Ask Joan

European cities, Croagh Patrick, and protecting honeymoon deposits

Cancun, Mexico

Cancun, Mexico


My family would like to visit a combination of European cities this August for our holidays, maybe Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Venice or some similar combination. As we have not been away for six years, we need some help in planning travel between cities and flights or trains and hotels suitable for a family of six with four teenagers. KOK, Wicklow.

On that itinerary I would drop Venice and replace it with Budapest or Prague. Venice is too hot, crowded and expensive in the summer for a family. Using Berlin and Budapest or Prague as your start or end airport also means better value fares with Ryanair and Aer Lingus.

Between cities, I’d recommend train travel as an ideal way to see a lot of the countryside in a relaxed way. Fares can be reasonable if you book in advance. For example a train from Berlin to Budapest with stops along the way will cost under €150 each. There may be further discounts for the teenagers , see

You can also consult for help in planning train travel in Europe. Air Berlin has an extensive network in Europe and you could use a mixture of low cost fares and trains,

When it comes to accommodation, Accor Hotels have a range of hotels from three to five stars. As many of the hotels are normally used by business travellers, the prices come down during the summer. You will find prices from €40-€120 per night for well- located city hotels,

See the following websites for ideas of things to do and events,,,,, and

In the next couple of weeks we are going to book our honeymoon next year in Cancún, Mexico. We are paying €3,500 upfront – we are worried that the company we are booking with might go out of business after we pay but before we get to Mexico. Is there anything we can do to make sure our booking is secure? FF, Kerry.

This is a big worry for many people who buy honeymoons or long-haul holidays. Generally you are paying upfront because the deal is good value.

To ensure your investment is safe, do the following: book with a travel agent that is licensed and bonded by the Aviation Regulator, see list on and If you book through a licensed travel agent they can sell you holidays all over the world and your money will be safe.

Take out travel insurance in advance. You could purchase an annual policy when you pay for the trip which will be valid for the period of your honeymoon. Read the small print carefully before you buy. Some companies have a limit on the number of days out of the country allowed, and excess charges differ.

Also, make sure you pay by credit card, as most cards will offer purchase protection in the event of the collapse of an airline or hotel company.

My husband and I plan to walk Croagh Patrick with four or five other couples in September. We are looking for somewhere to stay for one or two nights. We’d like something quaint and low key with an emphasis on good food, comfortable beds and good showers rather than swimming pools or room service. A good B&B or guesthouse would be perfect. We don’t mind going out for dinner but would like the restaurant/pub to be within walking distance. AE, Kildare

Good luck with walking Croagh Patrick that should be a great experience. I think Westport would fit the bill. It is a lovely, lively town with great accommodation, restaurants and pubs. Matt Molloy’s pub is one of the best known and there is music every weekend.

Boffin Lodge and Augusta Lodge are comfortable, friendly guesthouses within walking distance, with rates about €40pps, and If you wanted to try a hotel, Knockranny House Hotel has a great restaurant and weekend rates from €189 in September for two nights’ B&B and one dinner,

As you will be a sizeable group, you could get a local guide for the ascent or for exploring Mayo/Connemara, see for guide Gerry Greensmyth.

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