Scotland Helpful Hints

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Visas and Passports

PassportAll U.S. Citizens traveling in Europe must have a current/valid passport. The U.S. Department of State requests:"If possible, you should renew your passport approximately nine (9) months before it expires. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least three (3) months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met."

Please refer to the official website: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html Please see the official FAQ page with any passport questions: http://travel.state.gov/passport/faq/faq_1741.html

If you do not have a passport, apply for one at your local passport office, clerk of the federal state court, or designated post office.

Allow several weeks for the government to process your application. You do not need a visa for Scotland.

Your passport will be inspected in your home city airport and again upon arrival into Europe.

As a safety measure, we suggest that you photocopy the front pages of your passport, airline tickets and everything you will be carrying in your wallet. Leave one copy at home and carry one copy separate from your passport. This will be of immense help to you if your documents are lost or stolen.

 

Golf Equipment & Golf Courses

Caddies & Golf Bag

FarwellThe use of a caddy is highly recommended at all courses. A good caddie, as every golfer knows, makes all the difference to a game of golf. The combination of local knowledge, sound judgment and experience can transform a round of golf into something really special. Golf in Scotland is more arduous than in the USA due to the fact there are very few golf carts available and most golfers carry their own bags, taking a caddie allows you to concentrate on your game and not bag carrying.

Caddie fees are posted at each club but average £50 per round with an additional gratuity of £20 suggested. Caddies are not employed by the clubs, but are independent contractors and as such need to be reserved in advance. Pull carts are available at approximately £5 in Scotland. A caddy can carry up to 2 bags. He will expect £50 + £20 tip per bag carried. Since it’s the same cost for 1 caddy to carry one bag or 1 caddy to carry two bags, we always recommend 1 caddy per bag. Golf carts, while scarce, are available at some of the courses; an official doctor’s note is required to reserve. Something to consider would be to take a couple of caddies between a group if you want to save some money.

Due to the above, we suggest you take a mid-weight golf bag. It will be easier to carry and pack. We also recommend you do not leave your golf bag unattended at any time, either at the golf course or in your car.

Golf Accessories

Overseas clubs do not provide tees and pencils. You may wish to bring your own supply. Golf balls are more expensive in Scotland ($15 a sleeve for ProVI). Once again, we suggest you bring your own supply. Other handy items: Band-Aids and sun block. Two pair of golf shoes should be plenty – preferably soft spikes – one pair should be waterproof shoes e.g. dry joys. Make sure they are well broken in before you travel.

Rain Suit and Umbrella

Although you will be traveling during the dry season, there is always the possibility of rain. We suggest you bring an umbrella, a wind-breaker and a waterproof rain suit.

Course Information

Most of the golf courses you will play will be private clubs. Generally, they will not be "loop courses" which means you will go out for the first nine and then turn and come back for the next 9 holes thus you will not have the opportunity to be back to the clubhouse during your round. Please check-in with the starter/caddie master at least 20 minutes before play. Each club will advise you of their individual rules and regulations, in general however there are areas in all clubs where you can eat lunch casually without a jacket and tie (Muirfield excepted). Some courses include lunch in the green fees.

Handicaps

In most cases there is a handicap limit for men and ladies. This may vary, for men 18-24 and for women 30-36.

Please carry your handicap card with you at all times, as you may be asked to produce it to verify your handicap.

Slow Play

In both Scotland and Ireland, all rounds of golf are expected to play in 4 hours per round. Please try to enjoy your round and keep up with the players in front of you. If you fall more than a hole behind, please wave the group behind you through so the flow of play continues. Also, it is a good idea to allow the local members to play through.

Fitness

As most of the courses you will be playing do not have electric carts, you will be required to walk, and in some cases, you may have to also carry your bag. Each round may consist of walking up to 5 miles, we strongly suggest that prior to your vacation you begin a walking program of a few holes each time out until you are gradually walking the entire course. By the time you leave you should be able to easily walk and play 18 holes. This will make your golfing adventure more enjoyable.

Golf Club Shipping

Should you wish to ship your golf bag ahead we recommend www.luggageforward.com/sghgolf

Golf Course & Clubhouse Dress Code

The clubs where you will play are traditional and conservative. Accordingly, your attire should reflect this.

