Figuring out what to pack for Scotland for a trip can seem stressful at first. When you add the fact that you are moving to Scotland, even just temporarily – you may find yourself stressing over what to pack for Scotland even more.
Moving to Scotland can seem overwhelming at first. There’s so much you need to do before you make the final move. What do you need to organize before you go? Do you have your UK Visa and legal documents ready? How will you find a job or a place to rent when you get there? Have you figured out what to pack for Scotland? Before I moved to Scotland, not knowing what to pack when moving abroad was one of the things that were really stressing me out.
If you’re in the same situation as I was, wondering what to pack for moving to Scotland, take the pressure off and check out my packing list for Scotland. Some of these are things I was so happy to have packed and some of them are things that I sorely regret not packing when I was making the move abroad.
Don’t be fooled. Knowing what to pack for a trip to Scotland isn’t the same as knowing what to pack for moving to Scotland. It’s easy to pack for a couple of week’s vacation in the summer. It’s a totally different thing to know what to pack when you’re going to live there for several months.
Scotland is a wet country. Even if you start the day off with sunshine, the weather can change within minutes. Because you’re definitely going to need one, do yourself a favour now and add a waterproof rain jacket to your Scotland packing list.
In addition to the rain that soaks you through, Scottish weather can also be very windy, chilling you to the bone. To battle both types of weather, it’s best to get a light raincoat and wear layers underneath to keep you warm and dry.
Consider getting yourself a soft, warm fleece to wear underneath your waterproof rain jacket to keep you cozy when you’re forced to battle the tough elements of Scottish weather.
It can get very cold in Scotland, especially in the winter when the rain turns into sleet and comes down at you sideways. Be prepared — it really is brutal. Don’t be like me and think you’re an indestructible Canadian that can take it. Scotland is cold!
The best rain jackets for Scotland are:
- Arcadia Casual Jacket – Women’s (Buy here from REI)
- The North FaceVenture 2 Rain Jacket (Buy here from REI)
- PatagoniaStretch Rainshadow Jacket – Women’s (Buy here from REI)
- Marmot Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket – Buy here from Amazon)
- Columbia Arcadia II Waterproof Breathable Jacket (Buy here from Amazon)
Bonus: Windproof Umbrella
You can add an umbrella to your packing list for Scotland. But you’ll stand out a bit because locals tend to skip the umbrella and rely on their waterproof raincoats. The rain is often accompanied by wind, making carrying an open umbrella a bit of a hassle.
However, windproof umbrellas can be useful if you can get your hands on one. They offer a little more protection from the wind and rain than a raincoat alone.
Repel Windproof Double Vented Travel Umbrella with Teflon Coating (Black)
Adapter Plugs/Plug Converters
When moving to Scotland, you’ll surely need to bring some of your own electrical devices with you. You can buy some of the smaller electronics when you arrive in the UK, but it’s wise to use a power adapter for those items too expensive to repurchase in Scotland. I brought my computer, rechargeable camera battery pack and hair straightener with me, which made bringing an electrical adapter a necessity, too.
You have two choices when it comes to adaptor plugs — you can get a UK power adapter or an international adapter that works worldwide. I actually brought both because I found my hair straighteners worked better with the UK-only adapter. However, I still purchased the international one because having a universal power converter comes in handy when travelling around the rest of Europe.
If you have a Mac, I recommend buying Apple’s world travel adaptor. You can find adapters that work with Mac on Amazon here. But I suggest you head to your local Apple store and pick up a genuine Apple plug instead.
Recommended: Universal Travel Power Adapter (Buy from Amazon)
Measuring Cups & Spoons
Scotland’s recipes generally call for the use of a kitchen scale or metric measurements, rather than measuring cups and spoons. While weighing ingredients is meant to be more accurate, American and Canadian recipes generally call for ingredients to be measured in imperial rather than metric, so we bake with cups and spoons.
If you want to make your favourite recipes from your own country, be sure to pack a set of measuring cups and measuring spoons. Trust me — when you start making friends in Scotland, you’ll want to share your favourite recipes from back home with them.
It’s not easy to get a hold of measuring cups or spoons in the UK. So save yourself the hassle and bring yours with you to make following your favourite recipes easier.
Recommended: Collapsable Measuring Cups – Buy here from Amazon
U-Taste 10 Piece Measuring Cups and Spoons Set in 18/8 Stainless Steel
Scottish Weather-Proof Clothes – How to Dress in Scotland
Depending on the time of the year you move to Scotland, the clothes you need to pack will vary. I recommend only bringing the items suitable for the season you’re planning on moving in Scotland. You can buy everything else when you’ve been living in Scotland for a while and you know the season will be changing.
When it comes to what to wear in Scotland, the best advice I can give you for any season is layers. Even in the summer, the weather in Scotland can be chilly.
If you take just one thing away from this post, let it be my advice on packing layers. When I moved to Scotland, I wanted to pack as lightly as possible and I regretted it as soon as I found myself shivering in my flat, freezing after a day out in the rain and wind.
