Travel Made Easy: What to Pack for a Trip to Scotland

Scotland is a beautiful country filled with stunning landscapes that range from rolling hills to rugged mountaintops. Whether you are planning on visiting the bustling cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, or exploring the wild outdoors, it’s important to make sure you pack everything you need for your trip. After and amazing adventure, Buddy and I are both sharing packing lists so that you and your teen are prepared for your next family trip to Scotland. Here is a list of what to pack for a trip to Scotland from a mom and teen’s perspective!

These suggestions come from our own experience traveling to Scotland. We include items that we brought with us on our trip, as well as some of the items we wish we would have brought with us. Please note that these are just a few recommended items. Feel free to personalize this Scotland packing list, adding to it what you see fit and what makes the most sense for you and your family or traveling buddies.

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What to pack for Scotland. What to wear in Scotland. MPA Project Travels.

What to pack for Scotland: Mom’s perspective

Hello everyone! I will be starting off the blog today before handing it off to Buddy for the teenage boy perspective on what to pack for Scotland. Here it goes!

A Scotland packing list really depends on where you plant to go and what you plan to see. Another big factor in the packing decisions is if you whether you plan on checking a bag if you are flying in from another country. This is because space in a carry-on suitcase can be very limiting and you will need to pack lighter than if you check a larger bag. If you do choose to travel carry-on only, you may want to consider doing laundry during your travels. Buddy and I have the blog for you if you plan on doing laundry while traveling.

During my visit to Scotland, we spent only one day in Edinburgh before traveling to the Isle of Skye. This itinerary meant that I needed to pack both city wear and for adventuring in the outdoor wilderness – all in my small carry-on bag!

Travel Tip: My best advice is if you are traveling carry-on only and have limited space, go for functional over fashionable if you must pick. (Sorry fashionistas!)

For example, the shoes I wore to walk around Edinburgh were not the most stylish (by a long shot!), but they could double as shoes on the Isle of Skye. As I only had space for one pair of shoes in my carry-on, I chose functional over fashionable.

Travel Tip: Another tip is to find a laundromat and do laundry on the road. Here is our Edinburgh laundry adventure!

The Basics: Scotland packing list

Let’s start off with the basics, or the essentials that we take with us on every trip, regardless of the destination!

Pro Tip: Put your family passports in a Ziploc bag while traveling just in case something accidentally spills while you travel

And this is everything you need to know UK plugs, adaptors, and converters!

A man and a woman stand in front of a funhouse mirror. Visit Scotland, What to wear in Scotland. MPA Project Travels
Terrible with selfies, this is the only full body fit check we did in Edinburgh – in a funhouse mirror outside Edinburgh Castle!

What to pack for Scotland’s cities

If you plan on spending most of your time in Scotland’s cities, like Edinburgh or Glasgow, exploring castles and museums, there are some things to pack for your trip.

1. Comfortable walking shoes

Most cities in Scotland are quite walkable and chances are you will be doing a lot of walking. Make sure that you pack comfortable walking shoes for your trip.

And with all this talk about shoes, don’t forget comfortable socks, or in the colder months, warm socks! Socks can make or break blisters so pick the ones that work for you.

Pro tip: Break your shoes in before you travel! If you are buying new shoes for your trip, make sure you wear them around your city to break them in before you travel. This will save your toes from blisters and pain once you begin your adventures!

2. Layers that can be mixed and matched

Because you never know what the weather will be, it is best to pack layers of clothes that can be mixed and matched. A rain jacket is also a must.

For my short stay in Edinburgh, I wore:

  • Dark colored pants, tank tops with a long sleeve shirt layered on top. All of these items came from Stitch Fix.  
  • On top of that, I wore a North Face woman’s jacket that I could layer a Columbia rain jacket on top. Luckily, it was sunny during our trip to Edinburgh and I did not need the waterproof jacket.
  • To complete my ensemble, I wore my scarf from Encircled and sunglasses.

