Based in Cork

Joanne O'Brien

It's Nice To Meet You

Hi there! I’m Joanne - your personal Travel Counsellor, and I’m delighted to be bringing my expertise to Cork. I love planning holidays and take pride in giving each of my clients the time, dedication and imagination to make every trip unforgettable and unique.

My specialties are:
Bespoke long haul holidays
Bucket list trips and once in a lifetime experiences
Honeymoons and romantic getaways
Special birthdays, anniversaries and retirement trips

I’ve always had the travel bug and love to get a little bit off the beaten track. I’ve travelled initially in my early 20s while working on board cruise ships, then as a solo traveller and now as a family with my son. I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively through Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. I’ve holidayed in Europe, the Indian Ocean and Middle East. I’ve backpacked in South America and South East Asia. You would think I’ve seen everything I’ve wanted to - but the bucket list keeps growing!

Travel Counsellors are fully licensed and bonded, that means your money is safe. Being a part of the award-winning franchise, I have access to over 400 suppliers including tour operators, car hire companies, cruise companies, hotel suppliers and all leading airlines, which means I have access to some of the best rates available without compromise on protection, personal service, and expertise.

You can get in touch by phone, email or social media. For your convenience, both during the booking process and during your travels I am available outside of office hours. Whether you are looking to talk through an idea or ready to turn your dreams into reality - please get in touch!


Contact Me

Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:

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My Blog

I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.

The Celebrity Apex – A Luxury Resort at Sea

24 May 2023

I travelled to Cobh last week for an afternoon of indulgence on the Celebrity Apex and it exceeded my expectations. Our group was welcomed onboard and ushered to Eden, one of the main restaurants, for coffee and treats. The wine and cuisine at Eden are rooted in nature and draw inspiration from the areas they visit throughout the world. The interior, is green and lush while still being airy with lots of space and of course, amazing sea views. From there we were given the grand tour of the ship. A highlight for me was the Retreat area. This serene haven is exclusive to Retreat Class guests. Guests staying in suites have direct access to the retreat area. We stopped on the magic carpet, which is a cutting edge design that moves up and down between decks, functioning as a bar while at sea and in some ports or as a tendering area when the tender boats are in operation. The view from here was outstanding and you really felt this area protruding from the rest of the ship. The roof top garden has a huge outdoor area for drinks, barbecues and entertainment, again with a very lush green interior. There are 29 bars, restaurants and lounges, so we didn’t get the chance to visit them all in an afternoon, but I’m sure over the course of a 7 night cruise the challenge could be accepted! The Club, which is fairly self explanatory starts at 10pm till late, and is the place to go for evening entertainment. Blu restaurant, a speciality restaurant for Aqua Class guests, who will also have complimentary access to the spa area, is an exquisite restaurant with tables for two. The chefs are trained in such a way that the food its prepared in a light and healthy way, while retaining a fabulous taste. We ended the evening with Le Petit Chef, which was show that was projected onto our plates. This was a fusion of entertainment and cuisine of the highest calibre. We were entertained between courses and wowed with the food. All in all, its easy to see why Celebrity Apex was verified by the Forbes Travel Guide as One of the Finest Resorts at Sea. Between the outstanding service, serene interior design and laid back luxurious vibe you would be absolutely at ease with life and completely recharged after a week onboard. Get in touch to book your Celebrity Cruise!