The average temperature in Scotland is about 12-15C degrees. But it can get down to -5 and as hot as 25C (give or take). Even if you think you’ve brought your warmest clothes, you may be surprised by how cold it actually is in Scotland.
Because Scotland is surrounded by the sea, the air is a lot more humid, which can make it seem colder. Make sure you bring extra layers so you can wear as many as necessary under your outer clothes and stay cozy.
Layers, layers, layers! That’s how to dress in Scotland, regardless of what time of year it is. You can always remove some layers if you’re too hot. So dress for colder weather than you’re anticipating. No matter which season you’re planning on moving to Scotland, always pack some base layers and you’ll keep warm all year long.
- Mountain HardwearGhee Crew Base Layer Top (Buy here from REI)
- Patagonia Capilene Midweight Base Layer Bottoms (Buy here from REI)
- Women’s Thermal Underwear Set – Top & Bottom Base Layer Thermals (Buy here from Amazon)
Hoodies and Jumpers (Sweaters)
Scotland seems to be in perpetual sweater weather. If you love a bit of coolness to the air, this will make you happy. However, you still need to be prepared. Pack an extra sweater or hoodie in your daypack wherever you go, just in case the weather takes a turn for the worst.
A country where you can wear a hoodie every day? Bliss!
- Recommended Zip Hoodie: PatagoniaPastel P-6 Label Ahnya Full-Zip Hoodie (Buy here from REI)
- Recommended Pullover Hoodie: The North Face Women’s Half Dome Pullover Hoodie (Buy here from Amazon)
Waterproof Trousers (Pants)
Waterproof pants are a necessity in Scotland if you want your feet to stay dry. You’ll inevitably end up walking through puddles or just getting soaked in the rain. To stay comfortable all day, be sure to pack some waterproof trousers or trousers made from quick-drying fabric.
When I used to walk to work in my regular work pants, I’d have to tuck the bottom of my trousers into my socks to keep the cuffs dry. Everyone had a good laugh when my coworkers would then text me about the colour of my socks as they passed by me on the bus!
Since you’ll likely be applying for jobs after moving to Scotland, I recommend bringing at least one work-appropriate outfit. A pair of dress pants (trousers) and a button-up blouse or a black dress paired with flats are both good outfits that will make you look smart and hopefully impress your interviewer.
I suggest only taking one work-appropriate outfit because you may end up working at a job that provides you with a uniform. Even if you do have to supply your own work clothes, you can buy them after you’ve moved to Scotland and secured a job.
Wondering what to pack for Scotland in December? Be sure to bring a warm scarf with you. Or, if you have wonderful Scottish friends as I do, ask your best friend to make you a snuggly scarf!
I’d suggest you only bring one scarf if you’re moving to Scotland in December. If you find you need more than one, you can always buy an extra one after you get settled.
Thick Warm Socks
The aim of dressing to travel around Scotland is to stay warm and dry. You won’t always be wearing your waterproof boots and trousers. So carry at least one pair of warm socks with you at all times just in case.
I was often caught out and left with soaking wet feet because I wasn’t prepared. One day I had to rush into a souvenir shop in Edinburgh and drop quite a lot of money on some thick, warm socks just to get me through the day.
- Recommended: DexShellUltralite Bamboo Waterproof Socks (Buy here from REI)
- Recommended Ankle Socks: Saucony Ventilating Comfort-Fit Performance No-Show Socks (Buy here from Amazon)
My advice is to just bring what you need for the season you’ll be moving to Scotland. You can buy everything else you need when you get settled into life as a Scottish local. The most important thing to add to your packing list for Scotland is a waterproof jacket and lots of layers!
One of my packing tips to make sure you can fit everything into your suitcase is to use packing cubes. They’re a total lifesaver in making all your clothes compact enough to fit in. They’re also perfect for dividing up your stuff into different categories within your case.
PACTIVE Packing Cubes for Travel, 6/7/8/9 Set Luggage Organizer (7 Pink Striped)
Waterproof Hiking Boots
If you’re planning on hiking after moving to Scotland, it’s worth bringing your hiking boots with you. You really only need hiking boots for Scotland if you’re going to be trekking in the highlands often. If that doesn’t sound like you, you can cross hiking boots off your packing list for Scotland.
If you’re going to be staying in the city, some running shoes (trainers) will be just fine. I even managed to climb Arthur’s Seat in my trainers and everything turned out great.
Use your plans and goals for Scotland to help you decide what kind of footwear to bring. It’s always a good idea to pack some comfortable, sturdy shoes because Scotland is an amazing country for walking and you don’t want to neglect your feet. Don’t cheap out on your shoes or you’ll regret it!
The best waterproof hiking boots for women:
- VasqueBreeze III GTX Hiking Boots – Women’s (Buy here from REI)
- TimberlandMt. Maddsen Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots – Women’s (Buy here from REI)
The best trainers/running shoes for women:
- The North Face Women’s Hedgehog Fastpack Gore-Tex (Buy here from Amazon)
- Brooks Women’s Glycerin 17 Running Shoe (Buy here from Amazon)
- ASICS Gel Kayano 25 Road-Running Shoes – Women’s (Buy here from REI)
Bedding – Sheets, Blankets, Pillows
Although many of Scotland’s flats come complete with furniture and dishes, most rental flats don’t come with bedding. To avoid sleeping on a bare mattress, be sure to bring a lightweight sleeping bag or a blanket and sheets until you can purchase extra bedding after you’ve settled in.