3. Cross body travel bag

Pack your favorite city adventuring day bag to explore Edinburgh and Scotland. I personally love cross body bags. This anti-theft messenger bag by Travelon has been my go-to bag for adventures in Europe since our trip to Paris in 2018. I love this bag so much that I am on my second bag! This bag isn’t too big but fits a small water bottle and umbrella inside the bag with plenty of space left for personal items and souvenirs. Pick a bag that works best for you.

4. An umbrella

An umbrella is also essential as weather patterns can change quickly in Scotland—it’s best to be prepared! Having a windproof travel size umbrella is important so that you are not caught in the rain.

This is the umbrella we took to Edinburgh. Luckily, it was sunny during our stay and we did not have to use it.

What to pack for visiting the Scottish Highlands

For family travelers looking for an outdoor adventure while visiting Scotland, there are plenty of breathtaking trails available across the country. Here are some items to pack for your trip to visit (and hike!) Scotland’s countryside.

1. Layers

A woman in a black rain jacket with brown hair blowing in the wind smiles in front of beautiful scenery. What to pack for Scotland. MPA Project Travels.
Yvonne on the Quiriang Walk in the Scottish Highlands wearing layers.

As Scotland’s weather can change very quickly, you want to dress in layers. Waterproof and windproof layers to be specific as you may get wet crossing waterfalls on hikes like the Quiraing Walk. You may also want to pack sweat wicking or fast dry clothing. This is because you may sweat on some hikes, but if it is also cold and windy, and you do not want your clothes to retain moisture.

Also a rain jacket layered with a light jacket underneath is a must for your Scotland packing list.

For our day of exploring the Isle of Skye, I wore:

2. Hiking boots and wool socks

If you plan on hiking in Scotland, most likely, you will cross streams and walk on a rocky beach. Chances are, your feet will get wet, so come prepared with sturdy shoes, preferably waterproof!

In Scotland (and Ireland), I wore waterproof Columbia Hiking Shoes. And it was a great choice because my feet did not get wet once, despite the countless streams I passed and bogs I trekked. The only thing about these hiking boots is that they do not have great arch support. For that reason, I purchased some insoles.

Paired with my hiking boots, I also packed and used merino wool socks when hiking. At first, I second guessed bringing merino wool socks, especially because they are bigger than regular socks and took up a lot of space in my carry-on. But it was the right choice! Not only where the socks comfortable, they kept my toes warm and dry.

3. A day pack

A good hiking daypack is essential, especially for the longer hikes.

Although we are not newbies to hiking, tired at the end of our third week of traveling, I forgot my daypack at the Airbnb! Instead, I hiked with my crossbody bag. And as much as I love that bag, it is not meant for hiking! It kept sliding around and throwing me off balance. Never again will I make that mistake.

4. Offline maps

If you are hiking in Scotland, you definitely want to bring offline maps. Whether these are downloaded to your phone or paper maps, it is helpful when navigating the trails, especially since trail markers are scarce.

For that reason, I recommend downloading offline maps of the trails you hike. This way, you have a map of the trails for reference in case you get sidetracked by other trails in the area. Also, taking a photo of the map on the trail head to cross reference that with your online map as you hike is a great way to know where you are in space and gauge how much time you have before your parking expires!

After our adventure on the Isle of Skye, Sal and I used downloaded maps plus a photo from the trail head to navigate the trails. And we still took a detour on the Quiraing Walk!

5. Bug spray

When I was planning for the trip, I read that bug spray was recommended for certain areas in Scotland like the Fairy Pools. For that reason, I brought some that was carry-on friendly. However, I did not experience any bugs on the trail, and we did not have to use it. Nonetheless, it is better to bring it just in case you end up needing it.

A note about beanies and gloves

When hiking the Isle of Skye, many fellow hikers wore beanies and gloves. I lost my beanie in Ireland and we did not bring gloves because as desert dwellers, we did not think that we would need gloves in July. I didn’t think that we needed beanies or gloves in July, but you might need them if you are traveling in colder seasons.

What to pack for a Scottish road trip

If you are renting a car to road trip around Scotland, no worries, we have you covered! Not only do we have an entire blog post dedicated to renting a car is Scotland. I am also happy to share some things you should pack.

These are a few of our suggestions. Feel free to modify this list as you see fit!

