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I recently went on my first ever mother-daughter trip and according to science, it was good for my health.

It was nothing glamorous or expensive, but it was really eye-opening. We didn’t fly off to New York or explore a sunny Greek island, we got the 9am train down to Mallow for one night but it has made me appreciate my Mam so much more than before.

We wandered around the town, popping into dinky shops and bookstores, we ate hearty cheese toasties and drank gallons of tea. We acted like giddy schoolkids when we saw the size of our beautiful room at The Hibernian Hotel, we listened to Sunshine 106.8 and argued about what time we should have dinner.

We ate like kings, drank pints and nattered about things we rarely got the chance to talk about. 

We went for a walk around Mallow Castle grounds, met up with some of our Cork family for a well overdue catch up and read our books in a peaceful silence as the train rolled out of the station.

It was a short break, nothing crazy, pricey or lavish, but it has strengthened our relationship. It helped me see my Mam in a completely different light, we laughed so much and spent quality time together that is far too rare these days.

Harvard Medical School recently found that going on a trip with your mum has a positive impact on both your mental and general health.

A mother-daughter trip has the power to lower your stress levels, boost your immune responses and lowers your risk of heart disease, according to the study.

If anyone needs us we’ll be planning our next getaway with mother dearest.

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Now, we've all packed a laughable amount of things for a holiday and been mocked by our travel buddies when we show up at the airport.

Many of us have brought a suitcase for an overnight stay, or added extra baggage onto our flights for no reason. Especially in Ireland, when we can never predict what weather we're going to have.

Forgetting a key item while packing is a deep psychological fear. What if we forget our core makeup items? Our medical bag? Our passport? OURSELVES? It's a worrying time.

The latest statistics from QS Supplies have shown that 10 percent of people take BED SHEETS to hotel rooms with them, because they won't want to use the provided sheets. Um, okay?

The survey of 1008 people revealed that many of the population (we won't name names) have taken their own bedding on holiday with them to avoid catching germs or contracting bacterial infections.

5.9 percent of survey respondents also admitted to taking personal cutlery to a restaurant, meaning one in every 16 eaters in any restaurant you go to have possibly snuck in their own knife and fork.

We can't imagine using up vital bag space to stuff in our own sheets and bedding. Those people clearly have some strange priorities that don't involve bringing five pairs of shoes and a shop's worth of cosmetics.

12 percent of people apparently don't think hotel sheets are washed enough to warrant sleeping in them, but we wonder why?

Unless they're stained or have a weird odour or appearance, we're more than happy to sleep in a big, fluffy hotel bed with extravagant pillows and throws.

Now,if someone could just pay for us to head on a weekend away, preferably to a spa, that would be lovely. Thanks in advance xoxo

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Many of us are now turning to buying smaller versions of our favourite beauty and skincare products, but many brands don't offer the right size for travelling.

With much of the population booking a last-minute trips before the summer draws to an end, the issue of transporting your entire beauty regimen abroad can be a challenge.

One brand has risen above the rest for their travel-sized skincare goodies, and we simply have to rave about them; Eau Thermale Avène.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Just because you're holidaying or exploring different parts of the world doesn't mean you need to ditch your favourite products.

With the dangers of the sun abroad, you actually need your skincare routine even more. 

We've curated a list of your travel must-haves, based on their extensive range of mini-treats:

Eau Thermale Avène’s Thermal Spring Water 100ml: €5

With so many benefits, this product has become a cult favourite. Spritz on the plane to refresh the skin or use it to cool down when you’re poolside.

Thermal Spring spray has soothing, healing and anti-irritant properties, so you won't want to part with it once you're hooked. Thanks to its high tolerance, it is suitable for all skin types.

For your base:

Eau Thermale Avène B-Protect SPF 50+ 30ml: €17

This long-lasting tinted sun cream offers high-factor coverage and antioxidant protection, giving the perfect summer glow so you can ditch the make-up during the day.

Its velvety texture with a non-greasy finish provides an immediate feeling of comfort in the sun and its strong rays.

Always wear SPF, even when you're not in the blistering sunshine. Recent studies have shown that blue light from our screens can now affect your skin.

For cleansing:

Eau Thermale Avène Cleanance Gentle Cleansing Gel 100ml: €11

Suitable for face and body, this multi-tasking product gets to work on blemish-prone skin to help purify skin and regulate oil production, leaving skin feeling fresh and clean.

Its formula, rich in thermal avène water and monolaurin, also prevents irritation and gently combats spots, excess sebum and blackheads. 

Eau Thermale Avène Hydrance Intense Serum 30ml: €26

A day in the sun can leave skin dehydrated and feeling rough and tight, but Avène has the answer once again with an intense moisturising treatment.

Hydrance Intense Serum increases hydration by 45 percent, 4 hours after first application and can be felt for up to 24 hours after stopping applications.

It has been specially formulated with 3 active ingredients which work together to hydrate dull, dry skin. A smooth, radiant complexion is the result.

