Where and Why Irish People Travel

In ‘Destinations 2015’, the latest special publication by Irish Travel Trade News, Sarah Slattery, who has been selling travel from Ireland for the past 24 years, looks at why Irish people travel for leisure, where they go, and where they could be enticed to visit in 2015. 

Weddings abroad
Weddings abroad


With the rise in the Irish economy and disposable incomes, we can expect this to translate into more people travelling abroad in 2015. Hopefully we will see the return of multiple holidays and an increase in spend by the travelling public.

We all need holidays, as they are good for the body and the mind. The traditional week away to recharge the batteries will always be popular, but other types of holidays are becoming highly sought after.

Skiing in the Alps was the original ‘adventure holiday’, but now we regularly see people climbing mountains, trekking into faraway jungles and backpacking around the world. Leaving Cert students are no longer satisfied with a week in Ayia Napa – it seems that full moon parties in Thailand or volunteering in Africa are becoming the norm.

Stag weekends in Manchester are becoming weekends in Las Vegas and, of course, the hen needs to get a pre-wedding tan – and not in the local salon! Weddings are big business, with stag and hen trips pre-wedding, the honeymoon after, and let’s not forget the thousands of Irish people who travel abroad, with their guests, to get married, whether that be in Spain, Thailand, or on a romantic island in the Caribbean or Indian Ocean.

Girls and Lads Trips

Irish people love an excuse to get away but, with the recession still hovering around us, no-one wants to appear too extravagant. The traditional family holiday is still very strong, but individuals like their own trips abroad too. Women like to have a ‘girls’ weekend away, with Mother’s Day becoming a popular time, as well as Christmas shopping trips, be they to London, Christmas markets in Europe, or transatlantic to New York.

Similarly, men like ‘lads’ trips, usually linked to a sport, golf being the most popular, followed by soccer or rugby matches. Many are travelling to see Conor McGregor’s UFC title fight in Las Vegas and, no doubt, the Irish will ‘invade’ London for the Rugby World Cup in October, having rolled out their excuse: “We have to go because it’s in London, just across the pond!”

Christmas Market, Rothenburg, Germany
Christmas Market, Rothenburg, Germany

Authentic Experiences

There is also a huge rise in people looking for more ‘authentic’ experiences, with house swapping or staying in private houses being the main reason that companies such as Airbnb have been so successful. Home stays with local families are also becoming popular.

Large families are also travelling together more, looking for lasting memories. Grandparents are becoming a target ‘silver’ market, with once-off trips to Florida or Lapland, while large-family cruise holidays are becoming more and more popular, with cruise ships now catering for all generations.


Cruises have never been such good value or in such large supply. Direct flights meet numerous Mediterranean cruises, and many companies offer free onboard credit and free drinks packages. Celebrity Cruises, for example, offers a one-week cruise around the Greek Islands in August for €839 – incredible value for such a luxury cruise ship.

More and more cruises are also calling into or departing from Irish ports, so there are now plenty to choose from for those who prefer not to fly.

Meanwhile, river cruising is growing rapidly and has become very popular with Irish travel agents. Cruises have high percentages of repeat clients, who are always looking for the ‘next destination’, so once they have cruised the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, a river cruise can be a natural progression, be it in Europe or far away China.

Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas

City Breaks

City breaks are back in vogue, with low-cost flights to European cities in large supply. It is an inexpensive way to get a quick trip away and, with prices cheaper than a weekend in Ireland, this market could be one to watch. Turkish Airlines, for example, now flies double daily from Dublin to Istanbul so one could expect city breaks there to be advertised in travel agency windows.

Christmas markets and Lapland winter breaks were extremely popular last year and this trend will continue. The introduction next June by Wow Air of year-round direct flights from Dublin to Reykjavik in Iceland, from €76 each way, means a weekend break to see the Northern Lights is no longer a bucket list item, but very attainable (albeit with local prices still high).