Budgeting for Ireland – food and travel

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Cliffs of Moher

Our 3 1/2 weeks in Irelands are coming to an end as we fly out to Munich tomorrow.  I don’t think that there has been a day that we haven’t loved.  This country and its people have blown our minds.  From its incredible beauty and history that is everywhere to the kindness that has been shown to us from every person that we have come into contact with.  In our 23 days here, travelling 3000 km, we don’t feel like we even touched sides with what there is to see but here are some of our tips and suggestions to travelling as a family on a very tight budget in Ireland and things we found were unexpected costs.

Car Hire

Get a bigger car than you think you will need

As a family, it is preferable to have your own transport to get around especially if you want to be outside of the main cities.  We underestimated our luggage to boot (trunk) space.  I had booked a petrol polo and we had to upgrade to a Golf 1.6.  Being 4 in the family and travelling for 4 months, we have packed extremely lightly.  We have 3 medium suitcases for all 4 of us and each of us have a day backpack.  In these bags are 1 terms worth of school work as well as 3 sleeping bags and then our clothes….I think that is pretty darn impressive!  We only JUST fitted our bags in and when we did the food shop it was extremely tight.  Make sure to use the wheel well as there is an amazing amount of space there.  We stored most of our groceries in that area.

Go for Diesel

I had booked a petrol car and when we upgraded the agent suggested we change to diesel.  Diesel is cheaper in Ireland and you also get more kilometres to your tank.  We managed to get just under 1000ks per 50 liter tank.  We used 3 tanks for our entire trip so our fuel cost was around 195 Euros for 3 weeks.

Travel time and Distances

We had grossly underestimated the time it takes to travel anywhere compared to the distances you are travelling.  Everything takes MUCH longer than you would expect.  We weren’t on the highways much as we were doing as much of the coastal and village areas as we could.  This means that you are on tiny lanes a lot of the time and they take a lot longer.  Therefore a general rule of thumb is that it will take an hour to do roughly 50km.  Also, there is so much to see wherever you go and being on holiday, you will stop to take a pic and appreciate, which adds even more time to the above.  So we spent a lot more time getting places than we expected and were really grateful for having over 3 weeks here.

So if you have less time, rather stick to a smaller area as it is really stressful suddenly trying to cover ground in order to tic off the big attractions.

Money spent on transport

R2,750 = 175 Euro – 3 tanks and we covered nearly 3,000kms

R6,150 = 390 Euro – 3 weeks car hire through dollar

Car insurance is an extra cost.  You will have to choose what is best.  We went for full comprehensive which added a whack on over and above our rental, but the lanes are very small and we had quite a few close calls.  It was a once off charge when we fetched the vehicle.  The other option is that they hold 1,800Euro deposit on your credit card that you get refunded but if you have an accident, scratch or dent you don’t get that back….which freaked us out.  So insurance is really your own personal call.

Food Budgeting

Money Spent on Food in 23 days

R6,400.00 = 405 Euro – Groceries bought over 22 days at supermarkets for a family of 4.

R1,660.00 = 105 Euro – Eating out twice for lunch, 1 breakfast, 1 afternoon tea and cake

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The pretty town of Kinsale

Eating out is expensive.  Due to travelling on the South African Rand, our exchange rate is terrible(Rand16 to Euro1), and also because we are travelling for so long we really have to be careful and watch our budget.  We had booked self-catering places through AirBnB, so we rather cooked at home in the evenings.  Yes, I would have loved to not have to cook, but when you are looking at a minimum of 10Euro per person for the cheapest meal option, eating out it is not viable as a family of 4 for this length of time.  So we shopped and cooked and this kept the cost down hugely!  And we ate well too and had treats etc.  Groceries and especially meat are cheaper than back home in South Africa.

So when we picked up our car we went to the supermarket on our way out of Dublin, we bought all the basics (and put them in the wheel well ;).  Also, due to not being very hot, when we moved from place to place food didn’t ever spoil and we didn’t have a cooler bag for our milk, yogurt and cheese etc.

