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Hi! I am Jenna Griffin — the Mrs. to Mr. Jamie Griffin. I recently guest posted on this blog about the fact that I am a “wanter”.  Guilty as charged.

I am the one who usually wants to break our budget for things like:

When we got married in 2014, we knew that we wanted to go somewhere special to celebrate our 5 year anniversary.  

We were very diligent about saving during the first 5 years of our marriage so that we were actually able to go. We didn’t want to be the couple that said we would go, and then not be able to because we didn’t save money along the way.  

It didn’t take us long to choose Ireland for our destination because it was a place on both of our bucket lists, but somewhere neither of us had been.

Planning Our 5 Year Anniversary Trip to Ireland

Planning and prepping for the trip was relatively easy. 

I scanned Expedia and other such travel sights every couple of weeks to check on flight tickets. I wanted to have a general idea on how much flights would cost — what was considered normal vs. high/low.  

That way if I saw a good deal, we could just book it.

We also knew that we didn’t want our trip to be so crammed full of events that we couldn’t stop and enjoy the places we were in. We didn’t want to have to take a vacation from our vacation when we got home. Nobody wants that.

Basically, we booked our flights and chose 3 main locations we wanted to go to — giving 2-3 nights for each location for optimal flexibility to do what we wanted.  

Plenty of time to relax and choose to buy a bottle of wine and not feel bad about watching a movie on Netflix, but also a lot of time to really explore each town we stayed in.

This Wasn’t My First European Rodeo

In college, I did a 2-week EuroTrip. There was a big group of us and we traveled all over Europe.


We landed in London and spent a couple of days adventuring — including going out to Cardiff, Wales; Windsor, Stonehenge, Oxford, and Bath.

Classic tourist picture of Stonehenge.

Next, we went over to Paris, then down to Venice, Florence, and Rome.  

It was a perfect first European trip because we got to do EVERYTHING touristy.  


And I bought A LOT of the things. 🙂

However, one drawback of the trip was that we were constantly on the move.  We didn’t stop the two weeks that we were there.  

It was exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time.  

We Wanted Ireland to Be Different – We Wanted it to Be Better

When we planned this trip to Ireland as an Anniversary trip, we wanted the opposite.  Choose only a couple of locations, and then be able to do as we please in the moment rather than constantly moving from one activity to the next.

Let’s be honest, I need time to relax and adjust to change.

When we chose the locations for our trip, we chose on a whim.  We did a little research, but in the end we chose several locations that looked like they would be fun to explore.  

Dublin was easy because that’s where we flew in to, and it was remarkable to explore all that it had to offer on foot. 

My favorites were Trinity College — we spent so much time hanging around campus. We even got to watch part of a cricket match. For the record, we had no idea how to cricket works and were mostly clueless. But it was still fun.

We also LOVED a small cafe called Dollard & Co. 

It was cute, the windows overlooked a river and a bustling street, and their breakfast was unbelievable. I would’ve been happy eating it Every. Single. Day. We did eat there twice and bought wine and croissants too. It felt like home. And I fell in love with their almond croissants. 

We had plenty of time to really fall in love with Dublin. Even though it was a little too big city for us, we still loved it ate out A LOT! So yummy.

Next Stop Galway – Home of the Claddagh Ring and the Most Beautiful Earrings

We heard Galway was phenomenal (spoiler: it was) so we spent 3 nights there which was the perfect amount of time to fully explore and fall in love with the area. And trust me, we fell in love. It was probably our favorite place.

My wanter was on high alert. This was the home of the famous Claddagh ring.

If you don’t know what that is, it’s a ring with a heart representing love being held by two hands signifying friendship, and a crown on top that represents loyalty.

It’s super popular and has multiple ways you can wear it to signify if you’re single, dating, engaged, or married. 

Plus you can get them made of gold and beautiful. 

And while we were in the Claddagh ring store I fell in love with gorgeous (but uber expensive) earrings. They were gold, and dangly, and would’ve looked SO GOOD on me.

