Are you wondering what to wear in Scotland? The country’s weather is pretty notorious, so it’s only natural that the question of what to pack for Scotland often arises. Scotland is brimming with craggy paths, towering mountains, fathomless lakes, meandering roads, expansive coastlines, ancient castles, millions of sheep, barrels of whisky, and charming towns.
Plus, it has the most welcoming locals and one heck of a culture — kilts, clans, and bagpipes are fantastic. It’s the perfect place to lose yourself in nature. In this post, we’ll share some packing suggestions and what to wear in Scotland. Ultimately, you should be able to build your packing list for Scotland.
What Should You Wear In Scotland?
There are several staple items that I recommend everyone pack for their trip to Scotland. Scotland is well known for its wild weather, and that will play a significant role in what you throw in your backpack or suitcase. As one should expect on an extended trip to Scotland, we’ve seen the craziest wind and rain in the Scottish Highlands.
Layers are not usually the most fashionable thing to wear, but they fend off the Scottish weather. Pack a sweater, rain jacket, water-resistant pants, leather boots, and a hat as a standard outfit. The outfit is the perfect complement and, when done right, looks nice out exploring the mountains.
The odd exception is like a night out in Edinburgh, a fine meal in a castle, or an international festival. Scotland has some beautiful resorts, and the cities have many events, shows, and restaurants, so having a nice outfit or two is a good idea.
That would mean a dress for women and men should pack chinos or even a suit. It all depends on your age, plans, and personal style. However, most days in the country are very relaxed, so pack practically.
What’s The Weather Like in Scotland?
It’s often said of the weather in Scotland that you can receive all four seasons in just one day. It can be sunny and hot in the morning, but it can be cold rain with a strong wind and perhaps even hail by noon. The weather here is notorious, but on average, it’s a very moderate climate with four seasons.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, summers are never hot, nor are winters frigid. The average summertime temperature ranges from 15°C (59°F) to 17°C (63 °F). While in the winter, the average temperatures float around 5°C (41°F).
Scotland is relatively easy to pack for a trip once you cover the need for rain protection. Travelers to Scotland will spend most of their time outside, so focus on comfort. On an extended trip, you’ll likely see all types of weather, including a glorious sunny day or two!
It’s important not to let the poor weather deter you. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.
Seasons in Scotland
|Spring||Springtime in Scotland is a very chilly time of year temperatures range from 7°C (45°F) to 13 °C (55°F). March to April can feel frigid, and things start to warm up a bit by May. We love spring as it is the driest time of year.|
|Summer||June to August temperatures are a mix of warm and cool with frequent rain showers. The average highs during the day are around 15°C (59°F) to 17°C (63 °F), with cool evenings. There is the occasional sunny day with temperatures mid-20s C or 77 F, if not warmer.|
|Fall||September to November can be the rainiest and windiest time of year. Temperatures continue to fall from the more mild summer. Expect 8°C (46°F) to 14°C (57°F) for daytime highs in the fall.|
|Winter||The weather can be cold during the winter, but it rarely reaches below freezing. It’s often cloudy, and the winds can be powerful. At night temperatures are a few degrees above freezing, and the daytime sees temperatures around 5°C (41°F).|
Tips To Pack For Scotland
- Rain gear is always a good idea to pack, which means a rain jacket, umbrella, and weatherproof boots.
- Packing cubes help separate damp and dirty clothes from clean ones.
- Three pairs of shoes are the max you should pack—a nice shoe, casual, and athletic shoe/boot.
- Scotland is a relaxed place, so there is no need for fancy clothes unless you’re staying at one of the famed golf resorts.
- It’s almost always sweater weather, so pack your favorite wool sweater or cardigan.
- A scarf and hat are a great way to warm up if a chill in the air.
- It’s not always cold. Summers can be warm and have amazing weather. Be sure to check the weather beforehand and pack some warm-weather clothes. We’ve had amazing weather on trips and weather that makes us question Scotland altogether.
