Seven Friends, Seven Nights, Seven Cities (around the Republic of Ireland) Part I
Almost five years ago to the day, I was a 19-year-old college sophomore getting ready to embark on my study abroad experience at University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland. I did not know one person there when I arrived, but upon heading back to America five months later I had three new best friends that were practically family. I could go on and on about my study abroad experience, but instead let’s fast-forward five years later to a group of seven friends who set out to make their five year study abroad reunion the best it could possibly be. We packed our bags and met up in Dublin, the next seven days were spent in Dublin, Kilkenny, Waterford, Cork, Dingle, Limerick, and Galway.
**Following “A Guide to Planning a Trip for Seven Adults” please visit our “Places to Visit” pages for individual city reviews. Please feel free to also check out the hashtag #7friends7nights7cities on Instagram.
A Guide to Planning a Trip for Seven Adults
*whom may or may not live near each other
It may seem like an unimportant factor, but if you are planning a trip for seven adults who typically only see each other one to two times a year, you need to have an official (or unofficial) coordinator to arrange accommodations, itineraries, group activities, etc. in order to be as prepared as possible. While preparation is not all that important for many people, and even frowned upon by some, when it comes to travel, we found that having seven people made preparation all the more important (especially because we were only planning to travel for seven days, and in those seven days we wanted to do as much as possible).
As a group of mid-twenty-somethings, money played a huge role in where we wanted to sleep, eat, drink, and what activities we want to do while traveling. As the unofficial coordinator for the group, I asked anyone who had monetary restrictions to please reach out to me in private so we would not plan anything that would make others uncomfortable. Based on past experiences traveling and understanding each person’s budget for the trip, we decided to stay in mid-grade hostels ranging from around $15-$20USD per night per person. We chose to eat on-the-go lunches each day usually purchased from convenience stores (shout out to the hot chicken rolls at Spar), and each night we sat down to a few pints and a decent dinner at a local establishment. Two nights during the week we extended our evening pints to pre-drinking back at the hostel, then gallivanting around town to bars and clubs suggested by locals.
As mentioned above, we decided as a group to stay in mid-grade hostels. Six of the seven nights were booked through www.hostelworld.com (highly recommended). One of the seven nights was spent at the Absolute Hotel Limerick (nearly double the cost of staying at a hostel, however we were craving more comfortable beds and pillows by mid-week- more on this to come). **Please check out my individual city reviews for more specifics on each of the hostels we stayed at.
To arrange the travel, I did research on where different hostels were located in relation to attractions in the city. Once I decided the general area that would be best to stay in, I took a look at our options for hostels, and, more specifically, looked at the prices, amenities, special offers, room set-up (i.e. if we could all stay in the same room together), and parking arrangements (we rented a van for the trip – more to come on this later).
Once I had picked out a hostel for each city, I booked the entire trip on my credit card. This ensured we would all end up together in the same room(s), and the hostels would not be full before everyone had a chance to book. After I calculated the cost of each hostel, I divided it by seven and each person sent me a check to cover their cost (I believe it totaled out to be $137 per person for the entire week, including the hotel- and hiccup at the hotel- in Limerick).
As stated earlier, it is not always preferable to create a day-to-day itinerary for travel, especially if you are the kind of person who just likes to go with the flow. However, seeing as we were going to be in a new city every day, we agreed that it was important to come up with a plan of when we would wake up and leave for the next city, if/where we would stop on the way to the next city, what we would do once we got to each city, etc. I asked that each person who had preferences of things to see/do throughout our travels send me a list of ideas. Once I had the route mapped out and the ideas put together, it was pretty easy to make a loose itinerary for the week. I believe we ended up getting to about 85% of the things we had on the itinerary, which I saw as a success. Two of the seven travelers did not submit input, and did not even review the itinerary prior to our trip, as they wanted the whole thing to be a surprise!
Packing a Light Bag
Because there were so many of us and only one vehicle, packing a light bag was essential in order to fit it all in the car. Just enough underwear and socks for the week, two “nice” outfits for going out, a couple of pairs of jeans, a few t-shirts/sweaters, and proper winter weather (if applicable) was all each person needed. Those who came with their significant others were instructed to pack one bag between the two of them, as well as a backpack if needed. The three others were each allowed one bag, though they needed to be semi-smaller in size. One of the girls also brought a selfie stick, which is featured in many of our photos!
I was not 25 at the time of travel (the golden age you must be to rent a car) so I had the individual whom drove the car make the rental car booking. This part of the trip planning was easiest, as the driver of the vehicle lives in Ireland so he was able to call and confirm the car without any problems. It also made it a lot easier given he knew the laws of the land, including (perhaps most importantly) how to drive on the “other” side of the road. This was also one of the most “uncomfortable” aspects of the trip due to the fact that there were seven of us and we did not fit quite well even in Ireland’s largest rental car (a seven-passenger mini van; a Ford Galaxy). Again, we all split cost of the car rental that had been discussed prior to our arrival, and everyone except the driver paid for gas (we thought this was a fair trade, since he did all the driving).