Holidays Travel

Co Down man Rory is King of budget travel - and a new Irish News recruit

We may be in a cost-of-living crisis, where holidays and short breaks seem impossible to some, but Downpatrick travel guru Rory King has proven that travel can be done on a budget. Jenny Lee finds out more and bags some travel tips from the new Irish News travel columnist and Q Radio regular...

Rory King outside Johnstown Estate in Co Meath
Rory King outside Johnstown Estate in Co Meath Rory King outside Johnstown Estate in Co Meath

AS THE  summer rain continues, holidays are on many people’s minds - but being able to afford them and navigate through the various deals on the market is far from straightforward.

Having spent 10 years travelling the world and having visited over 70 countries, Downpatrick man Rory King knows all about finding the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Rory was working in New York in 2020 when the Covid pandemic hit the world. Returning home to Co Down, he took time out to appreciate the beauty of his home country and, using his experience and passion of travelling on a budget, he launched Rory’s Travel Club.

A business designed to “save Irish people time and money”, subscribers pay €10 a year and receive 50 plus travel deals in their inbox every month. These include worldwide offers as well as staycations on the island of Ireland.

“After moving home, I would hear my friends say there was nothing to do here, but Ireland is full of amazing places. I have visited all 32 counties in Ireland and can confidently say there is beauty in every single one,” he enthuses.

Downpatrick man Rory King set up Rory's Travel Club to inspire Irish travellers and save them money. Picture by Hugh Russell
Downpatrick man Rory King set up Rory's Travel Club to inspire Irish travellers and save them money. Picture by Hugh Russell Downpatrick man Rory King set up Rory's Travel Club to inspire Irish travellers and save them money. Picture by Hugh Russell

Read more:

Travel: Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2 harks back to the golden age of cruises

Travel: The secret European islands you've probably never heard of

“I also set out to showcase that travel doesn’t always have to be expensive. I identified that local people were paying 15 per cent commission on third-party sites such as Booking.com or Airbnb. So a local person spending £200 on Irish accommodation would give £30 to a business based in another country. I wanted to pass that saving onto Irish customers.

“If members book just one recommendation from my travel club, you will save at least double your 12-month subscription fee,” says the 31-year-old.

Having spent his family holidays as a child in Carlingford or Co Galway, adventurous Rory left Ireland for only the second time at the age of 18, spending his summer volunteering in Fiji. His only other time abroad was a youth football tournament in Amsterdam.

Rory spent his birthing on a flating bar in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 2017
Rory spent his birthing on a flating bar in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 2017 Rory spent his birthing on a flating bar in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 2017

He absolutely fell in love with the South Pacific Island, and after finishing university he returned for a year, ‘teaching’ English at a primary school.

“There were no shops on the island and I only got an internet signal occasionally if I visited another island. The people there have nothing, but they’ve everything. It’s my favourite place in the world.”

At university in England, where he was studying sports science, Rory quickly became a pro at searching for online travel deals.

“I was really strategic in booking flights and I often bagged Ryanair flights from Stanstead to Belfast or Dublin for £20 return.”

He also used his long university breaks to travel, including one adventurous money-saving round trip to Dubai.

“It was always on my bucket list, but it was 600-odd quid for the flights. So what I did was, I went from Dublin, stopping in Brussels, Paris, Sofia and Istanbul for a few days on the way to Dubai, and in Dortmund on the way back, for less than the return flights.”  

After his gap year in Fiji, Rory had intended to enrol on a PGCE course and become a PE teacher, but instead he pursued his love of travel and applied for three overseas jobs.

“One was doing stocks in Kuala Lumper, one was being a language assistant in Barcelona, and one was selling Irish alcohol all over the world.”

Rory received all three job offers, but chose the latter, spending four years travelling the world selling Coole Swan, a white chocolate Irish cream liqueur.

“The job took me to Denmark, Cyprus, Australia, America, Canada, and loads of places. It was amazing, especially New Zealand,” adds Rory, who joined the local GAA club there.

