What to Pack for Scotland – 13 Essential Items to Pack for Moving Abroad

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Hiking trail in Cairngorms National Park. Route down to Loch Lee, Angus, Scotland, UK. Woman wearing backpack walking down rocky trail towards a loch in the Scottish Highlands. What to pack for Scotland.

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.

Waterproof Jacket

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:

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.

If you’ve got a limited budget, consider bringing more expensive pieces of clothing, like a winter jacket or waterproof boots, with you so you don’t have to buy them again after moving to Scotland.

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.

Thermal Base

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.

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!

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!

Recommended: Rdruko Women’s Outdoor Lightweight Quick-Dry Sportswear Water-Resistant Hiking Pants with Pockets (Buy here from Amazon)

Work-Appropriate Clothes

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.

Warm Scarf

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.

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.

Recommended: PACTIVE Packing Cubes for Travel (Buy here from Amazon)


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:

The best trainers/running shoes for women:

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

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)

Passport Pouch

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.

Recommended: Passport Holder, Neck Wallet – RFID Blocking Hidden Security Travel Wallet Pouch (Buy here from Amazon)


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:

Travel insurance

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.

Buy from Amazon: Poweradd EnergyCell 10000 Compact Portable Charger

Over-the-counter medicine

You can’t get Nyquil or Tylenol in Scotland. When I’m ill, all I want is comfort and not being able to find a great dupe for Nyquil when I was living in Scotland was a real problem.

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

Camera

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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Comments 6

    1. Post
      Author
  1. This is such a helpful post! I’m not even moving to Scotland but there’s a lot of stuff that would help me out. I definitely need a wind proof umbrella. So many of mine have died when it gets crazy windy in this city along with the rain.
    I also think I need to get those packing cubes. I hate how it’s so hard to find exactly what I need in my suitcase. It would be nice to have it better organized.
    Also, I have a chronically bad neck, it feels the worst in the morning, so is the neck pillow you mentioned the one you use all the time? I need a new pillow but not sure what would be best.
    What’s the best time of year weather-wise for Scotland? I felt chilled to the bone while reading.😉

    This was an awesome post!! Lots of great tips.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thank you so much, Lauren! Yeah, umbrellas and wind do not go well together. The heavy-duty windproof ones do come in handy! The packing cubes seriously changed my life. I used to use sleeping bag compression bags but they still weren’t as good as the packing cubes. It just makes everything so much easier!

      So, to have a warmer experience in Scotland you should visit in June through August. June is probably the best month because it rains less and it’s not as filled with tourists as the later months. August is nice – but if you are heading to Edinburgh it will be more expensive and really hard to find a hotel due to the fringe.

  2. I still struggle with the measurement thing, which is common in a lot of Europe. I’m all on board with the metric system, but can’t seem to wrap my dumb brain around weights. That having been said, I don’t actually like measuring cups, either, and these days I tend to just guesstimate everything. So far, mostly good.

    By the way, we must discuss packing cubes further. I’ve never used them and I’m wondering if they could enable me to overpack EVEN MORE…

    1. Post
      Author

      I had to guesstimate a few recipes in Scotland. I seriously missed having my measuring cups! I am the same as you with regards to weight and height. It has to be in imperial otherwise I am too confused!

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