Almost 40 million people in the United States have ancestral links to Ireland. Small wonder then that the United States represents the second largest market for tourism to the Emerald Isle and that one out of every seven tourists to Ireland is from the US. For American tourists planning an Emerald Isle adventure in 2015, the dollar is the strongest it’s been in over a decade.
Winner of the “favorite holiday destination in the world” by Frommer’s Guide, as well as “world’s friendliest country” by Lonely Planet, Ireland will welcome more than one million Americans in 2015 with nearly 50% of those visitors arriving in summer. This year, airlines from 11 United States gateways are offering nearly 15% more airline seats to Ireland during the peak summer season.
Since 2002, Vagabond Tours of Ireland has been leading adventurous travelers on small group tours around Ireland via custom-designed Land Rovers. Founded by Rob and Amy Rankin who were impressed by classic African travel modes of safari and overland tours, Vagabond offers authentic off-the-beaten-path routes throughout the Emerald Isle.
Vagabond’s 12-day Wild Atlantic Way adventure explores Ireland’s wild West Coast landscape via the longest coastal touring route in the world. Following the undulating coastline with its ancient monuments and historical sites, the 1,600-mile route meanders from the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork.
Vagabond’s custom-designed Land Rovers take no more than 13 passengers and include nightly stays in guesthouses and small hotels in coastal villages. Focused on County Kerry and County Cork, the seven-day World Tour of Ireland adventure includes sea kayaking off the Beara Peninsula, horseback riding on the Dingle Peninsula, and mountain biking in Killarney National Park.
For those travelers interested in a more leisurely vacation, Vagabond established Driftwood Irish Journeys of Discovery in 2011. With Vagabond’s signature desire to veer away from the usual tourist routes, Driftwood tours offer guests the opportunity to experience a more authentic Ireland by heading for the back roads and hidden corners of the country. Driftwood trips have a more leisurely pace than Vagabond’s active adventure tours and keep the focus on Irish culture.
“There is an increasing demand for small, bespoke group experiences and especially those that place more emphasis on culture, history, historic homes and gardens,” says Rankin. “A Driftwood tour is designed to showcase the real Ireland, something that you could never really discover on a larger tour or as an independent traveler.”
Utilizing customized Volkswagen sightseeing vans, Driftwood Irish Journeys of Discovery travels with groups of 16 or less in order to access areas unavailable to larger coach tours. Equally alluring is avoiding the crowds at popular attractions and the opportunity to reside in smaller Irish-owned hotels. Driftwood tour guides, who are raconteurs by nature, are steeped in Irish history, current events, poetry and folklore.
Cited as one of the “50 Tours of a Lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler, Vagabond wants you to “love Ireland as much as we do,” which is all but guaranteed after one of their revelatory adventures.