Scotland Travel Planning
General Travel Information
Scotland is a nation in north-western Europe, the second-largest of the constituent nations of the United Kingdom. It has a sixty mile land border with England to the south, and is separated from Northern Ireland by the North Channel of the Irish Sea. Its major cities are Edinburgh, the capital, with its iconic hilltop castle, and Glasgow, famed for its vibrant cultural scene.
Scotland is surrounded by the bracing waters of the North Sea to the east, and the North Atlantic Ocean to the west and north. There are over 700 islands, mostly in groups to the west (the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides) and north (Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands).
Scotland is a beautiful country well known for its dramatic scenery of mountains and valleys, rolling hills, green fields and forests, and rugged coastline. While everyone knows the Highlands for this, Scotland is beautiful in the Lowlands, islands and the flat lands of the North-East as well.
Travel light, the less the better. We suggest enough clothes to make it halfway through your stay, and then have your laundry done. Most hotels offer laundry service; however, this service can be expensive.
Essentials: A rain suit; hat; two pairs of waterproof golf shoes; a few sweaters (two light & one heavy); one sports jacket; two dress shirts; and one tie (certain clubs require a tie be worn in the clubhouse). For ladies, we recommend casual evening wear. Don’t forget that wet weather is not uncommon, so bring your umbrella and rain gear.
We highly recommend traveling with a light carry golf bag in a canvas style carrying case. Large golf bags and hard carrying cases can cause problems when traveling since it takes up a lot of vehicle space.
Scotland, like the rest of the United Kingdom, is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). In the spring, the clock is moved forward one hour for British Summer Time, and in the fall, it is moved back again to GMT. In June and early July, it can stay light until 10 pm and after, especially in the north of Scotland.
Scotland is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
When it is 12 noon in Scotland, it is:
- 7 am in New York, Montreal, Atlanta, and Miami
- 6 am in Chicago, Dallas, and Winnipeg
- 4 am in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Vancouver
To call home to the US direct, dial 001 followed by the area code and phone number. If you decide to call from your hotel room, always check the cost as an additional service charge is generally added by the hotel. These charges can be expensive! You can have your mobile phone activated by your service provider to use it either for text messages only or text and call.
Customs operates on the red & green channel system. For more detailed information, we suggest visiting www.customs.gov on the Internet.
Britain’s currency is the Pound Sterling (£), which is divided into 100 pence (p). Notes are issued to the value of £50, £20, £10, £5 and £1 pound in Scotland. Coins are issued to the values of £1 pound, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p and 1p.
Sales Tax Refunds
American visitors can reclaim the 17.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on purchases over a minimum limit (check with the store for their limit). Ask for a tax-free shopping form with each purchase and follow the simple instructions. At the airport, you can claim your refund at the customs desk. If you have your purchases shipped home by the store, the tax will be deducted by the store on the spot.
Restaurant & Pub Hours
Most restaurants are open for lunch from 12:00–2:30 and then re-open for dinner from 6:00–midnight. However, it is important to check with each establishment as hours vary greatly. Pubs generally close around 11 pm on the weekdays; however, many do have a ”late license” on weekends. Most pubs also serve coffee, snacks, and meals.
It is customary (but not necessary) to tip where a service charge is not already included. Waiters, tour guides, porters, caddies, and even taxi drivers will accept a tip when offered. A tip of 10–15% is appropriate in most cases.
Note: For a prepaid day transfers we recommend a tip of £15 to £20 depending on the distance.
Golf Club Information
Visitors are welcome in the clubhouses in Scotland but please note that certain private clubs have restrictions for non-members (which you will be advised of if necessary. After golf smart casual attire is suggested.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Many clubs throughout the U.K. will not allow golf shoes (spiked or spike less) in the clubhouse. We advise bringing a pair of street shoes with you to each golf course.
Caddies / Carts
Caddies are available at most golf clubs and can be requested in advance by The Golf Travel Group. When requested, we will book caddies in advance, however this does not guarantee availability (caddies are self-employed and supply can change on a daily basis). Caddies fees are paid direct on the day of play in local currency (caddy fees average £45 to £55 plus tip per round). It is important to note that many golfers do opt for the use of pull-carts which can always be arranged on the day of play for a nominal fee. Riding carts (buggies) are available but only on a very limited basis (please contact us for details).
Please make sure that all members of your party carry a valid handicap card from their home club (we do collect in advance). Certain courses have restrictions and the club secretary may require that you show your card to verify your handicap. ”Letters of introduction” are no longer acceptable as an alternative to handicap cards.
We’ve all heard plenty of jokes about the Scottish weather — but most of them aren’t true! Scotland’s climate is actually quite moderate and very changeable, although on occasion it does get rather warm or really cold weather. As the old Scottish saying goes, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!’
Despite being a relatively small country, one of the most surprising things about the Scottish climate is just how much it varies from one region to another. It’s often the case that you can drive for 20 minutes and find that the conditions are completely different. The unpredictable nature of the climate means it’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day!
During the spring months you can expect average maximum temperatures to range from approximately 7°C (45°F) to 15 °C (60°F) during the months of March, April and May.
The summer months of June, July and August are normally the warmest months in Scotland, with average maximum temperatures ranging from approximately 15°C (60°F) to 19°C (69 °F). Scotland’s high latitude means that they enjoy lovely long summer days and often an extended twilight.
In the Autumn (or Fall), Scotland is likely to experience temperatures ranging from around 8°C (46°F) to 14°C (58°F) from September to November. The colors of autumn are eye-catching and vibrant.
December, January and February are generally the coldest months in Scotland, with the average maximum temperature usually around 5°C (40°F). The average number of days with snow falling in Scotland ranges from 15 to 20 days.
Other Items To Know
Glasgow (west coast / Glasgow Airport). Edinburgh (east coast / Edinburgh Airport). Inverness (Highlands / Inverness Airport). Aberdeen (North east coast / Aberdeen Airport).
70 mph/112 kph on a motorway or dual carriageway, 60 mph/96 kph on single carriageways, 30 mph/48 kph in built-up areas, or as otherwise directed by road signs.
IN SCOTLAND YOU DRIVE ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE ROAD!
Passport & Drivers’ License
A valid U.S., Canadian or other national passport is required. To drive a car, a valid driver’s license is sufficient.
Travelers checks are safer to carry than cash and can be used in most places. Be sure to check the exchange rates at both banks and Bureau de Change if you choose to carry US dollar travelers checks as rates can differ.
Credit Cards & ATMs
Most credit cards are widely accepted and are useful for buying gas, shopping, dining out, etc. The most widely used are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. ATMs are available all over the country, but check with your local bank for compatibility and charges before you travel. In addition, be sure to advise your credit card company that you are traveling and will be using your credit card for purchases overseas.
Golf Handicap Card
Please make sure that all members of your party carry a valid handicap card from their home club. Certain courses may require that you show your card to verify your handicap.
In Scotland, electricity is at 220 or 240 volts; therefore, an adaptor is necessary for most electrical appliances. Some of the better hotels have sockets for electric razors at 110 volts. The best place to purchase such an adaptor is before your flight at the international airport duty free shop, as they are not generally stocked in local stores.
Vacation Travel Insurance
There are varieties of travel insurance that cover everything from health and accident costs, to lost baggage and trip cancellation. They can be obtained with one blanket policy, or they may overlap with coverage you already have. It is best to consult your insurance agent to determine what coverage is best for you.