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.
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.
We rode through some of the most breathtaking scenery that day.After 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. Its 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.
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!