More on both of those later.

Kilarney – the Third and Final City. Time to Pamper Ourselves

Finally, we decided to head South rather than North and for some reason Kilarney stood out to me.  

Maybe it was the song “Christmas in Kilarney” but my heart would not release Kilarney from my head and I am so glad.  Kilarney was the perfect Irish town — had quaint little shops, easy to get around, plenty of activities for both outdoor and indoor preferences.  

We LOVED it.

And when we booked our hotel in Kilarney, my wanter came out in full force again.

I’m all for staying at AirBnbs to save money and feel more like a local. It’s a great way to travel for cheap.

But I also like to feel pampered and it was our anniversary dangit, so I wanted to spend at least two nights in a fancy resort with a hot tub.

Is that too much for a girl to ask?

So we did. We booked two nights at a 5 star resort with a spa. We spent hours in the spa swimming, in the sauna, steam room, and tropical shower. I felt way fancier than I actually am.

And don’t forget the free breakfast!  I’ve never had breakfast so good. We ordered food AND had access to a buffet. It felt like we were sailing first class on the Titanic. I still dream of this breakfast.

The two nights at the resort was the same price as all 7 of our AirBnb stays COMBINED! And it was so worth it. 

My wanter was pleased.

How Did We Plan For Me Being a Wanter?

The last thing we had in mind when we planned our trip was our “spending money”. 

I grew up with the mentality that when you go on vacation, you should have enough money saved up to be able to do what you want and not have to worry about the money aspect.  It’s the best way I recommend how to plan a vacation.

My dad took us on a surprise visit to Disney World when I was 9 or 10.  He didn’t even tell my Mom until two weeks before the trip — he called her work in advance to get her time off and everything. My dad is cool like that.

He tricked us on Christmas Day by not having any gifts under the tree, opting for very full stockings that were stuffed with everything Disney themed.   

We were super confused, but once we figured it out we were elated!  Once we got there, my Dad pulled out all the stops.  

Eating out – which we never did – they bought us stuffed animal souvenir’s, autograph notebooks so we could get autographs from all the characters, and of course a pair of Minnie Mouse ears.  

Yes, I do still have the ears, and yes I do wear them every Halloween.  Jamie and I were [obviously] Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the Middle School Dance where we worked when we first started dating and the kids thought it was the cutest thing ever!  

How to plan a vacation when you want to buy everything
I forgot my Minnie Mouse Ears at home so I had to improvise

We got many “goals” which we took as a massive complement! If you don’t speak fluent middle schooler, trust me it was a compliment.

(If you’re going to Disney and want to hack the Disney Fast Pass and maximize your rides, read this story from High Five Dad.)

Spending Money – How to Plan a Vacation So You Don’t Break Your Budget

Now, when we planned for our spending money for Ireland we didn’t want to have to worry about every little expense. We wanted to be able to splurge on fun and fancy things if we wanted. 

We knew ahead of time relative costs for certain aspects our trip. This was important for us to know in case we wanted to make a big purchase, we already had an idea how it would impact our budget for the rest of the trip. 

For example, Ireland is known for two major things: Aran Island sweaters which I had imagined ran around $100, and then Waterford Crystal (which my husband had no idea even existed).

I was DETERMINED to find a Waterford store because it wasn’t in the plans to go to Waterford, and sadly we never did find an official store, but I found a store that sold it so Jamie at least got to experience what I was ranting about the entire trip.  

I had told Jamie from the beginning that if we were in Ireland and a sweater or piece of crystal really spoke to me, I was getting it.  No questions asked. We were on vacation after all!

Nothing spoke to me though, so we didn’t get a sweater or crystal. It’s okay, I survived.

My Wanter was Tested EVERYWHERE!

There’s no end to the list of things I wanted in Ireland.

