded and it just sits solidly and snugly on my back.
I also love all the zippered compartments. There’s a small one in front that works great as an electronics organizer, plus several larger compartments and then the zippered sleeve at the back for a laptop. Plus, it has convenient sleeves on each side for water bottles.
My travel purse fits easily inside with plenty of room for everything else I need.
3. Travel Pillow
I’m on a never-ending quest to find the best way to sleep on a plane. I wish I was one of those lucky individuals who immediately zonks out as soon as they hear the roar of the plane’s engine, but alas.
So far, this is the closest I’ve come to finding something that actually works. Let’s be clear: It’s not perfect. However, unlike all of those other donut-shaped pillows that leave your neck aching the next day, this one offers some serious neck and head support due to the memory foam.
If you’d like to bring a travel pillow and are still on a quest to find the perfect one like I am, try this one and let me know what you think. You can grab it on Amazon here.
4. RFID Credit Card Holder
It’s so expensive and arduous to have your credit card number stolen! Unfortunately, it’s also easier than ever with advanced wireless identity theft techniques these days. It happens every day.
Someone only needs to stand next to you to ask a question and they can lift the number electronically from your wallet! In fact, it almost happened to us.
You can foil their efforts pretty easily though…Just travel with an RFID wallet and credit card holder like the one here. Save yourself a world of hurt with one inexpensive precaution: This RFID credit card holder BLOCKS your card numbers from being electronically lifted.
Be aware and prepared when you travel. Then you don’t have to be paranoid about scams! Get one on Amazon here.
What? Sunglasses in Ireland? Yes! You might be pleasantly surprised. There’s just no telling what the weather will do in Ireland. There have been massive heat waves the last two summers, in fact!
A woman in a shop explained to me that last summer, there was a massive run on shorts since nobody owned a pair when the weather was unseasonably warm. You probably don’t need shorts in Ireland, but you’ll definitely want to bring a pair of sunglasses.
These by Kate Spade are next on my wishlist! They had me at tortoiseshell. Get your pair on Amazon here.
6. Travel Purse
A lightweight crossbody bag is a must for travelers. When you’re in crowds or on metros where thieves flourish, it’s easy to just move your bag to the front of your body with a hand over it to keep your wallet safe! I’ve had my COACH bag for more than a decade and wouldn’t travel without it.
This purse also fits nicely into my daypack for the plane to maximize my allowance for a personal item as I mentioned above.
However, be warned that it’s compact. Honestly though, do you want to walk miles in Europe with a big bag? I find this one is just big enough for my phone, a pair of sunglasses, kleenex, and a lipstick.
7. Portable Phone Charger
Your packing for Ireland should include a portable phone charger. I don’t know about you, but when I travel, I run my battery down at an alarming rate with all those iPhone photos for Instagram. However, there’s no need in to stress with a portable charger on board.
It goes with me everywhere in my daypack just in case my phone battery needs a refresh. (You can charge your phone multiple times before needing to charge the charger itself. The only time I’ve needed to recharge it on a trip was when my daughter was using it too.)
Plus, it’s a lifesaver in the airport when there is not one seat anywhere with a charging port while you’re waiting for a flight. Or, on the plane when you’ve drained your phone or iPad battery with too many hours of books and movies!
You can thank me later. Get yours on Amazon here.
Read more on best packing lists here:
8. Compression Socks
If you are a frequent air traveler or over forty, don’t mess around! Slip into some compression socks before you fly.
I got on board with compression socks a few years ago after a friend shared with me the terrifying tale of being hospitalized as soon as she arrived in Europe due to a blood clot. When you’re flying for many hours, it makes a huge difference.
The other thing you should do is get up and walk around every hour or two to keep blood flowing in your extremities.
I’ll confess I wasn’t so excited about compression socks. I envisioned them as super uncomfortable and ugly. But these are not weird-looking or tight at all!
Compression socks have come a long way. They honestly look and feel like normal socks.
So grab a pair before you go and then toss them in your travel bag when you get home for your next trip. Get yourself and your traveling companion a pair on Amazon here.
9. Sleep Eye Mask
A sleep mask can make all the difference into tricking your body into believing that it’s bedtime when the person next to you on the plane is determined to watch movies the whole flight or leave the window shade up. I like to use these with my favorite earplugs.
