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Travel Guide: Is Scotland Safe?
Is Scotland safe? The obvious answer is “yes, Scotland is freakin’ awesome,” but still, I have quite a bit to say on this topic, which is unsurprising to anyone who knows me.
Honestly, Scotland’s my favorite country. You guys, I could seriously talk for hours and hours about how incredibly wonderful Scotland is. I’d visit here every summer if I had the time and money at my disposal. I want to go back in the winter to see the festivals in Edinburgh and Shetland.
For me, Scotland is a dream destination in every sense of the word.
Seriously, the reasons to love Scotland are numerous. I mean, firstly, the scenery is gorgeous looking like an illustration pulled directly from a high fantasy novel. You’ll see lush green mountains, crumbling old castles, purple flowers, and crystal clear lakes (or lochs, as they’re called here). Talk about a photographer’s dream come true.
Be still my beating heart!
Furthermore, Scotland’s cities are friendly and fun. Not to mention packed with culture! For example, Edinburgh is a UNESCO designated city of literature, and hosts the world famous Fringe Festival every August. It’s magic.
And, duh, it’s a no brainer that people want to come to Scotland. However, all travelers worry about safety, even in “perfect” places like Scotland.
So, to help ease your minds, this safety guide will break down the practicalities traveling to Scotland. I promise you don’t have much to stress about regarding personal protection, but still, knowledge is power.
Is Scotland Safe to Travel?
Absolutely! Actually, I highly recommend Scotland for new travelers and anxious travelers.
Violent crime is very low, and your odds of becoming of a victim to someone who has nefarious purposes is slim to none.
Real talk. I honestly feel as if Scotland is safer than my home state in the United States. I never once felt as if I had to keep a hyper vigilant eye on my belongings or myself – even in larger cities such as Edinburgh. I feel relaxed here.
Honestly, when it comes to safety, most of the threats will come from nature and alcohol. Sorry, folks, but that’s the truth.
Read More: Pack Your Lonely Planet Guide to Scotland
Scotland Safety: Tips for Having a Great Trip
Is Scotland safe? Even though I would say, “yes! absolutely!,” there are still plenty of tips for making your trip to Scotland even safer.
Just remember that even if you follow all these suggestions and still fall victim to a crime, it is absolutely 100% not your fault. I don’t endorse victim blaming of any kind on this blog, and find the practice of pointing fingers a disgusting defense mechanism. We don’t play that game here.
Still, use these suggestions to have a good time in Scotland. Time for you to take some notes.
1. Give Family & Friends Your Itinerary
Honestly, this tip is important for any solo trip, not just a journey to Scotland. I know, I know. You’re brave and independent, but still. Someone else needs to know where you are on any given day.
It’s even more necessary to hand out your itinerary if you’re planning to go hiking in the Highlands. As gorgeous as Scotland’s nature is, it’s also very isolating and you need to be prepared ahead of time.
Not to mention that giving someone else your itinerary is just as important for them as it is you. I mean, what if your family had an emergency and no way to contact you? Wouldn’t that suck big time? You don’t need emotional trauma on your trip to Scotland.
And remember, you can always change your itinerary later. Just make sure to stay in touch to benefit everyone involved.
Read More: A Week Itinerary for Scotland
2. Be Prepared to Go “Off the Grid”
Your phone will die in Scotland. It’s just a fact. I know, I know. Sad. But Scotland’s a good place for a digital detox.
For example, Western Scotland, in particular, is very rugged and rural meaning the cellular connection isn’t great. I know I lost my phone connection for a few hours while en route to the gorgeous Isle of Skye.
Don’t let the lack of cellular service take you by surprise. Expect it and deal with it.
Like, for instance, have old fashioned maps with you if you’re planning on a hiking trip or driving yourself to your final destination. I know, shocker, real maps, haha.
The lesson here is not to 100% rely on your phone in Scotland.
3. Always Buy Travel Insurance Ahead of Time
Scotland is safe, for sure, and it’s a wonderful place to travel alone or with someone else.
However, even though Scotland’s great, you still need to buy travel insurance for your vacation. Having an insurance policy is non-negotiable, my friends.
I mean, let’s say you hurt yourself hiking in the Highlands and need emergency services to come get you. The out of pocket cost would be financially devastating. I’m talking thousands upon thousands of dollars here. That amount would break me, folks.
Personally, I always use World Nomads for all my international trips. The prices are reasonable, and I’ve never had an issue dealing with them. I’ll continue to use World Nomads into the future, too.
So buy that travel insurance! Right now. Today.
