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If you’ve been in our world for a bit and know our ins and outs, skip to Destination: Scotland.
If you’re new to Mac & Cheese or it’s been awhile since you’ve consumed our travelness…
💡 General Travel Tips
Don’t plan anything else on days you do tours; they often go over time and you’re exhausted afterwards. Don’t add stress to your life by having to be back for something.
It’s ok to not love something everyone else loves, e.g. pastel de nata, the famous Portuguese pastry, which I found eh, or the Louvre.
It’s ok to have slow days and not always be go go go. We often return to the hotel to nap and watch HGTV in the afternoon.
If you’re going for a longer trip that consists of multiple accommodations, we highly recommend bookending the trip with “normal” hotels as opposed to Airbnbs or smaller lodgings. When you’re travel tired, either because you just arrived or because you’ve been on the move for awhile, it’s really nice to stay in a familiar setting that has the perks you’re accustomed to, like toiletries, comfy beds, air conditioning, and helpful staff.
Many credit cards will give you a credit if you pay for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry with said card. Whatever route you go, don’t get Pre-Check if you’re going to get Global Entry; the latter gives you the former. If you travel internationally, Global Entry is 110% worth it.
Before you email or DM or message or shake of fist comment there’s no link, remember our favorite phrase — “Google it”; you have an amazing self-sufficient tool at your fingertips 365/24/7. Questions like “Where’s that restaurant?” “How do you make a customized MyMaps map?” and “What’s Priority Pass?” ➡ Gooooooooogle.
💑🏽 Best Friend & Best Friend Context
✈️ Travel Resources Beyond The Blog
To see all my travel posts, head to the main blog page and filter by travel
- Happy Cow: the best for finding vegan friendly eateries especially in places you don’t speak the language (hello Japan). Our favorite filter is “vegan options” so that if I want a hamburger, we’re both happy. Pete’s profile where you can see all the places we’ve gone.
- TripIt: the ugliest useful site. Keep all your travel info in one spot. Especially helpful if you have a complicated trip with lots of reservations (transportation, lodging, etc). When you make a reservation and get a confirmation, you simply forward that email to email@example.com and it automatically adds all the info. You can share trips so that multiple have access which we love both when we’re together and if only one of us is taking a trip just to have that info.
- My Maps: where we map out our lodging and the places we want to go. Nice to visually see the distance to/from things, e.g. we’ll be at this location for a bike tour, what’s a vegan friendly restaurant nearby? 💡Tip: make them available offline in case you don’t have cell service.
- Flush: Toilet Finder & Map app
- Tile: Luggage+ tracking
- I post many of our expeditions real time on Instagram, mostly in Stories, and have some travel on TikTok
- The Mac & Cheese List page is filled with recommendations, travel and otherwise
- The Mac & Cheese Amazon Store has a travel list
Thirteen days, May 2023
Wowee, what a way to see a country! Sometimes we stay in one spot, sometimes we hop — this was a hopping vacation. We slept in seven different lodgings over our thirteen days, choosing to rent a car (eep! More on driving below) so we could have road trip freedom. Pros and cons of course. I was so tired of packing and repacking. But arriving at a new lodging is one of my favorite past times. And what a different and absolutely not as enriching trip it would’ve been had we only stayed in Glasgow or Edinburg.
What a wonderful trip.
My two regrets — I wish we had made it to IKEA (like going to McDonald’s in other countries, samesies with IKEAs) and I wish we had taken the Harry Potter train.
But overall, the tldr is: go!
- Activities (food and non-food)
- Your Recommendations
- Random Musings
- Places We’ve Gone Together
Make reservations everywhere. They’re not just for for fancy places. Places are so small that it can be hard to get a table. We lost out on eating at a few places because we didn’t make reservations.
No golf carts on the courses, unless you’re disabled.
- Roundabouts are common in Scotland. Give way to vehicles from your right, and turn left on entering the roundabout. Get in the far lane if you’ll be exiting the last exit, stay in the near lane if you’ll be exiting the first or second exit.
- There are no toll roads or toll bridges in Scotland
- The best tip RE single track roads is to always stay on your side of the road, even if it feels like you should be on the other side (e.g. that’s where the pull off is)
- GPS is wonderful even if you have to pay extra
- This was the first time we drove a hybrid and it was soooooo nice to only have to get gas three times in two weeks filled with driving. Both the cost and the action. Especially when we were in the middle of nowhere.
- Watch a few YouTube videos especially if you’ll be single track driving
While we strayed from the plan a few times, this is almost verbatim what we did when —
Click square top left corner to expand/collapse list of what you can toggle on and off the map.
