Kilkenny Castle Parklands
Kilkenny Castle Parklands

Planning a Trip to the Emerald Isle: Tips and Advice to Get You There Safely

Are you planning a trip to the Emerald Isle in 2023 or beyond? If so, here are some tips and advice on how to plan it.

Covid in IrelandThis post and page contain affiliate links and I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

First off, the rules for traveling abroad have changed quite a bit since the pandemic began.

Masks are no longer a requirement and while Covid may not pose the same risk that it once did, it's always wise to take your own personal precautions.

Covid in Ireland

There have been approximately 1,709,705 million infections and 8,824 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country since the pandemic began.

As of May 2022, close to 100 percent of the Irish population had been fully vaccinated.

Restrictions have now been lifted in Ireland and it is no longer necessary to wear masks on public transport, and in taxis, shops, schools, and other indoor public areas.

Photo: ktsimage
Photo: ktsimage

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated can enter Ireland.

In fact, visitors entering Ireland do not need to show vaccination status.

Antigen Testing Protocols for U.S. Residents

If you are a US citizen, you no longer have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test when entering Ireland.

And coming back into the US, there are no Covid requirements either.

Photo: SeventyFour, Getty Images.
Photo: SeventyFour, Getty Images.

As per a May 12, 2023 directive from the CDC, “noncitizen nonimmigrant air passengers no longer need to show proof of being fully vaccinated with an accepted COVID-19 vaccine to board a flight to the United States.”

Airfare & Accommodation: Do the Research Upfront

Travel to Ireland has accelerated greatly in 2023, which means that you need to keep an eye on prices and be ready to hop on a deal when you find one, if that crops up.

In any case, you should try to make your plans promptly.

Photo courtesy of Aer Lingus.
Photo courtesy of Aer Lingus.

In this post, you’ll find a rundown of the booking policies that are in place at Aer Lingus, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta, the carriers that fly directly from the U.S. to Ireland.

If you are based in Europe or elsewhere, periodically check the airlines that fly from your country to Ireland to see what kinds of policies those companies have in place.

Hotels are also offering more flexible booking arrangements.

A hotel in Ireland. Photo: Failte Ireland.
A hotel in Ireland. Photo: Failte Ireland.

When you book accommodation, be sure that your reservation can be canceled without incurring a penalty.

I suggest using Booking.com as most of the reservations through this hotel partner can be canceled without penalty. As always, don’t forget to read the fine print just in case.

For most tourists traveling to Ireland, travel insurance wasn’t always in their plans, and indeed very few policies covered pandemic-related illnesses before the outbreak of the virus.

That has changed for the better.

Here are some tips to get you to Ireland as well as advice on how you can vacation there safely in 2023.

Look for Flexible Airfare Policies

Aer Lingus

During the pandemic and even up until September 2022, Aer Lingus had waived its change fees regardless of the fare type or when you were expected to travel.

As of 2023, those change fees may once again be enforced.

If you made your reservation through a travel agent, it is best to contact the agent to make the necessary change to your booking. Otherwise, you can do it yourself on the Aer Lingus website.

AerClub, the rewards program of Aer Lingus. Image courtesy of Aer Lingus.
AerClub, the rewards program of Aer Lingus. Image courtesy of Aer Lingus.

Other Covid-related benefits had included an additional 12-month status extension for members of the airline’s loyalty program, AerClub. This seems to expire in June of 2023.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Aer Lingus had instituted a second 12-month tier status extension to those memberships with anniversary dates between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

The new extended tier expiry date can be seen when you log in to your AerClub account on your mobile, the Aer Lingus app, or on the Aer Lingus site.

American Airlines

In November 2020, American Airlines announced that it was eliminating change fees for all of its First, Business, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin tickets, specifically on its long-haul international flights originating in North or South America.

That is still true. However, if you change your booking, you will end up paying the difference in fares, if it is higher.

a plane planning a trip to Ireland in 2022
Photo courtesy of American Airlines.

United Airlines

United Airlines has permanently gotten rid of its change fees for most of its economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S. or between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean.

a plane in the sky planning a trip to Ireland in 2022
Change fees for other international destinations originating in the U.S. have also been eliminated.

For more information, visit the airline’s change fee page.

In addition, if your flight is being affected by a significant schedule change or if it was canceled without another option available for you to travel again, you may be able to request a refund.