For your hands:

Eau Thermale Avène Cold Cream Hand Cream 50ml: €9

Perfect for dry or sensitive skin, Avène’s Cold Cream is formulated with nourishing properties of white beeswax to help protect the skin’s barrier against external aggressions, leaving hands soft and supple.

This smooth, non-greasy hand cream offers your hands an immediate feeling of comfort while you're away.

Why not pick up the goodies before you hit the airport? You'll thank us later when they all fit perfectly into your purse and your skin is glowing.

Feature image: Instagram/@avene_uki

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Relying on public transport can get the better of you at times, especially when you've had a draining day in work, it's lashing rain outside and your bus has magically vanished from the Real Time.

We're approaching back-to-school season which means the traffic is going to be far worse than it was this summer. Oh how we'll treasure those blissful mornings when our bus could actually drive through Rathmines.

Google Maps has always helped you get from place to place, whether you’re driving, walking, biking or taking public transport. And we know that journeys can be complex, often involving multiple modes of transportation to help you get around town.

Today, we’re making it easy to pair public transport directions with biking options so you can travel that first or last mile with ease — like when you’re headed to work at the peak of the busy back-to-school season so you need to ride your bike to the nearest bus stop to make that important 9 a.m. meeting on time. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Enter your destination in the search box, tap on “Directions” and then on the public transport tab. 

  • From there, you’ll automatically see routes that feature cycling options paired with public transport directions. 

  • If you’re biking, you’ll see routes tailored for cyclists along with everything you need to know about the public transport portion of your journey. 

  • All of this information is automatically factored into your total travel time and ETA so you can know exactly when you’ll get to your destination. 

Public Transport directions paired with biking will be available on iOS, with Android rolling out in the following weeks.

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The phrase; "Boys have cooties" was always circulated when I was a child, mainly from other kids who watched way too much American television. In my four months of living in a Berkeley fraternity house among college-aged American boys (they 100 percent couldn't be called men, they needed full-time agony aunts), I learned numerous life lessons whether I wanted to or not. Mainly that personal hygiene and a basic understanding of women are deeply lacking, and there's nothing I can do to change either of those things. Bear in mind that this frat house is just one of dozens in Berkeley alone, and that sarcasm will be heavily used in this article. I won't be naming any names (though I'd love to) and many frat boys I met were positively lovely. It was just the few that needed basic lectures about toxic masculinity and domestic chores that will be targeted by my literary wrath.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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1. If they make eye contact with you, they're most likely drunk or high and have obtained a mysterious confidence.

Waking up in the morning and emerging through the jungle of empty beer bottles and fast food takeaway boxes, if you make it to the disgusting kitchen and run into a boy, he'll scutter away into the darkness or refuse to look you in the eye. Whether we'd be standing only centimetres apart while frying off eggs or toasting bread, chances are high that you won't be addressed. They're probably terrified of you, or don't know how to communicate with a woman without downing a keg of beer first.

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Many of these boys are spectacularly wealthy (well, their families are.) You need to have some connection to cash to get into college in the USA, usually but not always of course. Many of these boys also went to prep schools, with other boys surrounding them. Their only opportunity to talk to women often is on nights out in clubs or bars, and the heteronormativity is honestly unavoidable. I made some great friends while living in Berkeley, but never felt entirely safe unless there was a female friend or just a regular ol' female around. Boys have no idea the lengths that women have to go to in order to feel safe, just walking down the street. Especially in a strange city without your family.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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2. The issue of consent is a major epidemic across US college campuses

Men in America often objectify women, and one of the first things I noticed about our frat house when we moved in was the consistent posters regarding consent. The alarming feeling that only an incident would spur on the sudden mass influx of posters plagued me for a lot of my trip, and Irish women who also lived in the house were all very safe. The rumours about US college campuses lacking safety didn't help, as well as the security guards who insisted on escorting us around the campus at night. According to AAU Campus Climate Surveys (2015), 23.1 percent of female undergraduates, 5.4 percent of male undergraduates, and 24.1 percent of TGQN (trans, gender-non conforming, queer) undergraduates reported being sexually assaulted since starting college. Among graduate students and professionals, the estimates were 8.8 percent female, 2.2 percent male, and 15.5 percent TGQN. Sexual violence is far more prevalent in colleges, compared to other crimes. RAINN claim that only 20 percent of female student victims, aged between 18-and 24, report sexual violence to law enforcement. Frat houses are yet more spaces where women aren't always protected.

3. Their mums have cleaned up after them and spoiled them silly since they emerged from the womb

The boys of our frat house made a 'chore list' for the Irish students alone, and overcharged us absurdly for rent. They essentially exploited us; we paid them handsomely for gross accommodation while they lived there for free, and they spent the money on drugs and then drove to In 'N' Out. They were incapable of cleaning up after themselves, so old food and cooking tools were stacked up, while dirty dishes were consistently in a Mount Everest pile up in the sink. I learned of new smells I never thought existed, thanks to mould and bacteria. I'm convinced that I'm immune to many diseases because of living there. Boys have an astounding ability to leave a mess rotting the place for days, if not months, and play chicken with you until you can't take it anymore and give in. I have the distinct memory of cleaning out green mould from our fridge for three hours and inhaling Stranger Things 'Upside Down' like materials. A gas mask would have come in handy. They also don't know that sheets are meant to be changed.