A sleep mask is so cheap and easy to pack. It takes up virtually no room so be sure to get one on Amazon!
Packing for Ireland: In Your Suitcase
10. Down Jacket
What to wear in Ireland? If I had to invest in just a single item for travel, it would be my Patagonia down sweater jacket. I get cold easily, but this jacket never lets me down!
It’s the secret ingredient in my never-fail layering strategy for light, packable clothing that keeps me warm. And Ireland is no exception. I stuff it into the bottom of my day pack to take on the plane after I zip that pair of earplugs and sleep mask into the pockets.
This lovely jacket has quilted construction to keep the down in place with a durable poly shell. After more than five years of wear, and travel all over the globe, it looks brand new!
So yes, you can find less expensive down jackets, but if you want one that is reliably warm and extremely well-made to last for a lifetime, buy this one!
11. Cashmere Sweater
I know, I know…You’re hoping to buy a beautiful hand-knit sweater from the Aran Islands while you’re in Ireland. And you definitely should! If you have a serious winter where you live, there’s just no better keepsake from Ireland. They are gorgeous!
But here’s the thing: Those sweaters are bulky. You will never pack that Irish sweater for a next trip because it will take up all the room in your suitcase! The reason I manage to always pack for a trip in a carryon-sized piece of luggage (even in winter) is because I layer with items that are not bulky.e
Start with Smartwool, a cotton t-shirt or long underwear (depending on the weather) and then add a beautiful cashmere sweater. It takes up very little room in your suitcase and looks great for an evening out with the addition of a scarf. (For guys too! It’s the European way.)
So go ahead and add one now to your travel wardrobe. Then take your time finding the perfect Irish fisherman sweater keepsake on your trip. (But ooh…the wool blankets in Ireland also make amazing gifts!)
12. Smart Wool Long-Sleeved Shirt
During our two weeks in Ireland in May, the weather was all over the place so I’m glad I packed accordingly. One of the most indispensable items was my smart wool shirt. These are on the pricey side, but you can get by with just one.
What is smart wool exactly? It’s 80 percent Merino wool for breathability! Because it’s so excellent at moisture-wicking, it can cool you down when it’s warm and keep you warm when it’s cool…all while keeping you dry without stinky sweat.
You can wear it as a base layer or on its own, depending on the weather. I’m all about soft clothing next to my skin so I loved that these aren’t scratchy at all.
13. Rain Jacket
So you’ve got your smart wool base, your cashmere, and your down jacket. There’s just one thing more for the perfect all-weather laying system when packing for Ireland: a reliable rain jacket. You will want one when you’re at the windy Cliffs of Mohr and also exploring the Dingle Peninsula for sure!
Be sure to get something lightweight that packs down and can go on over your down jacket if it suddenly starts to rain buckets out of the blue…which it well may in Ireland!
I like this one from Columbia because it’s breathable and has a hood. Get it on Amazon here.
14. Hiking Boots
Hiking boots are bulky, so I have to really need them if I’m going to wear them on the plane, but I’m so glad I had them in Ireland.
We’ve already talked about the possibility of endless rain in Ireland. And that means the possibility of endless mud, which will make a mess of your tennis shoes.
Don’t be that person who doesn’t want to go on the beautiful hike across a meadow of sheep past lichen and clover-covered boulders to the secret castle because it’s muddy! Be ready with the right footwear.
I love my Teva hiking boots. (They even got the thumbs up by my podiatrist recently.)
These are low profile, lightweight hiking boots that are perfect for hiking the Wild Atlantic Way, the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, and wherever else you are headed on the Emerald Ise.
They’re leather but sealed for moisture to keep your feet dry. When you buy, remember that it’s important to be able to wiggle your toes so they don’t get sore when hiking downhill.
15. Leggings for Women
Even though I no longer (sadly) have the svelte figure of a 20-year-old, I still love my Lululemon leggings for travel. They are super comfortable, durable, and keep my tummy tucked in. (No muffin top situation here.) I always pack a pair for a trip to wear on the plane, for hiking, and comfy days in the car.
I like the look of the wide waistband and feel of the soft fabric. Speaking of waistbands, this particular Lulumon legging even has a secret pocket in the waistband where you can stash a few small items, like a credit card. One more great way to thwart potential thieves.