In general, clubs ask that you adhere to the following: Shirts must have collars and sleeves. Trousers and shorts must be tailored. Tailored shorts should be approximately knee length, but not below the knee. Socks must be worn with tailored shorts. We recommend either knee-length or short plain white sports socks worn at least 4 inches above the ankle.

Dress Code

EXCEPTIONS!!

  • Western Gailes require white, over the ankle, socks if tailored shorts are worn.
  • Muirfield: Dress in the Smoking and Dining Rooms after 10.00am is "smart", equivalent to a gentleman's lounge jacket and tie. Golf shoes or outer golf apparel are not permitted in any of the Club's public rooms. Photography is NOT permitted in the clubhouse. Mobile telephones are NOT to be used for incoming or outgoing calls or text messaging either in the clubhouse, on the course or within the Club's grounds.
  • No shorts allowed at Royal Aberdeen.
  • Prestwick Golf Club: a jacket, collar and tie in the Main Dining Room and Members' Bar but causal wear is acceptable in the Cardinal Bar and Lounge.

 

What to pack... Two words say it best: TRAVEL LIGHT.

Adapters and or Converters
You should ensure that all electrical appliances, such as shavers and hairdryers, can be used on Scottish voltage that is 240AC. Larger hotels may supply adapters upon request, although we recommend that you carry one. Converters can be purchased on the internet, many hardware stores, and usually at all airports.
What to Pack

What to Pack

What to Pack

What to Pack
Travel Documents
Don’t forget to take your AIRLINE TICKETS AND PASSPORT!! Always be sure to check your airline tickets to be sure that they are accurate and complete. DO NOT pack your airline tickets or passport in your suitcase while traveling. It is a good idea to use the hotel safe for valuables.
Money / Scotland uses £ (Pounds)
We highly suggest that you contact your bank prior to departure to inform them you are traveling internationally. This could avoid a temporary stop on the card as banks protect their clients from potential fraud.
ATM'S
We suggest that you do not take large amounts of cash, but instead use your ATM card from home to make withdrawals as you need them. Please check with your bank before your departure for any fees which might be associated with this. ATM machines are plentiful AND give most current exchange rates in Scotland. This is a very convenient way to get cash for those places which do not accept credit cards and for caddie fees.
Traveler's Checks
Traveler’s checks are now issued on a card which is accepted at all merchants who take credit cards as they are processed through that system for purchases much like a debit card.
Credit Cards
Credit cards are widely accepted in Scotland at most stores, hotels, restaurants etc. Many credit card companies charge a fee for foreign transactions. Please check with your credit card company as to their policy. Also inform the issuing company of your travel plans to avoid your card services being interrupted for fraud.
Stolen/Missing Cards
Be sure to make a list of your credit card and check numbers and keep it in a separate place from your wallet, purse or passport. This will be helpful should you lose your wallet.
Bank and Changing Currency
The five main Scottish banks include Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, TSB Scotland and Girobank. Banks open Monday through Friday at 9:00am and close at 4:00pm or 5:00pm. All Scottish bank notes, though different than English notes, are accepted in the rest of Britain, so if you should be traveling through London your Scottish money can be used there.
Money can be exchanged in airports, larger railway stations, travel agents and some larger hotels (if you are a resident.) Check the fee or commission for this service before you change your money.

 

Weather Forecast & How to Dress

Spring: Mild but still wet! The East stays dry for the most part but the West will get some rain. Pack shirts, sweaters and waterproofs.

Summer: Warm and occasionally wet. Time to break out the shorts! Pack collared shirts and pullovers. The sun will be out and often deceiving- don't forget the sunscreen!

Fall: Similar to spring – mild and dry in The East, with rain in The West. Pack collared shirts and sweaters along with the waterproofs. Short sleeved waterproof tops are ideal for the autumn.

