Price of Euro 2012 trips still in reach for supporters
IT starts in less than four weeks, but flights and travel packages to Euro 2012 around the time of Ireland's three group matches are still widely available.
Tickets for the games will prove the main stumbling block, but those who have left things to the last minute will still find a relatively affordable path to Poland.
And fears that accommodation prices would shoot up in Poland have proven unfounded.
Whether it's all-inclusive deals with chartered flights or scheduled services, seats can still be secured during the countdown to Ireland's first game against Croatia on June 10.
This weekend, Aer Lingus flights -- based on arrival and departure one day either side of the fixture dates -- remained relatively affordable.
In Poland, the national airline only flies to Warsaw -- five hours' drive to Gdansk and four hours to Poznan. But trips around the date of the Croatia match were available for €479, Spain for €213 and Italy for €223.
Ryanair is more direct, flying into both host cities, charging €450 around the Croatia game; €326 for Spain and €385 for Italy. But it's unclear exactly how many seats remain or for how long.
"My gut feeling is that things are tightening up," said Michael Caslin of 747 Travel, which is carrying about 600 supporters on packages that don't include match tickets.
"I would say it's getting harder because of people making late decisions."
Tourism officials say there are still plenty of accommodation possibilities and prices have not risen to the exorbitant levels many feared.
Their number one tip is not to book ahead, but barter when you get there.
"The closer we get to the date, the lower the prices will get," said Martin Kitson, of the 'In Your Pocket' tourism guide in Gdansk, where Ireland play their most anticipated match against Spain on June 14.
"You can actually do a bit of wheeling and dealing and talk to them about the price.
"People have upped prices but it's nowhere near as bad as you might have read. And it's nothing like Ukraine -- compared to Ukraine, they are giving places away."
Estimates on the numbers likely to travel from Ireland vary widely, but the FAI expects at least 20,000 to make the trip.
Both the Carlsberg Camps in Gdansk and Poznan and the Gdansk Fan Camp are still likely to have room, largely because the other teams playing in the group -- Croatia, Italy and Spain -- do not have similar quantities of travelling fans.
It is also understood the ferry running between Finland and Gdansk will dock for three nights around the Spain game and rent out four-person cabins for about 400 zloty (€94).
For those seeking the assurance of having a bed booked in advance, 747 is still offering two-game packages for Croatia and Spain -- including accommodation, transfers and flights -- for €895 and full three match-packages for €1,695.
Abbey Travel, which does offer tickets, is also still offering seats but says it is running out quickly.
"Invariably with any trip you will always get the last-minute rush because people decide that they are going to go," said agent Kevin Williams.
"But it's very difficult because we really have very, very little left and a cancellation list as long as my arm."
Abbey Travel has some availability on a 10-night trip that includes everything for the three games including tickets, accommodation and taxes, at €2,400.