Essential Documents To Pack
- Passport – This is obvious, but you won’t make it far without a passport.
- Credit Cards – We use several travel credit cards offering purchase protection, rewards, and no foreign transaction fees.
- Visa – Make sure you have a visa if you need one.
- Debit Cards – It’s good to carry Pounds in Scotland. We never bother with money exchanges that provide awful exchange rates. Instead, we rely on the ATM when we arrive. Charles Schwab, Ally, and Capital One offer low or no foreign transaction fees.
- Driving License – If you plan to rent a car, you will need your driver’s license, plus it never hurts to have a second form of I.D. You may need an IDP translation to English if your license is not in English.
What Luggage To Bring For Scotland?
I have two bag recommendations for a trip to Scotland. You can opt for a traditional hardshell suitcase with four wheels or a travel backpack. Suitcases with four wheels are best as the ability to roll sideways down the aisle of a train or a sidewalk makes life a lot easier.
We prefer hardshell as it does a better job at protection and security. Our favorite hardshell suitcase is the Delsey Helium Aero 25″. Travel backpacks are great for young backpackers, digital nomads, or minimalists! They are also great if you want to save on any checked bag fees your air carrier may charge. Packing cubes are phenomenal at organizing and separating dirty clothes, and our favorites are from Peak Design.
If paying for taxis or car rentals makes you hesitant, you’ll want to book accommodation near public transport or have a backpack. Our favorites are the Osprey travel backpacks, men’s Farpoint, and women’s Fairview. For more suggestions, read our post on the best backpacks for Europe.
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What to Pack for Scotland
If there is one article of clothing made for travel in Scotland, it’s the wool sweater. Sweaters can make a great travel outfit staple. They’re comfortable, stylish, and warm. The season doesn’t matter, as most of Scotland is temperate and remains cool year-round. It means comfortable daytime temperatures during the day and chilly evenings in the summer.
Scotland has some terrific wool and sweater producers, but it may take a bit of digging. We purchased wool sweaters from independent retailers in Edinburgh, but a good one is tough to find. Most major tourist shops sell cheap Chinese versions. So it’s best to have at least one sweater packed in the suitcase for your trip.
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It’s tough to say what’s more comfortable, a flannel shirt or a wool sweater. While flannel shirts originate from Wales, their classic plaid pattern is Scottish, so it does feel fitting to wear one in Scotland. A flannel strikes the perfect balance of practicality and style while in Scotland.
You won’t find many Scots wearing them in the city streets, but these shirts are perfect for exploring the country’s awe-inspiring landscapes. One could argue that the Scottish Highlands are some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. Patagonia’s Fjord Flannel is one of their signature products and a wardrobe staple.
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T-Shirt or V Neck
A classic tee will never go out of style. It’s best to stick with solid colors like black, white, or grey. There’s also the option of a v-neck for a more stylish look, but it all depends on personal preference.
Scotland may not be known for its warm weather, but it does see some lovely summer days. Hiking on a sunny day in the Scottish highlands can be pretty warm, and you’ll want to shed layers quickly.
A merino wool shirt is a worthy investment and one of the best pieces of travel clothes. Wools shirts stay fresh longer and do an excellent job at temperature management. I’ve tested a lot of wool shirts out, and my favorite for travel so far is from Unbound Merino.
We suggest you keep it simple when it comes to tees. No one needs a fancy designer tee as a base layer. Cameron prefers the grey as it’s super easy to stain the white ones. We love the quality and ease of ordering from Bombas if you’re after a classic cotton tee.
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Jeans go with anything; despite the notion they are “American” casual, the right pair is attractive. For the most part, the Scots do not care what you wear, but showing up to the pub in damp outdoor wear isn’t usual. Jeans are a fashion staple but aren’t the best packing pants. However, travelers have options, such as DU/ER jeans. The organic cotton jeans look sharp, but the blend of polyester and spandex allows the jeans to stretch.
