A few weeks ago, I had my first visitors since moving to Dublin. A few truly great travel friends that I met during a few years ago while studying abroad in London. We all had similar interests, different and similar majors, and hit it off instantly. We started traveling together while we were in London and here we are two years later and two reunion trips all together to mark each year. To celebrate our two years of friendship and travels, I thought this post would feel a bit more special if I shared some of those memories with you.
The Beginning – London 2016
We all met - literally - in the Heathrow Airport in London on the first day of our study abroad. We were all studying abroad through the same company, CIS Abroad, and were in the same program. We started our daily adventures around London almost immediately, even with our horrible jet lag.
Our top goal we set for ourselves while living in London was to get out every day and explore the city as much as possible; even if it was just to go for a short walk. We never wanted to feel like we were wasting any time or not taking advantage of the incredible opportunity that we had. Weekdays became days designated to exploring London and the weekends were designated to exploring England and the rest of Europe. With major airports and train stations it was incredibly easy to plan weekend trips at the last minute and to jam pack every weekend with mini adventures.
Year One – New Orleans 2017
Well, what can we say. One year later, one friend had already graduated and the rest of us were finishing up, getting ready to toss our grad caps up, and get ready for the “real” world. We had been trying for months to meet up, plan a reunion ANYWHERE, but it just never seemed to work out with four different work, school, and life schedules. Once we could all finally agree on a set date and destination were finally ready to roll and on our way to New Orleans! Our trip fell along roughly the one-year mark since we last saw each other in London, so it was a crazy time to be together in New Orleans. It also just happened to be all of our spring breaks and St. Patrick’s Day, so talk about a crazy time to be in New Orleans.
We spent about a week together in New Orleans with Kelly as our designated tour guide. The week was filled with beignets, beads, and little too much booze. We all had one of those bonding moments of the realization that no matter if we don’t get to see each other that often, we have one of those friendships where we can be reunited for one day and it feels like no time has passed. On our last night together, we made a pact that no matter what we were doing in our lives or how chaotic and busy we were, we would all meet up at least once a year.
Year Two – Dublin and London 2018
So fast forward one year now and here I am living in Dublin. How is that for life changing events? Because I have some of the most amazing travel friends, they did not hesitate at all this year to come to Dublin to visit and then take a little hop over to London to reminisce. It was a little complicated working around four work, school, PTO, and holiday time schedules but we made it work. We made our annual trip a little later this year so everyone could spend as much time abroad as possible.
Our week was nonstop from the moment everyone arrived till the last one left. We toured Dublin by bus, did a day trip to Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, and didn’t sleep the night before we jetted off to London. While we all were really excited to explore Dublin together, I think we were all bit more excited to be going to London, to be honest. It was the place we all met, was the place we all called home for six months, and the place we have all missed dearly for the last two years. I don’t think any of us thought we would get to go back so soon, let alone together!
While it breaks my heart that I don’t get to see these amazing ladies all day every day, I know that they are there whenever I need them and whenever an adventure calls. And those are the best kind of friendships to have.
xx, A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
Probably one of the most popular - and the biggest highlight of any Ireland tour - is the Cliffs of Moher. It is one of the most recognizable Irish destinations and is definitely worth the trip cross the country to see the national monument. The Cliffs line the Western Coast of Ireland along the Atlantic Coast, and while you do have to hike up the Cliffs to see the view, it is completely worth it.
TOUR COMPANY: Irish Days Tours: Premium Cliff of Moher Tour
DEPARTURE: The tour will meet up at the Molly Malone Statue at 7:15am to depart for the first destination on the tour, Caherconnell Fort.
STOP ONE - Caherconnell Fort and Sheep dog demo
After a few hours of a little R&R on the bus the first stop is at Caherconnell fort. The fort is a historic ring fort in the rolling green hills that you can explore before watching a sheep herding demo.
STOP TWO - Boat Tour of the Cliffs
The boat tour was definitely a must for me and the main reason I chose this particular day tour. It was different perspective of the Cliffs and a just a chance to spend some time out on the water versus walking around or stuck on the bus. But be cautious, the water is just as choppy as it looks so if you get seas sick you might want to pass on this one. The boat tour was about an hour and then afterwards you have a bit of time to explore Doolin and grab a late lunch.
STOP THREE – Doolin
The next stop is a lunch break on the Atlantic Coast in the town of Doolin. Lunch not included on the tour, but there are a variety of pubs and cafes to choose from to get a quick sandwich to keep exploring Doolin or sit down and relax for a meal. The seafood is the recommended choice since the charming little town is a rather good place to find some of the best fish around.
