How To Plan Your Irish Camping Trip
2020 looks like being the year of the staycation. And with the sheer natural beauty of Ireland all around us, you’d be hard pressed to find a better way to spend this time than camping.
We recently hosted a competition on our Facebook page, asking you, the OSi community for your top staycation planning and packing tips and boy, did you deliver! In fact, your tips were so useful, they inspired us to write this piece so that they can help more people to plan for their staycation and camping holidays, this year and beyond.
So, if you’re considering an Irish camping trip or staycation, keep these top 10 tips in mind and make 2020’s holiday one to remember.
You can find all of the tips mentioned below and many, many more on our Facebook post.
1. Bring home-cooked frozen meals
In the week or so before you set off on your trip, you might consider some batch cooking. While there’s a lot to be said for a tin of baked beans, eventually you’re going to crave something a little more exciting. Big thanks to Grainne for inspiring this tip.
“[When] we go camping, I cook a large batch of chicken curry, freeze it and take it out of the freezer just before we leave….it’s thawed out by the time we reach the campsite and get everything ready, then just reheat it” – Grainne Murphy
2. Pitch your tent before you leave
It might seem like a hassle, but if you’re missing a pole from your tent, you’ll be glad you found out at home and not high up in the Wicklow mountains as the rain clouds start to gather.
Thanks for the sensible advice Maeve!
“Check Tent/s before packing and invest in good pegs” – Maeve Cronin
3. Do a combination of planned trips and curious exploring
It’s great to have in mind some attractions or walks that you’d like to do before you leave the house. But don’t worry about planning every second of every day. Many of our fans advise a combination of some planning, with unplanned, random expeditions!
“It’s great to plan for any attractions in the area but it’s also great fun to just go for a drive and walk around random places on the map. You never know what hidden gem you could discover.” – Jacqueline Cullen Hanrahan
4. Visit some of Ireland’s greatest heritage sites… for free
The novelty of an Irish staycation is being able to visit tourist attractions midweek, when you might normally be working or when the kids are in school. The great thing about midweek activities is that you have a better chance of getting some fantastic special offers, such as OPW free days.
On the first Wednesday of every month you can get access to many OPW managed heritage sites across Ireland for free. You can see full details here on the Heritage Ireland website, but some of the attractions include:
- Charles Fort (Cork)
- Donegal Castle (Donegal)
- Farmleigh (Dublin)
- Dun Aonghasa (Galway)
- Ross Castle (Kerry)
- Jerpoint Abbey (Kilkenny)
- Adare Castle (Limerick)
- Céide Fields (Mayo)
- Trim Castle (Meath)
- Rock of Cashel (Tipperary)
- John F. Kennedy Arboretum (Wexford)
- Glendalough Visitor Centre (Wicklow)
Hat tip to Gareth for this brilliant tip.
“Nearly all the OPW sites around the country are free on the first Wednesday of each month. It’s a great way to experience Ireland’s heritage for free” – Gareth Kelly
5. Save space by vacuum packing
Vacuum packing allows you to pack bulky items like towels and pillows without taking up all the space in the boot. It can also be a handy way to keep important items dry such as fire-starter supplies or toilet paper. If you’re taking on board earlier advice and bringing home cooked frozen meals on your trip, freezing these in vacuum packed bags instead of lunch boxes can be another handy space saver.
Thanks to Lasra for this tip.
“When we go for a week in Ireland, I vacuum pack as much as possible, towels, duvets, pillows etc… Means you’ve much more storage space.” – Lasra Ní Loing
6. Pack layers
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that you need to pack for all weathers on an Irish trip.
Layers are a great way to prepare for this. As long as you’re not camping in the depths of the Irish winter, you can leave your enormous winter jacket at home. Simply add and remove layers of lighter clothing as the temperature cools down and heats up. Throw a thin, easy to carry waterproof layer on top and you’ll be able to mix and match your layers so that your body temperature is just right while staying nice and dry.
As British fellwalker, guidebook author and illustrator Alfred Wainwright MBE famously wrote in 1973, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”.
Thanks to the many of you who shared this tip.
“Layering clothes is best for our type of weather, from base layers, mid-layers and outerwear. Packaway jackets are a great idea, less space but keep you dry in a downpour. You can then dress to suit your activity and weather.” – Yvonne Byrnes
“It’s Ireland, so the only way to pack is with layers, chances are within a day or two you’ll need sunscreen and short sleeves, long sleeves, something cosy and of course an umbrella! Take layers off or put on as needed. The only thing that you’re guaranteed is essential at all times is a smile” – Majella Jones
7. Waterproof footwear
And on the subject of appropriate clothing, footwear deserves a special mention all on its own. Is there anything more uncomfortable than wet shoes? Or even worse, putting wet shoes back on?
Pack comfy, waterproof walking shoes and maybe an extra pair just in case.
Thanks for the reminder Lisa!
“Comfy waterproof Walking/Hiking shoes is a must…nothing worse than wet feet” – Lisa Black
8. SPF sun cream
Yes, we know it’s easy to forget the sunscreen in Ireland, but if you’re planning on spending any time outdoors, even if it’s overcast, sun cream is a must on your packing list.
Sun burn is caused by exposure to ultra violet radiation (UV rays). Clouds don’t stop UV rays from reaching the earth so even on a cloudy day, you can easily get burnt in Ireland. Children’s skin is especially delicate so if you’re camping with children, make sun cream a non-negotiable.
This was probably your most popular tip, being mentioned countless times in your comments. We’re heartened that our community appears to take sun care in the outdoors seriously. Keep spreading the word folks!
9. Leave no trace
The first and last rule of camping is leave no trace. So, come prepared with whatever you’ll need to bring all your rubbish home. Consider how you can reduce the amount of single use items or plastic packaging you bring on your trip too.
We couldn’t put in any better than Triona already has:
“Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints… Enjoy yourself” – Triona Russell
10. Bring an OSi map
We were delighted to see so many of you highlighting the benefits of OSi tourist and leisure maps such as their reliability even when you’ve got no signal and how they highlight hidden gems that phones or sat navs don’t reveal.
As kindly pointed out by Ciara, below, our Adventure Series of maps are available in weatherproof paper so you can navigate your route even if it’s raining.
“I use the waterproof Discovery maps to plan a hike in the mountains ⛰️🥾😎🌦️” – Ciara Fleming
“Use OSI maps as phones don’t always get a signal in remote parts of the country” – Martina Guyett
“Get your maps out and plan your best route. Maps will always show you lots of hidden gems that your phone or sat nav in your car will miss” – Loretta Coyle
Once again, thank you for all of your great staycation tips. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more great competitions like this and even greater pearls of wisdom from the OSi community.