Friday, June 21, 2013

Visiting Scotland from the U.S. - What to bring

Since many people are coming for a visit this summer, I thought this post might be useful for them and for any others. People often visit other countries and pack everything but the kitchen sink because they have no idea what they will be doing, what the weather will be like, or what kind of ground they will walk across. So, if you are visiting Scotland between May and September, here is what you may need, particularly if you will be in the Aberdeen (or similar) area.

The Flight
First, let's start with the plane. Coming from the U.S., I think it's best to fly overnight so that you are leaving the U.S. in the afternoon/evening and arriving in Scotland in the morning. Once you arrive, stay awake. It's difficult, but it's best. For the sake of getting through security quickly, do not wear baggy clothes, belts, loads of jewelry, keep tons of coins in your pockets, or wear hard to remove shoes. Forget fashion. Wear what will get you through security the quickest. You may not want to wear sandals if you get cold easily. I did that once and my feet were freezing! Also, don't forget to check your bags for things you may have put in them for a camping trip such as pocket knives and lighters. You can't bring those! On the flight, if you are traveling coach, you need one of these:
You may think it looks silly, and yes, it does, but you will thank me and yourself for buying it. With a chair that only reclines a few inches, it's like sleeping in the back seat of a car. Your head always falls to one side, and you wake up with terrible neck pain. Just buy one. You'll want to sleep at least a few hours to make life easier on yourself. Also, bring plenty of snacks especially if you have kids. Sometimes those in-flight meals are just not that filling, and if you have special dietary requirements, consider that they may mess up your order, or if your flight gets changed, your meal may not be switched over to the new flight. I've heard of it happening, and people are starving by the time they arrive. You should also bring a change of clothes, all expensive electronics you intend to bring, and toiletries that you cannot live without (i.e. contact stuff) in your carry-on bag. There is ALWAYS a chance that your luggage will not arrive with you or that when you do get it, your expensive electronics (such as your camera or cell phone) will be missing. Again, I've seen both of these things happen.

Bring what you would normally wear for going out to eat or out to pubs/clubs. For everyday clothes, bring things that you can layer. T-shirts with long-sleeve shirts that can be worn under them. Light jacket/cardigan and a heavier one (I don't mean a ski jacket... just something a little more such as a pea coat) if you are acclimated to a very hot climate at the time. Don't forget a rain coat WITH A HOOD. It doesn't rain hard here, but it's often sprinkling or spitting (misting). You really don't need an umbrella. It's so windy here that it's difficult to use one. Bring a beanie (winter hat) and some light gloves if you intend to do some hill walking or any coastal walks. It can be very windy and cold as you approach the summit or as you walk along the coastline. I just carry mine in my backpack any time we go hill walking. Most hill (mountains) walks in and around Aberdeen do not require a backpack, but you may want to at least take a bottle of water and a few snack bars with you. If you have kids, bring a backpack.

Shoes. Bring what you normally would wear unless you are going hill walking. You'll want to bring something that won't slip (it's wet here!) and that you don't mind getting a little muddy in case it is wet. Also, bring at least one pair of shoes that don't readily soak up water. Some flats, for example, will absorb water if you are walking on wet pavement for too long. It's wet here often. Just keep that in mind. Lots of people wear some form of boots here such as ankle-high or knee-high boots. I see lots of Toms too.

Bring outlet adapters and check your voltage. Scotland uses 220 volts. The U.S. uses 110-120V. You'll need a step-down converter to plug in some of your electronics. Just read the label on the back or the label on the plug, and it should tell you the range of voltage the device can use. Many things like e-readers, laptops, and phones can be charged by just using an adapter:

 Other items, such as a curling iron or hair straightener will likely need a transformer.
They are a bit heavy and about half the size of a child's shoe box, so prepare for that when you are thinking about how much you can fit in your bag and still be under the weight limit. Also, many places in Scotland do not have outlets in the bathrooms. If they do have outlets in the bathroom, they are only for low voltage electronics such as for charging razors or toothbrushes. For ladies, I suggest bringing a small mirror with a stand that you can just hold or prop up for fixing your hair. It's also nice for putting on makeup because the lights in bathrooms are usually LED's in the ceiling or are florescent bulbs. If you bring your own mirror, you can use natural light from the window or a lamp in the room.
Well, I feel like that pretty much covers the main things to consider when packing. Well, don't forget to leave space in your luggage for souvenirs! You can bring whiskey back to the U.S. I recommend buying it at the duty-free shop in the airport if you can find your brand there. Any that you buy or bring to the airport with you can be sealed in a special bag so that it clears customs. Hope this helps. Any questions? 


  1. Thanks! I was going to ask you about the outlets

  2. Thank you for this post! We are actually moving to Aberdeen in mid-August and I wasn't sure what kinds of clothing/shoes to pack to get us through until our shipment arrives. This is very helpful!

    1. Hi Andrea! Thanks for stopping by. Good luck on your upcoming move. You may find more helpful information here:


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