Ohhhh, fellow Droughtlanders...it’s tough to see the photo teasers and the Twitter feeds blow up with sneak peaks. After endless binge-watching and social media updates, we are still yearning for Season 4!
You’re not alone, fellow Sassenach.
If you are a member of the various Outlander Fan Pages, or follow on Twitter, Instagram, et al, you’ve been viewing posts from fans who took the plunge and visited that lush, lovely country, the verra country that has sheltered our favorite fictional couple, Claire and Jamie.
To help those of you jumping across the pond soon to see the Outlander film locations and all the beauty that Scotland offers, I have some special clothing and miscellaneous tips to prepare for all of its wonders. (I've included some helpful shopping ideas plus some direct links to recommended brands on the sidebar of this post.) Because, when visiting misty Scotland, we don’t have time to frown at rain. We have to work with the weather and basically, own it and trek it (like a native Scot).
With that in mind...
Know the Climate(s).
Determine the climate for the month, the season, and find the current and past average temperatures, using a web search...Even for summertime travelers, know before you go. If you are like me, humid temperatures can mess with your health.
So...layers are best in Scotland
Scotland’s weather is very tricky, or in other words, consistently fickle. One minute the sun may be peeking out to smile upon you, and the next, a mist of raindrops are swirling in the air.
That said, your clothing choices are key. And since time is of the essence when you are traveling, you must be prepared for any conditions--there's no time to go back to grab forgotten items.
After my own visit in August, I was relieved that I was properly prepared to trek throughout the Lowlands and Highlands, without breaking the bank. So, start making that all-important list to ensure you are comfortable and enjoying every minute of that beautiful country.
*Most of my recommendations are based on the weather we experienced in late August.*
Here are my top 5 must-have items to stay super-comfortable in Scotland (or Northern Europe):
1. The perfect jacket for Scotland
Water-proof, wind-resistant & warm
Super-lightweight & packable (The weight and material aids in packing and it won’t weigh you down & you can easily tie the jacket around your waist if nature suddenly decides to warm up).
Zippered pockets, inside and out (for quick access to cameraphone, tickets, cash)
A hood for blustery conditions (it should have a way to keep the hood on your head)
Optional: a length to reach the top of my thighs (Why? To keep your bottom warm and dry, too!)
~~I chose a very light-weight North Face windbreaker jacket. I found it discounted at TJ Maxx--It was a little extra roomy, but I like good air flow, especially in humid conditions, and when moving indoors and outdoors throughout the day. ~~
Note: If you are traveling between mid-October through late April, you should also consider those wonderful, ultra-light jacket/coats, with special fill to keep you warm, but not sweating! Just follow the above list of features to guide you with your purchase. And you don’t have to overspend here, either--I found one in a great color for around $40. It came with a nylon bag attached to the inside, so I could fold/roll it up and tuck it neatly.
The packability is superb.
2. Footwear for Scotland
This is huge. Nothing ruins a sightseeing day faster than blisters or soaking wet feet (yuk!).
The Isle of Skye and the Braemar Highland Games were on our list, and required some form of off-the-beaten-path walking shoes. I already had a pair of black athletic shoes, but they weren’t waterproof. And shoes are a true dilemma when packing, due to bulk and weight.
But I found two top choices which checked all the boxes of comfort, durability, packability, and price:
Sloggers and/or Crocs Puffy Boot
We’ll start with:
Waterproof & Made in the USA!
A terrific tread
Comfortable! **Soooo comfortable!**
Versatility. They double as a garden shoe, so your money is well spent if you enjoy tending to flowers or vegetables.
The company sells various heights, colors and patterned styles, so if you’re not crazy about some of the patterns, don’t worry, there are some tame ones, too. I bought the ones cut about an inch above the ankle for a little more protection, because I really hate wet feet (except in the shower or on the beach, of course). Sloggers were super easy to remove, too.
The only Slogger downside:
They are a bit heavier than the Crocs, so a bit more weight is added to your suitcase. I took them anyway, and wore them to both Skye and the Braemar Highland Games, where the weather changed on a dime several times and mud puddles formed quickly. I found that I could 'trekit' in Sloggers all day long.
P.S. You can find great deals for Sloggers occasionally on a particular group merchant/marketplace website (it rhymes with ‘coupon’).
Another great option with all of the same features as the Sloggers is:
the Crocs Puffy Boot.
The material above the ankle of the Crocs Puffy Boot is made of nylon, which gave both protection from the elements and kept it super-lightweight.
Crocs flats/skimmers: I know, I know, you fashionistas are wearing the shocked look, but hear me out. To committed travelers in the know, Crocs shoes are indispensable.
They are the perfect fusion of comfort, shock absorbency and... weightlessness.
Translation: you can take more shoes with you!
Crocs also go beyond their famous multi-holed clog---there are skimmers and flats that look great, are comfortable, and have traction. They are pack-friendly, affordable, and can be dressy or casual. And again, they’re light as a feather!
3. A Versatile Travel Bag
Bags are just as tricky as Scottish weather. Everything is really a matter of preference, but don’t forget security. My advice is to take a bag with a crossbody strap to keep your bag close to you and so it won’t fall off of your arm and knock things over with all of the shopping and castle-visiting you will be doing.
~~Please note: Many sites of interest (museums & attractions) do not allow you to carry a backpack into their facilities, and lockers are rare. Make your daytime bag selections carefully.
Taking the advice of flight attendants, check out the Baggalini line of travel bags. Designed by our heroines of the skies, these satchels have all the details figured out, with lots of compartments, durability, strength, (and yes, they are light on the shoulder!), to provide you with essentials on-the-go.
My top-rated bag, if you are a minimalist, is a Baggalini about 6 x 5 inches (give or take), it has so many pockets and features, I can’t list them all here. It’s so light, and fits my point and shoot camera, my important cards, money, lip balm, tissues, a pen, keys, and cell phone, plus a few other needed odds and ends.
Another quality option are bags and luggage by Tumi. Though pricey, these high-end bags defy thieves who cut straps with their own ballistic nylon material. If you are committed to traveling for years to come, this is an excellent choice. Tumi’s design team understands the abuse that bags and luggage endure and have engineered their line to withstand the worst. An extra security feature is the barcode built into their products, so if you experience lost luggage hell, this will reunite you with your belongings.
4. Daypacks: A lightweight, more compact option such as a daypack is always in order. These are handy for the flight, for budget-friendly picnic lunches, or to help carry your specialty camera. Look for durability and weather protection, too.
~~And now a special word to: Scotland trekkers traveling in the months of June-Sept:
5. Midge protection!!!!!
What are midges?
They are small biting insects that enjoy swarming around your flesh, eager to nibble. If you will be in the Highlands of Scotland, you need midge protection.
Avon Skin So Soft
After a discussion with our native Scots friends, their recommendation is to use what the Scottish Army uses..Avon Skin So Soft.
Remember, if the bottle you’ve purchased is more than 3 ounces, you can always fill small, empty spray bottles sold at a discount store.
**Just test the spray mechanism before you go.
Repellent netting --a completely chemical-free option.
Your local sporting goods stores may carry these. We found ones that you wear like a scarf around your neck and you can adjust them to cover your entire head, if necessary.
They weigh next to nothing and are small enough to fit into a jacket pocket. With these two easy defenses, you can relax and experience the beauty, not the bite.
‘Trekit’ pants (that don’t quit):
What do I mean by Trekit pants? It’s not a label...yet. I simply mean that I was one happy trekker to ditch most of my traditional types of pants in favor of the most comfortable pants I own: yoga pants!
Taking these ‘queens of comfort’ was one of the best decisions I have ever made while traveling. But, any kind of stretchy and uber-comfortable pant that you love is a winner! If you choose from darker colors such as black, brown, dark gray, or navy, you can mix and match many different styles of tops. Stick with the same tones or hues, and you will have multiple options.
There are plenty of very lightweight blouses that don’t wrinkle and continue to look great during sightseeing, and do double-duty in a dressier restaurant or special event.
I also took 1-2 pairs of very lightweight dress pants which were simple, no-fuss/no-iron pull-ons. Nylon and spandex materials were woven in for comfort and durability. These combinations were my basic foundation, and I selected my tops based on weight, color, and packability.
Last, but not least:
Scarves are a perfect foil. They...
~Cover up stains (just in case!).
~Add that dash of color(s)...and dress up an outfit.
~Can keep you extra warm or give you a break from relentless wind.
**I recommend taking at least one scarf that can work as a pashmina, too. Your other scarves should be made of material that is very lightweight, so you can take a few more, of course.
So, there you have it. A very simple list of must-haves for a comfortable and cozy trip to Scotland.
If you’ve been to the British Isles or Ireland, or other parts of Northern Europe, please share in the comments what must-have(s) you took along for the ride.
Remember, the lighter you pack, the more you can bring home!
P.S. Need some tips for driving UK-style (or as some would say: driving on the wrong/opposite side of the road)? Read my post to prepare and stay happy and safe while driving in Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, etc! Click here.