Supermarkets for the win

img_7643We found the larger supermarkets were really great, especially Lidl and Supervalu.  If we had a choice, we would go to a Lidl as the prices were better and they had amazing specials.  Also, if you drink wine, it is very expensive in Ireland as they have a very high alcohol tax.  Lidl had the best prices for wine by far!!!!  It was nearly half the price of anywhere else.  We found that supermarkets were very accessible and we could pop past one at least somewhere along our daily route.  Thank goodness for google maps ūüôā

Picnic lunches

Out of our 23 days on the road we have picnicked for for roughly 20 of them.  Simon and I were just discussing that doing this took us to some amazing places.  Being out and about, instead of staying in the town to eat, we would drive to the local park, find a stunning forest or go to a pretty beach or eat at the walls of a ruin.  This made us see things that we probably would have missed staying to eat in town.

Every day we would just grab our picnic bag (a cheap shopping bag) and pop in our cheese, salami, mayo, tomatoes and then go past a supermarket or petrol station (a lot of them have good bakeries) and buy yummy baguettes.  This also meant that whenever the kids suddenly lost the will to live due to hunger we could literally eat before we got hangry.

If you are going to picnic, a few things we bought which makes it easier

Utensils – we went to the cheap Dollarz store and bought a set of plastic Knives and Forks set and a little sharp Knife

  • Pencil case – we used this to keep all the utensils in and the kids got them on Emirates
  • Tupperware – bought a cheap Tupperware to put boiled eggs in or cheese etc
  • Kikoi/lightweight towel – made it easier to setup/sit on and we kept one in our backpack

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I will post a few more of our experiences in Ireland.  We are in the middle of our 4 month trip around Europe, so writing is secondary to doing school with Jesse and Livi, keeping in touch with our business at home and being present in the day.

Lots of love

#familyonamissiontoseeireland

Epupa Falls – Namibia

Jesse and Olivia could not say the name without laughing hysterically!  For them this was up there with toilet talk.  But they were also beyond excited to see the waterfalls featured in the animated movie, Zambezia.

Epupa Falls is one of the most incredible places to visit.  Situated in the northern most region of Namibia in the Koakaland on the Angolan border.  It is fed by the Kunene River and is 0,5km wide and drops down in a series of waterfalls that spread over 1.5 km.

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Epupa Falls taken close to the town

Getting there

The road to Epupa is pretty amazing.¬† Like most roads in Namibia it is gravel, but it is well maintained and a 4×4 is not necessary.¬† It is possible to get there without having to do a whole overlanding long trip, like we did.¬† You can fly into Windhoek and rent a standard car and drive up.¬† It is far more accessible than I expected.

Taking the trip from Windhoek, you will need to look at overnighting en route.  It is never worth pushing distances in Africa just in case something goes wrong.  A great place to overnight is around Etosha.  There is a new camp on the northwest side called Olifantsrus that has camping and chalets that friends stayed at and raved about.  We spent three days on our way up in a Game Reserve called Erindi and then overnighted in the town of Opuwo before getting to Epupa.  If you decide to rather push the distance and stay in Opuwo, we stayed at the Opuwo Country Lodge.  I would forgo staying in Opuwo unless necessity requires it as it is not a great town.  They have a good campsite, though you definitely need to book during school holidays.  We stayed the night on the weekend, so there was lots of music and partying going on in the surrounding area.  The road up to the lodge was a bit tricky and the area you go through not great.  The lodge area is well fenced and there is security.  The hotel itself has an amazing view.

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The view from the hotel

Fuel and Food

We did our major food shop in Windhoek, as you can get pretty much everything.¬† Fuel is something you have to plan for as you always want to have a bit more that needed just in case a petrol station doesn’t have, which is possible.¬† You are pretty much guaranteed to get good diesel at Kamanjab.¬† We filled our jerry cans at this point.¬† When we got to Opuwo we just topped up the main tank.¬† This is due to not always being able to get 50pp diesel there.¬† At the main garage in Opuwo there is also a decent Shoprite if you need to get some basics you have forgotten.¬† I had forgotten flour to make bread, so could get a local brand there.¬† Click here for my yummy beer bread recipe.¬† There was also cash machines and banks if you need access.

Culturally

Just before reaching Opuwo, you will start to see Himba people.  If you have children, it is a good idea just to show and discuss with them what to expect.  The women are completely topless at all ages.  When we got to the garage to fill up diesel, our car was inundated with Himba women trying to sell their wares and then also young kids from different tribes begging for sweets and money.