Fit is exceptional, with a slim fit throughout the leg. You can comfortably wear the jeans on long travel days without any discomfort. Thanks to the synthetic blend, they’re great for lengthy trips as there is no need to wash the jeans. An easy favorite for anyone seeking new travel clothes.
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Hiking Pants or Shorts
Technical pants like hiking pants are water-resistant and dry quickly, not to mention they’re comfortable on long walks. Traditionally these pants were pretty ugly, but now times are changing, and pants look similar to chinos or khakis. If you plan to spend some time outside in the Scottish countryside, I suggest adding these to your Scottish attire.
For women, Tasha likes a pair of hiking pants made by prAna that rolls into capris. For men, prAna makes the Stretch Brion Pant, a tremendous pair of hiking pants for a reasonable price. These pants won’t hold up in truly heinous weather, so if hunkering down for a few hours isn’t your cup of tea, consider these rain pants from Outdoor Research or softshell pants from Arc’teryx.
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Women’s Halle Pant
Men’s Brion Pant
If you plan to spend time in Edinburgh, I’d suggest you have some clothes that are appropriate for city exploring. A pair of chinos works on both sexes. It’s a classic look that, when combined with a sweater, works well in Scotland. I always pack a pair of these pants in my bag!
Bluffworks specializes in men’s travel clothes and makes some awesome pants, shirts, and blazers. Their travel clothes are all comfortable, wrinkle-resistant, and stain-resistant. Amazing for travel!
Women’s Halle Pant
Right after you pack your wool sweater, reach for a rain jacket. If we were taking bets, we’d make a substantial wager you’ll see some rain during your trip to Scotland. It doesn’t get that green without plenty of rain.
We suggest a packable rain jacket made for the outdoors/hiking. Hiking jackets are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof. Any rain jacket will do, but the top-dollar ones designed for the outdoors will hold up and help in inclement weather. They also do an exceptional job at blocking the wind, which can be unrelenting.
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In the summer, travelers can probably get by with a wool sweater and rain jacket to stay warm. Outside of the summer, a down jacket is an excellent idea. We recommend a packable down jacket on a trip with cool weather since they’re versatile.
With a destination like Scotland, they are a great way to keep warm without eating up too much space in your luggage. If you prefer a more stylish jacket option, a peacoat is a classic wardrobe choice, but it’s cumbersome, so you’ll need to wear it on the plane.
See Our Down Jacket Recommendations
It is a wee bit chilly in Scotland from about late September to April, and thermals will help retain heat. Most days, you’ll be fine without thermals, but on those days where the weather is truly foul, they’re a lifesaver. If you plan to travel to Scotland outside the summer months, it may be a good idea to pack a set.
We recommend they fit snugly, and they are a noncotton material like nylon or wool for base layers. We’ve had a lot of base layers, but our favorites are wool-based layers from Helly Hansen, Smartwool, Black Diamond, and yak wool from Kora.
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As mentioned it gets chilly in Scotland, especially come October until about April. While thermals are fantastic they are meant to be worn under your main layer. That’s when I turn to fleece-lined leggings in chilly weather.
Fleece lined leggings are perfect to wear like regular leggings, and go with any sweater or jacket you have!
These are great for warmth, and abrasion resistance and even have hidden reflective in hem turn ups to always stay visible. These are tightly knitted to look sharp on the outside, but fleece-lined on the inside. If you get the odd snowday, these are also perfect! The Crash tights come in different colors, but my favorite is the solid black since they go with everything.
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Scarf and Hat
A scarf and hat are travel staples and a great wardrobe choice for women and men traveling in Scotland. They act as an accessory to your outfit, and they’re super comfortable with an added layer of warmth. Scotland is known for its windy days, so a scarf and hat are lovely at protecting your neck and head.
