How to plan your Scotland trip

I create bespoke, tailor-made tours throughout Scotland for a living and I abslutely love doing it. Each and every single one of my clients adds something new and exiting to my own expirience of this fabulous country.

My own approach is client-led, usually my customers have some ideas, I take them on board, curate a tour and utilise my experience to make further suggestions, we discuss and eventually develop a tour “made for you”.

This is all done fairly old fashioned. I use google maps to create an itinerary and provide weblinks of other attractions. It is my responsibility to turn your dreams in tours which are fun and manageable without rushing or sitting for hours on end in the vehicle.

Times have moved on of course. For once there are chatbots. I tend to converse with ChatGPT, who is a patient listener but not always helpful. I ask him (I selected a male voice no offence) if he could tell me which Islay whisky distilleries are closed on Sunday:

ChatGPT was correct in informing that Ardbeg is closed on Sundays, but neither Bunnahabhain nor Lagavulin are closed on Sundays. ChatGPT also correctly confirmed Bowmore to be closed on Sundays but also Laphroaig is closed on Sundays.

Bottomline is -as helpful as ChatGPT appears- you end up researching opening times yourself. and while I am thinking of it let me ask how many whisky ditiileries there are no Islay. From ten whisky distilleries ChatGPT got eight and knew about Port Ellen, which is a pretty decent answer:

Let’s turn back to real people: another source of very useful information can be obtained from travel bloggers such as the Wayfairing Kiwi or The Chaotic Scot. They are both lovely personalities and very knowlegable. I personally enjoy reading their blogs and posts. I have not, yet, recruited either of them for itineraries as I feel I would be cheating.

The other very famous one is -of course- Rick Steves, who produces sounds and highly entertaining content.

Staying to the social media there are various groups which are fun and provide good advice. I am showing my age here just naming the FB group “Travel to Scotland” you can engage with fellow travellers and Scots, ask questions and get some decent recommendations.

Then there are a number of specialities, such cruise ship pages, or if you are interested in outdoor activities; Wild Scotland, or wellbeing; Heal Scotland or remote locations with Hidden Scotland or WalktheHighlands. This is only a selection of course if you want more do get in touch.

Lastly back to technology: apps. I have recently downloaded “Discover Scotland”, “Holiday Scotland Mapps”, “traveline Scotland”, “AllTrails”, “NorthCoast500” and “Highland Discovery”. They all provided some good information but were mostly lacking in linking into different areas. If you wish to plan a trip in a certain region that works you can even add music or postcasts to your driving experience, but if you go out of the region or switch to a different mood of transport it gets tricky. Local tourist associations have also engaged in apps. such as “The Coig” or “Inthefootstepsofthekings”. I am not yet convinced about any of them but am very happy to be proven wrong.

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