Paris with a Pre-schooler

29 March 2023

My sister, her husband and their 18 month old son just got back from Paris. (Fair enough he’s not quite a pre-schooler yet!) I haven’t been to Paris in a few years. So, I took the opportunity to sit down with her and extract as much information about their trip as I could! What did you find helpful when travelling with a very small child in Paris? When we arrived in Orly, we started to queue for a taxi, it looked like we could be there quite a while but within moments we were ushered to a priority queue for people with strollers and wheelchair users. When we were departing Orly there was a “Salon Du Bebe”, which had a small play area, cots, bottle warmer, sinks, bins, changing table and high chair. This was so helpful while we were waiting to board our flight. While we were in Paris there were loads of playgrounds and open green spaces for our toddler to run around. As well as that French people love children! We felt really welcome and lots of people stopped to chat to our baby! It was fun. How did you find getting around? We mostly got the train / underground system which was pretty straightforward to use, we even took the train back to the airport at the end of our trip. What were some of your favourite thing do to in Paris with a toddler? We took the funicular to Sacre Couer, when we got to the top of the hill there was a fun atelier style art studio, crepes and hot wine. Then we got the Little Train of Montmartre down. Little people love little trains! We also went to the Jardin du Plants where there was a menagerie with goats, deer and flamingos, a reptile zoo with blue frogs, snakes and tarantulas as well as some dinosaur exhibits, a merry go round and hot chocolate, lots of fun for everyone! What did you visit in Paris that you hadn’t thought of before? One of the days it was raining we ran into the shopping centre in the Louvre basement, we had never intended on going in there but it was fantastic! There were loads of shops we had never visited before. My husband loved the Shakespeare and Co bookshop and a restaurant called Le Relais De L’Entrecote. It was a real Parisian bistro. I liked seeing the restaurant from “Emily in Paris” and I loved the Marie Curie museum which was completely free of charge and you were able to see laboratory and garden. What would you say to someone planning their first visit to Paris with a young child? There are loads of flights from Dublin and a few from Cork, try to get good times. It’s only a short flight so it’s the perfect tester trip if you’re not sure how the flight is going to go. Overall it was a great trip and we all enjoyed it. Definitely worth a visit. Get in touch today, if you would like me to start planning your next trip to Paris.

Puerto Morelos - Mexico

16 March 2023

November 2022 Mexico is one of the top tourist destinations in the world so we were very excited to get to go there! I was traveling with my son who was two and half at the time. There were so many options in terms of accommodation it can be hard to choose - so we chose two, one that I loved and one that I knew he would love! First we stayed in Fives Ocean Front in the small fishing village of Puerto Morelos and then we went on to Dreams Jade, just outside the village. On arrival at the Fives Oceanfront in Puerto Morales we had some dinner in their Ro Marley beach house while we were waiting to check in. We had a phenomenal dinner of jerk chicken (and chicken fingers) in the restaurant overlooking the beach. We had our Mexican breakfasts here the next two mornings, every meal we had here was absolutely divine! The vibe here was so chill and authentic! It was just a 10 minute stroll (even with the stroller) into the village. It was wonderful to explore night markets and authentic Mexican food and still feel safe. As a bonus there is a fun playground in the middle of the square! We also checked into Dreams Jade which is a beautiful resort. It's not the biggest or the flashiest of all the Dreams properties but the beach was gorgeous!! While we were there we went out for dinner in Capers, which was Italian cuisine, and we went to Spice which was Asian cuisine both of which my son and I loved! There was nightly entertainment in Dreams Jade, the highlight being a cirque du soleil style show on the last night of our holiday. During our stay in Mexico we visited the cenotes, which are large natural swimming pools, some of which are underwater in caves. This was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend it! We also visited Crococun Zoo, which is an interactive zoo. This hit the nail exactly on the head for travellers with smaller children as it really is super interactive and it's a relatively small zoo so it was really easy to manage. Mexico really is a magical country, the people there love children and we were well received everywhere we went. My son had a ball and I’m looking forward to getting back in a few years for a different experience. Next time I plan on visiting Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox, Chichen Itza, the Tulum Ruins and Xel Ha Marine Park. There’s lots of flight routes to Mexico, whether you decide to work in a layover or bee-line to the beach. If you're thinking of visiting Mexico and want to see what your dream trip looks like, why not give me a call?

