What do I need for a self-drive holiday in Scotland?
A self-drive holiday in Scotland is a fantastic option for having total flexibility and control over your itinerary. With beautiful scenery and some iconic routes to explore, Scotland’s the ideal destination. How about the North Coast 500? It’s definitely a bucket list trip for many for a reason. Or venture further afield to explore Shetland at your own pace. With magical light and scenery, as well as ample opportunity to spot wildlife, do remember your binoculars and camera!
So, now you’ve decided to go for it – what do you need? We’ll provide your car or campervan hire, bed and breakfast accommodation and vehicle insurance. You’ll also receive plenty of information to help you make the most of your tour. For the most enjoyable and comfortable self-drive holiday, it’s all in the planning and preparation.
A self-drive holiday is so convenient – no need to lug heavy bags around all day! Have a think about what you’ll need. Pack logically so you don’t have to empty the boot each time you are looking for something. Bring suitable clothing and gear for exploring on your stops. Remember that even in summer, we often experience four seasons in a day in Scotland! An emergency first aid kit, snacks and drinks are also a must. For more packing tips, check out our blog 5 Packing Tips for a Self-Drive Holiday in Scotland.
You’ll need to bring your driver’s licence and any additional paperwork such as booking information and insurance documents. If there’s an additional driver, remember that they will need their documents too. Keep your documents handy and in a safe place, such as the glove compartment.
You’ll be driving in some remote places, so think ahead for your vehicle’s fuel requirements. For petrol stations, you can usually find good information on online maps such as Google maps. For a comprehensive map of and information about electric charge points across Scotland, see the ChargePlace Scotland website.
Don’t rely on technology when you are driving in remote areas. Signal strength can often drop and then sat-navs and smartphones become anything but useful! It’s a good idea to pack a paper map of the area you are travelling in. You might also want to make a hard copy note of petrol stations and electric charge points, in case you can’t access the online maps when you need to.
You can keep abreast of any road works, accidents or similar that might affect your journey by checking the Traffic Scotland website. It also has a handy carbon calculator, if you’re interested in assessing the carbon footprint of your trip.
If it’s your first time driving in the Scottish Highlands, you may be unfamiliar with our single track roads. Wikipedia has a good summary of what to expect, including this photo of a single track road near Kinlochewe. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Drive on the left – the width of the road will vary, but always keep to the left.
- Be aware of speed – the maximum speed is usually 60mph but it’s often much safer to drive slower than that along winding roads with limited visibility. Of course, you can take in more scenery at a slower pace too!
- Use passing places for allowing oncoming vehicles to pass you, and also for allowing cars behind you to overtake. You may be driving leisurely on holiday but they may be on their way to work! Do not block passing places by parking there – they are essential for road safety.
[Photo by Wojsyl – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=917462]
For more sound advice on driving safely on Scotland’s single track roads, check out this Scotfax article on the Undiscovered Scotland website.
Now you’re all set, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy the trip! A self-drive holiday in Scotland will take you through some of the most breath-taking scenery you may see in your life. Don’t forget to bring your camera, binoculars, and of course your chargers and spare batteries.
Contact us to discuss your self-drive holiday in Scotland today.