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.
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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.
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.
However, if you are a non-U.S. citizen or a non-U.S. immigrant coming back into to the United States by air, you are still required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as per current CDC guidelines.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Booking Hotel Accommodation
If you're booking hotel rooms, expect more flexible terms to be part of that process.
There are several hotel chains operating in Ireland. Here are the flexible booking policies of a few of the better-known brands.
All Hilton hotels, including those in Ireland, now offer free changes and cancellations to any reservation until up to 24 hours before a stay.
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.
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.
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.
Booking a holiday rental in 2023 with Vrbo is a popular option for many tourists to Ireland.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.