Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.
Roy M. Goodman
Travelling is awesome! Does anyone have a doubt about it? Definitely not here in Scotland!
Who of us does not like to discover new places, eat new dishes and experience new emotions and excitement?
It’s all great and builds up our base of memories to which you can always happily return and just draw strength from it when there are bad days ahead.
Travelling educates, evokes imagination and opens our eyes to new people, their different cultures and values. However, there’s no denying that travelling can be very expensive and must be thought through before you leave your home.
Unfortunately, Scotland is not a cheap country to travel.
Not everyone can afford to travel spontaneously, sometimes you have to save some money and think about how to manage your trip so you don’t go bankrupt, and that’s why I’ve collected some important things you should know before coming to Scotland or before going on a journey through Scotland.
So get ready for my ideas on how to do a low-cost trip to and through Scotland, based on our experience and knowledge.
Fly me to … Scotland!
Whether Scotland is your home country or you would like to visit it coming from other countries, it is worthwhile to consider the transport issue.
To get to Scotland cheaply, it is best to plan your trip in advance and take advantage of the special offers. It’s no secret you can use cheap airlines such as Wizzair, Ryanair, easyJet or Flybe (if you’re flying from Europe) but if you can it is worth to come here by car and move around Scotland in your own car.
If you already live in Scotland or have arrived by plane, it is best to continue your journey by car, so you can rent one if that’s not an option use a train (ScotRail) or bus (Citylink, Megabus). You can also think about buying an Explorer Pass, which will allow you to move freely around the cities.
Read more about Scotland by Train.
For the brave ones, there is also the option of traveling around Scotland by bike, on foot or hitchhiking as there is a web of walking and cycling paths here.
Bargain for the accommodation
There are plenty of options when you choose to stay in Scotland. You can use reliable websites with accommodation offers such as Trivago where you can compare hotel, hostel or B’n’B offers.
However, recently I found that one of the better ways to find the right hotel is to search through Google Hotel Search where you can easily discover offers of the best hotels available without the participation of third parties. This will help you to save money on agent commissions and find a better hotel at the right price.
You can also use the Airbnb platform, where you can find a great deal and rent a room or a house from private owners. Just remember to set the filters correctly. By selecting the low max prize range you can easily find great deals on the map that meet your personal preferences.
It’s also worth checking out the places you want to visit in search of B&B, which are plenty in Scotland and which offer a cultural experience you won’t forget.
However, paying for the accommodation is associated with higher or lower fees, so if your budget is limited it is worth just camping by taking a tent with you and setting it up in the places that will enchant you with a much lower budget.
I must mention on this occasion that the great thing about Scotland is that it is also completely legal for a wild camp in many locations and this is completely free. However, the use of some national parks such as Loch Lomond is limited between spring and autumn. You must buy a permit.
An interesting option is also couchsurfing, where you can sleep on someone’s couch for free and get to know the extraordinary locals.
As far as food is concerned, the cheapest option is (almost always) to prepare meals by yourself. You can go to local Co-op shops or a chain of shops such as Asda, or Lidl and many others and buy all the necessary products to prepare meals.
Another option is to eat in local bars, pubs or small restaurants, but this will surely affect your budget. However, you might want to spend some time picking up places that are not located in the city centre or on the main street and they may be cheaper.
Compared to other European countries, many hotels in Scotland, as well as B&B, include breakfast in the room price.
This might definitely reduce the cost of food and thus more money can be saved or spent on other uses.
In addition, I need to point out that a real Scottish breakfast is extremely filling and after a full breakfast you do not feel hungry until late afternoon.
Free things to do
An outstanding advantage of Scotland is that many places can be visited for free or for a small fee. Many museums, like the National Museum of Scotland or galleries, are free of charge.
You can’t forget that what Scotland has the most beautiful to offer is nature beauty which is completely free. You can spend hours, days and weeks wandering around Scotland every day discovering something new and unforgettable.
In many cities in Scotland, you’ll also find a free guided tour from which you can learn a lot of interesting things about a city or get to know its history. More about in the post about planning to visit Scotland.
Try the other way of travelling
Scotland is full of amazing places and breathtaking views so it’s worth to connect a little with this nature and the ideal way to do it is camping and caravan holidays.
You can rent a campervan or caravan and travel all over Scotland with both transport and a place to sleep. You can also use many campsites or holiday parks to set up a tent or rent a place to stay.
Have you ever about volunteering jobs?
It is an opportunity to work and live in a certain place for a specific period of time (check out https://www.anyworkanywhere.com).
You can also consider volunteering work and stay, which in fact will not be a financial bonus but you can do extremely interesting things and there is always a place to sleep. One of such places is Isle of Eigg (check out https://volunteeroneigg.co.uk)
How about a house swap? This is a nice option for free accommodation however you should remember that someone may want to rent your house (check out https://www.homeexchange.com).
A house sit? It is about taking care of someone’s home and lovely pets when their owners are away. You can make money on it and there’s a place to stay. For more information, please check https://www.trustedhousesitters.com, https://www.mindmyhouse.com, https://www.housecarers.com).
Before heading on a trip to Scotland you should plan everything or at least most things in advance, find favourable transport prices, look around for accommodation offers or vouchers for food or other attractions (Groupon, Wowcher, LivingSocial).
What are your tips for a budget travelling in Scotland? Share your answer!
Of course, everyone has different ways of saving and travelling so it would be nice if you shared your experiences and suggestions in comments!
It’s never too late to learn something new and if it’s travelling I think that every piece of advice is worth its weight in gold.