Today’s post is part four in a series about planning a trip to Scotland. Make sure you’ve read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 before you dive in here. This post has pages! Please click over to Traveling Savage if you’re reading this in an RSS reader or you won’t be able to read the full article.
If you’ve been following this series, you’ve got a good idea of where you want to go in Scotland, when you’re going, and how much time you want to spend. This fourth piece – how much the trip will cost – is often the linchpin in these plans.
I’m just going to lay my cards on the table now: the United Kingdom is not the most cost-effective destination. The Sterling Pound is one of the most valuable currencies in the world, which means your dollars and cents will need some buddies to make up the difference in costs (at the time of writing, $1=£0.62).
But this is no excuse to gnash your teeth, curse the heavens, and scrap your plans. The added cost will be paid back in full with a host of lifelong memories. Unfortunately, memories don’t pay the mortgage, so in the following sections I’ll provide an overview of costs and some practical tips to help reduce them.
Before we move on, there’s one very important money-saving concept you need to understand.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
Most goods sold in the UK have a value added tax rolled into their retail price, which equates to an additional 20% mark up. For foreign visitors, this can make the cost of living seem significantly more expensive. The good news is that foreigners can reclaim VAT on goods they take with them when they leave the UK. If you’ve visited the UK, perhaps you remember the VAT cards they hand out on flights. The bad news is that reclaiming your VAT requires a bit of record-keeping and patience; traits I lacked on previous trips to the UK.
I’m no tax expert, so I recommend that you read through Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs information for the exact procedure to follow. If you’re visiting on business you can reclaim VAT on even more expenses, such as accommodations and travel costs. Scotland is a place to be cost-conscious, and reclaiming VAT is just one way to recoup some serious cash.
Let’s start with the cost of travel…