Back during my Paris series, I did a post on crowdsourcing tourist information. I gave this process mixed ratings. On the one hand it’s a great way to gather a lot of information really quickly. But the downside is that strangers on the internet don’t know anything about you or how you travel. Which is the most important part of planning a trip, so we must filter. I’ve done all these steps for April, who hopefully will be taking this trip we’re planning, when the world returns to its normal level of chaos.
I was looking for four categories of information from strangers on the internet. First, when to go and then what the weather would be like. I will have to discuss further with April how big of a deal the weather is to them. For us my husband doesn’t do heat, especially in places that don’t have air conditioning everywhere. I don’t love the cold, however if the trip is amazing then I will suck it up. Weather will also drive April’s packing and fashion choices. Next I was looking for ideas of places to go and activities to do. I didn’t ask specifics on Scotch tastings yet, because that’s a wormhole I wasn’t ready to go down yet, but will ultimately be the driver of the itinerary. Stay tuned for that post. Finally, I looked for tips on transportation, places to stay, tour companies etc. Here are my takeaways from the group Travel Fashion Girls.
Timing: August is the busiest time of year and for good reason. The weather is nice and there are a ton of summer festivals to visit. September and May are what locals recommend because the weather is nicer than fall and winter but you’re on the front and tail end of tourist season.
Weather: It’s wet and cold 90% of the time is what I got. You’re absolutely crazy to go in winter, Christmas decorations aside, it’s freezing. Waterproof layers and boots that can handle winding stone steps are always necessary. I was hoping I would not so secretly want to take this trip when I finished planning but the odds don’t seem to be in my favor here. I got basically no fashion recommendations because apparently you wear boots and a raincoat all the time. April will love this.
Where to go: Yes, Edinburgh is probably everything you want it to be, but it’s quite busy and Glasgow is nearby and doesn’t have the same level of tourism. Both are close to Sterling Castle which many deemed a must. Other cities and places recommended included: East Neuk of Fife, Isle of Arran, Glencoe, Isle of Skye, and Loch Ness. These were great jumping off points when I do my own internet research.
Activities: Have high tea on the Queen’s Ship docked in Leith not far from Edinburgh, Loch Ness is actually really fun, The Real Mary King’s Close, Culloden Battlefield near Inverness (last Jacobite rebellion), Standing Stones (there are several sets). I was fairly disappointed with a lack of specific recommendations on activities. This is problematic because I will now be forced to head to Trip Advisor. Insert the emoji with the puke face. Why? Because Trip Advisor is owned by Viator who take the majority of the fees they charge away from the local touring company who does the actual work. They’re brokers, I hate supporting them but this is how the world works.
Other tips: ScotRail is easy to use, Sloway tours are great, eat nips and tatties any chance you get (haven’t looked that one up yet), visit distilleries (we’ll dive deeper into that later). Join the Facebook group: Scottish Travel Society.
What did I get that wasn’t useful? The blanket statement, use a travel agent is always from a travel agent. I responded to the first one with “I love my travel agent and throw as much business her way as I can, but for me planning is really enjoyable. Is there something specific about Scotland that I would need to use a TA for?” Her response was no but I am TA and it’s a dying business and we need all the support we can get so I am glad to hear you use one for some things. It’s actually not a dying business, what’s dying is the idea that people can’t or don’t want to plan themselves.
We've discussed Christina, my TA, extensively, but this isn’t the kind of trip I use her for most things. I will, however, buy my insurance through her. We never leave the country without a million dollars a piece because my grandmother broke her hip in Budapest in the early 2000s and that’s about what it cost and they didn’t have sufficient travel insurance. As her business grows, Christina may be able to book my flights and hotels in the future and I would have her do it, but I prefer planning myself. It’s actually about the same with Disney. She’ll make suggestions of activities to do or hotels to stay in if she finds something she thinks I’ll love. If I had been the travel agent promoting myself or the profession I would have had solid suggestions of things I could do to be helpful and not just because. Her poor marketing, explains her dying business.
As we narrow things down I’ll go back and ask for specific recommendations on where to stay, which distilleries to visit, restaurant recommendations, etc. But we’re going through this process step by step, the way I do it and crowdsourcing is always first. Next we’ll start the Pintrest train. I did get told if I read Fodors, Lonely Planet, and Rick Stevens will all give you totally different views so if you read one you should read all three. To which I wanted to respond, this is why I use the internet, I get 100 viewpoints and I get them faster. April is always the last to read the book in book club, not because she doesn’t like to read but because she’s reading three books at once, so we’ll definitely skip this recommendation.
We’re off to a great start. I went from knowing nothing to having a great foundation for planning a big country wide trip. I am ready to start my spreadsheet. If you didn't catch Part 1 here's the link.
You can get my Table-Mate mobile work desk 20% off with the code Mandie20.