Winter: Cold and mainly wet. Pack lots of layers and waterproofs! Winter hats and gloves will also help to keep you warm

Weather

Packing Suggestions: It's best to dress in layers! For the men: 2 or 3 pairs of pants, 2 sweaters - one for golf and one multipurpose, two pair of walking shoes, and several golf shirts. Most courses do allow shorts with the exception of Royal Troon. However, we do not suggest that you pack more than one or two pairs of shorts as most of the time the weather will dictate that you wear pants.

For the ladies: Dress code for dinner at hotels can be described as smart. Slacks are acceptable attire. Walking shoes are essential, as is a warm jacket.

Baggage, Customs, VAT...

Carry-On Liquids; don't forget the TSA 3-1-1 rule! (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips)
3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.

International baggage allowance varies per provider. Please check with your airline prior to departure to determine the cost of each checked item. Keep in mind additional fees may apply for excessive weight or length per bag.

Your international baggage allowance in coach is generally one free piece with the second item charged about $50 a piece depending on carrier and their specific fees. In addition, you are allowed one carry on item. If traveling in First or Business class, you are allowed two pieces free (some airline it is 3 and each piece can weigh 70 lbs). A golf bag counts as one piece of your baggage allowance if it weighs no more than 50lbs and is enclosed in a full-length protective cover (vinyl/cloth/nylon). Each piece of luggage should not exceed 62 inches when you total length + width + height. Please note too that the weight restriction of each piece of checked baggage in Europe is 44lbs. If you are planning additional travel after your golf in Scotland, you will be held by any European airline to their standard and charged for additional weight. Please make sure that your name + phone number are clearly stated on each piece of luggage.

A golf bag should be contained in a secured bag rather than a hard carry case (hard carry cases can be a problem in terms of the space they take up in a rental car or mini bus). It is much safer for your golf equipment if you put a belt (canvas, plastic or leather) around the middle of the golf bag to keep the handle in it

Customs

BagpipesCheck at the airport your duty free allowances for Britain. On your return you can bring up to $800 worth of duty and tax free purchases per person, families may combine their allowances. Purchases up to $1000 over your exemption will be assessed at a flat rate of 3%. Also unsolicited gifts with a limit of $50 may be sent, duty free, to the U.S. - no more than one to the same address, and none to your home address.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Get more for your money - reclaim sales tax!

Visitors from any country, outside of the European Union, can reclaim UK sales tax on certain purchases made during holidays or business trips, which can give you a considerable saving. The sales tax - or value added tax (VAT) - is currently applied at 20% to most goods and services except food, books and children's clothing. This service is not available in every shop, so VAT can only be reclaimed on goods purchased from shops participating in the system. Ask the store before you make your purchases...

If the store participates, there are 2 ways to reclaim your sales tax:

  1. Stores often ship merchandise directly home for you, thus avoiding the tax instantly
  2. The stores will give you a *VAT form to fill out listing your goods and costs

This *VAT form should be mailed once you are in international departures in the custom and excise box marked for this purpose. If you cannot see it, ask someone for help. You will be refunded in approximately 6 weeks (minus a small service fee) in the same manner you paid for your goods i.e. you will receive a credit on a credit card or a check if you paid in cash. Remember that the check will be a sterling check and so it is usually easier to use a credit card for purchases where you will claim back the VAT. We suggest that you retain a copy of this with the address of the stores on the form.Please note: you can only reclaim on goods that you are bringing back to the US and you cannot claim it back on services you have used in Europe.

Driving / Rental Cars

Driving in Scotland

Scotland's roads include a motorway network in central Scotland, with dual carriageways to key places further north such as Aberdeen and Inverness. In some areas of Scotland, particularly the Highlands and Islands, there are often single-track roads, which demand extreme caution.

Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, with overtaking only permissible on the right-hand side. Visitors should also remember to give way to the right on roundabouts. Speed limits are 70 mph on motorways and dual carriageways, 60 mph on single carriageways and 30 mph in built up areas, unless otherwise stated. It is also necessary to wear seatbelts (front and back) in Scotland. The use of cell phones while driving is strictly prohibited and carries large fines.