Now he’s sharing his passion and knowledge of travel with people all over Ireland, through his club, which he describes as “the Groupon of travel”.

With over 300,000 followers on social media and 75,000 people on his mailing list, Rory has expanded his business, with a team of seven.

A private Facebook group of members has grown into a real online community, where members share tips on topics such as car rental, transfers and insurance.

“We try and cater for everyone, whether it be camping in Ireland for £30pp, a weekend in Edinburgh for €130, a day-trip on Stena from Dublin or Rosslare for €4 or a trip to New York.

Rory had requests from many of his members looking for collective organised trips, and just over a year ago his members' group trips began.

A further €10 subscription is required to be part of the organised group trips. These are arranged almost every week, and future plans include Nashville, Morocco, Bali and Thailand.

Rory goes on many trips himself. Most recently, going to Jim of the Mills Pub in Tipperary. A unique pub, which only opens on a Thursday, and attracts visitors from all over the world for its music sessions.


“I shouldn’t say it, but I often have more fun with a group of strangers than with a group of mates. We all have the same aim of having fun and the craic is mighty”.

Addressing loneliness and mental health, the group trips involve people of all ages from all over Ireland.

“We're giving people a safety net and typically half the people on group trips are solo travellers. Some people are getting over bereavement or a divorce and one lady who just turned 70, whose husband is happier at home with the TV, has been on 10 trips with us in the past year.”

So, outside Rory’s Travel Club, how can people find the best travel deals?

“The best travel tip that I could give is to shop around and be flexible when possible,” says Rory.

“Prices vary based on availability, especially on cruises. With a hotel, if they are hosting a wedding, their prices will go way up.”

If your job ties you to specific dates, Rory advises that the “sweet spot” for booking a holiday in Europe is four to six weeks before departure, whilst long-haul breaks to the likes of North America should be booked eight to nine months in advance.  

Another big travel tip of Rory’s is not to jump into the next available taxi when arriving at an airport. He advises booking using apps such as Bolt, Uber, Lyft and Free Now to avoid being scammed.

“Recently I was in Zadar, Croatia. I got an Uber into the city, which was around €9. I met an English couple the following day on an excursion, who paid €85 for the same trip in an airport taxi.”

Rory with some of the Rory Travel Club crew in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Rory with some of the Rory Travel Club crew in Dubrovnik, Croatia Rory with some of the Rory Travel Club crew in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Rory admits that Croatia is his favourite holiday destination in Europe.

“It’s cheaper than the likes of Spain and Italy and is a lot more scenic, chilled out and fun.

"Zadar has the best sunset in the world. A group of 50 of us went with the club last year for just €78 euro per person for flights and three nights' accommodation.”

Zadar in Croatia is one of Rory's favourite places to visit
Zadar in Croatia is one of Rory's favourite places to visit Zadar in Croatia is one of Rory's favourite places to visit

On Rory’s personal travel wish list is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. “I've never been to South America and am particularly interested in going to Peru, Bolivia and Brazil,” he adds with a smile.

His long-term plan for Rory’s Travel Club is to “keep growing and providing a better service”. This includes a new app, which will be launched later this year.  

Yes, Rory’s phone has over 1,000 notifications a day - but he loves nothing more than sharing his travel expertise to save local people money.

:: To find out more, visit Rorystravelclub.com and follow him on social media using @Rorystravelclub


Travel tips and offers for Q Radio listeners and Irish News readers


Want to learn more money-saving tips, hear travel inspiration and stories of adventure, and get your travel questions answered?

From Wednesday August 2, Rory King will join Yazz on her Q Radio show, Mid Morning with Yazz.

Travel Wednesdays at 12pm will see Rory talk about all things holidays – at home and abroad. He will be revealing secret places to visit and answering listener’s questions.

In print, Rory will be offering Irish News readers practical and down-to-earth travel tips, insights and tantalising offers in his new weekly travel column, starting Saturday August 5.

“I can’t wait. I am extremely proud to be working alongside Q Radio and the Irish News and I will do my best to add maximum value to listeners and readers,” says Rory.