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Olivia watching the children

My son found it very overwhelming and our friends son, who was 12, didn’t know where to look.¬† So discussing their culture is a good way to prep so that the children know what to expect and can be respectful.¬† I love showing them such diverse cultural differences.¬† It shows that diversity is beautiful and that respect is a human right regardless of how different we are!

Himba Women

Himba women riding to get water

If you do stop to take a picture, you will have to ‘pay’.¬† They want sweets or medicine, which you don’t want to give as they are both addictive.¬† Supplying fruit or food is better.¬† Also paper and pencils or pens are great, especially for kids.¬† Be mindful of giving things in plastic, as the packets/bags/wrapper will most likely just be thrown onto the ground and not disposed of properly.

They are also a nomadic people, so you will see shells of villages and camps.

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Outside an abandoned Himba hut

Epupa itself

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Our first Baobab just before reaching Epupa

Epupa is like a little green oasis.¬† The campsites and lodges are all along the river right above the start of the waterfall.¬† We stayed at one of the most furthest along campsites called Epupa Camp.¬† Don’t get confused by Epupa Falls Lodge, we went there and then panicked as they were full and didn’t have our booking.¬† We then worked out we were in the wrong place.¬† It is a quieter campsite a bit higher up the river.¬† They have both camping and little chalets.¬† The main area has a bar and a swimming pool and wifi.¬† You can sit and have a drink and a dip in the pool or walk across the bridge to a little island.¬† You can’t swim in the river because of crocs and must just be wary when walking along the river bank.

The campsite was treed with date palms.¬† There was a shower and loo ablution stand per two camps with a donkey boiler.¬† The staff would light the donkey boiler morning and night, though the mornings tended to be a bit tepid as needed more time.¬†¬† The showers don’t have a roof, so you shower at night looking at all the stars.

 

Just beware of monkeys, don’t leave any food out unattended.¬† They are so quick and if you turn your back for a second, they grab and run.

If you need any washing done, there will be local ladies at the gate to the campsite in the mornings.¬† You give them your washing and your powder, though I would supply the powder per wash as they pretty much used most of what we had budgeted for the whole holiday.¬† The rate charged depends on how many garments there are.¬† You also buy firewood at the gate from the locals.¬† Make sure that you have lots of change as you have to pay exact amounts.¬† This goes for pretty much all remote places throughout Namibia.¬† So often we wanted to buy wood etc but only had large notes and the local didn’t have any change.

With regards to safety, always beware of petty theft.¬† So don’t leave things unnecessarily out and unattended.¬† Walking through the town to the falls was very safe and we didn’t feel worried at all.

Activities

IMG_8110The falls itself is free to access.¬† We walked from our campsite and you can stand right on top of them.¬† There is even a walk down to the bottom of the valley.¬† If you want to go to the view point, you will have to pay money.¬† It wasn’t a lot and the best time of day is definitely later towards sunset.

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Above Epupa Falls

There is a village tour and also a river rafting trip.  Both are organized through your place of accommodation.  We did the river trip with the kids, which was such fun.  You get driven roughly 8ks up the river and then you paddle back down.  The rapids were very mild, so very safe with the kids.  We saw crocodiles and birds and had our snack and cooldrink on the Angolan side of the river.

We spent 3 nights at Epupa, but I could have happily spent more.  It is tranquil and beautiful and so culturally rich!

Good intentions can go awry!

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Grace – our pretty little Holiday 23 who we co own with great friends

It was fathers day a while back and Simon’s great passion and joy is sailing. ¬†We are lucky enough to be co-owners of a beautiful little Holiday 23 which is based in Saldhana. ¬†For two 6ft plus adults and 2 growing kids, it can be a little cramped but it is our stepping stone starting point for our long term family goal, but generally I come away with bruises everywhere each time we go. ¬†I am a clutz at the best of times, put me in a mall space and it is disaster waiting to happen!

Anyway, the kids and I planned an overnight journey to Grace (our boat) for Father’s Day and my mum in law, Caroline, was coming along for the day. ¬†We were going to head out into the bay for a bit of a sail, drop anchor for some lunch and then return to the club for the evening so Caroline could head back to Cape Town before it got too late. ¬†Got to love good intentions! ¬†Thirty minutes into our outing, motoring along as there was no wind, we get yelled at by a stranded jet ski couple who’s motor had cut out. ¬†A 20 minute detour later taking them to Slipway Restaurant where they could get help, we set off again.

