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Nottingham Post
Nottingham Post
Laycie Beck

I took a budget trip to Dublin and back for less than £100 from East Midlands Airport

With the cost of living crisis continuing, many people are ready to put off their summer holidays abroad and opt for a staycation in the UK. However, to fulfil a new year's resolution of travelling to a country I had never been to, I decided to set myself a challenge of having a budget trip abroad without spending more than £100.

During the school holidays can be an expensive time to travel, but many airlines start the year with sales that give you a chance to make the most of the winter sun at a fraction of the price of summer flights. I decided to travel to Dublin on January 14, with the flight leaving East Midlands Airport (EMA) at 8.25am with a return flight booked for 11pm, arriving back at EMA for 11.55pm.

The cost of both flights combined was £25.99 with Ryanair, but it was an additional £4 for seat reservations on the flight there and £6 for the flight back, making the total cost of flying to Dublin and back £35.99. This was already a hefty chunk of my budget, and I thought the challenge might be impossible when I saw the car parking prices for the airport, which would have cost more than the flights.

Read more: Ryanair adds new route from East Midlands Airport to Rome from just £29.99

However, after looking for recommendations I discovered Your Parking Space, which is an app that people and businesses use to rent out parking spaces. I booked a parking space at the Premier Inn which cost a bargain price of £5 for just under 24 hours, and was only a 15 to 20 minute walk from the airport.

One of the rooms inside Dublin Castle (Laycie Beck)

As I couldn't really take food and drinks through security, except a bag of sweets, I had eaten a rather early breakfast before setting off, but picked up an airport meal deal for £4.99, tactfully choosing a snack to have on the plane, one of the largest drinks I could find and a sandwich for lunch. The flight to Dublin was just under an hour, so arriving at 9:30am meant I had practically the whole day to explore the city.

I had already looked at buses in advance and knew the Dublin Express 784 or 782 was the bus I needed to buy a return ticket with, but I was disappointed to find out on the day that the price was €12 rather than the €9 listed on its website, and that it was a basic return ticket and not a day ticket you could use multiple times as the website stated. It took about 30 minutes to reach the city centre from the airport, and the first thing on my list was Trinity College which is home to both the Long Room and the Book of Kells. While I wasn't prepared to fork out €18.50 for the ticket or wait in a rather lengthy queue, there were plenty of impressive buildings and sculptures around the campus to look at.

The Irish Whiskey Museum (Laycie Beck)

I headed over to the Irish Whiskey Museum where the tour costs €20 for a drinking adult or €16 for a non-drinker like myself. It was an immersive experience that took you through different rooms in different time periods where you learned about the history of Ireland and its whiskey. Next I headed to Georges Street Arcade which was similar to Covent Garden in London, before going to St Patrick's Cathedral and then exploring Dublin Castle.

The castle was not quite what I expected, and looked more like a stately home than a castle, but still had the expected throne room and regal furnishings throughout. It costs €8 for an adult to look around, but there are cheaper tickets available for students and seniors.

After this I walked down St James's Gate which is home to the Guinness Storehouse. Ireland's famous beer takes up a lot of the city, with numerous gates, factory buildings and pubs around the city boasting the logo. This is also the meeting point for the horse and carriage rides, both of which seemed to be really popular with tourists not on a budget.

Due to the mishap with the bus tickets, I walked over to Phoenix Park to explore the monuments and see what events were taking place, picking up a pastry for €0.70 along the way to go with my sandwich. After this I explored the Dublin Docklands and the Sire, and walked across Millennium Bridge.

National Gallery of Ireland (Laycie Beck)

Next on my budget-friendly list was the National Museum of Ireland and then the National Gallery of Ireland, both of which were free to visit. As it was getting late I decided to grab some dinner and couldn't resist going into a Wetherspoons after spotting the familiar logo.

Dinner cost €11.95 which brought my total expenditure for the day up to £45.99 and €48.65, which after converting the euros makes a total of around £89.14 which was comfortably below my £100 budget, so after resisting the urge to look in the gift shops all day I splurged on a large souvenir snow glove for €8 (around £7) making my final cost £96.14.

After this I explored the city centre for a while and watched some of the many street performers that were singing, dancing or doing various tricks with footballs, before getting the bus back to the airport which passed the illuminated Samuel Beckett Bridge. After the quick flight thanks to the wind pushing the plane in the right direction we even landed 10 minutes early.


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