It's almost two months since the Government first announced restrictions to combat the Covid-19 crisis. These restraints - together with the deaths and serious illnesses which the virus has brought to Ireland - have made many of us more determined to get around to items on our bucket list once the emergency passes.
So how much would you need in the bank to fulfil one or more of your bucket list dreams when the crisis is over - and are there any ways to limit the cost of such experiences and ensure you get your money's worth?
Hot air balloon ride
Hot air balloon rides over Cappadocia in Turkey or the Yarra Valley in Australia are said to be among the most spectacular in the world - but you'll save yourself a lot of money if you stay at home and have a hot air balloon flight in Ireland instead.
Irish Balloon Flights offers hot air balloon rides in Ireland. You can expect to pay between €149 and €240 as a single passenger on an Irish hot air balloon flight with this company - depending on the type of flight and exactly when you fly. It usually works out cheaper per person if the flight is shared.
The company also offers VIP exclusive flights for couples - where just two passengers and the pilot fly -at a cost of €975 per couple.
Hot air balloon trips with Irish Balloon Flights usually run between April and September, though the VIP flights can also run during the winter. However, all flights are currently cancelled until the end of June at the earliest due to the Covid-19 crisis. For those who already hold vouchers with Irish Balloon Flights and whose hot air balloon trips have been cancelled as a result of the crisis, voucher validity dates are being extended by the period of the flying shutdown.
Should a hot air balloon trip be one of the items on your bucket list and you wish to book a flight with Irish Balloon Flights when the Covid-19 crisis passes, you must buy a voucher to do so - and it is important that you understand the terms and conditions of these vouchers before buying one. Weather conditions will largely determine whether your flight can go ahead, so your hot air balloon ride may be cancelled on a number of occasions if the weather is not suitable. The company's Freedom Platinum vouchers are the only vouchers which you can get a refund on if unsuitable weather leads to your flights being cancelled a number of times. Otherwise, vouchers are non-refundable for weather cancellations - though the validity date of your vouchers should be extended if you have had multiple cancellations on foot of unsuitable weather. Remember too that under new gift voucher rules, gift vouchers bought on or after December 2, 2019, must be valid for at least five years after they have been sold.
"Businesses are free to set their own terms and conditions under which they provide a product or service," said a spokeswoman for the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
"Particularly for experiences which are reliant on weather, there is a very real chance that they may be cancelled so make sure that you ask and read what the business terms are for refunds and cancellations - including any restrictions. The terms and conditions of your contract should set out your and the businesses' rights and responsibilities if something goes wrong so it is important to read this information before you buy."
Horse trek on beach
With so many spectacular beaches, Ireland can be an ideal destination for a horse ride on a beach and such treks are usually not that expensive. Eagle Rock Equestrian Centre in Kerry, for example, offers beach treks around the stunning Derrynane Bay at a cost per adult of €35 per hour. You can also go horse trekking with other equestrian centres around Ireland.
You'll need to wait until the Covid-19 crisis passes before you can book a trek as many equestrian centres are temporarily closed. Whenever things return to normal, shop around before choosing the destination for your beach trek.
In some parts of the country, a two-hour beach trek could cost €80 or €90 per adult or more. Going on your trek as part of a small group - rather than privately - is usually cheaper.
You'll need deep pockets for an African safari holiday, but according to Eoghan Corry, editor of Travel Extra magazine, a safari is "the one holiday which everyone should do in their lifetime". "There is real action on a safari holiday which you simply won't get on any other holiday," said Corry. "Don't go to a game park for a safari holiday though - go to a real safari in a national park, such as Kruger National Park, Serengeti National Park or the Masai Mara National Reserve. The most beautiful place to go on safari is Botswana - but it's very expensive."
Be sure to go on safari at the right time - visit at the wrong months and you could miss out on wildlife sightings. A week's safari holiday could cost several thousand euro or more per person - depending on where and when you go - and whether or not it's a luxury safari. A seven-night luxury safari in Dulini Lodge in Kruger National Park last September, for example, could have set you back €8,649 per person with Trailfinders - based on two people sharing.
Given the high cost of safari and the uncertainty around travel and the future financial viability of a number of airlines, hold off booking such a trip until the Covid-19 crisis passes.
For those interested in a safari trip between January and March 2021, Trailfinders is quoting a starting price of €2,799 per person for its nine-night Ultimate Tented Kruger Experience trip - based on two people sharing. This trip includes two nights in a luxury safari tent at the Nkomazi Game Reserve - and another three nights in similar accommodation in Hamilton's tented safari camp. The price includes board and game drives at both safari camps, as well as flights from Dublin to Johannesburg, hotel accommodation for the other four nights, and car hire.
You can save money by travelling in the less popular months for such holidays, limiting your safari trip to a couple of nights, and booking standard - rather than luxury - accommodation.
An Antarctic cruise often features high on people's bucket lists - but it could cost about €11,000 per person (based on two people sharing) to go on one. The cost of a top-end 12-night trip with Trailfinders for example starts at €10,699 per person - based on two people sharing and a departure date of late February 2021.
That price - which is for its Opulent Antarctica trip - includes flights from Dublin to Santiago, a 10-night Antarctic cruise, meals and drinks on board, and hotel accommodation in Santiago. Trailfinders has a cheaper 'Best of Antarctica' trip - which includes flights and a nine-night Antarctic cruise - for €6,899 per person, based on two people sharing and a departure date of early November 2021.
Given the uncertainty around travel, it's best to book a cruise with a company which will allow you to change your booking if necessary.
There are plenty of bucket list experiences which you can fulfil in Ireland, including bungee jumping, tandem sky diving, night kayaking on a lake, and race car driving.
There are a number of companies you can bungee jump with in Ireland and Northern Ireland - and the cost typically varies from around €55 to €95 per jump. A tandem skydive could cost you anything from €200 to around €300, depending on the company and when you jump. A night kayak on a lake could cost a couple around €130 (or €65 each). A race car drive in Mondello Park will typically cost anything from €159 to €499, depending on the type of car and driving experience booked.
Bear in mind that most of the companies offering bucket-list experiences are temporarily closed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, so you will need to wait until they reopen before you book. Most of us are now accustomed to putting things on hold under Covid-19.
However, this crisis will pass - so until it does, set aside a bit of money if you can afford it so that you will have a good chance of realising one or more of your bucket list dreams when things return to normal.
Sunday Indo Business