STOP FOUR – Finally – The Cliffs of Moher
To get that picturesque view of the Cliffs, you’ll want to take the paths to the right when you get to the entrance of the Cliffs. If you take the paths to the left, you get to walk along the Cliffs for some pretty amazing views and the ultimate choice: walk along the trail or walk along the unfenced path on the edge of the Cliffs. The only downer of the tour is due to the boat tour time at the Cliffs is limited, so you have to either run from side to side to see it all, or just pick one side to really enjoy it. I decided to run like a maniac and see it all.
The tour is all day and gets back to Dublin around 8pm at night, so pack some food, a good pair of shoes, and something to do to pass the time on the bus. It's a long day but full day!
xx, A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
Sorry for the MIA treatment, but between getting my first major cold (welcome to Ireland) and working I have been non-stop for the last few weeks. I have been living in Dublin for a little over a month now and as crazy and hard to believe as it is I am ALMOST all settled in. Your probably like, "Um, honey you got the job and your housing situation taken care. What else could make you feel settled in???" Well, a few things - there a a few hoops you have to jump through to be able to work on a visa, become registered so you can get paid, and then get a bank account so they can get your money to you. All of it is very tedious, revolving around appointments, paperwork and a whole lot of patience.
If you are considering moving abroad for a year to Ireland, these are going to be the steps that you will take before you go (step one you start before you leave) and once you arrive to get officially grounded.
Step One: The GNIB Appointment
The GNIB office can be rather difficult to make an appointment with, so once you know relatively when you want to go to Ireland, I would start trying to book your appointment even if you don’t have your visa from the consulate/embassy just yet. Start looking to book about three months out (that’s how far out the will let you book an appointment, anyways). If you are having a hard time finding openings, check around 12:00pm IST/GMT.
For the actual appointment, arrive about fifteen to twenty minutes early to get a spot in the queue, cause you will be there a while. No one is in a rush and there is probably going to be a lot of people there; so pack a book, bring some music, or an activity to do.
You will need a few different forms for your appointment and depending on the type of visa you will have the forms may vary. To finish your working holiday application you will need your passport, a credit or debit card to pay the €300 fee, your working holiday authorization from your consulate/embassy, and your address in Ireland.
After you have your appointment, you’ll have your visa stamp in your passport and you can start applying for jobs while you wait for your IRP card to come in the mail or until you get an email to pick it up at the INIS Office. The next step you can take after you’ve applied and been accepted for a job, you will need a letter from the manager to give to the PPS office that you are employed.
Step Two: PPS Number Appointment
Before making your appointment for the PPS office, register online with MyGovID. You will use that that account on MyWealfare.ie to make your PPS appointment. A PPS appointment is not as hard to book, but it is usually booked about five days out and it will take 5-7 business days to get after your appointment. You will need almost all of the same documents that you needed at the GNIB appointment: passport, IRP card, driver’s license, letter of employment from manager, and your permeant Irish address. All in all, the appointment is quick and takes about fifteen minutes to complete everything.
Step Three: File for Taxes
Slow and steady, but that PPS number finally came in the mail! Woop Woop! Now you can fill go online to Revenue.ie to register your first job. You will use the “My Account” portal to login and can use your MyGovID account to start the process. To register you will need your PPS number, date of birth, your phone number (Irish number is best), email, and address. Once you complete the first step you will be mailed a temporary password in 5-8 business days to relogin and finish filling out the forms. While you are waiting for the temporary password to come in the mail, ask your employer for the Employer’s PAYE Registered Number, you will need it when you fill out the tax information and it will help make the process go faster if you have it the day the password arrives. Then you can login again with the temporary password, change it, and your Revenue account will update in about two days with your tax information once you add your PAYE information.
*Follow up with Revenue.ie after you get your bank account and add it to the website. It will ensure you get your tax free and faster and follow up with your payroll off that they received all the information they need from Revenue to help you with the process.
Step Four: Getting an Irish Bank Account
Well, last but not least, when you finally have all of your forms in order you can FINALLY set up your bank account. There are four main banks in Ireland to choose from: AIB Bank, Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland, and Permanent TSB. You will most likely need to make an appointment with the bank that you want to open an account with, but for the most part you will need the following things at any bank to open an account: Bring the letter from the revenue office, your passport, PPS number, IRP card, letter of employment from your manager, and some cash. You never know which bank will want what information so it’s better to have more than less. My best recommendation is to make an appointment or start looking into it after getting your PPS number in the mail. Depending on the time of year, the banks can be booked for 2-6 weeks in advance for account openings and you may not want to wait that long. Once you know which bank you want to go with, go to a few of their locations to ask for an appointment, as well, just to see what is available. Each bank will have different availability based on the size of the branch and you never know where you might find an opening.
After your appointment, you have an account number and all that fancy jazz, go to your employer as soon as possible so they can process the information and they can get you off emergency tax. It’s no fun for anyone so get your banking taken care of so you can get all of your money and start saving. (or shopping. Whatever floats your boat, really).