Car Rental

Note: In both Scotland and Ireland, there is an extra charge for any additional driver over and above the main driver (typically £12 including VAT per day per driver.) A one way charge may also be levied if you pick up and drop off in different locations.  Collision Damage Insurance is included in your rental, but there is an excess which is not covered by this insurance:  this varies from around $700.00 to $3000, depending on vehicle type. This may be reduced by taking extra insurance from the car rental company of approximately £20.00 per day OR you can now buy a rental car protector insurance policy for $9 a day before you leave the USA which will cover your car up to $40,000, Ireland is excluded.

Gas: When you receive the car you get a full tank of gas. You have the option of buying the gas then or returning it empty. You have the option of giving them a deposit for the gas, by returning the gas tank full the deposit will be returned to you. If you forget to fill the tank they will use part or all of the deposit. (September 2016 Estimated gas price in Scotland: $8.37 USD per gallon)

There are age restrictions on car rentals:
Scotland- Under 25 and over 75
Ireland- Under 25 and over 65 (for rental mini vans).


Miscellaneous Information

Check In
You should check in for your international flight at least 2 hours before departure.

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Medical Assistance
Visitors who become ill while in Scotland are eligible for free emergency treatment at National Health Service Accident and Emergency hospital departments. If however, you are admitted to the hospital as a patient, or referred to an outpatient clinic, you will be asked to pay unless you are a citizen of a European country or a resident of a country, which has a reciprocal health-care agreement with the UK. You are therefore strongly advised to take out adequate insurance coverage before travelling.

Shopping
Shops generally open Monday to Saturday from 9:00am to 5:30pm or 6:00pm. In popular visitor areas, many shops stay open until later in the evening during the summer. While in larger towns and cities, there is usually late night shopping until 7:00pm or 8:00pm on Thursday evenings throughout the year. Scotland also offers Sunday shopping in most towns, though shops in smaller communities sometimes tend to close on Sunday and also may close on a particular afternoon during the week (usually Wednesday).

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Gratuities
There are no definite rules for tipping. If you feel that you have received good service then you may wish to leave a tip. This is most common in restaurants, where it is normal to leave 10-15% of the total bill but you should check to see if a service charge has already been included. Tipping in hotels is also at your discretion and it is not normal to tip bar staff. Taxi or cab drivers are often given a tip, again 15% or so of the total bill.

Restaurants
Scottish restaurants, including those in hotels, usually open from 12:00 noon to 2:30pm for lunch and from 6:00pm to midnight for dinner, although these times do vary greatly. Country establishments however, often tend to close that bit earlier so it is important to pre-check. Last orders are often taken up to 45 minutes before closing. Many restaurants, bistros, cafes and pubs remain open throughout the day for morning coffee, afternoon tea and beverages. Scottish High Tea is a meal served between 4:30pm and 6:00pm approximately and consists of a simple main course accompanied by bread, cakes and tea or coffee.

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Pub and Restaurants – What to Pay
The price of food and drink varies considerably depending on the type of establishment you choose. As a general guideline, eating out in a pub at lunchtime will cost from around £10.00, while it is usually that bit more expensive in a restaurant. Dining in the evening obviously varies greatly but one can expect to pay from £15.00 to £35.00 per person for a good meal. Pubs are generally cheaper than hotel lounges when purchasing alcoholic drinks. A measure or "nip" of whisky costs approximately £4.50, while a pint of beer costs around £4.00 or more. One should note that Scottish draught beers are usually ordered by the pint or half-pint, while some of the recommended local brews include Tennants and McEwans.

Hotel Extras
Try to pay your extras (laundry, bar, bill etc) the evening before departure. You will have much more time to check your bill. Some hotels cannot accommodate this, but try to do it wherever you can. (Please note that dry cleaning in Scotland is very expensive so check the cost before you agree to this service).

Phones

Cell Phones
First, figure out whether your phone works in Scotland by asking your mobile-phone service provider.
PhoneBooth Next, you need to determine the cost of any calls AND texts you will make or receive while in Scotland. Please call your provider and ask for this information so that you do not get an expensive surprise when you return home. Your cell-phone service provider will have an international plan, which allows you to roam throughout Europe using your home cell phone number.