Let me tell you, Ireland is filled with gift shops, souvenir shops, shops that will find your family crest and etch it into wood and mail it back to you (seriously cool), and wonderfully charming people that make you just want to buy something from them just so you can support them and their business.

Needless to say, I wanted all the things.  

I am the kind of vacationer that wants to go into every stinking souvenir shop knowing full well that I will not be purchasing anything.  I just want to look and touch everything — even if it’s the same stuff as the souvenir shop down the road we were just in.

Our first couple of days in Dublin were filled with walking all over town to get a feel of the land.  We didn’t make any major purchases because it was the first location and while we had saved money, we are still budgeters after all. Better safe than sorry and racking up debt.

Our Nature is to be Conservative — Even if we Give Ourselves Permission to Spend.  

The main temptations for me as a wanter was all the cute outfits that I could’ve got for our daughter.  They had everything with either a cute little sheep on it, or ruffles with sheep on them, or cute little ginger Irish Girls AND sheep on them. So many sheep.


How is a Mom supposed to walk into a store and NOT buy that! Not only cute outfits, but they had so many stuffed animals that our daughter would’ve loved and I wanted to get them all!  

In the end, I debated back and forth and eventually only got her one thing and it was the last day that we were in Ireland — I got her a rubber Titanic bath toy for bath time after we did the Titanic Tour in Cobh. And I do not regret it. I probably like it more than she does.

How to plan a vacation when you're a spender
Impulse buy alert! I love Titanic and HAD to buy a shirt. My hubby decided he needed one too. We never felt more like tourists.

Other than all the purchases for my daughter, there were four other things that I had eyed up on our trip: 

  1. A traditional Claddagh ring, 
  2. A pair of earrings that I found at the same Claddagh ring store,
  3. An Aran Island sweater, 
  4. Waterford crystal.  

There were many wants along the way, but these were the main four.  

Guess what? In the end, we got none of it.  

Even as a wanter, I find myself talking myself out of purchases all the time because at heart I am also a budgeter.  I only regret not buying one thing: the earrings.  

The Claddagh ring would’ve been a silly purchase because I had no interest in wearing this type of ring until I got to Ireland.  

I doubt it would’ve been something I wore often when I got home, so I’m glad I skipped that one because the one I fell in love with was €350 which would’ve been over $400 — totally not necessary.  

As for the others, we decided we’re not sweater people after trying on 4-5 sweaters a piece.  Just not for us.  

And then finally, I would’ve loved a beautiful piece of crystal but we decided with an almost 1.5 year old, it wasn’t a wise purchase.  In the end, we had a friend gift us with two BEAUTIFUL Waterford Crystal champagne glasses that she was looking to pass on to someone who would enjoy them.  

It all worked out in the end. 

Practical Tips – How to Plan a Vacation when You Want to Buy Everything

To wrap up, I would recommend these three things as you plan a vacation if you’re a wanter:

1. Know yourself. 

I would say that I have recently come to terms with the fact that I am a wanter.  I tried denying it for a long time, but there’s no need to.  

It’s okay for me to want things in life.  So in terms of how to plan a vacation, if you know you’re a wanter, simply plan a budget that would support that so that you’re not spending significantly out of your budget.

2. Don’t fall for all the “tourist trap” souvenir’s. 

Unless you want all the tourist trap souvenirs, try to approach a purchase with a long-term thought process.  

We saw so many things that we would’ve loved to purchase in the moment, but once we got home we wouldn’t have cared about those items at all — we only loved them because we were there.

3. Plan for impulse buying.

It’s okay to buy things on a whim. Afterall, you are on vacation and sometimes you just need to purchase something that makes you happy — like a Titanic bath toy!  Just remember, don’t impulse by everything — see #1 and #2.

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What do you think? Are you a wanter? What tips would you add to plan a vacation when you want to buy everything (or even some of the things)?

Our budget and goals changed our lives and it can change yours too.

Our budget and goals changed our lives and it can change yours too.

How to Plan a Vacation Budget When You Want to Buy Everything

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