Tips for an amazing trip to the Scottish Highlands….. on a budget. Part 1

I had the opportunity to travel to Scotland for a few days this summer with my husband. It was a last minute trip that I  drug my feet about spending the money on. In the end I decided to just go for it, since the opportunity may not present its self again AND because I find it nearly impossible to tell my husband “no” when he wants to take me somewhere! (What am I? Some sort of self deprecating idiot? It’s SCOTLAND for crying out loud!) And guess what/ You CAN have a blast in Scotland on a budget!

I had to pay whatever would meet our timeline, for an economy airline ticket, so there wasn’t much I could do to save on that this time, except that I booked through Ebates on Expedia and got 10% back, so that was something.

(*Incidentally if you would like to know how I pack for long haul flights in economy class, you can find that information here.*)

My husband was already in London, so he would be taking the train to Glasgow and meeting me there. We knew this would be a quick trip so we wanted to get out of the city and to the country side as quickly as possible. We rented a car in Glasgow and immediately hit the road! We were doing Scotland on a budget and I saved quite a bit on the rental car, because we use Hertz Gold points and Ebates gave us a little back as well on it. (FYI-if you travel much and find that you have to rent a car…..even ONCE a year- the Hertz Gold program is worth signing up for. Its free and makes pick up and drop off SO much more convenient.)

With my bad ass husband completely unfazed by driving a stick shift with his left hand, on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car, it seemed like the amazing views were almost immediate. Now mind you, the beautiful curvy roads, flanked by stone walls that were flying at me ,did cause me more than once to stifle a shriek, but the views were just incredible, nonetheless.

Scotland on a Budget
The Drovers Inn
Scotland on a budget
The Lobby of The drovers Inn

We were so lucky to happen upon the most amazing pub/lodge for dinner, on our way into the country side. We are always on the look out for places that are out of the ordinary and have a more “local” feel and as we were passing this amazing lodge, we swung in. I could write another whole post on the Drovers Inn, but lets just say thats when we REALLY knew we had arrived in Scotland. It’s really quite famous. Also, Id like to note here, that this was the first time in my life that I have had my cocktail served to me by a man in a kilt. I highly recommend it, indeed. Do check out the link to this amazing place and DEFINITELY stop if you ever have the chance!  An OMG! Wouldn’t you know it, Gerrard Butler  stopped there the week after we were there! WHAT?! I’m sorry you missed me Gerrard.

When we travel, I always check AirBnB first. We have found some of the most amazing deals and stayed in some of the most beautiful places all over the world, using this service. We have never had a problem, and I highly recommend checking them first if you are traveling. My second “go to”, if I don’t find anything on Air BnB is Booking.com. If you are in Scotland on a budget, I highly recommend a stay in Fort William, at the beautiful  Westcourt Bed and Breakfast  for $150 a night. I will definitely stay longer in the town of Fort William to see the sights when we return. Our hosts Charles and Katarina made us feel right at home and were incredibly accommodating. Their place was immaculate and we wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.  I ordered salmon and scrambled eggs the next morning and oh. my. word. my life was forever changed. That was the absolute freshest, smoked salmon I have ever had. I have not had anything before or since that compares.Scotland on a budget

We rode through some of the most breathtaking scenery that day.Scotland on a budgetScotland on a budgetScotland on a budgetScotland on a budgetAfter an amazing morning of driving and bit of morning hiking that I’ll touch on next time, we eventually made our way to Grantown-on-Spey in the Highlands. We had booked a few nights at The Garth Hotel. Scotland on a budgetIts an old 17th century inn with less than 20 rooms and within walking distance to everything in the small town. Inside you will find friendly staff, clean rooms and an excellent restaurant and bar. Outside, you can sit on the outdoor patio, gazing at the church and square, listening to the bagpipes being played at dinner time. Really lovely.Scotland on a budgetScotland on a budget

Most hotels will have some sort of offerings for breakfast, so if you are  in Scotland on a budget, eat there, hit the local deli or cafe for lunch and then plan to splurge a bit more at your evening meal. The dinners we had at The Garth were fabulous! And they had a wide selection of whiskey, scotch (of course) and wine.

In Part 2 I will give you all the down and dirty on the a-MAZING hiking in the Cairngorms  and what to wear. I hope that you can use a few of these tips to save on your next trip and that maybe you will consider Scotland!

Let me know what you think! Do you have any budget travel tips?

And as always, thanks for reading!

Cheers!