If the rates are high or you plan on making a lot of calls, ask your mobile-phone provider for the code to "unlock" your phone. (You can also pay a third-party company for an unlock code, but it's less reliable.) Once your phone is unlocked, you can buy a SIM card in Scotland for $5-$15. Rather than using your American number, you'll have a European number...and pay cheaper European rates. Cell Phones are cheap to buy in Scotland and usually come with some minutes loaded. This pay as you go program is easy to use and will contain costs, you will want to let whatever company you choose that you will be making calls to the USA and want a plan which covers this. Typically, your calls will be 4 pence (6 cents) a minute. Most European SIM cards expire after a certain period of inactivity (typically 3–12 months) — including any credit you have left on the card, so do not buy more minutes than you will need on your trip – topping up is very easy.

Smartphone's, such as the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android, often work in Europe— but at a cost. Upon returning home, some users have been surprised with huge data-roaming bills for browsing the Internet or even simply for receiving emails. With the iPhone, you pay nearly 2 cents per kilobyte downloaded in Europe. This means you'll pay about $40 to watch a three-minute video clip from YouTube or email a large digital image (either of which is around 2 megabytes). While downloading a few emails (figure around 20 cents to send or receive a basic message) and doing some casual Internet browsing doesn't involve such large kilobyte loads, these charges can add up quickly. (If you have an iPhone, you can pay extra for an international data-roaming plan; however, it's still quite expensive (e.g., $25 per month to download up to 20 megabytes in 90 countries, including many in Europe).

We recommend that you turn off the function for "Automatic" checking of emails, if you're using a smartphone such as a BlackBerry or iPhone. Instead, change the email settings to "Manual" to reduce data roaming charges. During your trip you can choose when to check for email messages when you're connected to a free, wireless Internet connection, such as in a hotel lobby or Internet cafe.

Consider signing up for Skype and activating a Skype to Go number or downloading and installing the Skype mobile application for smartphones. A Skype to Go number is a local number that serves as a gateway to call outside the country to save money on roaming charges and providing a number for calls to be forwarded to your cell phone. The Skype Mobile application uses the smartphone's data plan or wireless Internet connection for calls to Skype members or other telephone numbers.

Telephone Calls
Please note that telephone calls from your hotel room are charged at a higher rate than normal and can be expensive. Please check charges before calling (especially long distance.) Local calls in Britain are NOT free. Telephone numbers comprise an area code (always beginning with 01) and then the local number.

A typical Scottish phone number would be (01294)123123 whenever dialing another UK phone number from within Scotland, one should always dial the complete number (both the area code and local phone number). Should you encounter any difficulties; the local operator can be contacted toll free by dialing 100. If calling a Scottish number from outside the United Kingdom, dial the international access code for the UK (from US this is 011), followed by the code for the UK (44) and then the area code, dropping the first 0. Taking the above number as an example, dialing from the US the number would be

International Code +UK Code +Area Code +Phone Number i.e. 011 44 1294 123123

The international code from Britain to America is 001 and then the area code e.g. 001 513 984 0414.

F.A.Q's.... You ask, Ian Jack answers...

Ian Answers

"Haggis?"... Common Food / Word Definitions

Food Food Food Food

Common Scottish Word American Translation
Haggis Savory pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs ); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt
Black Pudding Type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled
Holiday Vacation
Notes (when referring to money) Bills (as in Dollar Bills)
Lorry Truck (vehicle)
Bacon Looks like Canadian Bacon/ Ham; tastes like lean bacon
Queue / "Q" Line to stand in
Sweets Candy
Sausage Roll Pigs in a blanket
Aubergine Eggplant
Courgette Zucchini
Tablet Similar to fudge (very sugary)
Till Cash Register
Loo Bathroom
Jacket Potato Baked Potato
Chips French Fries
Cookies Biscuits
Chemist Pharmacy
Numpty Stupid person
Cuddle Hug
Trousers Pants
Pants or Knickers Underwear
Lift Elevator
Wallet Purse
Scotch "Pie" Small, double-crust meat pie filled with minced mutton or other meat.
Scottish Breakfast This will usually include some or all of the following: bacon, eggs, black pudding, sausages or sliced (flat) sausages, Tattie Scones (potato scone,) baked beans, mushroom and tomato; tea and coffee.