If you’re jetlagged or weren’t able to sleep on the plane, give yourself a day or two to rest up. Most flights from the US to Scotland are at night. And you lose five hours in the transatlantic flight. Going for 36+ hours with no sleep is exhausting and makes it difficult to enjoy sightseeing the first day. But if you CAN sleep on the plane, you’ll have fewer problems. Allow a few days to get fully adjusted to the time change and be aware that in summer there’s very little darkness.
Any time you visit Scotland, especially the Highlands, from spring to fall, you should probably dress for late fall/ early spring in the US. Forget the sandals, shorts, Capri pants or any other type of summer clothing, unless you’re staying in Southern Scotland. I’ve heard of some people having to buy a whole new wardrobe once they arrived because they misjudged the weather. The further north you go, especially into the Highlands and Islands, the colder it gets. The weather in Scotland is unpredictable and can change in five minutes. It rains A LOT and the wind is usually cold and brisk, even in summer. In certain areas, it can snow any month of the year, although this is probably rare in July and August. But I have seen snow in June. I’ve found it easiest to layers of sweaters and jackets that I can add to or remove depending on the temperature. A good rain jacket or rain coat with a hood is a must. Not only does it protect you from the driving rain you might be caught out in, but it also acts as a windbreaker. Umbrellas are useless most of the time because of the wind. Ski hats can even be worn in June. Sure, the Scots might laugh at you, but you will be warm. LOL Some especially cold and windy places are coastlines and the tops of mountains.
|While driving in Scotland, watch for red deer, which could be on the road.|
|Ditto for the sheep.|
|Making use of a pull off or passing place.|
Unless you like driving 80 MPH on narrow, curvy roads, on the wrong side of the road, cars will likely ride your bumper. It’s probably best to pull over into the pull-off or passing spots, marked with a sign--a “P” on a blue background. Or a different sign that says "Passing Place." The Scots will appreciate this and show it by honking their horns briefly.
If you’re going anywhere away from the large cities of Scotland, remember to take food and water with you. In some of the smaller towns and villages, you should be able to find restaurants open at reasonable hours from mid-spring to mid-fall. But if it’s after hours or mid-fall to mid-spring, don’t expect many restaurants to be open. Your options may be limited. This is a good thing. It simply makes you appreciate the food you find that much more. LOL One night we had planned to eat at a pub, the only restaurant in the area, but there was a power outage. Good thing we had snacks.
|You want to have phone service here.|
Scotland’s superstores or supercenters are Tesco and ASDA. They’re similar to Wal-Mart in that they sell food, clothing and a lot of other necessities at low prices. You may find you need an extra jacket, batteries, a phone, food or something to drink and these would be a good place to find things like that without breaking the bank. They rarely sell souvenirs or cool things made in Scotland. Go to smaller shops for that. Scotland also has Coops which are similar to superstores in that they sell a wide variety of things, but they’re smaller and will be found in the smaller towns that don’t have superstores.
|No superstores out here.|
|Kilt Rock. Definitely a place to stop for photos.|
If you’re going with your spouse or significant other, be aware that most Scottish beds for two people are double, which to me is way too small. Queen-sized or king-sized beds are difficult to find unless the hotel or B&B has been recently renovated. Single beds are also plentiful.
I’ve found National Car Rental to be the most economical for car rental or car hire. We were able to get an automatic for around 400 GBP for two weeks. Automatics are hard to come by in the UK so if you can drive a manual, shifting with your left hand, the cost should be even less. If possible, reserve one ahead of time, but this doesn’t guarantee your car will be there when you show up. Don’t you just love surprises like that? :)
Gas or Petrol in the UK is more expensive than it is in the US but most of their cars get far better gas mileage. The last one we rented (see photo above) got 50 miles per gallon.
Do you have any Scotland travel tips to add to my list? I'm still learning so I'll take all the tips I can get.
CONTEST: each person who comments will be entered into a drawing for a 2012 Scotland calendar made with my photos. You can either leave a travel tip, a suggestion for a must see site, or the place you most want to visit in Scotland. Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you. This contest is open until Dec. 1 and the winner will be drawn at random.
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