10 VERY Important Things To Know Before Visiting Scotland

Just a little research before taking off!

Edinburgh Scotland
Photo: Wendy Hung

Before last week, I had never been to Scotland nor had I heard much about it. Shamefully, I booked my trip during the very last minute only to arrive with A LOT of mishaps and surprises. Below are just a few things that I wish I knew before the trip, maybe this is a tough lesson on researching just a bit more prior to taking off.

1. Pack a raincoat. 

You’ll soon notice in Scotland, locals don’t carry umbrellas. Everyone wears a raincoat, since the wind can be so harsh that umbrellas will be blown upside down the second you step outside. So make sure your suitcase contains a raincoat for ready to wear.

2. Expect wind in Edinburgh and rain in Glasgow.

You’ll most likely tackle two major cities in Scotland: Edinburgh and Glasgow. Be prepared that the wind in Edinburgh is harsh, so strong that it’ll make your eyes water. And think of Glasgow as the Seattle of America’s West Coast, with rainfalls during most months of the year.

3. Both highlands and the isles are must-see’s. 

But plan adequate days for both areas, or just do separate trips. The landscape in highlands is globally known for its majestic beauty. Meanwhile, a trip to Scotland isn’t complete without isle-hopping to check out various whiskey distilleries.

4. Let your guest house host know when you’ll be arriving.

If you’re not staying at a hotel or at an Airbnb apartment, then you’ll most likely be staying at a guest house, which is basically a Scottish bed and breakfast. After your booking, be in contact with the guest house to let them know the time of your arrival. This is crucial since the door can only be accessed by guests who have already checked in.

5. The Scottish are REALLY friendly people. 

They don’t have attitudes, they’re extremely helpful to travelers, they’re…simply the best! The Scottish are probably one of the nicest and friendliest people I’ve ever encountered, compared to folks from other regions in the U.K. So be prepared to make new friends.

6. Keep to the left, especially if you’re not used to it.

To prevent from being run over by cars while crossing the streets, travelers need to adapt to “keep to the left” etiquette. For many who come from countries that keep to the right, this may take awhile to get used to. But adapt quickly for your own safety while walking and exploring the city.

7. Know what haggis is. 

The ONE Scottish dish you’ll need to try is: haggis. But know what it is ahead of time, so you’re not surprised by exactly what you’re consuming. A traditional dish from the highlands, haggis is a savory mash of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs. Minced with oats, spices, onion, salt and stock, then encased in a sheep’s stomach. With a side of potatoes and leaks, it is absolutely delicious.

8. First-class train cabins are totally worth it!

For just a few more bucks, the seats are wider, comfier with free beverage. Not to mention, there’s also Wi-Fi and electrical sockets to charge your tech gadgets. Even if travel time between Edinburgh and Glasgow is only an hour, having an upgraded experiences on the train is worthy of a few more $$.

9. The Scottish and Irish consider themselves like brothers, but when it comes to the Brits…

Here’s something you might want to know in case you don’t let the wrong verbiage slip out. From my conversation with most locals, the Scottish and the Irish are consider themselves almost like brothers since migration between the two lands have long been established throughout history due to their close proximity. Following the Great Famine in the 19th century, many Irish migrated to Scotland’ Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow. Their feelings toward England, however, may contain a similar resentment or negative feeling. For further self-education on their personal feelings, feel free to discover on your own by conversing with taxi drivers and locals.

10. Scottish whiskey and cokes taste…well, like candy.

These will be the best Scottish whiskey & cokes you’ll ever have in your life. Making them not only delicious but enticingly dangerous. Wink!

Wendy Hung

CEO, FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and Russia because they were all so different! St. Bart's was pretty amazing too (wink)!

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