Top Tips for Visiting Scotland
Updated: Feb 28
Id like to think we are pretty well-prepared people. We tend to do our research before visiting a destination and make sure we have all the gear!
Scotland was no different although honestly, I think it was easily the most changeable and challenging place we have been weather-wise. We went from gale-force winds to heavy downpours to a heatwave all in 30 days.
Here are our top things you need to pack and be aware of when travelling through Scotland!
Take Midge spray... and a lot of it
This is one you want to take very seriously! Especially if you are visiting between the seasons of late spring through to late summer. We were warned about the midges and did take it on board but I don't think any number of warnings can prepare you for the intensity and huge swarms of midges you will battle with on your trip to the Highlands.
We researched and found that Smidge was actually the most recommended as it was formulated and tested in Scotland. And we can confirm it did a very good job. Yes, you still get swarmed by they don't bite you, winner.
Seriously consider Midge nets
This would never in a million years have been a consideration for us. I am claustrophobic at the best of times and hate things over my face and honestly, who wants to walk around with a green net on their head? But in some of the locations, you really don't have much choice unless you want a mouth full of midges. We found The fairy Pools on the isle of Skye to be so bad for midges that we both wore them and I can assure you, not one person was sneering. They are all jealous they too don't have a green net to put on their head.
You can get them in most outdoor shops but if we had known prior how bad they were we would have bought a couple off Amazon.
Ensure you have Waterproofs
The weather changes as quickly as a click of the fingers in the highlands and when it rains it really rains. A lot. If we hadn't packed waterproofs we would have been unable to do very little for a huge number of days without getting totally soaking wet and either would have missed out on so much or made ourselves miserable and maybe even unwell.
Pack waterproof trousers to go over the top of your usual trousers, pack a waterproof coat with a hood and make sure you have waterproof shoes and keep them with you at all times as you honestly have no idea when they Scottish heavens will open up.
Walking trousers are essential
Whether you plan to walk a ton on your Scottish adventure or you don't we can guarantee that you will walk more then you intended. So make sure you are comfortable and get yourself some practical but pleasant to wear, walking trousers. Ideally, water repellent because you know, Scotland. But most of all just make sure you are comfortable. You will spend so much time in the outdoors and feeling like you are wrapped in denim cling film, being too hot or too cold or just not able to move is just no fun at all.
Pack Tissues and leave your dignity behind
The thing that I did find the hardest whilst touring the highlands of Scotland was the lack of toilets and this was made it even worse by the fact that so much more was shut due to the pandemic. Men really don't need to worry but for women, its so much more of an ordeal.
But, you really have no choice. There are no services for miles and at most outdoor tourist attractions there were no toilets. You either dehydrate yourself and refuse to drink water to save needing an outdoor, hide behind a hill wee or you just leave your dignity behind, pack tissues and get on with it.
The two most notable wees of the trip which filled me with the most terror were both on the beautiful Isle of Skye. One of which I am sure was caught on a drone and one which at least two cars may have clocked me doing. But when you gotta go you gotta go!
Hats and scarves... and shirts and shorts
Maybe when we were there we just experienced super extreme weather? It wouldn't be the first time Inwanderment had to 'have it happen to them' but our advice to you folks is to not take any chances. Pack hats and scarves, waterproofs, thermals and also throw in some shirts and shorts for good measure.
In our first two weeks in the highlands, it was raining almost every day, freezing cold gale force winds which kindly snapped our cooking tent in half and soaked us through on more than one occasion. The second two weeks? A minimum of 28 degrees every single day. What even is this magical and mysterious land?
Take a camera, or two and plenty of batteries
Taking a camera on any trip is pretty obvious but on our Scotland trip we felt more than ever that we wanted to try and capture as much as possible all of the time. Scotland is easily the most beautiful place we have had the joy of visiting and it's very difficult to do it justice by photograph or even by video, but we can try.
We also recommend you take spare batteries for your camera, drone and also power banks for your phones. You will need them.
Plan more time for each place than you think you need
If you love photography then this one will need to be a major factor in your planning! We tried to plan our trip as best as we could but we really didn't account for the many many roadside stops as we travelled from place to place. The roadside photography in the Highlands is just epically beautiful and so you will want to make sure you factor in time for this. You will never get from A to B in the time google tells you. Ever.
Decent footwear, leave the sandals at home
Again, maybe an obvious tip but we saw many people on our trip trying to hike mountains or walk around Glencoe in sandals. And whilst we ourselves love a decent pair of sandals, they really are not the best choice of footwear for the highlands. The ground is changeable as is the weather so unless you want boggy, muddy, midge bitten feet and a possible twisted ankle then stick to walking trainers or boots and ideally make sure they will keep your feet dry!
Totally was not on our list when we packed. We were told of the rain and the clouds and the fog. But the sun does come out to play even if you don't experience the scalding temperatures we did in late August and since you will be spending so much time outdoors, (trust us you will) , it's worth packing some to protect your precious skin. Because no one wants to look like a tomato in their holiday snaps.