Toronto with a Toddler

16 March 2023

When I was planning our trip to Mexico, I found a fantastic rate on flights with AirCanada, stopping over in Toronto. As Toronto was always on the list and I had a friend I wanted to visit there it was only natural that we make the most of the stop. The flight was excellent, apart from a two and a half year old little boy that did not want to stay in his seat! On arrival we checked in to ALT Airport Hotel Toronto. This hotel was the perfect choice for us, it’s actually in the airport so we didn't have to get transfers or navigate public transport when we got off our flight - we just took the free, internal train to the hotel For our sightseeing we used the Toronto City Pass. This was excellent value and covered all of our sightseeing! I would consider this a necessity for anyone who's heading to Tornoro for the first time. We would have spent way more had we paid locally. Our first stop was an early morning visit to the CN Tower. It was super easy to get there by train from our airport hotel. Because we went on a weekday morning it wasn't too busy and the clouds usually come in in the afternoon so we had an amazing view. After that we went to the Aquarium, which is right next to the CN Tower (you can see the roof of the Aquarium from the glass floor in the Tower). The Aquarium was huge and if you had more time in Toronto you could easily spend half a day here. There was a massive soft play center in the middle of the aquarium and a little café to get something light to eat. After the Aquarium we had a delicious poutine lunch! Once we were refueled we went to the Royal Ontario Museum. I was initially hesitant to the suggestion of visiting a museum but this exceeded my expectations! There was an ancient Greek exhibition, an exhibition from the Indigenous people of Canada, a huge display of Canadian wildlife and most importantly, dinosaurs galore! We finished the day with some dinner in a Sports Bar close to the Rodgers Stadium. The Toronto BlueJays were playing that evening so the atmosphere was lively. We caught the train back to our hotel, tired, happy and full of food! Toronto is a wonderful city with lots to offer, it was easily accessible even with the stroller. The people there were fantastically polite My son absolutely loved it and I can't wait to get back for a longer stay and hit Niagara Falls, have some amazing food and wine experiences and explore Ontario. Toronto is just a direct flight from Dublin and is our gateway to Eastern Canada. If you want to chat about your Canadian adventure, why not give me a call?

New York Weekender

08 May 2023

New York City! Wowzers. Having been blown away by the big apple with my sister a few years ago, I hadn’t thought too much about it until recently, but what a time we had. We arrived in late and it was already dark, which suited us, because we wanted to see the bright lights of New York from a yellow taxi. I would highly recommend this. It got our trip off to the perfect start. For our first day sightseeing, we were women on a mission. We were up early to get our sight seeing done. We hit Top of The Rock, The Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, we got out to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. This was a busy day for us and we were so glad to have skip the line passes and had our route well thought out. My absolute favourite was the trip out to Ellis Island, it was raining and we got wet (should have brought rain jackets) but I can’t resist a boat trip! With our first day sightseeing mission completed, we were free to completely soak in the atmosphere. The rest of our time in The Big Apple was spent brunching and grazing on delicious food and getting a little bit off the beaten track. We spent a morning checking out the Flea Market in Chelsea and browsed vintage clothes and antiques. We spent an afternoon in Central Park away from the hustle and bustle, and hired bicycles and cycled around central park. We mastered The Subway. (That may be a bit kind, but our successful journey felt like a huge achievement). And finally on our last evening in New York City we visited some really cool, funky bars in Hells Kitchen to end our time there with a bang. I would suggest staying in Hotel Edison, which is just steps away from Times Square and has a really fun art-deco vibe. We stayed in New York for 4 nights, and while the average night stay in New York is 4 or 5 nights, we could have easily spent a week there. It’s definitely not the kind of city that if you’ve been there once you’re done, every time you go back you will find something new to explore. If you want to see what your dream New York trip might look like, get in touch!

Magical Mauritius

16 March 2023

Mark Twain once said “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius” When I visited the Island of Mauritius in 2019 I felt that quote hit the nail on the head. It has lush green landscapes, turquoise water, amazing mountains and beautiful beaches. It’s well set up for tourism without feeling crowded or massively commercialised. We stayed in two resorts, first the Constance Belle Mare Plage on the Poste de Flacq Beach on the North East, then the Heritage Le Telfair in Bel Ombre on the South. The Constance Belle Mare Plage was lovely, really nice décor, staff were so attentive and the food was good, but I have to say the Heritage Le Telfair knocked my socks off!! It is my favourite hotel of all time! Its brought me a huge problem – nowhere has been good enough since! We were handed a drink on arrival and were brought to the room for in room check in. We were on an all-inclusive basis and it was worth every penny and more. Breakfast was devine and was brought to the room without any extra charge, the mini fridge was also restocked each day for no extra charge. We went out to hike Le Morne Brabant (which is a UNSECO world heritage site) and we were even given a beautiful picnic to take with us, as part of the all-inclusive package. We dined out every evening, my favourite restaurant was Gin’Ja, which was an Asian infusion restaurant on the beach. I will never forget having the most amazing food in the evening on the beach, watching the stars and listening to the ocean! It really felt like a once in a lifetime experience. We also had access to dine at the Heritage Awali, the sister hotel just down the road, the concierge organised all of this for us. Now, so far you probably are thinking I didn’t do much else besides enjoying the resort and eating! Not the case. There is a plethora of activities in Mauritius. I did scuba diving for the first time and it was amazing to see the Sea Turtles chilling on the bottom of the ocean floor. There are fantastic hikes in Mauritius, I also visited the 7 Coloured Earth Geopark. There was the option here to do quad biking, zipline and a Nepalese bridge which I took three steps into and thought better of! Mauritius was absolutely magical for me! It was a fantastic holiday with beautiful hotels topped by wonderful experiences. If you would like to know more about Mauritius either as a standalone holiday for a beach break as part of a larger itinerary, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Trek to Machu Picchu – The Salkantay Route