These are many of the sites we used in planning —
- Would stay again
- Great central location
- 1/2 block to train
- Huge gym
- A Wetherspoon right across the street
- Eh, not the nicest; very old
- Beautiful spot, right across from water and 1/2 block from an amazing vegan restuarant
- If other spots are booked and you’re driving through, fine to stay; very glad we only had one night
- Would stay again
- Very nice common areas
- Room was fine; long walk
- Convenient to ferry and a golf course
- Super pricey due to being on an island
- We didn’t use the spa facilities but supposedly, very nice
- Would stay again but glad we were just passing through and it was only a night
- Included breakfast
- No staff, you let yourself in with a code
- Would probably look for another place just to mix it up if we came through again but would stay here again
- Guest house of a police officer and his wife; he came out to meet us, very nice guy
- Right behind the main house
- Space was clean
- They had bread, water, and hot drink fixings
- Would stay at the vegan hotel down the street if we were in the area again but would stay here again
- Good location
- Hearty breakfast included; very accommodating
- Would stay again
- Great central location
- We opted for the free breakfast instead of points; very hearty and lots of options
Reminder to see Pete’s Happy Cow profile for the vegan spots we went to
- Prestwick Golf Club
- Wetherspoon: chain of pubs and hotels all over Scotland that you should experience at least once. It’s great for fast, cheap, no frills grub. Get the app and order ahead of time. Humongous space with tons of seating. Order at the bar or via the app. Large vegan selection.
- We didn’t get to the IKEA but I wish we had; go and report back!
- Buchanan Street: not our types of stores (fancy) but cool in that it’s a pedestrian street
- University of Glasgow
- Meander the West End
- Glasgow Cathedral and the necropolis behind it (cemetery)
- Madras (Indian food)
- Bread Meats Bread (burger chain)
- Barras Market
- We didn’t get to Mother India but heard good things
- Try a munchy box: an inexpensive product sold from restaurants. It consists of an assortment of fast foods served in a large pizza box.
- Drove to Ben A’an thinking we were going to hike it but it was rainy, steep, and unmarked; very popular though if you wanna give it a try
- Took a 45 minute ferry ride around the lake
- You could rent bikes (including e-bikes) and ride what looked to be an easy path; we were intrigued by the “take the ferry out and bike back” option but didn’t pull the trigger
- Cu Mara: we were so disappointed we didn’t make reservations here! 1/2 block from our hotel, adorable, great vegan reviews.
- Oban Distillery tour
- Ferry to Isle of Mull — make sure you get these tickets ahead of time and arrive early
- Craignure Golf Club: unmanned honesty box golf course. You can rent clubs at the tourist office across from the ferry.
- Just driving the island is an experience, because it’s mostly single track. Be careful at dusk/night — besides being dark and single track and on the wrong side of the road, there’s also oodles of deer.
- Tobermory is a picturesque town
- At the foot of the UK’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, and also where you can catch (or just take a peek at) the Harry Potter train
- We didn’t go but the Boathouse was highly recommended
- Nairn Golf Club
- An easy and nice hike; a good way to get some steps in if you’ve been driving for a bit. There are no facilities at the trail head so make sure you go in town if needed.
- Drinks at the very instagrammable vegan hotel (we would’ve eaten and possibly stayed there but the kitchen was closed for inspection and we didn’t know about it during our planning phase)
- Walk the bridge over the river
- The Moulin Brewery
- Blair Athol Distillery for a whiskey flight
- The Festival Theater is very popular; we weren’t able to catch a show but definitely worth checking the schedule
- There’s a cheap and easy put-put course right off the main golf course; was fun even for someone who doesn’t care about sports or golf
- Wander the campus
- St. Andrews Cathedral
- Simply strolling and meandering is the best activity!
- Dishoom: to die for Indian food. Make reservations if you can but sometimes you can get lucky with walk-ins. We went at 3pm on a weekday and got right in.
- St Arthur’s Seat: a mountain hike in the middle of the city that’ll give you amazing views.
- Dean Village
- Edinburgh Castle
- The Meadows: a large park space near the university with walking trails and some cute residential areas surrounding it
- Edinburgh University
- Circus Lane
- Stockbridge Market
- Mary Kings Close: an underground tour; good activity to do if it’s raining or otherwise nasty out but eh if the sun is shining
- The Haggis Box: vegan and non-vegan haggis in a storytelling center
- pubs for live music
👍🏾 Your recommendations
Y’all gave us so much goodness! Compiled in a sexy document.
👓 Random musings
Thoughts while on the trip…
- The coronation
- “For fucks sake…”
- Driving on the left side
- “Drive on the left, on the left!”
- Guessing what road signs mean
- Looking for public toilets
- “Hills” (aka mountains)
- Not being able to understand English
- Very friendly everyone
- Uber driver: “I want to visit America for two reasons — Walt Disney World and Chicago deep dish. I’ve watched a lot of videos of the pizza.”
