We love road-tripping around Scotland. Despite being a small country, there is just so much beauty to take in in Scotland. Because we’ve done our fair share of road trips around Scotland, we’d like to offer some advice if you’re planning your first Scottish road trip!
We’ll leave out the more standard tips for all road trips, like ensuring your car is in good working order, sticking to speed limits, checking the weather forecast, and bringing water and snacks, just to name a few. Instead, we’ll cater our tips around Scotland specifically. Let’s dive in!
1. Download Offline Maps Before Travelling
Some areas of Scotland might not have data, so before you take off on your road trip, download offline maps on the Google Maps app for where you’ll be travelling. This will ensure that even without data, you’ll know where you’re going and won’t get lost.
2. Give Yourself Extra Time to Drive to Your Destination
Google Maps may tell you that it takes 5 hours 16 minutes to drive from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye, but don’t take it literally. Give yourself at least 7 or 8 hours to allow for stops to stretch your legs, eat some snacks, and take photos of the scenery (because you will want to stop for photos!).
A safe bet usually is to tack on at least 1 to 2 hours to the estimated driving time provided by Google Maps. This will ensure you’re not feeling rushed for time. This is also especially useful if you have to take any ferries during your road trip as you’ll want to arrive nice and early.
3. Familiarise Yourself with Driving on the Left Side of the Road
Even if you’re visiting from a country that drives on the right side of the road, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get used to driving on the left side. Your brain will (or should) automatically mirror all of the rules. The only issue that I personally found was being used to sitting on the left side of the car, so I would keep drifting too close to the middle of the road, but it’s something that can easily be adjusted.
Along with this, please understand how to use single track roads! Single track roads are quite common in rural areas, where there is – indeed – a single track road with passing places. If a car is coming towards you and the passing place is on your right side, stay on the road and let the other car go into the passing place. Of course, if the passing place is on your left side, then you should go into the passing place. There may also be instances where you don’t see a car coming until it’s right there in front of you and one of you has to back up into a passing place. Use common sense – whoever is closest to the last passing place should be the one backing up. Some exceptions may be made if you are driving on a hill.
The other thing to note is that if you are driving on a single track road and it appears a local is behind you, let them pass as they’re likely in a bigger rush than you are. You can usually spot the locals by how fast they’re driving. If a car has magically popped up in your rearview mirror, it’s probably a local!
4. If There’s a Toilet, Use It!
Scotland is not a country that was built with the intention of people taking road trips. There are no service areas dotted every few kilometres for your convenience. This is why if you happen to come across a toilet, even if you don’t need to go at the moment, use it!
Now, where might you find toilets? Grocery shops will typically have toilets you can use. Some tourist attractions do have toilets, though quieter attractions will often have signs asking for a donation in order to keep the toilets in use, so please donate if you do use them.
5. Bring Midge Repellent!
We’ve written about midges in a previous blog post. Essentially, they resemble fruit flies and come in swarms in northwest Scotland between May and September. They bite any part of your skin that is exposed, creating itchy welts.
If you will be visiting any part of Scotland that is known to have midges, be sure to bring your midge repellent! Refer to our blog post for our favourite midge repellent.
Overall, it’s most important to remember to enjoy the drive! Don’t try to rush to your destination – Scotland is an incredibly beautiful country where the drive is part of the journey.
We hope you found these tips useful! Which one did you like the best? Let us know in the comments!