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If you’re planning a trip to beautiful, rugged Scotland in Winter you may not know what to pack. Scotland can get a wee bit cold in the winter so its important to prepare your clothes appropriately. In countries like Scotland where winter jackets are a must you may have some trouble keeping your luggage within airline weight limits. Don’t stress though, this packing list will get you sorted.
First, some fun facts about Scotland.
Did you know that Scotland is made up of around 800 small islands? With 660 of the islands uninhabited, the country has many untouched and pristine islands ready to be explored. The country also prides itself on being home to the world’s tallest hedge which is 1,700 feet in length and 100 foot high. Additionally, it is also home to one of Europe’s oldest trees (3000 years old.)
When it comes to its cities, Edinburgh city gets to hosts one of the largest performing arts festivals in the world. The festival is held in the summer season and is known to attract 300,000 people annually from all over the world. Nonetheless, the winter season has its fair share of outdoor activities for those with a sense of adventure.
So there’s a ton of different things to see, even in winter.
Keep reading for a comprehensive winter packing list to make sure you enjoy a unique holiday. It’s perfect for a 1-2 week trip.
When to Visit Scotland: Weather and Seasons
What to Wear in Scotland in Fall (September, October, November): Since Fall weather can vary, layers are essential for an amazing trip to Scotland. Due to the expected rain during the three months, you should not forget to pack a warm sweater. Additionally, a waterproof jacket or a backpack size umbrella would also come in handy when you are going out. Note that, the average temperature in Scotland usually ranges from 8oC to 14oC/46oF-57oF from September to November.
What to Wear in Scotland in Winter (December, January, February): Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland’s average temperature is usually lower. The coastal areas are significantly warmer than central of the northern region with temperatures ranging from 5oC to – 5oC/41oF to23oF. Since most of the time the weather tends to be rainy with wet snow especially in Edinburgh and outside Glasgow, make sure you wear warm clothes. Apart from a cozy sweater or jacket, remember to also wear a warm raincoat when on the move.
What to Wear in Scotland in Spring (March, April, May): Despite the uncertainty in weather, spring in Scotland is still quite cool. The southern coastal areas temperature is slightly warm while the north-east region snowfalls are present even at the beginning of April. Nonetheless, April is the sunniest month of the three months with temperature varying from 5oC-20oC (40oF- 68oF). Overall, the average temperature for the three months is appropriately 7oC to13oC/45F to 55oF. Therefore, because of its chilly weather most of the time, wear layered clothes and a trench coat.
What to Wear in Scotland in Summer (June, July, August): Although it’s a darling season for locals as well as tourists due to its warmer weather, the three months of summer often encounters rain. The rain and cold weather is mostly found in western regions of Scotland so packing some sweaters or a light jacket is still necessary. Although the weather is unpredictable, July and August are the hottest months with the temperature reaching up to 25oC/77oF. However, the nights are quite chilly with temperatures dropping to 9oC/48.2oF
What to Wear in Scotland in Winter
How to Dress for Winter in Scotland:
- A pair of warm boots
- 1 pair of flats
- 1 pair of hiking boots or sneakers: only pack if you plan on doing hiking
- 2-3 cardigans or sweaters: Make sure it is made of wool for extra warmth.
- Tops: 4-6 shirts, mix of long sleeved and tees
- 2-3 pairs of wool socks: To keep your feet warm and dry.
- 3-7 pairs of underwear
- 2-4 bras
- Scarfs, gloves, and beanies: pick 1-2 of each depending on room in your luggage
- Two pairs of Leggings or tights: Perfect for wearing under your pants, skirt, dress on colder days.
- 2-3 pairs of pants: pants take up a lot of space and you can wear them more often so don’t take too many pairs
- 1-2 Warm Overcoat: It should be either woolen with a hood or a warm waterproof jacket. If you’re struggling to keep your luggage under the weight limits wear your heaviest coat while you check in / check out at the airport.
What to Pack for Scotland in Winter: Other Items
Scotland power outlets are not the same as in the US or many other countries. Therefore, to be able to charge your phone, camera and other devices, it is recommendable you carry a universal adapter. Moreover, since most of the time you will be on a go, you can also pack a portable charger. Other items you should not forget to pack are several memory cards, camera lens and batteries. Note: best to pack extra camera batteries since the cold winter weather usually depletes batteries faster. Don’t forget your phone and charger too.
Makeup and Toiletries
Take your basic makeup with you and some moisturiser to help with the cold weather. For your hair, the best shampoo to carry is solid shampoo since it will save you space, otherwise aim for travel sized versions of shampoo and conditioner. Don’t forget to also carry a travel size toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant and face wipes.
First Aid Kit
Although Scotland chemists usually sell first aid items like bandaids, you can carry your own small-sized first aid kit from home. Jet lag pills and hydrolyte powder are also essential if you want to stay energized after the long journey.
Even if most hotels, restaurants and shops in Scotland accept different cards, it is wise to carry a MasterCard and Visa. The cards will mostly come in handy incase an ATM doesn’t accept one of your cards. Another important thing to carry is photocopies of your passport and other documents.
Depending on how much clothes you are packing, a backpack will be ideal if you are traveling light. However, if you traveling with heavy winter gear, a suitcase will be more appropriate as you get to put everything in one place. For your phone, passport, cash, credit cards and other documents, a passport pouch will be ideal for you. Just tuck the pouch under your shirt/blouse and your items will be safe.
Don’t Forget to Pack Travel Insurance
It’s unfortunate that some holidaymakers assume they don’t need travel insurance. However, you really never know what might happen on one of your travels. Cancelled reservations, sudden medical emergencies, lost luggage, emergency trips back home can really cause major inconvenience and financial loss if you travel without insurance.
Always remember when it comes to travel insurance; getting the right level of cover is essential. Therefore, make sure you start looking on early on- ideally, around the time you are in the final stages of the trip. With adequate time, you will be able to shop around for the best travel insurance agency that will suit your needs.
I recommend World Nomads as that’s the brand I personally use.
Packing List for Scotland: Safety and Health
By and large traveling to Scotland is safe. However, practicing safety when on the road is always advisable to both new and experienced travellers. Although violent crimes against tourists are very rare in the country, tourists are advised to be cautious of petty thieves especially in big cities. If you are on overcrowded public places, keep your valuables close and avoid wearing fancy jewellery.
In Scotland, there is a comprehensive free health care available to all people living there. The health care is provided by the National Health Service (NHS) and provides free accident and emergency treatment for all. Considerate to the overseas holidaymakers, the healthcare service also covers the visitors in the accident and emergency department, casualty department or minor injury unit. Additionally, an emergency transport in an ambulance or an emergency care at a General Practitioner is also covered, however this may have changed at time of reading.