What to Wear
Scotland is a fairly casual destination and you can wear pretty much whatever you like all the time. For fancy dinners, smart casual is all that’s required. No restaurant will insist on jackets or ties, nor will any theater or concert hall. Summer days can be warm but rarely hot, so you’ll always want something around your legs and shoulders when the inevitable cool sets in. If you plan to be in the Highlands during midge season, make sure you have long-sleeved shirts and long trousers – anyone in shorts and T-shirt will be eaten alive. In the end, the factor that will determine your outfits the most is the weather, which also means that a light, waterproof jacket should always be close at hand, preferably one that you can fold away and keep in a shoulder bag.
If you’re planning to visit Scotland in the high season, the sooner you book your accommodation the betlzer – up to two months in advance for an Easter or July/August visit. Activities should also be booked in advance – cooking courses, organised tours, etc. A month before you travel, book your hire car and reserve a table in whatever top-end restaurants you plan to dine at. Now is also the time to make theater reservations, especially for new productions. Two weeks before you arrive, check attraction opening hours and prices. A week before, get the weaiher forecast. Then ignore it.
What to Pack
»Good walking shoes or boots
»UK electrical adaptor
»Hangover cure (all that whisky, you know)
»Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date
»Make all necessary bookings (for accommodation, events and travel)
»Check the airline baggage restrictions
»Inform your debit-/credit-card company of your travels
»Arrange appropriate travel insurance
»Check if you can use your mobile/cell phone
Although largely informal in their everyday dealings, the Scots do observe some rules of etiquette.
»Greetings Shake hands with men, women and children when meeting for the ﬁrst time and when saying goodbye. Scots expect a ﬁrm handshake with eye contact.
»Conversation Generally friendly but often reserved, Scots avoid conversations that might embarrass.
»Language The Scots speak English with an accent that varies in strength – in places such as Glasgow and Aberdeen it can often be indecipherable. Oddly, native Gaelic speakers often have the most easily understood accent when speaking English.
»Buying your round at the pub like the English, Welsh and Irish, Scots generally take it in turns to buy a round of drinks for the
whole group, and everyone is expected to take part. The next round should always be bought before the ﬁrst round is ﬁnished.
»Hotels One pound per bag is standard; gratuity for cleaning staff completely at your discretion.
»Pubs Not expected unless table service is provided, then £1 for a round of drinks.
»Restaurants For decent service 10% and up to 15% at more expensive places. Check to see if service has been added tzo the bill
already (most likely for large groups).
»Taxis Taxis are expensive, and locals rarely tip; generally rounded up to nearest pound.
ATMs can generally be found throughout Scotland. If not, it’s often possible to get ‘cash back’ at a hotel or shop in remote areas – ie make a payment by debit card and get some cash back (the cash amount is added to the transaction). Usually, you should have no problem withdrawing money with your bank’s own card – but be sure to check with your bank before you travel. Credit and debit cards can be used almost everywhere except for some rural BBs that only accept cash. Make sure bars or restaurants will accept cards before you order as some don’t. The most popular cards are Visa and MasterCard; American Express is only accepted by the major chains, and virtually no one will accept Diners or JCB. Chip-and-PIN is the norm for card transactions; only a few places will accept a signature. Banks, post offices and some of the larger hotels will change cash and traveller’s cheques.
What to Wear