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Ten Scotland Road Trip Tips You Should Know Prior to Going

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A road trip is a great way to see Scotland, which is a stunning and rugged nation. It is a dream to explore with its rocky beaches, serene lochs, and undulating hills. At your fingers are innumerable old castles, recognizable distilleries, and picture-perfect islands.

I adore Scotland to the core. It is breathtakingly gorgeous, and I can not get enough of the always-shifting vistas, historic Scotch distilleries, and kind, friendly residents.

Having visited Scotland more than a few times in the past ten years, I believe that travelling by car is the greatest way to see the nation. With only 5.5 million residents, this is a sparsely inhabited area, meaning that a large portion of your travels will be through rural areas. The nation was designed with it in mind.

However, before you leave, there are still a few things to remember.

Based on my own experience, here are ten suggestions for driving to Scotland (together with my recommended routes) that will make your trip better, safer, and more enjoyable:

  1. Purchase travel insurance

I always have travel insurance when I leave the house. Additionally, I never rent a car without full coverage insurance.

It is an additional expense, I realize. It is likely that you will not even require it.

What occurs, though, if you really need it and it is not there? For damage, you will have to pay cash out of pocket. You could have to pay thousands for it.

Numerous winding, rough, or single-track roads (more on those later) might be challenging to find your way about in Scotland. Windshield and tire damage is frequent. Add the unpredictable weather to the mix, and disaster is sure to ensue.

For this reason, I highly recommend that you purchase auto insurance for your upcoming road trip. It is worth it for the mental clarity.

My recommendation for a car rental company is Discover Cars. It is simple to add auto insurance to your reservation at the time of booking by simply clicking a button. What is covered and how much it costs are made very clear on the website.

  1. Hire the Appropriate Car

 When it comes to hiring a car in Scotland, you basically have two options, and the one you choose will have a significant impact on your vacation. You can either rent a campervan or buy a car.

Although owning a car will save money and gas, you will need to locate lodging every night. Although a campervan or RV will cost more and use more gasoline, you may sleep inside of it and save money on lodging. (It is not my cup of tea, but whatever.)

There is no right or wrong response because both possibilities make for a fantastic experience. Just bear in mind that in Scotland, manual transmissions are the norm, so you will need to let the car know when making your reservation if you want an automatic.

  1. Have Your Left Hand Drive Ready

 Left Hand Drive

Like the rest of the UK, Scotland has left-hand traffic. The US, Canada, and most of Europe—only Ireland, the UK, Malta, and Cyprus drive on the left—all have the opposite driving habits.

It takes some getting used to shifting gears with your left hand rather than your right if you rent a manual car. (I personally like automatic systems).

Drive carefully if you are accustomed to driving on the right side of the road because old habits do not always change. It can be particularly difficult to drive on the left in cities or at roundabouts (more on that later). Go slowly at first until you get used to it.

  1. Recognize roundabouts

Instead of using stop signs or lights at intersections, roundabouts are traffic circles. They compel cars to reduce their speed without halting traffic. They lower serious traffic accidents by up to 90%, which makes them extremely popular in Europe but not so prevalent in the US.

In Scotland, roundabouts are highly prevalent. Additionally, their flow is clockwise, as opposed to counterclockwise, as those in the US. When approaching a roundabout, reduce your speed to a minimum and wait for an opportunity to pass through the intersection before continuing. In a roundabout, all traffic moves in the same direction.

When leaving, you must be in the outer lane if there are numerous lanes. Cars that do not want to leave the roundabout right away should use the inner lane.

Give an indication to the vehicles behind you that you are preparing to turn when you are ready to leave the roundabout.

When you come to a roundabout and find yourself uncomfortable, simply slow down and indicate your intentions. You would not believe how much easy they are to manage!

  1. Recognize posted speed limits

In Scotland, posted speed restrictions are expressed in miles. Although Americans like myself will find this useful, visitors from nations that employ kilometers should take particular note of this.

