Ask Joan

Duty free from Iceland, going back to the DR,where will we go for mid term


I am flying from Dublin to Reykjavik via Heathrow and was wondering what my options are for duty free. – AC, Mayo

Firstly, as Iceland is outside the EU you cannot avail of the shop and collect service at Dublin Airport. You can buy duty free in Dublin by showing proof that your final destination is Reykjavik. You will need to have proof of your onward flight, such as a boarding card.

When you are connecting to a flight outside the EU you can bring duty free goods through Heathrow Airport once they are in a sealed bag with the receipt showing you bought them in the previous 24 hours. The same applies coming back from Iceland, but only if you are travelling on a through ticket. If you are on two tickets, you will have to check in again, but that will give you an opportunity to put your purchases into your hold baggage.

We want to return to the Dominican Republic for our 25th anniversary. We had intended to go back to our original hotel but it seems to have disappeared. Our budget is €5,000.
– T and M, Dublin

Things have changed a lot in the DR since you went there on honeymoon. Then, the country catered to about 675,000 tourists; last year it was more than five million.

The growth in the market has led to competition and good value. For example a two-week stay in the four-star Grand Punta Cana all-inclusive resort costs from €1,570pps including flights, taxes, and transfers in May, well within your budget,

Getting to the DR from Ireland takes two flights and costs about €800-€900 with via Gatwick or Manchester, or with Air France via Paris.

Punta Cana is the busiest resort area and best avoided at spring break when thousands of US college students take holidays. The Sivory Punta Cana is a smaller boutique-type hotel where you can opt in or out of the all-inclusive package. Nightly rates for two are about $260-$420 depending on which you book.

You could consider a stay in the less touristy southwest of the island. The Hotel La Saladilla is in Barahona and is a small property on the beach. It costs from €500-€770 per week for two,

I am a single parent in my 30s with an eight-year old-son. I’m looking for suggestions, Ireland or UK, for a holiday over midterm break in February.
– OR, Dublin
In Ireland many hotels run family based programmes for midterm. Sister hotels the Hodson Bay and the Galway Bay do all-inclusive breaks with children’s clubs for 4-12 year olds. Prices are from €335 for two nights based on two adults and two children; there is probably a better price for two,, (090) 6442000 and, (091) 520520.

In Bundoran, the Great Northern Hotel is popular with families over midterm.The two-day programme with entertainment and dinner one evening costs from €279,, (071) 984 1204.

Another town to consider for a midterm break is Westport. There are a number of family friendly hotels in the town. See,,,, and

In England, the top rated family holidays are at the Center Parcs resorts. The Woburn Forest and Elveden Forest parks would be easy enough to access by air and public transport,

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