Welcome to the Around the World Interview series on Ordinary Traveler. Each week we’ll have a guest who has lived in or spent extended periods of time in a country. Each guest will share valuable insight and tips about a different country around the globe.
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What was your longest time in Scotland?
In the last eight years, I have traveled to Scotland six times. There have been two trips in the past four month. More will be made this year. Because I have dedicated my time to writing about Scotland, I plan three to four trips per calendar year that last between three to five weeks.
Budget tips for Scotland?
The UK and Scotland are both expensive destinations right now, especially for Americans. First, you must set realistic expectations. Everything costs twice as much in dollars. For example, a PS5 sandwich would cost $10. Although this is not the actual exchange rate it is a simple formula that creates a comfortable buffer.
You might pay more for certain items, such as petrol or groceries, if you are not in the main cities of Scotland. This is something to keep in mind when planning your trip. Based on your travel speed, I suggest a holiday rental that includes multiple nights at B&Bs. B&Bs in Scotland are wonderful and offer delicious breakfasts. However, the price can quickly add up.
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Last but not least, make sure you have enough money to rent a car. Driving is the best way to see Scotland, but it’s expensive. I just returned from Scotland, where I rented a small car for four week. The total cost was upwards of $1200, and this doesn’t include petrol costs (which are about $8/gallon). Although an automatic transmission is more expensive than a manual, it was still cheaper than the manual.
What are your favourite places and experiences in Scotland?
Every time I visit Perthshire, especially the area around Dunkeld, Pitlochry, it amazes me. Scotland is full of beautiful scenery. I love this area at the foothills the Cairngorm Mountain.
Dunkeld is one my favourite towns. It’s well-known for its traditional Scottish folk music. It is small and mostly made of stone. There is an old cathedral on the banks of River Tay. You will also find many signs to help you navigate the town.
What’s the Scottish food like?
Scots are known for their heavy, rich diet of potatoes and meat. The best place to go late at night is the chip shop. However, the majority of Scottish cuisine is focused on organic, free-range and fair trade produce. There are also some amazing chefs who have started restaurants (see Tom Kitchin, Leith).
Breakfast is my favorite meal. It’s heavy and greasy but it keeps you going throughout the day. It’s a typical Scottish breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausages, rashers (bacon), haggis. Sometimes you might also get beans. Tea/coffee, toast, jam and a variety of cold items such as cereals and fruit salads. Also, you might get smoked salmon and kippers. Try the black pudding (blood sausage), haggis, and haggis.
What are the rules regarding customs in Scotland
The culture of Scotland is very similar to that of North America and Western Europe. There is no hidden faux pas to stop you from moving forward. Don’t ask him what’s underneath his kilt. I have found that although Scottish people can be reserved, if approached in a friendly way, they will often open up to you.
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Where is your favorite place to stay in Scotland
What about a B&B? Trochelhill B&B, just outside Fochabers, Moray, is one of my favorite places to stay. This beautiful country house has a modern, elegant interior and an excellent breakfast. Iain, Diane and their family are some of the most friendly people you will ever meet. Toes, their three legged cat, is a friend.
What are the must-do and must-see activities in Scotland?
For a sense of history and a feeling of peace, you must visit Edinburgh and its Old Town and Castle. It is a must to spend at least a few hours in the Moray-Speyside area.
This area offers a wide range of scenery from rolling hills to forests to beaches to whisky distilleries and outdoor pursuits. Explore castles, sample whisky, hike the hills and have a pint in an old pub, while pipers and fiddlers play!
What safety tips, warnings and other things should you be aware of in Scotland
Scotland is safe, with the exception of the risk to your bank accounts. You should be experienced and take the necessary precautions before you attempt to climb Munros, Scotland’s highest hills. The weather can change quickly in Scotland, and many hikers are killed each year while on the slopes.
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One of my top travel tips for Scotland is to remember cars drive on one side and drivers on the other. It’s a backwards system, but it is easy to master. And, the drivers of Scotland are generally very, very competent.