Extra – Travel Pillow
Add a travel pillow onto your packing list for Scotland. Just as most places don’t provide bedding, you’re unlikely to find a pillow provided, either.
I don’t sleep with normal pillows, as I find they hurt my neck. I always bring my sunshine travel pillow with me instead.
It’s soft and super easy to clean. Plus, it’s really compact, so you can carry it with you on long-haul flights and sleep comfortably.
Sunshine Pillows Chiropractic Neck Pillow for Extra Neck Support, Neck Pain Relief, Roll Cushion Contour Pillow Comfort Sleeper Travel Bus Car Navy Blue, Medium
Towels are unlikely to be provided in your rental flat. So be sure to bring a towel or two with you so you don’t have to run around naked in an attempt to dry off after a shower!
It’s also a good idea to pack some toiletries to get you through the first few days. You can buy everything you need for beyond that time in Scotland. I suggest packing toiletries for moving to Scotland as if you were planning a short trip. Try not to over-pack — just bring a small supply to get you through.
Recommended: Set of 3 Microfibre Towels (Buy here from Amazon)
When you land in Scotland, you have to let customs know you’re entering the country with a temporary work visa. Keep all your legal documents, entry documents, bank statements, passport and visa together, it’s a good idea to invest in a passport pouch. This way, you can make sure you have everything you need to gain legal entry to live and work in Scotland.
Passport Holder, Neck Wallet – RFID Blocking Hidden Security Travel Wallet Pouch for Women Men, Keep Your Money And Documents Safe – Black
Daypacks & Backpacks
Smaller daypacks are incredibly useful for when you venture throughout Scotland. I almost exclusively used my backpack in my day-to-day life when I was living in Scotland.
It was so much easier carrying my camera, portable battery packs, extra sweaters, socks and daily needs in one small bag instead of stuffing my pockets. I suggest getting a waterproof backpack or using a rain cover over your pack to keep all your personal belongings dry. If you want to be extra safe, you can get a separate waterproof bag for your electronics which you can place inside your daypack.
If you’d rather keep all your stuff together, keep an eye out for larger travel backpacks that come with small daypacks attached.
The best daypacks for Scotland on Amazon & REI:
- The North Face Borealis – Buy here from Amazon
- The North Face Women’s Recon Backpack – Buy here from Amazon
- Outlander Travel Backpack (Waterproof) – Buy here from Amazon
- The North Face Women’s Surge Pack – Buy here from REI
- The North Face Electra Pack – Women’s – Buy here from REI
If you’re moving to Scotland on a working holiday visa, you must get travel insurance. Travel insurance is for more than just medical emergencies!
Although you will be able to use the healthcare in Scotland as a temporary citizen, you’ll still need insurance for the period before you’re covered and for any trips you take outside Scotland.
As well as helping you out with healthcare payments, travel insurance also covers cancelled reservations and lost luggage, making it a wise investment. World Nomads is a great travel insurance company – check out their travel insurance plans and see which works best for you.
Portable Battery Pack
It’s easy to spend a full day wandering around town or hiking Scotland’s many trails. To keep your phone and other electronics charged when you’re out and about, be sure to add a portable battery pack onto your packing list for Scotland.
To avoid finding yourself in this situation, I suggest you bring along medicines you’re used to from your home country to get you through the times you’re sick in Scotland.
You can get medicine in Scotland. But the products you can buy are likely to be quite different from what you’re used to at home. I remember trying to find something as simple as cough medicine. They had solutions for everything from a “chesty cough” to a “dry tickly cough”. But I just couldn’t get my hands on an all-in-one cough remedy!
If you suffer from jetlag, you should add melatonin onto your packing list for Scotland. It promotes the hormone that gets your body ready for sleep. It will help you recover from your jet lag really quickly.
Recommended items for your Scotland First Aid Kit
- Tylenol (From Amazon)
- Nyquil (From Amazon)
- Advil Cold and Sinus (From Amazon)
- Pepto Bismal (From Amazon)
- Buckley’s Cough Syrup (From Amazon)
- Allergy medication – Reactine (From Amazon) or Benadryl (From Amazon)
- Anti-motion sickness medication – Dramamine (From Amazon)
- Antacids – Tums
- Anti-diarrheal medication – Imodium (From Amazon)
Scotland is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world. To capture all your memories, be sure to bring your camera. It doesn’t matter whether you have a professional DSLR camera or a smaller point-and-shoot camera. Remember to bring it along with you so you can take pictures for your friends, family and yourself. Don’t forget to bring must-have extras, like SD cards, extra batteries and your charger.
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More Information about Moving to Scotland
- The Pros and Cons of Living in Scotland
- How to Apply for a UK Working Holiday Visa
- Getting a job in Scotland for Expats
- 23 Reasons to move to Edinburgh
- Where to Live in Edinburgh – How to Find a Flat to Rent