16. Quick-Dry Convertible Cargo Pants for Men
Just as leggings are my go-to travel pants, Steve is all about the cargo pants. The best of them are quick-drying, made of light material, and easily convert to shorts…which is a lifesaver if you get overheated hiking or the brooding clouds in Ireland suddenly give way to searing sunshine.
No big deal…Just unzip the pants at the knee and you’re ready to go with comfy shorts.
Columbia’s cargo pants are also made out of SPF 50 fabric for extra protection from the sun and quick-wicking fabric. You can grab a pair on Amazon here.
Packing for Ireland: More Useful Items
17. Packing Cubes
Have you used packing cubes? For the longest time, I didn’t really see the point…until I tried them.
If your goal is to take more clothing without too many bags, this is the way to go. I roll each clothing item as I stack them in a cube. It’s astounding how much more you can fit in a small space while still being able to find everything conveniently. Love them.
In my carry-on size luggage, I usually take three cubes to leave space for my toiletry bag. The best part is that your clothing and other suitcase items stay soooo much more organized once you arrive at your destination. No more rifling through everything you brought to find that one item you need.
If you’re traveling with other family members, consider getting each individual their own color of cubes so everyone knows whose stuff is whose.
Packing cubes will change your life! Get some on Amazon here.
18. Windproof Umbrella
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been surprised by weather I didn’t expect in my travels! But it’s always completely fine because I never leave home without a travel umbrella. Just zip into an outside pocket in your suitcase and you won’t sacrifice any space.
The thing I hate most about umbrellas is when they do that turning inside out thing in a strong gust of wind. Nobody needs that!
This one opens with a single button but can withstand gusts of up to 60 mp! You can get yours here on Amazon.
19. Pack-It-Flat Toiletry Bag
This is every traveler’s favorite toiletry bag…men and women alike! It conveniently fits in the last spot in your carryon suitcase as mentioned above.
I love the slim silhouette. It has several convenient zipped compartments to organize your toothbrush, toiletries, makeup, and more. Plus, you can hang on it any coat hook! Get it on Amazon here.
20. Jewelry Organizer
When you’re thinking about how to pack for Ireland, skip the bling! Make it your goal to blend in and not look like a tourist or a target for theft. But still… a girl needs a few items for evening wear! That’s where this jewelry bag comes in.
With satin on the inside and clear plastic on the outside, it’s easy to see at-a-glance what you’ve brought. And yet, it’s light and takes up minimum space in your luggage. You can grab one on Amazon here.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
21. World Nomads Travel Insurance
Free travel insurance is one of the perks I love best from my Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit card. But if I didn’t have this card, I’d invest in a policy by World Nomads. You never know what might happen on a trip.
World Nomads offers insurance for trip cancellation, overseas dental and medical treatment, medical evacuation, terrorist attacks, airline damage to gear/baggage, delayed baggage, and death overseas. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind!
Other Things to Bring to Ireland
So you are almost packed and ready to go! What else do you need to know? Here are answers to top questions travelers ask about Ireland.
1. Can US citizens drive in Ireland?
Indeed, we can! And, in fact, you do not need an international driver’s license to do so. Just bring your US driver’s license and you can rent a car if you’re over 21 years of age. You can check rental prices here through Auto Europe.
2. Is it easy to rent a car in Ireland?
Yes! You can check rates through AutoEurope here, in fact. Be aware that you will be required to buy insurance, however, unless you can prove that you already carry primary rental car insurance for Ireland. (I brought a copy of a letter stating this from Chase since it’s a benefit of my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.)
3. Is it safe to drive in Ireland?
Absolutely, it’s safe to drive in Ireland. American drivers will need to be comfortable driving on the “wrong” side of the road as in the UK. And it’s true that the tiny rural roads (of which there are many) are very narrow.
But don’t worry! Irish drivers still find a way to pull over when they meet an oncoming driver to pass. The opportunity to be off the tourist grid in tiny Irish towns is a beautiful experience so be brave and rent a car!
4. When is peak tourist season in Ireland?
July and August are the busiest months in Ireland with tourists. If you can visit in shoulder season—May or September, for example—you’ll still have a good chance of better weather with fewer crowds. Although honestly, Ireland is much less crowded than other summer destinations in Europe. Consider also visiting in fall to enjoy the many arts and music festivals.
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