Get geared up for your very first Scotland visit with these 7 amazing tips!

Photo by Connor Mollison on Unsplash

With the holidays swiftly approaching and planning out their vacations, a lot of us have our minds set on Europe being the destination of our travels. Just the thought of sipping champagne under the Eiffel Tower in France, trying authentic pizzas in Italy, attending fiestas with locals in Spain or even sitting in a garden filled with gnomes in Germany is enough to bring out our giddy sides. Sure, all these places are lovely but they are also mainstream and would be jam-packed with tourists over the summer, becoming barriers to your own local experiences. So, instead of visiting places all of your friends will be headed to, how about stepping out of the circle and traveling to another hidden gem Europe has to offer? Scotland! I have compiled some incredible tips that would make your Scottish travels a breeze!

Traveling to a foreign country for the very first time can be a bit intimidating, especially if you are traveling alone. With travel restrictions due to COVID-19 and lack of knowledge in terms of local cultures and practices, planning a trip can prove to be quite a challenge but the list of tips mentioned below will tell you all you need to know before you embark on your very own journey to Scotland.

1. Plan out your journey in advance.

Getting prepared for your own Scotland visit.
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Scotland is beautiful. The country has intricate architectural buildings, magnificent historic castles, impressive highlands, and astonishingly blue freshwater lakes that can revitalize your summer. The key is to always plan ahead. A few simple searches on Google may tell you all the must-go-to sites in the country so make sure to plan out your route accordingly. Book your hotel room or accommodations early on so do not end up in sticky situations at the last moment and decide your preferred mode of travel.

2. Be your own tour guide.

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A tour guide will only show you sites that have gained attention from tourists in the past but being your own tour guide will allow you to discover and explore many places that are hard to find on tourist maps. Leave a few days empty in your trip’s schedule to connect with locals and ask them for recommendations from their own favorite nearby spots. You will find such places filled with lesser eagle-eyed tourists and more with warm-hearted and carefree Scots who would be more than happy to share a pint of authentic Scottish whiskey or a glass of Scotch. Make sure to not douse it in one go but to savor the taste if you do not want to receive any weird looks! 😉

3. An umbrella is not enough. Pack up a raincoat with you!

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Traveling to Scotland is a very wide-ranging experience, not just in terms of the diversity of rural and urban landmarks but also due to the climate. The weather in these Scottish lands is immensely unpredictable. You could be walking down the street at 2 in the afternoon with the sun blazing hot in the sky and run into a heavy downpour at 2:10. An umbrella may rescue your outfit from light showers but keep an emergency raincoat with you at all times so you don’t end up getting drenched during the substantial cloudbursts. On the bright side, the gloomy skies do clear up quickly so with the help of some waterproof clothing, you would be good to go!

4. Be vigilant on the roads.

Sheep standing in the middle of a road in Scotland.
Image by Ronja Stienen from Pixabay

If you are going on a road trip, don’t get lost in the music completely! You’ll encounter plenty of sheep on the roads so keep an extra eye out for the safety of the white wooly buddies and yourself. Also, Scots hate when tourists park their vehicles in the middle of the roads just to indulge in their own sightseeing so if you see a picture-worthy view by the road, do not pull over right away. Take your car over to the side before you step out for your photography sessions!

5. Get a local SIM card.

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International communication plans are way too heavy for the wallets and local SIM cards can be your saviors. Keep that extra cash for enjoying local delicacies and collecting souvenirs instead of wasting it away on foreign phone plans that cost over $10 per day. Connect with locals easily through your local numbers and stay safe from tourist scams. In case of any emergencies or injuries, just dial 999 for help!

6. Public Transport >>> Rental Cars

A nightscape view of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay

When you are in the urban regions of Scotland, utilize public transport to the fullest. Europe has pretty smooth and efficient public transportation compared to the US and traveling inter-cities through trains or buses is a lot cheaper than renting out a car. Try to keep some small change with you, especially during bus rides as the driver will not return your change if you overpay. You can also consider getting yourself a Scotrail Pass which covers buses, trains, ferries, etc. for whichever region you purchase the ticket for and can be quite useful especially if you plan on pursuing countrywide travels.

7. Indulge in the local culture.

Men playing bagpipes at a festival parade on a street in Scotland.
Image by Fabien Becker from Pixabay

The best way to learn about a place is through experiencing its culture with the local crowds. Hang out with the Scots and learn some of their slangs. While most of them do speak English, some people are still keeping their original language, Gaelic, alive and if you come across such a person, make sure to take advantage of it by memorizing a few new words! Try wearing a kilt for a change (it is not a skirt!!!) or get some handmade souvenirs from the highlands instead of typical tourist shops. You can also attend local festivals and party like there’s no tomorrow! There’s no better way of making the most of your foreign travel experience than simply indulging in the local culture through food, architecture, music, cinema, and language!

Holidays can be boring when not lined up with some enjoyable activities. This is your signal to pack up some comfortable shoes and a raincoat and begin your own travel to Scotland, the land of Brave. Whether you are in Edinburgh, Glasgow, any unnamed little town, or even inside the belly of the Lochness Monster, I bet you will have the greatest summer of your life!

If you found any of these tips useful, bookmark the page so you can keep track of them all during your journey!

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