Scarves are incredibly fabulous for travelers: They can spice up an outfit that you’ve already worn three days in a row and can be thrown into a bag or purse to pull out when the sun sets and the weather gets chilly.
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Hitting the sidewalk and letting the city or town unfurl around you is one of the best ways to get familiar with a new destination. A comfortable pair of shoes for both men and women are essential when packing your bag for Scotland.
I wouldn’t recommend those terrible clunky hiking shoes or athletic shoes many tourists like to bring. Since most of Scotland’s towns and cities are wonderful for walking around, we suggest packing good walking shoes. Our favorite travel sneakers are Allbirds Wool Runners because they’re sustainable, cozy, simple, and super comfortable. You can read our in-depth review of Allbirds here.
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These are great all year round as you can never go wrong with a pair of leather boots. Women can wear them with a pair of chinos and a blouse, while men can pair them with just about anything from jeans, chinos, and even a suit.
It’s wet and boggy in Scotland, and you can expect a lot of rainy weather so packing a pair of good hiking boots for hikes is crucial for protecting your feet. Locals like to wear “Wellies” or Wellington Boots which are big rubber boots. We were fine in a decent pair of boots because we stayed off farms and the really deep stuff.
I’m a leather boot fiend and love a classic boot. If you’re looking for the best boots for Scotland, check out an affordable option like Clark’s or Timberland for leather boots. If you want quality boots to last a lifetime check out Chippewa, Danner, or Red Wing boots manufactured in the United States.
See Our Boot Recommendations
We’ve learned to love our feet with a good pair of socks. You will want to keep your feet nice and dry while you walk around. Most importantly, wool socks stay fresh for several days as they have natural antimicrobial properties. We travel with a couple of wool socks from Darn Tough, Smartwool, and Farm To Feet.
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Scotland Packing List for Women
If you want a stylish look that will keep you warm, I’d suggest picking up a peacoat. A peacoat is excellent for providing warmth and looking great. While we love our down jackets for their warmth and convenience, they aren’t the best looking things in the world, and you’d look pretty silly wearing one with a dress or suit.
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Long Sleeve Cardigan
A cardigan is one of my favorite items to wear in Scotland. A cardigan has a great relaxed style and look, plus it keeps you warm. They’re also light enough to eat up minimal room in the suitcase. I pack one during any season in Scotland as you can wear it with a coat in winter, and it’s rarely too warm in the summer.
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While Scotland is casual, people are still presentable in public. You’ll see most women will wear a nice dress shirt, blouse, or sweater on colder days. Should you get the rare warm summer day, they’ll bust out the summer dress.
Most women should shy away from graphic tees or short-sleeved shirts; instead, wear a light blouse. It’s a perfect item to wear in the summer as the fitting blouse is super cool and comfortable.
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Rompers are probably one of my favorite travel outfits because they’re stylish, comfortable, and practical. You really can’t go wrong here, and I’d suggest throwing at least one or two rompers in your suitcase for Scotland. They’re great for a night out on the town in Edinburgh and surprisingly great for Scottish attire. We love Patagonia’s Fleetwith Romper for travel!
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A pair of black flats is always great to have in a suitcase. They’re stylish comfortable, and they take up minimal space in your luggage. My tip, stay away from heels, many towns have cobblestone streets, and you don’t want to break an ankle trying to look good. Just let the locals impress you with their skills of walking in heels.
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Scotland has several great hikes and adventure activities. I always bring a sports bra when I’m traveling. It’s easy to forget to bring a sports bra as you might not head to the gym, but they’re tremendous for active days.
We love sports bras from Handful! Of course, you should pack your usual undergarments like bras and underwear; it’s just easier to forget a sports bra.
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Men’s Scotland Packing List
A stylish peacoat will keep you warm. While we love our down jackets for their warmth and convenience, they aren’t the best looking things in the world, and you’d look pretty silly wearing one with a dress or suit.