09 April 2023

Now, talk about a throwback! Back in 2016 I took a notion to travel to Peru for about a month. I had never visited South America and I was absolutely bursting to go. At the time none of my friends or family members were able to come with me so I took the plunge and off I went and what an opportunity it turned out to be! I had some amazing experiences and met some wonderful people, but the highlight was definitely the trek to Machu Picchu. There are three different routes you can do: Inca Trail, The Salkantay Trek and The Lares Trek. The Inca Trial is the most iconic one, it’s the busiest and the permits sell out months in advance. The Salkantay Trek is “the hike for hikers” and because its longer than the Inca Trail, it’s not as busy. Finally The Lares Trek, which is the shortest. I’d love to tell you I did the Salkantay Trek because I’m an avid hiker, but truthfully, I left it too late to book and the Inca Trail was booked up. Its fair to say I was somewhat surprised on Day 1, when I realised some of my fellow travellers had been preparing for the hike for weeks! It was a phenomenal 4-day hike from Mollepata where we were dropped off, to the town of Aguas Calientes. I must have taken more than 100 photos of the mountains but not one single one of them was able to capture how humbling it was! Words cannot describe how beautiful it really was, every day brought different coulors, and you could see snow in the morning and nearly dessert in the afternoon. The camps we stayed in as we went along were basic. I had no service on my phone for those 4 days. It was 4 days of peace and quiet, we didn’t come to a city or village until we came to Santa Teresa, where we stopped to for a well-deserved visit to the hot springs before getting into Aguas Calientes. Aguas Calientes is the hub for exploring Machu Picchu and you could go there directly if you wanted to see The Lost City of the Incas without doing a trek. We spent the night in Aguas Calientes before rising at 4am, to continue our hike into Machu Picchu. We got in as the sun was rising and before the bus loads of other visitors arrived. Once we were in the Lost City, there was lots of amazing photo opportunities and places to sit and admire. It really was the trip of a lifetime and I would recommend it to anyone to do at least once in their lives! I also visited the Rainbow Mountain, Cusco and Lake Titicaca while I was in Peru. Get in touch to book your Peruvian Adventure!

My customer stories

Sent by Patricia K

Joanne was so helpful when I needed dates changed before booking, there wasn't a bother and Joanne had it done in no time.

Sent by John Forde

Great service. Highly recommend. Very efficient agent.

Sent by Anne Laffan

This is my first time using Travel Counsellors services. From my initial contact with Joanne via email, I have been most impressed with her immediate response to my queries, putting together our itinerary in super quick time and her enthusiasm. Joanne phoned on the exact time she agreed and I was really impressed. This is definitely a service I intend to use in the future and I would not hesitate in contacting Joanne again.

Sent by Denise Lucey

If there was anything higher than 10 I’d choose it, brilliant service. Joanne went above and beyond booking our trip and took all the stress away. Always on hand for any changes to the itinerary too. Couldn’t be more pleased!

Sent by Fiona Cotter

Joanne was very responsive and kind, and 100% took into consideration what we were looking for. I can’t say enough kind things about my experience with Joanne!

Sent by Elaine Dowling

I would highly recommend Joanne to anyone looking to go on a trip. She is very friendly person to deal with, extremely knowledgeable and efficient. She had my trip to New Zealand all booked within approx 72 hours. Nothing was too much trouble and she was always on hand to provide good suggestions and ideas for this once in a life time trip. Thank you very much Joanne and we will definitely be using your services in the future.

Sent by Carla Kidd

Joanne was really knowledgeable, and also patient while we made changes, providing updated quotes really quickly, which was impressive! We booked a trip for the summer with her and we were really happy with her service and we will book with her again!