Scotland in Six – Kennetpans Distillery — Travels with a Kilt

Kennetpans Distillery Having spent some time in the spring touring around underrated Clackmannanshire, one of the things that lingered on my to-do list was a deeper exploration of Kennetpans Distillery. Truly the stuff of historians’ dreams, this seemingly insignificant ruin by the River Forth is nothing of the sort and it can be looked upon…

via Scotland in Six – Kennetpans Distillery — Travels with a Kilt

5 Return Flights from Glasgow for under £100 — Caitlin Jean Russell

If you’re looking for a last minute trip to book from Glasgow, then there’s ten countries in Europe that you can fly direct return from this month (July 2017). Using Skyscanner.com I’ve collated a list of five European locations where you can fly for up to and including £100, but if you want to see the…

via 5 Return Flights from Glasgow for under £100 — Caitlin Jean Russell

Americans Are Not The Only Annoying Travelers, and Other Musings

C9B37BCF-8421-41F5-8796-03EE44B59278I’ve just read through several ,”What Not To Do”, articles for traveling in Europe. I have to say that I know most of what is being said as true, Americans can be so annoying. I spend most of my traveling sitting and hearing other annoyed travelers going off about things. I keep my mouth shut, cringe at most things, get off a bus and find a place to just have a good laugh. Really, what saddens me is that people spend so much time and money to travel, that they waste time complaining about the most ridiculous things. Yeah, the airlines misplaced my luggage last year, so there are some things that can really mess with your trip. However, there are bombings going on. Some of what you are complaining about is really trivial in the greater scheme of things.

Oh, and I do realize that the people of Ireland and the UK shouldn’t be considered Europeans unless they decide to be. People are from their countries, and have cultures quite their own.

In the summer of 2016, I spent a few weeks traveling in Scotland. Of course with my luck, both the Clockwork Orange and Scotrail were not running, one with improvements, the other with strike actions. When I was heading back to Glasgow from Oban, we were rerouted on a luxury tour bus. Could have been worse. I actually got the tour bus free, didn’t have to pay £100.00 for the trip. But from the minute I stepped in the Oban train station, I heard that classic, 60 plus year old woman’s, greater London accent on a dirge of sarcasm voice. I stared at the wall, the suitcase, anything to keep my face still and silent. I love a good sarcastic rant as much as anyone, but she didn’t know when to stop.

The bloody Scots can’t keep a train going. It’s a good thing Teresa May has just got in, she’ll sort this. We’ve paid good money…

I’m sure some similar conversation was happening on the East Coast of the US, somewhere about changes afoot, the state of traffic.

To give you some context, Brexit stage 1 had just happened, and May had just entered into office. The husband of the woman said nothing the next two hours of highlands travels around Loch Lommond and down Glasgow way. Probably best, he pretended sleep I think. I tried not to grind my teeth, put the music on. Listened to the Gaelic being spoken, imagining some of it was commentary on the “woman”. I fantasized for about 20 minutes out from Glasgow about the bus driver being overcome by the passengers, and the woman being put out. Then I though the bus driver might just do it himself, without any encouragement. Bus drivers are only so patient.

Two days later in the West End of Glasgow, I was sitting in a eatery and having an Americano, I made the mistake of being friendly with the Brit next to me. Honestly, I was wondering what had happened with the Brits I was meeting, it must be this Brexit thing? True, any one I met from the north (Liverpool and such) seemed just fine. I had had great encounters all over Scotland with Scottish people. I could just turn to a stranger, smiling and a conversation would just happen. The Scots are just so happy about their country and proud of living there, always a fun conversation on just about anything. I Just avoided talking about politics unless it was brought up. But when faced with a Brit in that age range of 55 to 65 last summer, from the south, it was utter sheer annoyance that I dared to talk to them. Sadly, it got to the point where I just listened to people before uttering a word, and well you know we Americans just smile too much, tried to look aloof instead.

