Using miles to experience an authentic St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

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Personal Finance Writer
Summer Hull writes the weekly “Get to the Points” column for CreditCards.com

Get to the Points

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A popular travel
bucket list item is to experience an authentic St. Patrick’s Day celebration in
Ireland, so let’s look at how to do that for less.

Know that a
more genuine St. Patrick’s Day celebration is actually much quieter and more
centered around church and family happenings than the big international parades,
packed bars and jolly green leprechauns you see in Dublin today.

If you want
something more akin to the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations of years gone by, heading
somewhere outside of the center of Dublin may be a good idea. Regardless of
where and how in Ireland you want to celebrate March 17, your miles and points can
make it happen.

Fly
Aer Lingus to Dublin from just 20,000 points

Aer Lingus is an
Ireland-based airline

that flies nonstop to Dublin from U.S. cities such as Boston, Chicago, Washington
D.C., New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

Best of all,
flying Aer Lingus can be a very good deal on points, especially if you book through
its partner British Airways using
Avios points
.
Using the British Airways distance-based chart, an economy ticket from Boston,
Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., would cost you 20,000 Avios each way in
economy or 60,000 in business class.

From Florida
and California cities, it will cost 25,000 Avios in economy and 75,000 points in
business class each way. You can book directly with Aer Lingus for the same
number of points, but the fees will be higher than going through British
Airways.

You can earn British
Airways Avios points with the British Airways Visa Signature card or transfer them to British
Airways at a 1:1 ratio from Chase Ultimate Rewards or from American Express
Membership Rewards.

Unfortunately,
you do have to pick up the phone and call the British Airways Executive Club to
book these award flights on Aer Lingus (800-452-1201). You may want to pour
yourself a Guinness before you make the call as hold times can take a little
while unless a little bit of Irish luck is on your side.

Avoid high St. Patrick’s Day hotel rates

In 2017, more
than 100,000 visitors descended upon Dublin to take in St. Patrick’s
festivities, so as you can guess, hotel availability can be tight and paid rates
expensive.

However, hotel
award rates don’t jump just because paid rates increase, and there are some
Dublin hotels that still have March 17 award availability this year.

For
example, hotels still showing St. Patrick’s Day availability include the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s
Hotel
for 44,000 Club Carlson points per night and the Westin Dublin for 12,000 Starwood points per night,
though with a four-night minimum stay.

If you are
planning in advance for next year or looking for availability surrounding the
big day itself, you can stay at the refurbished Conrad
Dublin

for 60,000 Hilton Honors points per night, the Intercontinental Dublin for 50,000 IHG points
per night or the Radisson Blu Royal
Dublin
for 70,000 Club Carlson points per night.

We stayed in a
two-story loft with a winding staircase at the Westin Dublin on a previous trip
and found it to be a very charming hotel from the 1800s located very close to
Trinity College. It was within walking distance to almost everywhere you may
want to go in Dublin without being in too crazy of a location when it comes
time to turn out the lights and go to sleep.

Explore outside of Dublin

Whether you
make the trip to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day or any of the other time of the
year, get an authentic Irish experience about 30 minutes outside Dublin at Johnnie Fox’s. This is one of
Ireland’s oldest pubs from the 1700s that serves not only a tall drink, but
fantastic Irish food with live entertainment.

While exploring
a bit south of Dublin’s city limits, I also highly recommend spending a day
exploring the 47 acres of green gardens, whimsical towers and waterfalls at the
Powerscourt Estates. When you are done
exploring, instead of heading back to Dublin, you can stay the night at the Powerscourt Hotel for just 35,000
Marriott Rewards points.

No matter
whether you are after a bustling and lively St. Patrick’s Day celebration with
hundreds of thousands of other revelers in Dublin or a somewhat smaller
celebration in another part of Ireland, your points can make this Irish travel
dream a reality. 

See related: Using points to stay at all-inclusive resorts, Redeeming miles and points for a ‘free’ spring break trip




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