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A Bucket-List Item




DH and I are in agreement that we would love to take one big trip ABROAD before we settle into our quiet and conservative golden years. A retired single friend of mine took a lovely tour of Ireland/Scotland last fall that seems to be exactly what DH and I would enjoy. It is with a young travel agency that offers very competitive pricing and small, intimate groups for the tours, going off the beaten tourist path, instead of the "herd effect." For years my dream was to visit Spain, but I know that traveling as a couple, my DH would much more enjoy being in a country where he can understand what is being said. Plus, my friend's pictures from her experiences absolutely drew us in with their appeal. We have decided we will begin saving towards this trip, with the hope of taking it in September/October of 2016. We won't, of course, make any reservations or commitments until we see how successful we can be at personal fund-raising without sacrificing any of our other financial goals. Anyway...it's a lovely plan and one we will enjoy dreaming about and researching and saving for... :)

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First thing we will do...create a budget for anticipated expenses. We won't know specific dates for the tour until next spring, when the agency establishes their schedule. But we can mark off tentative weeks, based on the schedule they have for this fall (wish we could do it this year but no way).

  • The tour package price itself, times two, which includes all lodging, all ground transportation, all admissions to attractions, all breakfasts, many lunches, but not airfare to/from. 
  • Airfare to/from (figure out which area airport offers the least expensive flights, factor in long-term parking, or who would drop off/pick up from airport if not our hometown field)
  • Meals/tips that aren't included in the tour package
  • Any "side trips", since this will most likely be our one and only crossing of the sea ??
  • Souvenirs? We aren't big on buying "stuff" while we travel unless there is something that is truly compelling.  Photos...most definitely
  • Renewing my passport--last issued 2005 so it is expiring, I think--need to check.
  • Way to cover the bills that DH usually pays, since he is self-employed and won't be earning income while we are gone.
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My in-laws have done Ireland and Scotland separately as trips and loved them. They have traveled Europe extensively - my mother in law was born in Germany and they both speak German, French and English so they could travel comfortably all over. Ireland and Scotland have both been favorites of theirs, in particular Scotland. Enjoy your planning! The planning and anticipation is always half the fun :)

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I toured Ireland about 20 years ago. It's a beautiful country. There are a few major tour routes. Do you want to go north or south?

I wasn't a huge fan of the tour system itself. But I think that had more to do with being in my early 20s. I still don't tour or cruise, so I think that's just personal preference.

Dublin is usually the start and end, and an awesome city in itself. That worked as our own base for non-tour excursions.


Self employment can mean many things. It's counterintuitive, but many I work with accelerate their business when they take time off. Leading in, they front load their work and feel the pressure get work done. Upon return, it's time to catch back up. When compared to the standard unmotivated moments in any regular day, it works out.

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I live in Scotland, been here just over 5 years. I really really enjoy it here (obviously!) and can't imagine moving away. I recommend it :) If you need any help give me a message!

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Side trips - if visiting Spain has been a dream for you for years, and this is likely to be your only visit to Europe, I would absolutely plan this as a side trip. Perhaps 3 or 4 days tacked on to the end, then fly home from there, for instance.

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I am going to the Post Office this morning to process my passport renewal--it expires in July.  I want to have it all ready so that this dreamed-for trip stays in the forefront of our planning.  DH's passport is good for another 6 years, so he is covered!  I am using months of accumulated, unspent personal "blow" money for this, so it isn't cutting into any of our ongoing budget commitments.  Just saying (and typing) the word "passport" excites me!  I really want this to happen...

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Update....I received my renewed passport by mail yesterday!  This was one small tangible step in the direction of my dream.  As I read travel guides and watch Rick Steves videos and check out the websites for European countries, I think it would be most fun to design our own trip rather than travel in a "herd."  I know there are considerable risks with doing that, but i think if I'm careful and very detail-oriented we can plan an itinerary that will be fun and budget-friendly, and also allow us to do things at our own pace. 

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I caught this "bug" all over again this month, for two reasons.  First, a young couple we know just spent a beautiful self-designed honeymoon in Ireland, and I lived vicariously through all their wonderful photos. Second, we have paid off our mortgage earlier than anticipated, and now we will be able to save up for a trip of this magnitude much quicker and easier. I may start daydreaming again, and looking at travel sites, etc.  I had pushed this idea to the far edges of my thoughts for a while now, but it seems to be elbowing its way back up...

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