I know it is A LOT of information to digest at once, but just remember it's a one step at a time kind of process thing so don't worry to much about it if you are considering about moving abroad to Ireland or are in the process of moving. Just plan it out, make appointments, and it will all work out.
xx, A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
If you’ve followed along on my instastory, then you’ll know the first few days were not the greatest experience and pretty stressful when I was transition to life in Dublin. Basically, when I arrived in Ireland my first Airbnb did turn out to be the greatest: it was dirty, communication with the host started to go downhill, and after a long flight I just did not feel comfortable. Basically, I learned the “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” lesson hard. So off to a hotel for the first three nights before going to a different Airbnb for a week (which that Airbnb was great, just so much moving.)
So, for the first week I bounced and moved around from a hotel to an Airbnb, and oh boyo, it was stressful. It was a lot to process and was a lot to take in at the beginning. Constantly packing and repacking, lugging all of bags across Dublin every few days, and constantly feeling like I was never getting anything done. But, all transitions are hard and sometimes you just have to learn to adapt (after having a meltdown with some Netflix first, of course.)
Most of the first week in Dublin I spent my time hunting and searching for a place to live. My goal was to find a place to live by the end of the first week so I could move out of my Airbnb (one last time) and finally settle in. I struggled at first with searching to find a permeant place in Dublin to live on my budget. Dublin is a bit more expensive than I expected, so it made searching for an apartment a bit of an eye opener. My ideal monthly budget was around €500 - €550 a month, and all I really knew was monthly rent ranged from €400 - €800 for cheaper places. Rent.ie, Daft.ie, and Easyroommate.ie were the sites that I jumped around on, but I ultimately had the most success on Daft.ie once I changed my strategy and stopped looking for apartments to rent and started looking more into house shares.
On Daft.ie there is a search section called “Shared Accommodations” where you can search renting a room in apartments and homes. You get a lot more results this way versus just searching renting an apartment or a room in an apartment. Most likely you will be renting a room in someone’s home, but there are a few shared apartment spaces listed if you can find them. Naturally, closer to the City Centre is pricier, but living in a shared home is a bit cheaper so you can be closer to the city. Because almost of the jobs I was applying for were either in the City Centre or close to, I wanted to be as close to it without breaking my budget. I started searching based on my preferences (location and price), but what I found to also be successful was using the map feature after finding a location I liked and looking at the properties in the area around it. It was easier to search that way because I could see the prices for that neighbor and know if it was a good price for rent or a scam.
What does a scam look like? A lot of the scams will look too good to be true. A brand-new apartment or house for a bare minimum price. A City Centre apartment half the price as the others around it. Or the current tenant coordinating for you to move in and saying the following reasons why you need to pay before getting the keys: they are out of the county, a family member just died and they can’t be there, and the person that is leaving is still there and it would be a violation of their privacy. Now don’t get me wrong, all of these things can also be true a ligament reasons, but if they won’t let you see the place or give you keys at a signing and want you to pay before ALL of that, it’s a scam.
I ended up emailing about fourteen different sources about rooms and apartments and only heard back from three: two were an apartment and one was a house share. After viewing all of them, the house share ended up being the best match for me. It is not super far from the City Centre (about 15-20 minutes by bus or a thirty-minute walk), my own room and bathroom (the bathroom was a bonus), and it’s in a great area near a giant Tesco (food is always a priority on my list). It is a bit over what I wanted to spend a month on rent, but I’m here a year and comfort is import so I’ll just have to be smart with my budget.
While I was sending resumes and dropping resumes the first week, I really started to focused on it the second week after I was settled in my new place. I used sites like jobs.ie, the company’s career link on their site, and just walking store to store to ask for managers and hand in my resume. Most of the jobs I found to have a lot of vacancies were in retail, hospitality, and tourism and I felt like those were some of the fields I was personally the most qualified for and had the best chance at getting a job quickly in. I applied for maybe seven jobs on a low day and fifteen jobs on a higher day.
Anything that seemed promising I would follow up with after a few days and hope to hear back quickly. I heard back from a few retail jobs, had a few interviews, and after following up with them I did manage to land a retail job my second week in Dublin. It was a lot of hustle, stress, and long days; but I am just that sort of person that needs to be organized and have a plan in order before I feel like I can start to relax and really start to explore Ireland. I just sorta felt like if I was out exploring and I didn’t have a job or a place to live I was wasting time, but the time I was spending looking and not getting results I could have been out seeing the city and having fun. Does that make sense or am I over thinking it? I’m probably overthinking it a bit but that is kinda what I do.
A side not I should add is patience. Have lots of patience because nothing is done at a super-fast pace. Whether it is applying for a job or an apartment, if you are interested follow up if you want a faster response and don’t expect much on the weekend. It’s not the 24/7 work week like in the states.