4. Become Bear Grylls overnight if you have a rodent problem

We had numerous Snow White-esque pets in our abode, such as a Skunk (we named him Larry), ferrets under the floorboards and even bed bugs. We even had to trap a bed bug (insanely difficult task) in order to show our landlord, in order to get a $50 reduction in rent. Yes, just $50. He never actually gave us that reduction in the end…

The point is; Get a thick skin for bugs and unwanted pets. You will suddenly turn into a complete Lara Croft badass and will learn to live amongst nature.

bear grylls bad decision GIF by NETFLIX

5. Certain toxic, alien practices surrounding fraternity houses and sororities continue to exist

During the weeks before college actually begins, 'Rush' occurs. This is basically where you semi-audition to be in a frat house or sorority, with some houses being significantly more difficult to infiltrate than others. It becomes a common occurrence to see boys with their shirts off and abs painstakingly arranged in a six-pack wandering around screaming; "ALPHA KAPPA LAMBA 'TIL I DIE, BRO!'. They may not be entirely made up of brain cells, but just ignore them. Sorority girls will walk around in matching outfits and sky-high heels, screeching chants that sound like sirens to you. Music will be blasting from 16 different speakers, signs and balloons will line the street. Every house puts the maximum amount of effort in when it comes to attracting the most attention, and future members. The 'hazing' rituals still exist too. One rule which infuriated our entire group was that frat houses could throw parties in Berkeley, but sororities couldn't. The rule had never been changed, and it was part of the college campus law now. 

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6. They will clog every toilet in existence

In Berkeley, at least, weed was absolutely everywhere. You couldn't make coffee in the morning before scraping your hungover self into work without a frat boy shoving a bong in your face.

From edibles to hemp products to the grass plant itself; marijuana is unavoidable in the area. What are the results of a house full of boys smoking weed until they KO? The digestive system going into meltdown. Who suffers from this surprising turn of events? Normally women, who actually need to use the toilet more often than most boys due to sanitary needs etc. They also need to sit on the toilet seat constantly.

There were four bathrooms in the sizeable fraternity house. You would assume that at least one toilet was always available to use, then. How wrong you are. All four toilets were consistently blocked thanks to the bowel movements of 15 boys, all permanently high. Basic human hygiene went out of the window in days from when I arrived, and I began using public bathrooms in the area to just experience what a regular toilet is meant to be like. Never take your pristine white bathroom for granted, ladies. Some day, it could be compromised by Snoop Dogg & Co. 

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7. You will never take privacy for granted again

Sharing a house with 25 people at the same time can make it extremely difficult to get any time alone. You're probably sharing a room with at least one person, and even small errands like trying to do laundry can take hours with everyone queueing up.

Many of us don't enjoy the feeling of being alone, but if you're accustomed to having your own room as I was (my identical twin and I fought viciously over bunk-beds so our parents separated us) then sharing that space can be a huge shock. Arguments over whose side of the room is messier occurred daily, and clothes went missing all the time. Random strangers would walk into our house, seeing as only the house manager had a lock on his door, so every room was fair game. The house itself was never locked, and it became difficult to know who was one of your frat boys and who was a randomer.

This made privacy a long-lost friend who you ached to see once again, for however short a time. Going to the bathroom or showering was blissful even for those few moments alone. Despite the grubbiness of the bathrooms themselves…(Hello, Cif? Cillit Bang? Lost but not forgotten.)

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8. Someone will eat your food, and you will be fuming over it

You could do a full grocery shop in Trader Joe's down the road and within minutes, hungover boys or high boys who have the munchies will have annihilated your entire snack stash. Most people tried to spend as little money on food as physically possible, either by stealing food from wherever they worked or by stealing food from the house. Now, I took the odd slice of bread or splash of milk for my (Barry's) tea, but that was all. I advise you to create your own bunker of sorts, where you hide all your treats and actually decent-tasting food from everyone else in the house.

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Never tell anyone, not even your closest friend, where it is. Or else have a password so you can know who to trust. Surviving in a frat house takes buckets of crisps and dip, microwave popcorn, Cadbury's chocolate and pot noodles. Trust me.

9. American's can't drink legally until the age of 21, and they can't handle it

One of the reasons why frat houses are so obsessed with drugs in California is that it's easier to get them, rather than getting their fake IDs rejected while trying to score alcohol. When they DO manage to get booze, boy are they bad at handling it. Mainly due to the insane levels of peer pressure from the Bro Mob. If you told one of them during a game of Beer Pong that he had to poison himself with weed killer then do a backflip in front of a sorority house naked, they'd probably do it. It was toxic as f*ck. We went on a bar crawl with our house manager for his 21st birthday (we thought he was 30-years-old, so that was a shock…) and he drank a bottle of hot sauce and tequila and vomited bright orange puke down the stairs of the bar, and all of us were then banned. There were only two bars in town, so it was a low blow. While they can handle their weed, when it comes to binge drinking there's nobody like an Irish person to put them in their place. 