Melissa

PERFECT travel make-up

I told you all about how I pack my carry on and my in flight outfit. Now I MUST tell you about my travel makeup! Holy COW. The secrets that I am about to share with you have been learned over many years. Mistakes have been made. Bags have been ruined. Cosmetics have been taken (thank you TSA- I hope that you enjoyed that perfume.). And yes, sadly, my face has arrived at my destination more than once looking like a dried up piece of crumpled newspaper! So, I want to spare you the bother and humiliation by showing you what has now evolved into what I believe to be the perfect travel, on board make up bag. Grab your coffee and read on….

This is my current little make-up travel bag.  I shop at Sephora sometimes….

travel makeup

(Read:a LOT. We are talking VIP member with special privileges). So, when I fly, I rely heavily on my samples for a few items. Any primer, serums or make up remover that I use are always sample sizes.

Also in my bag:

eye lash curler

beauty blender make up sponge

moisturizer (re-potted into a tiny pot that I keep for this purpose)

sample size Benefit “They’re Real” mascara

retractable bronzer brush

Tarte bronzer

Cover FX Click Stick with concealer and highlighter (these things are the BOMB for travel!)

Cover FX illuminator

Laura Mercier silk creme photo edition foundation

Buxom lip gloss and

Big and Healthy lipstick both in “Dolly”

Tarte “Brazilliance Plus” bronzer (sample size that I refill)

A towellette

The beauty of this bag is that it contains nothing that TSA considers liquid, and yet I have everything I need to emerge from the plane feeling somewhat fresh and pulled together!travel makeup

I really need to wash that Beauty Blender sponge. Sorry about that. But yeah. It all fits into that tiny bag. I heart it. I heart make-up.

So, have I missed anything? Do you have some perfect travel make up tips? I want to hear them!

Cheers!

Melissa

Off to Scotland! How I pack for travel.

How to fly economy

Over the years, I have developed a “go to” flight outfit, that works well for me. I typically fly in economy, so comfort is priority, but I see no reason to arrive at my destination looking like a crumpled mess, either!  I always fly in my most comfy, J Crew straight leg jeans, folded with a wide cuff at the bottom. I pair them with some sort of v-neck or scoop neck tee and add my my black cardigan.I wrap a wide, grey pashmina scarf around my neck loosely, and  wear a pair of comfy flats (most recently, a pair of grey suede, Cole Haan ballet flats, which proved to be perfect.).A big pair of black sunny’s completes the outfit.  I also stash a pair of leggings and a warm pair of socks into my carry on. When on a long haul flight, I change into my leggings on the plane, put on my socks and use the pashmina for a blanket (airline blankets are nasty.).

how to fly economy

 

Other items that I ALWAYS put in my carry-on:

Kindle

alcohol wipes (I wipe down my arm rests and tray table upon being seated.)

gum

ear plugs

ear buds

small makeup bag-( a whole separate post is required for the makeup bag!)

deodorant

ibuprofen

a large bottle of water (purchased AFTER I go through security)

hair brush

hair elastics

my small, leather, cross-body purse(containing cash,credit card and ID)

phone

chargers

macbook air laptop

my Lush Evolution pillow (This thing takes up a ton of room, no matter how much I squish it down, but it means the differe

nce between sleep-or no sleep…so I always bring it!)

Sunglasses

Reading Glasses- Yes. I am old now

.how to fly economy

In the front inside pocket,I carry my phone, passport, and boarding passes. Everything else is stowed in the center compartment except for my laptop which has its own dedicated sleeve inside.

Getting through security is a breeze with one bag. I don’t carry any liquids, so as I approach the security line, I place my watch into my bag. When I get to the table I just slip off my shoes and scarf and place them all into one bin with my bag. I place my laptop into a second bin BY IT’S SELF (But thanks TSA for yelling out those directions over and over anyway) , and I walk through. BOOM. I can quickly reassemble on the other side and I’m off to my gate.

After I get through security I purchase a giant bottle of water and any other items I might want. Usually that consists of some sort of snack like almonds and/or a fruit cup and a couple of brain candy magazines that I will just leave on the plane when I’m done, so I don’t have to haul them around.

My carry on leaves me with only one bag to carry (no snatching my luggage as I try to board because the flight is too full!), it fits under the seat in front of me for easy access to all of my stuff during the flight and no need to fight for a space in the overhead bin. The other plus to traveling with only one carry on, is that if you have a tight connection, you don’t have to wait for everyone to remove their bags from the overhead bin and you can get off the plane faster( yes- sometimes you have to cut in front!) and on to your connecting flight.

So thats how I do it. Maybe some of these things will help you out on your next flight. And while it has been working for me for quite awhile now, I am always open to tips that other folks have learned along the way. We’ve gotta help each other out on this travel biz, because we’ve got places to go!

Cheers!

~Melissa