My father wants to go to the Republic of Ireland in March for a family wedding. He hasn’t held a passport for 30 years or so – will he need one? We haven’t decided whether to drive or fly yet.
Miss Corbin, via email
This is an interesting question as the rules are not hard and fast. The Foreign Office explains that, as the Republic of Ireland is considered part of the common travel area of the UK, technically you do not need a passport as long as your dad has other photographic ID (eg. a photo driving licence). However, the Foreign Office does caveat this by recommending that you take your passport with you if you have one, as different operators have different rules.
Aer Lingus, for example, clearly states on its website that driver’s licences are accepted as a form of ID. Irish Ferries’ advice, however, is more ambiguous, saying that it recommends all passengers bring a passport, but that other forms of ID are acceptable. The simple answer is that having a passport is the safest option.
If you think it’s an unnecessary expense, make sure you choose an travel operator that states in its policy that other photographic ID is acceptable. I would confirm with the airline’s or ferry operator’s customer service team in writing, or consult their terms and conditions ahead of booking and then bring a print-out of this with you. I’m assuming your dad is a British or Irish citizen. Otherwise, he will most definitely need a passport.
I’m considering visiting the Dolomites, but am not sure of the cheapest airport to fly into and what exactly there is to do in that area if I have about four days. Do you have any advice?
Ruchi Sheoran, via email
A good way to get there cheaply – and reasonably directly as you don’t have a great deal of time – is to fly to Venice Treviso. Ryanair is the only airline to fly there from London – the service leaves from London Stansted and costs from about £20.99 one-way. Then hop on the train to the town of Conegliano at the foot of the Dolomites.
This train journey will take you 25 minutes and you will need to get a taxi or bus to the train station from the airport, but it’s only 5km away. When you arrive in Conegliano you will be met with a delightful town which is also home to Prosecco, so spend a day here sampling the wares along Strada di Prosecco (Prosecco Road). It’s also home to Italy’s most prestigious wine-making school, Scuola Enologica.
I would then head up to Belluno (you can get a direct train here from Conegliano) and use this pretty Renaissance-era town with incredible views of the mountains as your base.
To experience one of the flashier ski resorts, hop on the bus up to Cortina D’Ampezzo. Even without snow, the hiking and rock-climbing should keep you entertained.
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Anthony Fairweather, via Facebook
Train vs plane
Use Eurostar to travel to Amsterdam, via Brussels. From about £99 return, it’s not much more than an airfare (especially when you take into account transport to Stansted and the rest), takes just over 4.5 hours direct (not much longer than flying when you count getting to the airport/ check-in times) and, if you fancy it, you can plan your connections to enjoy some moules et frites and a Hoegaarden in Brussels on the way …
Catherine Jarvie, via email