Things don’t always go as planned. Any traveller knows you have to come to “expect the unexpected.” On this current trip in Ireland that has certainly been true. Keen to explore as much of the country as possible I was looking to do a castle hopping tour as well as hit some highlights such as the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway. Then, on March 24th, Bus Eireann ended up on strike. These bus strikes went on for three weeks!
When it initially happened, it was just a mild inconvenience. I was staying in the centre of Ireland, near a small city called Athlone. We didn’t have any major plans and could still travel to Dublin and Galway via another bus service called CityLink. But the strike went on much longer than anticipated. I had been planning my castle hopping tour for a while and Bus Eireann was the company that serviced most of Ireland. The few other options I looked into included trains (many of which were affected by the strike and out of service), other bus companies (which I ended up using but had limited service options), car rental (being under 25 and only able to drive an automatic made that either impossible or prohibitively expensive), and even flights!
I still ended up travelling to different parts of the country. I visited Galway, Cork, Athlone, Dublin, and even went up north to Belfast. It was getting around whilst there that was more difficult. I’m not really one for large group tours (you can see my thoughts on those in this post) and tend to only do them if I’m going to be in a place for a short period time with lots I want to see (and if they’re not too long!). During the bus strikes, those were the only way to visit Cliffs of Moher & Giant’s Causeway (and due to some time and money constraints we opted against those). Just means I’ll have to do them another time I guess!
Beyond my frustrations and some lost money on previous bookings, my trip has still been great. I’m lucky to be able to change plans and it does not overly affect me. I can only imagine how much it affected the day to day of the locals for anyone in more rural areas of Ireland, as Bus Eireann is the only bus service in many regions.
Luckily, my trip isn’t over yet. The strike is off, and I still may be able to see more of these beautiful places. For those that travelled during the bus strikes and couldn’t get to what they wanted – I’m sorry and I hope you still had a great time. Like I said in the beginning, things don’t always go as planned.
Here are some tips to mitigate frustrations and (hopefully!) not lose and money:
- Stay abreast of local news – some political things (like strikes!) might affect you too.
- Book places with flexible cancellation policies – Airbnbs often have these listed on the profile, most hotels let you cancel without penalty 24-48hrs in advance. Get the contact info of where you’re staying and explain the situation. Hopefully they’ll understand and not charge you.
- Have some backup cash (or a credit card) in case you’re stuck somewhere longer than planned
- Get a local SIM Card! Or at least a decent roaming plan. Nothing’s worse than being stuck somewhere unable to reach people.
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