Ready to Go? Purchase Travel Insurance with World Nomads
4. Stay Aware of the Weather
Scotland has the most changeable weather ever. Seriously, it changes every fifteen seconds.
For example, I’ve visited Scotland in the summer twice. Summer is known for having the best weather, but even so, you might encounter rain and cold. I know I took my windbreaker on and off multiple times throughout the day.
You should check the weather ahead of time. However, it’s also important to wear layers to stay comfortable in any temperature. Seriously, rain can come out of literally nowhere, and you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the Highlands feeling like a drowned rat.
And if you hate the weather? Wait a couple of minutes, and you will be just fine! Haha.
5. Learn to Drive on the Left Side of the Road
If you’re coming from the USA or Canada, then you need to be prepared for different driving conditions especially for those of you planning on renting a car and doing your own independent itinerary.
Most importantly, in Scotland, cars drive on the left side of the road. Keep that in mind whenever you’re making sudden turns.
Even if you’re not driving, you should still stay aware of the flow of traffic. I lost count of the number of times that I saw tourists step in front of buses. It’s not good. Look in the proper direction prior to crossing any busy street.
Lastly, road conditions in Scotland are very different than the open freeways in the United States. Seriously, some of these country roads are super narrow and only have one lane. Conditions are hair raising at times.
Be respectful of other drivers, and take your time. You don’t want to get hurt in a stupid car accident.
6. Wear Proper Footwear Hiking in the Highlands
Proper footwear is mandatory in Scotland. Meaning don’t act like me in Scotland.
What happened? I climbed a fence (don’t ask) and turned my ankle. To make matters worse, I was wearing flimsy little ballerina flats to trek through the hills and mud. It was a mess, and I needed to make an emergency pharmacy visit.
So invest in a quality pair of comfortable hiking boots for your adventure to Scotland. Your feet for love you for the investment.
Furthermore, you’ll also want appropriate socks. For example, Merino wool endurance socks will prevent blisters. Spend the extra money to be comfortable on your epic hikes. Sorry, but no amount of stunning scenery and fresh air will soothe red blisters throbbing on your ankles.
7. Know Your Limits
Always know what you’re able to personally handle. Keep your boundaries strong in the face of peer pressure, too, especially when traveling alone in Scotland.
So why are limits so important?
Specifically, Scotland has lots of festivals and a pretty big drinking culture. You need to respect your body. Meaning sleep when you want to sleep. Stop drinking when you want to stop. You don’t have to waste all your money at the pubs if you don’t want to.
Knowing your limits will help keep you safe and happy.
8. Don’t Be Paranoid About Scams
Unlike other popular destinations, such as Paris and Prague, Scotland’s major cities don’t have as many scams targeted at tourists. Yay!
On both my trips, I didn’t have one person approach me asking for money or trying to swindle me out of my money.
Yet, if you’re REALLY nervous about scams and pickpockets, then buy an anti-theft bag like this crossbody bag by Travelon. You’ll be able to rest more easily as you do your sightseeing.
Ultimately, use common sense to protect yourself and your belongings. You don’t have to lose your mind over possibilities, though.
Is Edinburgh Safe?
Whew! Okay. I’ve talked a lot about Scotland’s gorgeous countryside, but I’m sure you’ll also want to see the cities. I know the most about Edinburgh.
You guys, Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in all of Scotland. I mean, it’s a complete literary gem and makes you feel as if you’re in the pages of Harry Potter.
Edinburgh is absolutely safe. I even felt content and secure at the main train station. My advice is for you to behave as you would in any city, and you should honestly be fine.
At night, I think you’re fine walking around and exploring the city. However, I thought that the main tourist areas, such as the Royal Mile, were super quiet at night, and wouldn’t necessary recommend hanging out there without a companion.
Read More: Pack a Pocket Guide to Edinburgh
Will I Be Okay Going to Scotland Alone?
Yes, yes, and triple yes!
Personally, I think Scotland’s a wonderful destinations for first time solo travelers. Now I might be biased, because Scotland was my first solo trip and it changed my life, but come on, what solo traveler wouldn’t absolutely fall in love with Scotland? Have you seen all these gorgeous photos in this post?!
First and foremost, the tourism infrastructure is fantastic throughout the country. Scotland’s used to having visitors. You’ll find highly rated hostels throughout Edinburgh and the Highlands.
And, like I already said in this post, there are fewer scams specifically targeting visitors in Scotland.
I highly recommend going to Scotland alone. You’ll have a great time.
Read More: Solo Travel Guide to Scotland
So is Scotland safe? I certainly think so! I hope I encouraged you to take your next trip to Scotland. It’s one of my favorite countries and always makes for a beautiful adventure. Have a great time in Scotland.
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