Firstly: Congratulations to everyone who has already been accepted to Champlain Abroad Dublin next semester! It’s great news that you’re coming over to such a fantastic city and get to experience Europe next spring!
Now for the bad news: the budget.
It can get a bit expensive living in Europe with the exchange rate, travel, and miscellaneous activities. However, there are some great ways to save money and still have a grand time. Here are a few ways I’ve found to save money.
Book every trip at least two weeks in advance. For the long break, if you’re planning to travel outside of Ireland, plan and book it either before or right when you get to Dublin. Even with Ryan Air, where you can get tickets at far reduced prices, prices raise exponentially the sooner the trip is. Make sure to book hostels and hotels pretty far in advance too, especially since their prices are already raised for weekends.
For my last trip, I joined the FREE rewards program with Hotels.com where you can book ten nights and get the eleventh free. It probably sounds like a bad deal, but I have definitely been out of Dublin for more than eleven nights, and that would have been great to know about. Also, the hostel culture is pretty big in Europe among twenty-somethings because you typically save a lot of money sharing a dorm room with two or more people. Most hostels have pretty good deals and some of them serve free breakfast. Just make sure to pack a padlock or a couple extra Euro for a locker.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR BOOKING: Because of tracking cookies, the prices your shown are typically higher when you look repeatedly for flights and accommodations. Make sure to search using incognito tabs because it will end up saving you money.
Also, don’t forget that Champlain Dublin offers trips to the West of Ireland and Northern Ireland (don’t forget it’s part of the UK and you’ll need sterling). Make sure to take advantage of opportunities like that to experience more of Ireland at a reduced price, especially with class field trips. Class field trips offer a lot of exploration of areas in and around Dublin, normally at a lower cost to you.
Get a Leap Card. Leap Cards are €5 for a deposit, which you can get back by returning your card and it will save you money on the DART and buses. The DART will take you to other towns in County Dublin where there’s always fun to be had. Up in Malahide, there’s a castle that’s only €8 for a tour. Pack a lunch, take the DART with your Leap Card, that’s a €12.60 day trip. You don’t even need to see the castle, Malahide is a lovely town: walk around, go to the beach, go to the castle grounds all for free. Reduces the price to a €4.60 day trip with a Leap Card, which is €1.05 less than a return ticket would be without one, and that adds up if you take a few daytrips to places like Howth, Bray, Dun Laoghire, all great places with hiking and beaches and lovely little pubs.
Get. A. Leap Card. You won’t regret it.
Doing Things in Dublin:
Repeat after me: I will not go to Temple Bar. It may seem like a fun and trendy area, but it’s not. It’s home to €6-€8 pints and brimming with tourists who don’t know where else to go to get a good pint. Go to a pub where there’s a music session, which is just about everywhere. Most places near the apartments, like the Brazen Head and Thomas House, have pints from €4.25-€5.50 and they have live music almost every night from about 9:30. Also, places like O’Shea’s Merchant (right around the corner) and O’Donoghue’s (a 15 minute walk) tend to have traditional music sessions and dancing for a small cover charge or the price of a pint.
Of course, all that is well and good, but what about the weekly shop? What if I forgot to bring my raincoat (don’t forget to bring your raincoat)? Where can I get good food?
My flatmate and I make meals together and split the cost of food every week. For six out of the past eight weeks, we have gone under budget by at least ten quid and still have food stocked up, like potatoes and fish fingers.
Food shopping tips are the same as in the states basically: look for deals, stock up on meat and such when there are sales, when in doubt pasta it out. Also, don’t be lured in by a couple of small deals. If you see a good price for meat at Dunnes Store, but a high price for produce, get the meat at Dunnes and go to a Lidl or Tesco for produce. Also, avoid Tesco Express unless you need something small because it’s the size of a gas station stop and the prices are usually higher than regular Tesco.
If you forget your raincoat (again, don’t forget your raincoat), you can go to Penney’s and find great deals on raincoats, umbrellas, socks, accessories, pretty much any clothing item you can think of. Take the trek across the Liffey at least once to go to Penney’s.
And DON’T forget your raincoat.
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Fall 2014
Champlain College, Professional Writing, Class of 2016