What to pack for Scotland
For most countries what to bring with you would be a simple task, but of course, Scotland is different.
People in Scotland tend to make use of charity shops when they are needing something that is not for the long term, and that is the best bet for you if you have forgotten something.
Also, major supermarket chains like Tesco or Asda carry a range of very affordable clothing and other items such as toiletries So don’t panic if you have forgotten something.
The hosts of the place you are staying at will be happy to give you directions to the nearest retailer, just let them know what you are looking for. We like to help
If you have prescription medicine make sure you have a prescription recently dated in case you need to stock up when you’re here and to stop any miss understandings at border control
Tobacco and alcohol are expensive in Scotland due to government taxes. You are allowed to bring in alcohol and tobacco products, but there is a limit
To keep this up to date you should check this website when planning your trip for information on what you are allowed to bring in before you need to pay taxes
It is worth noting that the allowances are for 17 years old and above.
So if you are bringing triplets still in the buggy do not think you can add another 12 litres of hooch for their consumption.
If you are over the limit you just need to pay the tax on the excess amount or give it up.
There are certain banned items you should not bring with you including weapons of any kind, all the normal controlled drugs and some foods and plants.
Check this website if you are in any doubt.
There are only 2 considerations for what to wear if you want to blend in. weather and comfort
I am not going to insult your intelligence by giving you a list of how much underwear you need to bring
Scotland does not have a dress code and most people dress very casually no matter what the occasion.
Scots are also non-judgemental about clothing.
We wear a Kilt with a dagger (Skean Dhu) in our sock and a furry bag on our crotch so how could we be judgemental about clothing
One Nation Many Weathers
The western part of Scotland is affected by the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the wettest areas in Europe receiving 180 inches of rain annually.
The east side is more affected by the North Sea and so cooler but has a lot less rain at just 34 inches of rain.
Scotland is a very windy country with the north and west being the windiest.
The islands can have up to 30 days of gale-force winds a year This needs to be factored into your plans as you may get stuck for a day or two.
Again, for a small country, the weather patterns are very diverse. The further North you go in general the more snow you will see and for longer periods.
Aberdeen in the North East has an average of 45 inches of snow and has 34 snow days a year.
Edinburgh will see only 18 Inches a year over 22 days
If we look at Tiree, in the inner Hebrides off the west coast they only get 11 days of snow and just 2 inches.
If You Don’t Like The Weather In Scotland – Wait 5 Minutes
So now I have given you all these figures it seems pretty easy to plan to pack for Scotland right?
Err – no.
Have you ever noticed that anytime you ask about Scottish weather you seem to get such different answers?
Here are examples of why it can be hard to advise on your packing list
Hottest day 91 F —–Coldest Day -17 F
That’s a 108 Degree Difference!
The strongest wind recorded was 172 MPH with another unofficial reading of 194 MPH in 2008. A Category 5 Hurricane is “only” 157 Mph!
Maximum Sunshine in one month 329 hours and the minimum – 36 Minutes.
Snow days can range from 105 in the highlands to 12 days on the western coast.
Rain in Scotland in December 2005 70 Inches – Rain in April 2020 1.1 Inches.
The distance from Edinburgh to Aberdeen is just 92 miles but the 2 locations have completely different weather patterns (and accents but that is a different story)
So as you can see advising on a packing list is very dependent on 3 factors
Factor 1 – The Time Of Year
The year can be split roughly into 3 non-equal parts
December / January / February / March
You can expect short days with the sun only being seen for a few hours in December and January but the days will start to get longer later in February and March
On the last Sunday in March, the Clocks are turned 1 hour forward and the evenings start to be lighter until later in the evening.
Temperature-wise you can expect an average of 40℉ or 4.5℃. Wrapping up warm time of the year. This is time for the BIG jacket
April / May / June / July / August
In the middle months, the weather is warmer and somewhat more stable with lots of evening daylight hours.
You can expect daytime highs of around 18 C 64F but rain is never far away depending on where you are.
September / October / November
The clocks go back 1 hour on the last Sunday of October and the nights start getting longer.
By the 3rd week of December, the sun does not rise until after 8:30 am and is gone again just after 3:30 PM
Temperatures are getting colder as the months count down for the new year.
In September we can still get have fine stable warm weather, by October it’s falling to 45 F.
Factor 2 – Location
North South East or West Scotland is always best
Cities make your packing list pretty easy. If you are planning to visit the city’s and large towns in Scotland then the weather is not going to cause you many dilemmas in what to pack.
So you can choose the standard list below
Should the wilder places of Scotland be more your thing and you expect to be most of the day away from your accommodation you need lightweight and waterproof gear.
Your footwear needs to be strong and designed for the outdoors.
Factor 3 – Activities
You will know your packing list if you have special activities planned such as mountaineering, skiing and wild camping.
Specialist gear for adventure activities can be hired and even pre-ordered and delivered to where you are staying
Day trip activists such as hillwalking, Trecking and easy Munro or Corbett bagging, requires
- Comfortable and breathable fast drying trousers
- Next to skin garment that is wicking
- Lightweight fully waterproof (and windproof) jacket
Adventure companies that offer activities that need special equipment will have them ready to hire or will be included.
Special items to Think About
The UK law is that children under 12 must be secured in a car seat that is strapped into the car if they are under 4ft 5 inches.
Check with your car hire company if you can hire a seat through them. US approved car seats are not legal in the UK.
Check any electrical items that you need to plug or charge from UK power can be connected to a 240V system.
Many but not all hotels will have a 110V outlet in the room but most non-hotel accommodation will not have.
If you are bringing a medical prescription the prescription should mention the active ingredients not just the brand name of the medicine.
Food allergies. In the city, you should find no problem meeting all your dietary considerations -When leaving the city’s – plan and check accordingly
Inform your bank and credit card company of the dates you are travelling.
Access an ATM in the first few days to check all is working. Have your bank contact details in case the transaction fails.
American Express is often not taken. Visa and/or Mastercard are the best choice. But you will need cash if visiting smaller places.
Prepaid sim cards that you can top up are available from Phoneshops and Supermarkets. They work for both calls and data and are a lot cheaper than roaming charges.
Many places also sell cheap phones with an active sim installed with load credit ready for use preinstalled.
The List – Pack for Scotland
Excluding your travelling clothes
- 1 small day use backpack
- 2 pair trouser (Dry quick – minimum iron style)
- 3 next to body tee shirt
- 2 Thicker Shirts
- 2 light Jumper
- 1 Lightwight shower proof Jacket
- Casual Hat (Baseball / woolen)
- Comfortable walking shoes / trainers (street use)
Day trip out of city adventures visiting castles Etc
- Micro quick-dry towel
- Off street Walking boots (Light weight)
- Chapstick for lips
Hillclimbing / Ben Nevis / Hiking / Off track
- Specialist walking boots / socks
- Fold-small fully waterproof Jacket and Trousers
- Woolen / Beanie hat
- Spare Phone battery / power bank
I tend to be a lightweight traveller and I would be more than happy with the above packing list in addition to your personal and comfort items.
Once again anything you forget can easily and cheaply be bought in Scotland from charity shops and supermarkets so don’t overthink your packing list.
Now you know how to pack for Scotland you are one step closer to getting here
Let me know your thoughts in the comments – Did I miss something?
Clan Forbes is a highland Scottish clan originating in the Aberdeenshire district of Scotland. … The clan motto is Grace, me guide, which means, “it is God’s grace that leads us” but is sometimes interpreted as having good fortune on your journey
So I wish you good fortune
Please leave a comment below and let me know how you got on. What did you pack for Scotland? Any tips I can pass on to other readers?