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10. You'll miss Ireland more than you expected

From basic teabags and bread that isn't made entirely of sugar to Irish carveries and homemade meals, there's a lot that you'll miss about the Emerald Isle. Finally having food that isn't processed, being able to afford a meal again, being around people who understand sarcasm and whose country isn't politically dangerous and immoral will be blissful. Seeing proper forestland and greenery is often hard in America, due to the difference in climate. Flying back and seeing the patchwork field of bright green fields, you'll forget all about the dried up desert backyard of the frat house. Also having your own room again will bring tears of gratitude to your eyes, if you can grab one. 

sad rugby world cup GIF by World Rugby

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We all know at least one person who goes into full panic mode during a flight if the slightest bit of turbulence occurs. If you don't know anyone in your friend group, it's probably you…

Nervous flyers are pretty common, considering you're putting your entire trust in two people you've never met before in a cockpit.

The actual process of flying can cause huge amounts of discomfort, be it from the taking off aspect, the turbulence during or the landing. One flight attendant has revealed the best seat for anxious flyers;

"If you’re a nervous flyer or feel uneasy with turbulence, then sit as close to the front of the plane as possible. If you like turbulence and feeling everything then sit near the back of the plane," the former flight attendant named Matt, told The Mirror.

The ex-Easy Jet employee also revealed which seats have the most leg room, which we're fairly sure everyone already knows but nevertheless. It's nice to have an actual flight attendant's word for it.

"If you like extra legroom, the first row or emergency exit rows are good but be prepared to not have anything on the floor where you’re sat as you’re only allowed stuff in the overhead lockers. The floor has to be clear in case an emergency evacuation is needed."

The pilot is likely to avoid any turbulence from the front of the plane, so if you sit near the cockpit you'll probably avoid the experience too.

The front row or an emergency exit row is the ideal spot for those long-legged people (we're envious of you). If you're getting sweaty palms at the thought of the plane shaking, definitely don't sit at the back.

The back of the plane is the worst place to be anyway, seeing as the bathrooms are usually mid-way up the plane or at the front. You've got to have priorities, so book the front seat and pay the fee if you need comfort.

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If you've ever dreamt of staying on your own private island with white sand beaches and turquoise seawater or basking in the Tuscan sun in a private mansion, the new Airbnb setting may be exactly what you need.

The company has launched it's Airbnb Luxe service with over 2,000 hand-picked listings on offer for travellers looking to spend a minimum of $1,000 per night. Yes, you read that number right.

Award-winning homes are available to stay in, following a rigorous evaluation with over 300 criteria to consider, so expect to find elevated design standards, rare features, chef-grade appliances and about a million bathrooms

Image: Airbnb

Among the chosen homes include island locations like New Zealand, South Africa, historic Tuscan villas, and even the Jamaican beachfront property where Ian Fleming wrote his iconic 007 spy novels.

Other customers may prefer the complete privacy and exclusivity of booking an entire island with its very own self-declared time zone at the incredible private atoll in French Polynesia, Nukutepipi.

Curated by Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil and Lune Rouge, you can only imagine how Instagrammable this homes is. The high-end settings will cost you a fortune, however.

Included in the Airbnb Luxe experience is a dedicated trip designer, on hand to ensure your "bespoke experiences" are "truly magical" and to arrange any spa, personal trainer or childcare appointments for you.

Image: Airbnb

The designers also provide deep local knowledge, end-to-end trip planning, concierge services and 24/7 VIP support, if you don't mind. Posh folk need constant care, it seems.

Some of the home options include additional services like butlers, personal drivers, chefs and medieval farm-to-table dinner experiences.

Airbnb Luxe plans to add properties in at least 12 more cities this year, following the success of listings in London and Los Angeles. Fancy places aren't just situated in exotic lands, gals.

The company has come a long way since it's humble beginnings, which began as three friends using an air mattress in a San Francisco apartment.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The home-rental company has been adding new services over the last few years like 'heritage travel' and adventure holidays, and is now pushing into the traditional hotel industry.

Airbnb feel that it's customers are ready for high-end getaways, after the number of bookings for listings worth at least $1,000 per night increased more than 60 percent in 2018.

Who are these people with all this disposable cash, can I ask? The luxury travel market is currently estimated to be a whopping $200 billion.

Image: Airbnb

The company are claiming to make bespoke travel more accessible to anyone. Brian Chesky, Airbnb Co-Founder, CEO and Head of Community spoke about the launch;

“Today’s luxury traveller is craving more than just high-end accommodations; they seek transformation and experiences that leave them feeling more connected to each other and to their destination.”

“With Airbnb Luxe we are applying the same approach we’ve used since we launched Airbnb more than 11 years ago — creating local, authentic and magical travel moments now in amazing places to stay- to reimagine the way people think and experience luxury travel.”

We'll probably just stick to our trusted air mattress, but thanks Brian. Drool over Airbnb Luxe for yourself on their website. The jealousy is just that little bit too real.

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There are so many places in the world that I’d love to visit. Canada, New York, Denmark, South Africa… the list is never-ending.

However, at the end of the day, there really is no place like home. No matter where I go I always look forward to coming home to the Emerald Isle. Ireland has a certain charm that, in my eyes, is simply unbeatable.

We may be a tiny island but there are just so many incredibly beautiful places to visit across the country, including Kerry.

I was lucky enough to visit Tralee to stay at the Ballygarry House Hotel recently and have fallen head over heels in love with the charming country house hotel.

The staff welcome you with the warmth that you feel when reuniting with a childhood friend. They were so kind and accommodating and couldn’t have made me feel more welcome.

From the moment we stepped inside the hotel felt like a home away from home.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Ballygarry House Hotel caters for everyone. If you’re a bookworm you can cosy up by the fire and get lost in a story.

For those adventurers out there, you can take one of the bikes available at the hotel down to the Ballyseedy Woods.

If you’re in need of a little bit of chill time then look no further than the tranquil Nádúr Spa where you will be treated like royalty by the lovely Gina and her team.

Enjoy a soothing stroll through the hotel’s gardens and take in the stunning view of the Sliabh Mish Mountains on a crisp Sunday morning.

You certainly won’t be short of things to do during your time at the Ballygarry House Hotel. And you certainly won’t go hungry either.

I was lucky enough to dine at both The Brasserie and the lavish Restaurant 58. Trust me, the food is simply divine. Restaurant 58 is a soothing spot that has a menu to die for and the sweetest staff who will ensure you have everything you need.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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If you’re in the mood to splash out then try the Char Grilled Prime Irish Steak and thank me later. My stomach has never been as happy or full as it was after our visit.

Be sure to roll into Owen Mac's bar after your dinner to wash it all down with a beverage of choice. The recently renovated and revamped bar has everything from wine to whiskey and pink gin to craft beers.

You’ll be wowed by the talents of a live pianist at the weekends which adds even more charm to the hotel.

After a night of sheer luxury, you can doze off in the comfiest bed ever or tune into one of your favourite movies on Netflix on the hotel TV.

I truly didn’t want to leave the Ballygarry House Hotel. I was so close to asking if I could move into The Lodge, which is a little nugget of history right on the hotel’s doorstep.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The mid – 18th Century Lodge was formerly the gate lodge of the O'Connor farmhouse and is now being used as a private event room for celebrations with a personalised Butler Service for Afternoon Tea.

A visit at The Ballygarry House Hotel is an essential trip for all you travel bugs out there. You just need to add to your bucket list. The charm, warmth and kindness of the staff alone will make your visit one you’ll never forget. There’s no doubt it’ll become a home away from home for you, right in the heart of Kerry.

Do yourself a favour and book a stay at The Ballygarry House Hotel. Check out their website for more information.

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Ireland’s roads provide a great opportunity to see the country in all its glory, particularly during the summer months. This bank holiday weekend take a road trip with family or friends and explore all that the Irish landscape has to offer.

The car-buying experts at Carzone have put together a list of the best scenic driving routes which are perfect for this time of the year. Use this list as road trip inspiration and hop in the car and take a spin over the long weekend. 

The Sally Gap – Wicklow

The Wicklow mountains are home to the Sally Gap, perfect for a family drive. The drive features some incredible landscapes, lakes and mountain scenery. The route is close to Dublin so perfect for those who don’t want to travel far from the city, simply take the R759 east across the mountains and head north on the R115 to complete the drive.

This drive brings you past some of Wicklow’s most famous land marks like the stunning Powerscourt Waterfall, House and Gardens. You’ll also find the Great Sugar Loaf along the way, providing a great excuse to get out of the car and stretch your legs. The climb to the top of the Sugar Loaf is suitable for everyone and provides 360-degree view of the Dublin mountains and Dublin city.

Our recommended car for this drive is the BMW 8 Series

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Galway to Westport via Clifden

Head west on the Wild Atlantic Way and enjoy a road trip along the rugged west coast. Starting in Galway, you’ll make your way north-west winding through the stunning Twelve Bens to the picturesque town of Clifden where you’ll find plenty of great restaurants, pubs and shops. From Clifden head north to County Mayo to Doo Lough Valley which  has some breath-taking views along the route between Delphi and Louisburgh. Those interested in history should stop at the Doo Lough Famine Memorial. Continue your journey on to the lively town of Westport, a vibrant, colourful place with endless things to see and do.

Our recommended cars for this drive are the Opel Grandland X / Volkswagen T-Roc

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Ring of Cork

If you want to unveil a hidden gem this Bank Holiday forget the Ring of Kerry, try out the Ring of Cork.

This drive takes you through the spectacular coastal views and stunning landscapes of County Cork. It travels along rural roads which connect at various stages to national routes and its advised to allow plenty of time to take in the scenery. The towns of Cobh, Midleton and Youghal are also located along the route and are the perfect for a stop along the way.