You’d look pretty ridiculous wearing a T-shirt or a flannel out to a nice meal in Glasgow. It’s a great idea to travel with at least one nice outfit that fits your style. Your travel plans in Scotland will also have an enormous impact. Bluffworks makes travel-specific men’s dress clothes that are wrinkle and stain-resistant. They also make a great gift!
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A henley is a great clothing choice for Scotland. It’s lightweight yet provides some warmth from the wind, and it’s more appropriate than a long sleeve graphic shirt or technical clothing.
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Accessories For Scotland
You will need an adaptor for your electronics on your packing list for Scotland. We always keep one handy in our carry-on bags; we can charge electronics on arrival or at the airport. You’ll need the British “Type G” three-prong adaptor for the United Kingdom. However, most of Europe uses the Type C, F, and E adaptor. Check out the one I have, which is suitable for all of Europe.
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Despite preconceived notions, Scotland does occasionally have sunny days. There are a lot of options for sunglasses, and everyone should own at least one pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes. We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Of course, there are always more affordable options!
You’ll need something to stash your photography gear, hand sanitizers, papers, phones, and anything else that you need for a full day out when traveling. Saddleback Leather makes some of the best quality backpacks – hands down and fantastic for Scotland. They aren’t cheap by any means, but they are quality.
Saddleback Leather even ensures its products with a 100-year warranty. They only use sturdy materials on their bags, including full-grain leather, pigskin lining, and marine-grade polyester thread.
See Our Recommendations
We always recommend bringing a travel towel when you’re on the road. Scotland is no exception. If you plan on staying in hostels or more budget accommodation, you’ll often need your towel. Consider a towel essential for your Scotland packing list.
Our Recommendations For Travel Towels
A high-quality camera is an essential packing item for Scotland if you want some great shots while on your vacation We travel with many cameras. Still, the one we universally recommend is the RX 100.
They make several models at different price points, but it’s simple to use a point-and-shoot camera that anyone can operate. It also takes superb images with a 20mp resolution and full manual controls
While I love having a perfect book when I sometimes travel, it’s just not practical because of the weight. I’ve recently switched to a Kindle Paperwhite, which is small and compact, plus it has a backlight for reading at night without a harsh glare. It’s tough to beat the feeling of warming up next to a wood stove with a cuppa tea and a good book.
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I love traveling with a power bank to make sure my phone never dies. Most of the time, I don’t need to use it on long flights as some of the more excellent airlines provide entertainment systems with USB ports! We also make sure to find a charging point during layovers, but getting to a new city without your hotel reservations and map can be a significant pain in the ass.
Anker Portable Charger
We spend enough time attached to our phones in everyday life and planning our trips. Once we reach a destination like Scotland, we put the phone away and pick up a guidebook to help with our trip.
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We’ve suffered through enough red-eye flights never to forget to pack a travel pillow for international flights. My favorite travel pillow is the Cabeau Evolution Pillow, but we break down more of our favorite travel pillows here.
Packing cubes are great for any backpack or suitcase. They keep all of your clothes and toiletries organized. I’ve had these Eagle Creek cubes for three years now and think they were worth the investment to stay organized and create space in my luggage.
See Our Recommendations For Packing Cubes
For the women, I suggest traveling with an anti-theft purse that is black and stylish to hold belongings. Cameron has an excellent passport wallet with his passport and credit cards, so he never leaves it anywhere.
See Our Favorite Passport Wallets
Hanging Toiletry Bag
It’s always a good idea to keep your toiletries organized and separated from your clothes. So we love always travel with a toiletry bag; however, Scottish bathrooms can be cramped and small. If you find limited counter space, a great option is to buy a hanging toiletry bag. This bag style tends to have a better organization system with various sections for storage than the traditional option.
You Need This To Travel in Scotland!
We never travel without travel insurance with Hey Mondo. Natasha is a bit of a worrywart and would rather stay safe than sorry. Heymondo offers incredible flexibility and great plans!