Just as we are getting somewhere the kids start to grumble that they are now getting hungry. ¬†We decide to stop at a close little bay for lunch where they could have a kayak while I prepare and then maybe play on the beach after lunch for a bit. ¬† Just as we drop anchor a rolling swell starts to come through which means in about 3 minutes after sitting down to make lunch, we are now slightly queasy and uncomfortable. ¬†By now Jesse, our son, has started saying that he has a bit of a sore tummy. ¬†He’s not the greatest eater at the best of times, so I don’t really believe him (remind me of that later.) ¬†Lunch doesn’t go down overly well. ¬†Kayaking gets shelved as the swell is crashing onto the little beach and it was a guaranteed promised soaking if attempted. ¬†Being winter, not so much fun. ¬†So after packing up and motoring out the little bay we now discover the wind has disappeared completely. ¬†Oh well, back towards the harbour where en route I somehow manage to lose my Paez overboard. ¬†Thankfully it floats a charm so I am able to fish it out with the boathook.

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Shoe fishing!

By this stage, Jesse had mentioned a few times that his tummy was sore but was still asking for treat snacks, so I still didn’t believe him. ¬†Back at the club, we pulled up to the hard (the permanent jetty you can moore your boat onto for a bit) and the kids went off to play. ¬†The rest of the afternoon was relaxed and because the club was so quiet we decided to sleep on the hard for the night and not go back to our mooring. ¬†It means the kids can come and go without having to paddle from the boat back to land etc. ¬†With no more mishaps, dinner was uneventful and the kids went off to bed.

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Good old Woolies, a winner for dinner when you don’t have much prep space! ¬†Rotis with yummy indian…yum

Now a Holiday’s layout is pretty clever for the size. ¬†Simon and I sleep in the main cabin and there is a loo literally next to the bed (obviously there is a little wall) but it is ‘open plan’. ¬†And by open plan I mean the space is not enough to swing a cat nor stretch or actually even stand up straight if you are over 6ft. ¬†The kids fight over the quarter bunk and the ‘couch’ and take it in turns. ¬†That night Olivia was in the quarter bunk and Jess on the couch.

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This is the layout of Grace.  Simon and I sleep in the forpeack (the front pointy bit) and the loo is right there as you can see!

30 minutes after everyone was in bed we suddenly hear the trawlers leave and then we remember why we shouldn’t sleep attached to the jetty. ¬†The boat was rocking like it was a bucking bronco. ¬†And then the rattles started. ¬†Now my husband HATES a rattle. ¬†He will pull our cars dashboards apart to find a squeak or rattle and if he can’t find it he starts to get a wild look in his eyes and a nervous tic. ¬†Now when we went to bed it was so still we didn’t think to secure the boat hook pole and various other boaty things (yes I am a complete boating terminology officianado….not!). ¬† I think for the next hour or so Simon was in and out of bed and back up to deck to find the latest rattle, knock or noise. ¬†All of which are amplified when inside the boat. ¬†Finally we seem to have sorted them all out and are just drifting off to sleep when Jesse bolts upright, runs to the loo, says he doesn’t feel well and proceeds to vomit…..everywhere. ¬†He is standing right in front of the toilet, it is literally right below his face and yet do you think he manages to actually get his aim right? ¬†Nope, he misses! ¬†A lot! And my husband is one of those that if someone is vomiting he starts gagging too. ¬†Put that together with the fact that your face is inches from this delightful spectacle your son is providing…not a good combo. ¬†We opened up the forward hatch above the bed, gulped fresh air and proceeded to put our big girl panties on.

Between trying to change child out of clothing, clean up the mess, wash down the area and crying with laughter because hell, what else could we do?! ¬†You then look across at the partner and friend and realize amidst the calamities of what life throws our way, joy is found in the small things. ¬†That even when things don’t go as planned, hell they went completely sideways, to realize that the planned outcome isn’t the important thing but the journey in getting there. ¬†So choose to find the humor in your unusual situations you may find yourself in, look out instead of in, build memories to last a lifetime, don’t get upset when things might not be according to plan and look around at all that you have! ¬†Life is good and wondrous and messy and beautiful, seize it!

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Simon celebrating Father’s Day after our ‘momentously’ awesome evening

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