Experience all East Cork offers, as you travel through Killeagh and Castlemartyr, down to the delightful seaside towns of Shanagarry and Ballycottton. From there, you can follow the coastal roads along to Cobh, Crosshaven, Carrigaline and Cork Harbour. The final leg of the journey will take you to Watergrasshill and through the serene riverside drive from Glanmire and Little Island on to Carrigtohill and Midleton.

Our recommended cars for this drive are the Audi A6 / Opel Insignia

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Mourne Mountains

This landscape around The Mourne Mountains is simply breath-taking and provides spectacular coastline views for a perfect weekend road trip. Take in the beauty of the coastline and its quaint towns and villages by simply following the brown-signed Mourne Coastal Route, which runs between Belfast and Newry. Drive to St John’s Lighthouse and to take in impressive sights across Dundrum Bay towards the Mournes. A must see is the Slieve Gullion Forest Park which offers stunning views of the surrounding volcanic landscape.

Our recommended cars for this drive are the Hyundai Tucson / Kia Sportage / Nissan Qashqai

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The sunny weather has finally made an appearance and we can’t help but daydream about summer adventures. Spending the summer in New York sounds perfect, but unfortunately, our bank accounts are stopping that dream from coming true.

Luckily, there are plenty of places to visit around the Emerald Isle that are perfect if you’re in need of some time away from reality.

There's one place you must visit this summer and it’s the charming town of Clonakilty, Co.Cork. The West Cork town is one of the nicest parts of the county with the stunning Inchydoney Beach, snug pubs, plenty of dinky cafes and dozens of historical sites including Michael Collins House.

Once you arrive in the colourful and vibrant town you’ll never want to leave. The locals and their cheery disposition will make you feel like you’ve lived there your entire life.

There are plenty of hidden gems in Clonakilty that will make your trip all the more memorable.

1: Cafe On The Lane

This quirky spot is hidden down Spillers Lane, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets. The cafe is covered in bunting and fairy lights, with fresh flowers donning every table. The main seating area is full of mismatched, vintage furniture that adds to the character of the place. Treat yourself to a croissant or a brownie and a cup of coffee and listen to Elvis play on the cafe's record player.

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2: Cycle around Clon​​​

Clonakilty is the first rural community to offer a bike rental scheme. There’s no better way to see the glorious town than cycling around Clonakilty, especially when the sun is shining. The Clonakilty Bike Scheme even shares advice on how to cycle safely on West Cork roads. Cycle out to Long Strand, which is only 20 minutes away from the town. Take in the breathtaking scenes and breathe in that fresh sea air.

3: Pints in Scannells

This gastropub is the heart of the town, known as the small pub with the big garden, you just have to visit Scannells for a quick pint and a bite to eat. You’ll struggle to leave the pub with the infectious atmosphere and assortment of live music, from jazz to trad, Scannells has something for everyone.

4: A bookworm’s paradise

The Children’s Project charity shop may just look like every other charity shop, but once you go upstairs you’ll be greeted by mountains and mountains of books. The second floor of the shop is a bookworm's idea of heaven. They have shelves full of best-sellers, horror tales, young adult novels, well-loved classics, popular chick-lit books more. You’ll go in for a quick browse and end up leaving the shop hours later with bags full of books.

Clonakilty is the perfect place to visit if you need to escape to the country, especially when the sun is shining!

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Being financially independent is hard enough as it is, without the possibility of living in New York. Forget the student lifestyle of drinking all night and having a lie-in until midday. It takes hard work and financial discipline to survive the NYC life.

We all dream of it; the bottomless brunches near Central Park, shopping debt-free on 5th Avenue, living in an apartment that’s LITERALLY the exact same as Monica’s from Friends.

New York is heavily idealised as one of the greatest cities in the world, but it’s hard to deny how magical it can be. Ice-skating at Rockefeller centre at Christmas, essentially recreating Home Alone 2, hitting the iconic bars and gliding past skyscrapers and Broadway.

It permanently feels like you’re on a movie set, the city that never sleeps embodies movement and energetic culture. It’s impossible not to love it, but is it possible to afford it?

Insider recently rated New York eight on the list of the world’s most expensive cities to live in. It was the only American city to make the top ten, and once you break down the costs such as travel, food and rent, it’s not hard to see why it made the list.

We spoke to one of our New Yorker contacts who spent one year living the New York lifestyle to get the 411. You wanna see the receipts?

Rent

Rents have increased at double the rate of incomes in the last seven years alone, according to StreetEasy, which means that you need to make six figures to live in many of the city's most elite neighbourhoods. Yikes.

An average Irish student living in NYC could be paying amounts which range between $700 and $1500 a month on rent, as well as utilities. This would of course depend on location, size, how many housemates you share with and facilities like Wi-Fi and laundry.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Our lucky wanderlust gal spent $900 on rent per month, a good deal seeing as it included utilities and the internet, as well as a washer and a dryer inside.

“I shared with three others, and only had one bathroom, and it was in a pretty dilapidated building in Bushwick with a not so helpful landlord.”

Secret deals in NYC in terms of rent are essentially non-existent. Most people agree that seeing a unicorn is probably more statistically likely. Or a Friends reunion.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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One major extra cost comes in terms of furnishing an empty space, as most apartments in the city will come unfurnished.