You never know if the worse could happen while you’re abroad, and your insurance plan at home often will not cover medical emergencies abroad. Having the peace of mind that we have a good backup plan helps us sleep at night.
What Not to Pack for Scotland?
It shouldn’t need to be said, but please do not wear a fanny pack.
We touched on this earlier, but athletic clothes are meant for the gym or being active. Walking around in a pair of athletic shorts, tank top, or running shoes isn’t common in Scotland, especially in cities. Please don’t get me wrong, you can wear what you want when it’s hot out, but you’ll be pegged as a tourist.
For the most part, you’ll find shorts on very few Scottish, as in almost none. That being said, attitudes are changing, and with global warming, I’m sure they’ll warm up to the idea, pun intended.
White Athletic Socks
Europeans don’t often wear white socks. Try to wear patterns, black socks, or to match your socks to your pants.
Packing For Scottish Weather
Scotland is a tiny country; however, regions can vary significantly in weather conditions between short distances. It all has to do with the notoriously unpredictable weather in Scotland.
What to wear in Scotland in the Spring?
The springtime can be one of the best seasons to visit Scotland as temperatures are mild and range from 7°C (45°F) to 13 °C (55°F). It’s an excellent time to catch some sun, but showers are still frequent. As always, you don’t want to be caught without a rain jacket.
What to wear in Scotland in the Summer?
As should be expected, this is the warmest time of year in Scotland. You can expect long summer days as Scotland is extremely high North. Temperatures range on average from 15°C (59°F) to 17°C (63 °F). It’s always a good idea to have some warm weather clothing for outdoor activities during this time.
What to wear in Scotland in the Fall?
Autumn weather is probably the most varied time of year in Scotland and can go from mild and sunny to cold and rainy in a matter of hours. It’s why many people ask us what to wear in Scotland in September. On average temperatures range from 8°C (46°F) to 14°C (57°F).
What to wear in Scotland in the Winter?
Scotland’s weather doesn’t vary all that much. In the wintertime, the average temperature high floats around 5°C (41°F), just above freezing. Snow does fall, but it’s mild in most of the low-lying areas of Scotland. The highlands do receive snow in the higher elevations.
A Few Tips For Your Scotland Trip
When is the Best Time to Visit Scotland?
In my opinion, the best times to visit Scotland is June and September – but it all depends on what you want! June-August is the high season, especially on the North Coast 500 Route, but it is also summer in Scotland, and the cities are buzzing with locals and tourists alike. It’s also the best chance for sunny weather in Scotland.
However, my favorite time to travel to Scotland is during the fall months. It’s during September when you get the last of summer and beautiful food products in season. The cherry on top is that tourism is slowing down and you don’t have so many people at some popular sights.
Freedom to Roam
One thing to know when you take your trip to Scotland is there is no such thing as trespassing. Everyone has the right to roam along the countryside, including farms. The “freedom to roam” is the public’s right to access public or privately owned land for recreation.
It doesn’t include houses, gardens, or military bases, so don’t go squatting on someone’s porch, but it does allow people to enjoy the land and inland water for their well-being. The only stipulation is that you must do so responsibly and safely.
So, mind the sheep and close the gate!
Just a Wee Drink
There are two things you need to know about the people of Scotland. They are some of the friendliest people on earth, and they like to drink. Don’t be surprised when you hear the classic line “oh, it’s just a wee drink” or “how ’bout a wee dram o’ whisky.”
Although Scotch is of national pride and a great spirit, it is not what the Scottish drink every day. The most popular drink these days is gin and beer. So, we got to make friends and relive our days of African safari with some gin & tonics.
What To Pack for Scotland Summary
It’s best not to forget things like medications, toiletries, and other personal items you might need when you travel. However, this is a general Scotland packing list for all to go off of.
Remember that Scotland isn’t the end of the world, and if you forget something, it’s likely you’ll be able to find it when you get there. Especially in cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow – you can get anything there that you can back home!