Whew! That is a lot to pack for Scotland in a small carry-on.

Okay take it away Buddy!

A group of teenage boys in light blue long sleeve shirts and black pants pose in front of a large stone cathedral. What to pack for Scotland. Visit Scotland, MPA Project Travels
Buddy and his choir after a performance at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

What to pack for Scotland: A teen’s perspective

Hey everyone! So, what I packed for my Scotland trip is a bit different from what my mom packed for two reasons. One, I traveled with my choir, and they sent a packing list of required items to pack that I was required to wear in Scotland. Two, I did not go to the Isle of Skye with my Parents since I was with the choir, so I did not pack for any hiking adventures. Three, I got to check my large bag meaning that I had more space in my suitcase. But also, I was unable to do any laundry during our trip so I had a lot of dirty clothes at the end.

Below is my Scotland packing list. It has all of the things I had to wear in Scotland. But if you want to get my general packing list for teens by a teen, you can sign up for our e-newsletter below.

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Buddy’s Scotland packing list for teenagers

What to pack for Scotland

What to wear in Scotland

  • Undergarments and socks
  • A rain jacket. The chorus required me to purchase this one.
  • A jacket
  • Sweatshirts
  • Long pants (they told me I could wear jeans and black slacks)
  • Shorts (black shorts only, no jeans)
  • Short sleeved shirts or T shirts
  • Dress shirt, just in case
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
A black backpack and black and blue bag sit on the brown floor by some legs in black and feet in black shoes. What to pack for Scotland. MPA Project Travels.
Our carry-on luggage

When I went to Scotland in the summer, I was packing my Arizona winter clothes. I even had to buy and pack a special rain jacket and sweatshirt for the trip. I was not used to the Scottish weather! I was glad I did because there were a few days that it rained all day long. And it was cold compared to hot summer in the desert.  Make sure you have what you need for the place you’re going to visit.

I also wrote a blog post with 10 Helpful Packing Tips for Teens Traveling Alone about this trip that you can check out.

Yea, that is all I have to say. I hope you will have a great trip to Scotland!

Scotland is an exciting destination filled with unforgettable experiences. Whether you plan on exploring its cities or hiking its countryside make sure not to forget these essential items! With these items in tow, you will have everything needed for an amazing family vacation in Scotland!

Have you visited Scotland on a family vacation? Let us know in the comments below?

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Hello! We are Yvonne & Buddy and we create family travel blogs based on firsthand knowledge and experiences of a destination. Our goal is to inspire teens, parents, and families to share time together engaging in new experiences whether the destination is near or far from home. Come join us on our travels!

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12 thoughts on “Travel Made Easy: What to Pack for a Trip to Scotland

  1. My first thought when packing for Scotland would be to take something to keep me warm and dry. Layers are a great option. But even with laundry along the way we would not get by with just carry on! Fun to get a different perspective from Buddy’s list!

  2. This is a helpful post! I love hearing from your perspective and the perspective of your teen 🙂 The travel adapter is such a good reminder. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Heh, I almost always go functional rather than fashionable for this kind of trip! I mean, you want to get out into the gorgeous Scottish wilderness right!? 😉

    You got lucky with the bug spray! The midges can be terrible, so it’s fab that you avoided them!

    • Me too! But I tend to see packing recommendations seem to prioritize fashion over function.

      And we really did get lucky with the bug spray. I still haven’t experienced the midges! Not that I am complaining!

  4. I always try to bring as little as possible but depending on the time of the year I’d imagine I’d need some heavier warmer clothes for Scotland!

  5. A practical and useful what to pack guide when visiting Scotland. I’d also include a good gortex all weather jacket and a scarf. Interesting to read Buddy’s thoughts.

  6. I have family in Scotland so visit quite a lot and always forget walking shoes so thats a great tip! Bug spray definitely comes in handy in summer, especially in the Isle of Skye, I have never seen midges like the ones there!

  7. I found your post very helpful and informative for planning a trip to Scotland. You gave some great tips on what to pack for different seasons and activities, as well as some useful resources and links. I liked how you included a checklist to make it easier to organize everything.

Share your thoughts!