Buying second-hand items can be a huge help, and finding things on the street, but both of these options of course have their limitations.

For example, I got my mattress in Berkeley from the street outside our fraternity house, which most people did, and got a very rude awakening when our entire room was visited by bed bugs.

If you think California rent is better than New York, you’ve got another thing coming.

Food and Drink

First thing’s first, you HAVE to limit eating out and going for expensive drinks in glamorous bars. Many New Yorkers are blasé about dropping $10 on coffee and a mediocre muffin.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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We’d all love that lifestyle, but you have to prioritise. Pre-packed lunches is the way to go, and cooking at home.

“A cocktail in a bar would set you back about $14, and in a trendy rooftop bar you could easily spend $20 on a drink. Eating in a restaurant could set you back about $35 for a meal if you included a drink, sales tax and tip."

"This is the worst thing about price of food and drinks in NYC! You think the price will be less, but a 20% service charge adds on a hefty chunk to your bill.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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NYC also has a city tax, so your paycheck won’t have much spending power. Supermarket food in New York is also highly expensive, so even if you want to cook from home, finding lower-cost ingredients can be tricky at best.

My J1 was essentially a three month binge on fries, $4 pizza slices and the occasional scrambled egg on toast if I could afford it. Eating healthily is even harder, considering fast food and ramen are the only semi-affordable meals.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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“Places like Trader Joe's were good for lower cost own-brand items and for whole food/grain type things, but fruit and vegetables generally were always expensive. Meat and fish were also very pricey, there was definitely a good incentive to turn vegetarian.”

I’m personally astounded that I escaped contracting scurvy on my J1 to San Francisco, I barely saw fruit or vegetables the entire time. Spending under $10 on one meal became a challenge that was seen as the Mount Everest of nutritional budgeting.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Try starting an Excel spreadsheet for all of your expenses, so you can budget in advance. Prepare as many meals as you can to prevent buying expensive snacks in stores, and avoid buying too many perishable food items that you would throw away if it went uneaten.

Wasting perfectly good food will become a mortal sin to you after a few weeks of living the NYC life, trust us.

Nights Out

“If you pre-drink in advance, then you don't have to spend too much on a night-out. Liquor in shops is actually quite cheap. The subway runs all night so you can get around cheaply, and otherwise a shared Uber wouldn't be too expensive."

"Some clubs charge entry and then have expensive drinks. I don't smoke but cigarettes were also a massive cost.”

Keep the receipts from any bar you go to, and it will be come alarmingly obvious that purchasing drinks the entire night most definitely adds up.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Irish have perfected pre-drinking culture, so don’t let yourself slip too much on your night out by buying $16 cocktails every ten minutes, or you’ll be in for a rude awakening when you check your bank balance.

For a couple of free beers, one of Brooklyn’s best craft distilleries (New York Distilling Co.) opens its doors to the public for free tours and tastings on weekends from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m, don’t miss your chance.

Travel

“This was one of the most expensive aspects of living in New York. Flights in and out of the city were always pricey. There is no Ryanair equivalent of budget flights unfortunately."

The Amtrak train service is notoriously expensive. Without advance booking (and even then), it can be $100 for a measly two hour journey… good God.

Buses are the cheapest option for the city, but the reliability and quality leave a lot to be desired, as you might imagine. The buses are often incredibly late, over-booked or cancelled.

The public transport system (MTA) costs you $121 per month for unlimited use, which isn’t bad compared to Dublin, and can be used on buses and subways. However, any of the longer commuter trains are much more expensive

If you’re thinking of parking in the city, be warned that the cost of this is extortionate, as are the prices for renting a car in NYC.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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People would often go to neighbouring states of New Jersey or Connecticut to get cars, rather than face the pain of using their hard-earned cash on New York prices.

Activities

Hidden costs and fees are what make so much of New York that bit more expensive than Europe and other places.

Laundromats charge extremely high prices purely because many apartments in the city don’t have laundry facilities, so they take full advantage of this. Hand-washing some of your clothes can aid this process.

When it comes to activities, there are ways of finding cheaper alternatives. The amazing city has a vast array of things to do; the buzz and excitement of the place is captivating.

The tourism industry in NYC is always booming, so charging huge fees for activities such as the Empire State Building, Rockefeller entre, boat rides in Central Park and more can be expensive beyond belief.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Staten Island Ferry is free though, so take advantage of that.

Are you desperate to see the Picassos in the Museum of Modern Art, but don’t want to hand over the $25 admission fee?

The museum offers free admission every Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 pm, and you can also visit the sculpture garden for free every morning from 9:30 to 10 am.

Chelsea’s unreal free art galleries are mostly located between W. 14th Street and W. 29th Street around 10th and 11th Avenues.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s fee is waived on Tuesdays, which means you have the ideal escape for the hustle and bustle of Manhattan life.

Finding activities for free is hugely common in parks, try bringing a picnic to Central Park, embarking on a free yoga session in Bryant Park or grabbing street food (the hot dogs are mouth-watering) and chilling on the lush grass.