Well, as far as transitions into moving to a new country with no real plan it was stressful, educational, and worthy of a drink. Or drinksss.
xx A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
So, you want move to the land of the lush green isles and Guinness beer? Uh, me too buddy! Curious to know if you can or if there is a way for you to do? I know how you feel. Until I started looking into different options, I didn’t really know that there was a way to move abroad until I started asking question. The hardest part after deciding to move abroad was the application process itself for the Working Holiday Application (WHA) to get my visa for a year. The WHA is a temporary visa for students or recent graduates to have the opportunity to move to Ireland for up to a year (you are not required to stay the entire year if you do not wish).
I’m going break down the application step by step, dollar sign by dollar sign, and then roughly how long each step will take. Basically, I am going to break it down so hopefully all the steps I had to redo because they weren’t clear or clarified enough by (*coughs* sources that will not be named) will be much easier for you.
You can apply for the WHA in two ways – through a program that will help you transition or on your own through the Irish Embassy/Consulate. Either way, the form you will apply with is the same. There are Two Stages you will go through when applying for your visa.
WHA – STAGE ONE
The Application: The application is about five pages and pretty straight forward. You just fill out all the main details of your life, etc., and then attach the following required documents with the application when you send it:
Photocopy of Your Valid Passport: it must be valid for ONE year after the date of your arrival in Ireland
2 Recent Passport Photos: Around $14. Who knew passport photos had gotten more expensive?
A Current Resume/CV
*A College Transcript, Letter from your School’s Registrar Office, or Diploma: this will prove that you are part-time, still in school, or have graduated within the last 12 months. *When you are sending your college transcripts, send them directly to your designated Embassy/Consulate. This one does not have to be part of your application when you mail it. ($10)
Original Banking Statement: You will need an official bank statement to prove you have at least $4000 USD in checking/savings. The best way to do this is either take a previous banking statement or go to your bank and have them print one off for you. It must have the bank’s official stamp on it and have the teller sign it. Some banks charge a $6 fee for this.
The Embassy/Consulate Fee: Either by money order, cashier’s check, or a bank draft is the only way to pay the non-refundable fee. It will range from $352-$360 depending on the Embassy/Consulate. Cashier’s check is the recommended method because it is the safest and has a $10 fee.
You can either mail all of your documents (use certified mail) or you can take them in person your designated Embassy/Consulate. If you take your documents they can possibly get them done that day if everything is in order, or you can mail them and it can take up to 6-8 weeks to hear back.
While you are waiting you will want to start trying to make your INIS Appointment for when you get to Ireland. This appointment will have to be in Dublin (even if you are planning on living somewhere else). They have quite the wait, so add it as a book mark to your browser and check it often if you know when you are planning on leaving for Ireland so if you see an opening you can take it. The only time I ever found openings posted was in-between 7:00-7:30am EST (so around noon in Ireland). This appointment is INCREDIBLY important, this office in Dublin is going to approve your visa and allow you to work in Ireland. Oh, and have your credit card ready. It is a €300 charge.
WHA – STAGE 2
Woop Woop! You officially recieved confirmation that your paper work is in order and you can move on to Stage 2! Stage 2 is less work but has a hefty price tag to it.
Plane Tickets: So, you need your entry and exit ticket and if you are going for a year you probably realized you can’t really book a round trip ticket. No worries, book a one way to Dublin to get set up and then book a ticket out of Ireland anywhere (EXPECT THE UK). Literally, book it for Paris, Belgium, Amsterdam, Germany, etc., for dirt cheap. When you go they need proof that at some point during your stay you are going to leave the country. Once you are there and flights become available towards the end of your trip you can book your actual ticket home. Depending on when you book your flight and from where it can range in price from $200-$400 (most likely).
Health Insurance: Now for health insurance if you are going through a company they will probably offer you a health plan, and I would recommend that. It’s the guarantee that you won’t have issues with it. If you’re not, there are tons of travel companies, like STA Travel, or even your own health insurance provider that offer travel health insurance plans. Just make sure that the plan covers WORLDWIDE coverage and if you can get it even more detailed to Ireland that is best. Some Embassy/Consulates are very detailed and won’t approve your health insurance unless they know you will be covered in Ireland. Travel health insurance can also range in depending on either your provider or the company you get it from. To ballpark it I would say it can range from $300-$675.
Your Passport: The last thing they need is to verify your passport. This is again one of those times where you either send it all to them or take it in person. I have a phobia of being separated from my passport, so I decided on this particular occasion to take some time off and go to the Consulate myself.
If you mail Stage 2, it will take a few weeks to be approved again (sorry, everything is a little slower). Going in person it took about a week to get my visa after my appointment.
After everything is complete and you have your WHA visa and you better invest in a good rain coat, start making lists, and get packing!
xx A Traveler’s Bliss | Grace Anne
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)