A packing list for Scotland

Once upon a time I wrote a post about what I packed for five weeks in Argentina. As you will see over the course of this post, while individual items have changed, my overarching philosophy has remained the same: Travel light and check no bags. It might seem like this can be tricky when Scotland, which has a much cooler climate than Argentina, is the destination, but I’ve done it for the past five years and soon you will too.

First, let’s talk about Scotland’s weather. You’ve probably heard it rains everyday — sometimes with sleet that pelts down from low clouds — and that the wind will blow a car clean off the cliff tops if you anger the old gods. Read more...

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Understanding which adapters to take to Scotland

In the last month I’ve written a couple of posts aimed at preparing first-time travelers to Scotland for a wonderful trip. I’ve tackled Scotland’s incredible right-to-roam policy and renting a car, and today I continue this so-called “Know Before You Go” series with another practical topic: Voltage, adapters, and things electrical. This is far from the sexiest thing to write about, but, since I can’t seem to travel without lugging around at least four devices, getting it wrong hurts.

There are two main areas you need to consider when ensuring your devices will work in other countries: Voltage and outlet adapters… Read more...

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A rental car in Shetland

At this point in my travels, driving is my favorite activity in Scotland. Nothing beats the feeling of the open road, of exploring tiny farm tracks winding through glens and along windswept beaches to far-flung ruins. Having the opportunity to pull over and appreciate a breath-taking view for as long as you want is priceless. Traveling by car slows down trips, opens them up to serendipity, and allows you to move where you want, when you want.

Intrigued by a sign? Follow it. Curious where that tiny gravel road leads? Follow it. Intent on exploring the coast? Follow it. These are things you simply cannot do without a car. Read more...

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Roaming across Rannoch Moor

In the dear old United States on the edge of any wild area you’re more likely to see a ‘NO TRESPASSING’ sign than a trail head welcoming you to explore. Drive down country lanes from Appalachia to the Rockies and the enduring memory might just be the parade of blaze orange signs nailed onto trees every few miles. It’s an unfortunate shroud to wrap our beautiful places in, a consequence of our litigious society and overblown fears of liability and the ill intentions of our neighbors. There are literally reams of arcane law codes defining the consequences of trespassing for each state, from misdemeanors and felonies to fines and imprisonment. My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I write. Read more...

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The National Trust for Scotland's Craigower Hill

It’s hard to imagine a trip to Scotland that doesn’t involve interacting with at least a handful of the country’s historic sites. The bulk of my trips to Scotland revolve around visiting the innumerable castles, ruins, and other sites of natural beauty and importance that litter the landscape, and the same holds true for so many of you seeking to take a deep draught of Scotland’s historical and cultural richness. If you’re in the midst of planning a trip to Scotland, or just mulling over one in your head, you’ve probably got a list of places you’d like to visit.

As you might expect, many of these visits are not free. The preservation and maintenance of Scotland’s historic sites requires funding, without which their permanence would surely dwindle until they were eventually lost. Nobody wants that. Read more...

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