Central Park Conservatory offers free tours as well.

The Federal Bank of New York’s Gold Vault has free tours every afternoon. Built in the 1920s and containing over 6,500 tonnes of gold, this little-known treasure can teach you some fascinating financial secrets of the city.

Try stargazing on the High Line, a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.

Neighbourhood residents saved the location from demolition, and the High Line opened in 2009 as a hybrid space where visitors can experience nature, art, and design for free.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Watch outdoor movies at HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival and Syfy Movies with a View at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Grab a seat and bring some snacks, it’s one of the best free activities New York has to offer. Soak up the skyline, it’s one of a kind.

Grand Central Terminal is also a tourist favourite, the 102-year-old train station is still in massive use but it embodies NYC grandeur. The outdoor part of the 9/11 memorial is also free to visit.

So there you have it, if you budget like your life depends on it, you can survive the financial battle of New York City.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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It may not be exactly like Sex and the City, but who would ever believe that Carrie could afford a huge Manhattan apartment BY HERSELF on a columnist’s salary? It’s ridiculousness. We still want her life though.

Susan Ertz summed it up pretty well when she wrote that New York was "never built for the comfort and happiness of its citizens, but to astonish the world." Well, it succeeded.

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Do you brace yourself every time you use your card in Dublin? Do you mumble excuses at the cashier when it’s declined?

I’ve taken to pre-emptively warning the staff at Zara that my card may not work. Dublin is one of the world's most expensive cities to live in, and we’re feeling it this summer.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with a few tips on how to make the most of your Irish summer on a tight  budget.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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1. Get familiar with the best-for-your-euro food options around the city centre

Looking for a burger? WOW Burger does a mini burger for €4.95 that ain’t so mini. Carluccio’s on Dawson Street does a half box of delicious pasta at lunchtime for less than 4 quid.

Mongolian BBQ in Temple Bar does an enormous Lunch Bowl for €7.90 that will do as your main meal for the day.

If you need to eat out, look around and see where a fiver lunch or a tenner dinner is available- be strict with yourself.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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2. Choose culture for dates

The National Museums of Ireland are all free to visit and are simply gorgeous. The Archaeology Museum is on Kildare Street and the Museum of Decorative Arts and History is just beside the Museum stop on the red Luas line.

The Natural History Museum (think weirdly interesting stuffed animals) is on Merrion Street and is a fab place for a date or a stroll at lunch. Spend your free afternoons this summer, learning about Dublin for free.  

The National Gallery of Ireland also has breathtaking art with collections from icons like Caravaggio, Jack B Yeats, Mantegna,Titian, Monet and Picasso.

Paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photography, archival and bibliographical material all feature, as well as furniture. The inside of the building itself is worth a look for the beautiful design.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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3. Buy a good raincoat NOW

It may sound expensive, but if you make an initial investment, it will stand to you. Dublin is WET during the summer.

If you don’t have a waterproof jacket that a) has a hood and b) fits into your bag, you WILL accumulate several sh*t umbrellas over the coming months.

Not only is this a financial drain but its also the most unsustainable way to keep yourself dry this summer. Buy yourself a raincoat that will last and both your pocket AND the environment will thank you come September.

4. Drink off-peak

We don’t mean drink on your lunch break or have a liquid breakfast. We mean slightly earlier in the day or midweek.

Many places around town will have a two-for-one deal on cocktails (Fade Street Social, Pygmalion, Capitol Bar, Xico) or cheap pints (Dicey’s Garden) during the week or early in the day.

Have a scout and plan your drinks based on the deals- it will be worth the extra bit of research when you have more cash leftover at the end of the week.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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5.  Avoid the following high street stores like the plague:

  • Zara
  • Penney’s
  • H&M
  • Pull and Bear
  • River Island

Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t window shop or go in for a ‘quick look’. You WILL end up spending money. As usual, you will come across the most gorgeous clothes when you have the lowest funds available.

If your route home passes by these shops, choose another. An extra five minutes walk may save you money in the long-term. It's also beneficial for the environment to avoid these stores full stop…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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6. Look for half-price stickers

Once you get into the ‘reduced’ or ‘half price’ mindset, you'll be flying it. Food shops such as Marks & Spencer and Avoca have a system where they cut the price of many of their products (such as ready-made meals) at the end of the week.

Keep your eyes peeled for such stickers so you can eat well on a budget.

7. Shop Charity

If you take a turn up George’s Street, you will be met by an abundance of charity shop options.

St Vincent’s, Enable Ireland and Oxfam are all a stone’s throw from each other, so you are bound to find something.

The same can be said for the Aungier Street/ Camden Street area which is home to shops like Age Action, Gorta and the Dublin Simon Community Shop.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Charity shopping is a great way to save money, not to mention a greener way to shop for clothes and shoes.

Keep an eye out for the vintage racks in these shops where you might find some real treasures.

An unforgettable Dublin summer isn't impossible to reach for. If you carry out the right research and plan your budget, you can make the most out of this fun city without going into massive debt.

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