My wife, two kids and I will be traveling in Ireland and the UK Nov. 1st through 21st. We're flying into and out of Dublin. Our plan is to do a clockwise tour: Fly into Dublin -> Belfast -> Scotland -> England/London -> Back to Dublin to fly home.
We've been planning to rent a car when we land in Dublin (doing just things outside Dublin at the start of the trip) and have a car all the way until London, then turn in the car and take a train/ferry to get back to Dublin before flying home.
However, reading through the car rental section of Rick Steve's 2012 Ireland book is causing us to question if this is the right plan. He says (p. 480):
If your trip covers both Ireland and Great Britain, you're better off with two separate car rentals, rather than paying for your car to ride the ferry between the two islands. On an all-Ireland trip, you can drive your rental car from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland, but be aware of drop-off charges ($75-150) if you return it in the North.
So it seems like he recommends against doing one car rental for both islands, but he also recommends against renting in the Republic of Ireland and returning it in Northern Ireland (our other option for our current itinerary). So we're not sure which is best here. A few questions about this:
If we do one car rental all the way from Dublin to London, will there be a similar $75-$150 fee?
Is there an easy place to return a car on the Northern Ireland side of one of the Northern Ireland -> Scotland ferries, and an easy place on the Scotland side to rent a car? We'd like to minimize the number of buses/whatever we need to take between car rentals since we'll be lugging around car seats for both of our children (on top of carrying them and our luggage).
Will one way be significantly cheaper than the other? Besides the basic cost of taking the car on the ferry and the drop-off charges, our credit card will cover insurance in Scotland/England but not in Ireland, so we could potentially get a better rental rate by renting a second vehicle once we're on Great Britain. Although, I know you often get a better rate when keeping a car rental for longer, so that may negate any benefit from the credit card covering the insurance.