Holiday rip-offs at home will send you flocking to the sun
Thinking about a staycation because you're too broke to travel abroad? Think again, writes Louise McBride
IT'S about 10 days since government ministers urged Irish people to do their bit for the country and holiday at home. Yet you could be fleeced if you take up their advice. The Sunday Independent tracked down five of the biggest Irish holiday rip-offs.
You'll easily pay a few hundred euro more to hire a holiday home in wet and windy Ireland than to head off to the sun for a week.
A couple interested in hiring a holiday home in Ireland this summer could easily pay €650 or €700 a week to rent one. The same couple could have snapped up a package deal from Panorama Holidays last week for a holiday in Bodrum, Turkey -- including flights and self-catering accommodation -- for €496.
A package holiday for a week in Lanzarote -- again, including flights and accommodation in self-catering apartments -- could have been snapped up from Falcon Holidays last week for €538. Package offers like this -- particularly if booked last minute -- pop up continually over the summer.
Offers on holiday homes around Ireland -- particularly in popular tourist spots -- are few and far between, however. A couple heading to Achill Island this summer will be hard pressed to find a holiday home for hire for less than €550 a week -- or indeed, for less than €650 a week if holidaying in the first two weeks of August.
Couples will generally pay through the nose to hire a holiday home in Ireland as prices usually don't reflect the number of people staying in the home.
If you're travelling with a big group, holiday homes usually work out better value. But even then, a group could have to pay almost €1,000 to hire a holiday home for a week -- particularly if it's described as a "luxury" home.
Fanad Head Lighthouse in Donegal is one of the most photographed lighthouses in Ireland. It attracts many tourists to Fanad Head. The Sunday Independent found a nine-bedroom luxury holiday home in Fanad which costs €975 a week to hire in July and August.
In Downings, north Donegal, there is a luxury three-bedroom waterfront holiday home that costs €800 a week to hire in July and August.
You could pay at least €500 a week to hire a family car for a summer holiday in Ireland -- as well as the cost of car seats (if you have young kids) and fuel.
Let's say you're a family of five and you're heading to Donegal from Dublin or further south next Saturday. You decide to fly into Donegal Airport rather than drive for half a day to get there. You want to pick up a car from the airport and you don't want to pay in advance for the hire. It will cost about €491 to hire an Opel Zafira from Hertz from next Saturday until June 18. The quote worked out cheaper -- at €449 -- if you paid in advance.
Hire the same car for the same week in Marbella, Spain, however, and you could pay about €150 less. Avis last week quoted €300 for a week's hire of an Opel Zafira in Marbella if you pay in advance -- €346 if you pay when you return the car.
A spokesman for Hertz said car hire prices in Ireland compared well to average prices across Europe.
"There is a seasonal aspect to car hire and in particular to family cars such as the Zafira," said the spokesman.
"Demand only peaks during the three months of summer -- demand drives up the price and lack of demand has the reverse effect. This would have reflected in our price for say February, March or April, where we averaged €225 a week."
The spokesman said that prepaid hires cost less as an incentive to the customer to pay in advance. "This gives us the ability to plan our fleet requirements more securely as there is a very small 'no-show' ratio on prepaid rentals," he said.
Some car-hire companies charge customers through the nose if they don't pay in advance.
If you're heading to Kerry and want to hire a people carrier from Kerry Airport next Saturday for a week, Avis last week quoted €499 if you paid in advance. At €698.60, the quote was about €200 more expensive if you decided to pay for the hire on return of the car.
Another thing that could put you off flying to your rural hideaway is the massive baggage charges you'll be hit with.
If you're planning to fly to Kerry next Saturday and return on June 18, you could have snapped up a return flight with Ryanair last week for €68, including the flight, online check-in charges and EU levies.
If you want to check in a bag, however, you'll pay €40 in baggage charges for the return flight (more if your bag weighs over €15kg), which brings the cost of your flight to €108.
It's free to check in a bag that weighs less than 15kg with Aer Arann -- as long as you're on a domestic flight. If your bag weighs more than 15kg, you'll usually pay a €10 baggage fee to check it in for each leg of your journey or €20 for a return flight.
If you're taking a set of golf clubs on a flight with you, prepare yourself for a nasty shock. The baggage fee for checking in sports equipment with Ryanair is €40 for each leg of the journey; €30 per one-way flight with Aer Arann.
HOTELS FOR SINGLES
Ireland is now one of the cheapest places in western Europe for hotels, with the average room costing €79 a night last year, according to hotels.com.
If you're travelling solo, however, you could pay between 25 and 40 per cent more for your room than a couple would.
A major Galway hotel, for example, is charging €140 for a single room on a Saturday night in mid-August. But a couple could stay in the same hotel for €200 -- that's €100 each.
Most hotels also charge a hefty fee if you order food to your room. Service charges are usually €5 per person regardless of the value of the meal booked -- and some hotels charge €8.
Irish Rail has just launched a summer offer where you can get tickets for half price -- if you book them online and if you're travelling on Saturdays or Sundays.
If, however, you can't buy your ticket online and must buy it at the station, you'll pay a small fortune.
A return train ticket from Dublin to Killarney costs €72 if bought at a station -- which is more than you could pay for a flight to Kerry. If you're travelling to Galway for the week, you'll have to pay €48 return for your train fare if you buy your ticket at the station -- more than twice what you'll pay on the bus.
Sunday Indo Business