Recession causes Irish students to stay home for the summer

Though the volcanic eruption on 15 April caused the biggest air traffic disruption since 9/11, travelling had taken a back seat for many Irish people long before Eyjafjallajökull spewed ash over European airspace.

The state of the economy has slowed down summer holidays and forced airlines to get creative about enticing people to travel while still trying to turn a profit. Aer Lingus, for example, lost about €81m in operations costs in 2009. This year, it plans to cut costs by saving on fuel costs under “Project Greenfield” and scheduling flights according to demand, according to an Irish Independent article on 31 March.

Domestic Trips Instead of Overseas Travel

Ryanair, in what the Consumers Association says is an attack on families, has increased its baggage checking cost from €15 to €20. This also affects single people who plan to travel for longer periods instead of weekend trips, where a carry-on may be sufficient.

Some people have chosen domestic trips instead of going overseas to offset holiday prices. Sharon Murphy, 28, and Connor Smith, 29, chose to go to Galway and Kerry in summer 2009, unlike in 2008 when they flew Ryanair to visit Sweden and Germany. Murphy is getting her masters at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and Smith is a secondary school teacher in Dublin.

“I’ve been taking pay cuts. Repeatedly,” Smith said.

The only trips they’ve taken abroad since last summer have been a four-day study trip for Murphy to Brussels and two trips to see Irish football games in Paris and Germany by Smith.

The Central Statistics Office offers travel and tourism information up to 2008, right when the economy got into trouble. According those figures, the number of domestic trips by Irish residents increased from 6657 in 2003 to 8339 in 2008, an increase of about 25%.

Most Trips are Geared for Families

A look through travel brochures from 747 Travel on Aungier Street reveals that most holiday trips are geared toward families with children and not young single people or students. Packages put together by travel agencies are often too expensive for those in school or just graduated.

Some students are still enjoying their summer holidays abroad. Ruth McGovern, 19, a student at Griffith College, is travelling to southern France this summer with her childhood friend, Helen Vickers, 19.

“We decided we’d go on holiday where at least one of us knows the language. And it’s warm. And it’s near Italy!” McGovern said.

McGovern is fluent in French, though Vickers is not. They plan to find jobs somewhere that may allow English-speakers, like a hotel or vineyard. Their flight leaves in late May, but they do not have a return flight scheduled.

“We don’t even have a place to stay yet,” McGovern said.

McGovern’s parents bought her airline ticket, but she will be paying for almost all of the rest of her expenses, which is why she’ll be working there. She would say that in her experience, working abroad is fairly typical for Irish teens and twenty-somethings, but she said most people she knows work in Ireland. With the job market the way it is, she figured she’d take her chances abroad this summer.

Can’t afford a holiday? Try a day in the Liberties instead!

Our Guide to a relaxing day just around the corner:

1.    Start the day out right with traditional full Irish breakfast at ­­­Dave’s Cafe, Grill and Deli on Meath Street.

2.    Shop around Meath Street for markets and deals.

3.    Head to the Guinness Storehouse off Thomas Street—the most popular tourist attraction in Dublin and home of the Gravity Bar. Don’t forget your free beer!

4.    You deserve lunch after that attraction. Try Mannings Café on Thomas Street for some good grub.

5.    Check out the Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park. You can get there by walking or taking the 10 or 10A bus.

6.    End your night right with a showing at the Tivoli Theatre on Francis Street. Enjoy the bar ahead of time.

7.    If you’re still ready for action, head to one of the Liberties’ many Irish pubs like The Clock on Thomas Street.

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