Scotland the Brave and Mostly Cloudy...
Ok, let's be honest, I'm not really sure how the people on Pinterest pack for an extended trip to the rainy UK in just a carry-on. You can however, with some careful planning, get away with bringing a lot less than you might think.
First things first, a bit of research goes a long way when planning what you might need depending on the climate and general terrain. It rains daily in Scotland so waterproof footwear is quite necessary, which is why pretty much everyone in the UK owns a pair of 'Wellies" or rubber boots. What do you plan on doing while you're there? Hiking? Perusing galleries or museums? Street tours? Whatever you plan on doing, make sure you plan ahead. For example, Scotland has a great deal of ancient sites to see and you should expect a good amount of walking. So if you have a favorite pair of hiking boots or walking shoes, set those aside as a priority for your luggage, just make sure they are comfortable and waterproof. If your feet hurt or get cold and wet, you will be miserable. Take care of your feet.
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Next, you'll need a good raincoat. One thing I noticed about the local Scots: they all had raincoats. (The weather in Scotland is indeed rainy, but it's also windy, which is why I suggest leaving your 'flip inside-out-prone' umbrella at home). Pick a lightweight 'pack-able' jacket with a hood for those totally expected unexpected bouts of rain. Even if it's just a light drizzle you'll be happy to stay dry and warm to continue your adventures.
Layers. Even though Scotland tends to be overcast and rainy, it has its moments (and I do mean moments) where you may be overly warm in a thick heavy sweater (jumper) or coat, so dress appropriately by wearing a tank top or cotton t shirt underneath a long sleeve shirt or sweater. Choose your layering pieces from athletic stores such as Under Armour which make thin, lightweight pieces that wick away moisture keeping you dry and comfortable all day. My go-to hoodie and even my travel backpack were from Under Armour's "Storm" line and the rain literally bounced off of me. I Highly recommend Storm gear.
My Storm backpack is my carry-on. Not only is it waterproof but it doubles as a padded pillow should you find yourself at the airport with an extended layover. (I once spent the night in the Munich airport sleeping on a beach towel I had bought in Spain). But I digress... Here is a list of my carry-on items: Passport/travel documents, camera, phone charger, gum, bottled water (bought after security screening), blanket, fuzzy socks (I take my shoes off and change into my fuzzy socks shortly after boarding), ear buds, eye drops, lip moisturizer, travel toothbrush and paste, travel size deodorant, a paperback book, and a few small snack items like almonds or granola bars to tide me over. When you set them all out to pack they're really not that much to carry and it all gets through security...minus the water, of course.
Now, you're probably waiting for me to tell you to pack more clothes and shoes, but to be honest, packing two additional mix and match outfits besides the one you're traveling in, and another pair of shoes or boots, is all you're really going to need to bring.
Now that you think I'm totally crazy, allow me to let you in on a little secret... Scotland...sells...clothing. The country is known for many things: whiskey, golf, kilts of tartan plaid made from... you guessed it, wool. The best part of traveling, besides your experiences, are your treasured souvenirs. Buy yourself a warm cable knit sweater or a plaid wool scarf to wear while you're there! Another little secret is that larger cities like Edinburgh have many small thrift shops along the streets which aid local charities. You'll not only be adding a few pieces to your travel wardrobe, but you'll be helping a good cause, too.
So bring your large suitcase if you like, just don't pack it full. You'll need all that extra room for items you wish to bring back home with you. Don't forget to take a few pictures and if you like to write, keep a travel journal to remember special places. I like to save any ticket stubs or programs to remember all the wonderful places I've visited.
There are many more tips I could share with you to make your trip more enjoyable, but I will leave you with this promise: no matter what you choose to bring with you to Scotland, you will most assuredly leave your heart... behind.
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