- “Layby”: “an area at the side of a road where vehicles may pull off the road and stop; a rest stop”
- To say thank you to someone driving behind you, e.g. if they pull into a layby to let you pass, you turn your hazards on for a few flashes. LOVE THIS.
- “Diurnal”: as in an osprey is diurnal or ” of or during the day.” Opposite of nocturnal. Nothing to do with Scotland per se, just that I learned this word while here, reading up on native wildlife. 😂
- The game we love to play when driving: “Is this a sidewalk or is this a street?”
- Waving to people passing
- The left lane is the slow lane
- Ranger Rovers and Land Rovers and surprisingly, tons of Fords. Very few Subarus.
- Single track driving
- Instead of boring ol’ American “amazing” “great” or “super,” we will now be saying “Fan-TAS-tic.” “Loooovely.” “SmAshing.” (Think Sean Connery)
- “Sittin’ in or takin’ away?”: I still answered “to go” and “for here.” 😂 I tried so hard.
- Backpackers, highway cyclists, tiny camper vans, and tents
- Fluorescent clothes (cyclists, police, construction, blue collar workers…)
- No covering of or going somewhere private for breastfeeding babies
- No tipping
- Ask for the check or else you will still be sitting at a meal
- Rainpants and raincoats
- Not sure if this is a seasonal thing or an American thing as it often has been, but we’re the only ones in shorts and sandals
- Scarves (Why don’t more US men wear stylish scarves? They’re so cute)
- Black leather pants
- I thought home was dog friendly; Scotland is DOG FRIENDLY. We stuck out at dinner one night because we didn’t have a dog at our feet at the restaurant.
- Man buns: unsure if this is Scotland or just the way men are these days
- Scottish old lady hair: a very short, practical cut
- Bad pillows
- No pitbulls (sad face)
- Tattie (baked tattie): a potato
- Neep: rutabaga or turnip (you’ll often hear the combo neeps and tatties)
- Toastie: like a grilled cheese
- Potato scone: not like a raisin or cranberry scone; it looks like a scallion pancake.
- People were not talking on phones as much as at home
- Nose piercings
- Use of the term “massively”
Got any more Scotland recommendations? Drop ’em in the comments! And let us know if you go.
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These posts take time and we love keeping them free and accessible. 😍
🧳 Places We’ve Gone Together
Starting with our first trip in 2010 — Amsterdam, Bruges, and Paris — we’ve made travel a priority. And sometimes I write about our travels; head to the main blog page and filter by “travel” to see which of below I’ve written up.
- Argentina (Mendoza)
- Bahamas (Nassau)
- Belgium (Bruges)
- Belize (Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, San Ignacio)
- Canada (Nova Scotia, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver)
- Caribbean Cruise (Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Miami)
- Chile (Santiago)
- France (Paris)
- Ireland (Dublin, Galway, Killarney)
- Italy (Rome, Milan, Lake Como, Venice, Bologna, Cinque Terre, Pisa, San Gimignano, Sienna, Florence, Civita de Bagnoregio)
- Japan (Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Hakone, Tokyo)
- Mexico (Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende)
- Netherlands (Amsterdam)
- Norway (Bergen, Oslo, Stavanger)
- Portugal (Lisbon, Porto, Obidos, Coimbra, Sintra, Braga, Guimaes)
Scotland (Glasgow, Loch Katrine, Arrochar, Oban, Isle of Mull, Fort William, Fort Augustus, Nairn, Glencoe Lochan, Pitlochry, St. Andrews, Edinburgh)
- Sweden (Stockholm, Bergen, Gotland, Gothenberg)
- Arizona (Grand Canyon, Sedona, Phoenix)
- Alabama (Dothan, Birmingham)
- California (Santa Clara, San Diego, San Francisco, Yosemite, Palm Springs, Borrego Springs)
- Colorado (Boulder, Denver)
- Hawaii (Maui, Oahu)
- Florida (Clearwater, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando, St. Pete’s, Miami)
- Georgia (Valdosta, Atlanta, Savannah)
- Kentucky (Louisville, Lexington)
- Louisiana (Monroe, New Orleans)
- Maine (Acadia, Portland)
- Massachusetts (Boston)
- Missouri (Kansas City)
- Michigan (Grand Rapids, South Haven, Allegan)
- Nebraska (Omaha)
- North Carolina (Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro)
- Ohio (Cincinnati)
- Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh)
- Puerto Rico (main island/San Juan/Aguadilla/El Yunque; Vieques)
- Rhode Island (Providence)
- South Carolina (Charleston)
- Tennessee (Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis)
- Texas (Austin)
- Utah (Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, Zion National Park)
- Washington (Seattle)
- Wisconsin (Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Lake Geneva, Fond du Lac)