Delta Airlines

As of March 2023, Delta announced that there would be no change and/or cancellation fees when purchasing main cabin or above tickets on flights originating from the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, India and the Caribbean.

airplane on a runway planning a trip to Ireland in 2022
Consider Delta Airlines when planning a trip to the Emerald Isle in 2023 and beyond.

Booking Hotel Accommodation

If you're booking hotel rooms, expect more flexible terms to be part of that process.

two beds in a hotel planning a trip to Ireland in 2022
There are several hotel chains operating in Ireland. Here are the flexible booking policies of a few of the better-known brands.

Hilton Hotels

All Hilton hotels, including those in Ireland, now offer free changes and cancellations to any reservation until up to 24 hours before a stay.

a hotel by the water planning a trip to Ireland in 2022
The Hilton Hotel in Belfast. Photo: Paul Rogers for Tourism Northern Ireland. Copyright of Hilton Hotels.

If you booked on the Hilton website (or the app), you can change or cancel your reservation easily by calling the appropriate toll-free telephone number that corresponds to the country you’ll be staying in.

Radisson Blu Hotels

The cancellation policy at the time of booking applies to your reservation.

For more information, visit the company’s contact us page.

Hotels.com

If you’ve already booked a hotel room in Ireland through the Hotels.com company, you can cancel your reservation and get a refund by heading to its customer care portal.

a hotel room planning a trip to ireland in 2022
One of the bedrooms in the Rathkeale House Hotel in Limerick. Photo courtesy of Booking.com

Hotels.com does not charge a cancellation fee. However, it doesn't guarantee that the specific hotel you booked will if you make a change or you cancel.

Vrbo

Booking a holiday rental in 2023 with Vrbo is a popular option for many tourists to Ireland.

A beautiful rental cottage near Lough Eske in Co. Donegal, one of the many forms of accommodation you should know about when planning a trip to the Emerald Isle in 2023. Photo: Paul McGuckin for Getty Images.
A beautiful rental cottage near Lough Eske in Co. Donegal, one of the many forms of accommodation you should know about when planning a trip to the Emerald Isle in 2023. Photo: Paul McGuckin for Getty Images.

For information on Vrbo's cancellation policies, head to the company's Cancellation Policies page.

Know that you will get a refund if you cancel 60 days in advance.

DiscoverCars.com

Purchase Travel Insurance

When the pandemic emerged in March 2020, there was little in the way of coverage for Covid-19-related trip interruptions and cancellations because most travel insurance policies did not cover pandemics.

a tag on a suitcase planning a trip to Ireland in 2022
Travel insurance is something to take into consideration if planning a trip to the Emerald Isle in 2023 or beyond. Photo: William Potter

Since then, a variety of new policies have become available that offer some sort of coverage, including policies that now cover unexpected sickness prior to taking a trip, as well as covering policyholders who are diagnosed with the virus while traveling abroad, a term in the insurance business known as trip interruption benefit.

The best advice I can give you is to read the fine print closely.

Photo: MargJohnsonVA
Photo: MargJohnsonVA

There are several brokers offering comparisons of various travel insurance policies, many of them offering specific Covid-related insurance.

Some include Travelinsurance.com, InsureMyTrip, Squaremouth, and Travel Insurance Master, a U.S.-based travel insurance startup that uses a smart algorithm aimed at providing results based on a traveler's specific needs.

Many travelers never think of purchasing travel insurance, even in normal times, but it’s important in case of sudden injury or sickness while you are traveling away from home.

In addition, the health plans of most Americans will not cover them outside of the United States in the event of a medical emergency.

a pen on a travel insurance form planning a trip to Ireland in 2022
Photo: Travel insurance is something you should consider when planning a trip to Ireland in 2o23. Ekaterina79 for Getty Images Signature.

The solution is to purchase a supplemental health insurance plan for when you’re traveling.

If you are over 65 and on the federal government’s Medicare health insurance plan, you are eligible for the Medigap policy that will cover you overseas.

Photo: Rawpixel
Photo: Rawpixel

While no refund policy or travel insurance company can ensure your 100 percent safety while traveling abroad, I hope that some of the information listed above will help if you are planning a trip to the Emerald Isle in 2023 or beyond that will be safe and enjoyable.

If you are in need of an additional resource, you might want to read this comprehensive guide on receiving trip reimbursement through travel insurance.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below about planning a trip to Ireland in 2023.

Read More: 30 Ways to Save on Your Trip to Ireland

colette

Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

Leave a Reply