Typical speed restrictions are:

  • In populated areas: 30 mph
  • On a single road, 60 mph
  • Two-lane roads: 70 mph
  • 70 mph on highways

Still, these figures are only recommendations. To be safe, always heed the signage in your area. When in doubt, it is preferable to move more slowly at first until you can confirm the speed. To ensure you have them on hand in case you get lost, I would jot down a few frequent conversions.

  1. Allow Time for Scenery Breaks

I am aware that many tourists enjoy meticulously organizing their routes and schedules. It can be tempting to schedule every detail when you only have a few days (I used to do this a lot). But there are plenty of other things to do in Scotland, like take a quick hike or see charming towns and beautiful landscapes.

Every few minutes, you should stop to take in a view of a mountain, loch, deserted castle, or vista. Even the commonplace views are worthy of an Instagram post due to the breathtaking landscape. Because of this, allow extra time in your schedule so that you will have flexibility if you need to stop or take a brief break. I heartily suggest this. The unexpected gems of a vacation can sometimes be its most enjoyable moments. Additionally, you should not rush from sight to sight, so make plans to be distracted.

  1. Get the Correct Apps

I am aware that the purpose of taking a road trip is to disconnect from technology so you can take in the breathtaking scenery and local culture. On the other hand, you can save time, money, and be safe with the many apps available. When taking a road trip in Scotland, everyone should download the following apps to their phone:

  • The greatest weather app available in the UK is Met Weather. Scotland’s weather can fluctuate dramatically, so be prepared.
  • The greatest app for finding directions is Google Maps. To have your maps available for offline use, be sure to download them.
  • An excellent software for discovering places to park your campervan or RV, even free ones, is called Park4Night.
  • Flush is a useful tool for locating bathrooms in public areas.
  • Petrol costs: When you need to refill, this app helps you search and compare local gas costs.
  1. Take a paper map with you.

A paper map is something I always pack on road trips. I know that mobile data service in Scotland is generally dependable, and that Google Maps is simple and free to use. To be safe, though, is preferable to be sorry. You never know when an emergency may arise, when your phone may malfunction, or when you may lose signal when traveling through a rural location.

Bring a paper road map and merely store it in the glove box to give yourself peace of mind. Though it is unlikely, you will be happy you have it in case you do (they also make excellent post-trip mementos).

  1. Know How to Operate a Vehicle on a Single-Track Road

You might run upon single-track roads as you leave the cities. In essence, these are one-way highways with only one spot for a car. This implies that there will not be any space for you to pass one another if you come across oncoming traffic.

Thankfully, passing zones are typically incorporated into these highways at regular intervals, allowing vehicles to stop and make room. When you observe traffic approaching, take advantage of these to make it easier for you to pass one another.

Additionally, on single-track roads, proceed cautiously at curves. Because you are sharing a lane with oncoming traffic, accidents can happen here. Thus, drive cautiously and be ready to stop at any time.

Finally, remember that a lot of single-track roads can be a little rough. Blowing a tire is a common occurrence, particularly when you have to pull over to give way to oncoming traffic. Because of this, just to be cautious, make sure you have a spare tire and that your tires are covered by insurance.

  1. Take Your Time

Even though Scotland is a small country, there are plenty of things to see and do there. Although it could be tempting to rush so you can fit more into your schedule, I highly advise against it. What matters most is quality rather than quantity. From my numerous road travels around the globe, I have learned that going slower is always preferable. This entails making fewer stops and taking longer at each one. You will be able to experience far more of Scotland’s distinct culture if you do that.

It is also likely that you will be traveling on a number of tiny, twisting roads here, where you may frequently come across wandering farm animals to be cautious of. This implies that you should slow down and give your driving your full attention for safety’s sake. Enjoy the sights, allow time for impromptu detours, and put aside the idea of seeing everything at once. You will not be sorry!

Recommended Paths

Scotland has a few well-traveled road trip routes. They vary in what they have to offer in terms of sights and activities, as well as in how long they take to finish. Choose the path that best fits your travel preferences to make the most of your time.

Here’s a brief overview of some of Scotland’s top road trip routes: