Who else loves driving? And the absolute best way to see Scotland is on a road trip. Going by car means you can take everything you need, and then some. But don’t ruin your trip by forgetting the essentials. I compiled this packing list for your road trip to help you avoid those packing mistakes on your next trip. Happy travels!
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Everything for your car
- Warning triangle and high-visibility vest
- Vehicle documents and registration and driving licence
- Most of the cars have a GPS, however, this is not always working in the remote part of Scotland. I would encourage you to have a backup with Google or an offline map on your phone. This Mobile phone holder can be used for dashboard/air vent/windscreen
The paper map is essential in the remote parts of Scotland. There are places where there is no phone signal or Wi-Fi and GPS is not always accurate. This 2021 Collins Road Map Scotland map will help you out.
To help you with planning and to provide some inspiration, there are some excellent travel guides to read before you go. I would recommend Lonely Planet Scotland
And of course, you can always refer to my recourse page for Scottish guide books recommendations
Travel adaptor plug
This is an essential item for your road trip, as the UK has a different plug configuration. Travelling with many electronic items now is handy to have at least two adaptors if you travelling with a companion
Credit cards and money
Take on board that in some places in Scotland you can pay only by card or only by cash. Having said that, it seems more and more contactless cards are being rolled out by retailers across Scotland, but in some remote places, it is likely you’ll have to pay by cash. There is a £100 spending limit for contactless cards. Remember that £50 notes are not common in use and shops can refuse to accept the notes. Check beforehand with your accommodation provider, especially small B&B, what method of payment they accept.
Printed map and emergency contacts
I would recommend having both GPS and a paper map. Internet and Wi-Fi in some regions might be very patchy or have no signal at all. Postcodes in GPS systems can often cover a large area of ground. Make sure you have directions to your accommodation for each evening, as you won’t always have a phone signal in the more remote areas. Also, remember to keep all your emergency contacts in a safe place like this travel organiser
Snacks and water
You should always keep a spare bottle of water in your car. In the winter a thermos flask might help to keep you warm or for caffeine fix during the drive or hike use AeroPress which is lightweight, compact and portable. This coffee maker makes delicious coffee in less than a minute (provided you already have hot boiling water with you in your thermos flask).
- My recommendation would be the Sony RX100 VII compact camera which is light and pocket-size.
- Battery pack
- Memory card
Prepared for any kind of weather
Be prepared for four seasons in one day! Scottish weather is extremely changeable! Layers are important, along with comfortable waterproof shoes or boots, and a waterproof jacket. If you’re visiting between June and September, midge repellent is advised.
Also, suncream is essential, you can burn in Scotland, even when it’s cloudy. A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVB should be worn.
Charging cable and power bank
The last thing you want to do is run out of power for your electronics when you are on the road. I carry a portable power back that keeps all of our electronics charged.
A Scottish playlist and audiobooks
- A road trip audiobook with a difference. Stars of Outlander – Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish – explore Scotland, a land of raw beauty, poetry, feuding, music, history and warfare.
- History of Scotland audiobook: A Captivating Guide to Scottish History, the Wars of Scottish Independence and William Wallace
- Popular Scottish Songs playlist
- Listen to the podcast Stories of Scotland. Recorded in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, Annie and Jenny straddle rural and urban identities, caring about forgotten or misrepresented histories & environments on the edge
First aid kit and Sanitisers
I cannot recommend highly enough hiking poles. This is a must-have for anyone who wants to protect their knees from the impact of walking. Hiking poles are a perfect companion on uneven trails. These hiking poles were good enough to support my husband’s hip when climbing Old Man of Storr. Also foldable, lightweight and easy to carry.
Picnic basket and blanket
You can picnic along the shores of a lake, in the country park or on the top of Munro. All you need is your picnic blanket and some regional delicacies.
In the winter, a warm blanket is essential when stranded in the middle of a Scottish blizzard. This Arcturus wool blankets will definitely keep you warm, also excellent for camping.
I will never forget the day when we were driving through Royal Deeside and spotted a group of people. We stopped the car and noticed they observed something up in the air. It was a time that I wished I had binoculars with me. We missed the wonderful sight of the Golden Eagle.
Swiss Army Knife
A Swiss army knife is essential for the trip. Compact, agile and ready to face any adventure head-on. Also, a survival tool when you do not have anything to open a bottle of wine.