Guess it was the summer of malcontent both sides of the pond. Was it the age group?

Traveling This Year 

I am a bit apprehensive about this past year and political events coloring tourism for me on this trip. I love traveling and meeting people, hearing about their lives if they care to share experiences with a stranger. I try not to be offensive, and I really do not consider myself as typical American tourist. I come from Northern California, not LA. Please don’t lump me in. I’ll try not to stand there in pure wonder over a geographical location or castle with mouth hanging open. But really, shouldn’t the locals enjoy such things and still wonder at them? I am just happy to see any of it still standing, given acid rain and all.  With recent terrorist actions, can’t we all just embrace one another? Smile?

I wonder how it will be after the recent American elections fiasco and political atmosphere? Will people think I voted for current government, I can assure you I didn’t. I am a non violent person and try to respect other people’s rights and countries, and assume that I DON’T know everything. Hate to have to go around and not talk to anyone.

Don’t Go On About Your Ancestry. It is Assumed That’s Why You Are There.

Yes, I will be really be spending time in Ireland this year, and work really hard to not be annoying and ask really stupid things. Yes, the Irish went everywhere and much of the US population does have a drop or two of the blood in us. Quite a bit on my mother’s side. Can you blame me for wanting to see the country? It’s been on the bucket list for years. So was Scotland, for the same reason. I am going back this year because Scotland just has so much depth, I barely scratched the surface on the last visit. It told me to come back. But no, I will not be silly and fake an accent. Why would I insult someone? I’m going because I stood with feet on the ground last year for 3 hours and smelled the air in Ireland. It told me I was home, why are you leaving?

I come from California, but I am not LA. So I think I know a little bit about being type cast. I am hoping that if I talk to people, kindred spirits will pop up and a solidarity of humanity will prevail. There’s enough going wrong in all our countries, and many people are displaced and seeking asylum. How about some solidarity and familiarity? Oh, and I promise I very rarely use the word “awesome”, and I cringe at the words “awsome sauce”. There are so many better words to be used in this world.

My Travel Thoughts This Trip

1. Last year I did indeed go to that country where one of my favorite tele series is filmed. I did not fan girl once or mention it to anyone at all. I went to visit the country and people.

2. I am contemplating bringing my MacCallum kilted skirt and wether to wear it in Scotland. Would love to have annoying Americans come up and start talking to me and see what happens. Honestly though, I wear the thing all winter here in Portland, and well summer too sometimes because well, it’s Portland. We wear kilts. We wear anything for that matter. Oh, and the women’s is not a kilt, true kilt is worn on the right and much deeper pleats (filleadh beag). And more women are opting for bespoke men’s kilts these days. Break that stereotype.

Think I could get away with it?

Travel News Roundup for June 2017

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Thought I would round you up a few articles to get you going thinking on your travel plans and those yet to be made.

How to get some really good flights, strategies to search for what is a deal:

http://www.travelpulse.com/news/features/how-to-arrange-an-epic-far-flung-flight-on-a-budget.html

France seems to be the trend for travel this year:

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/jun/15/france-bed-and-breakfast-hotels-gites-auberges-readers-travel-tips

And my current favorite topic: Laptop Bans, Phone Access. Contact each airline and TSA.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-12/the-laptop-ban-and-what-it-means-for-air-travel-quicktake-q-a

http://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/803897/laptop-ban-travel-US

https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/3142972/uk-laptop-ban-flights-devices-countries/

https://thenextweb.com/insider/2017/05/18/us-europe-airport-laptop-flight-ban/#.tnw_2CoC360f

You should have already done this by now, but visa changes are happening in many countries:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbender/2017/03/04/going-to-europe-this-summer-you-may-need-a-visa/#69f3a1dc6967

What to Wear and Not Wear

http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/passports-and-international-travel/10-things-you-should-never-wear-when-traveling-abroad

Please, Act Un American When Traveling. Try Canadian.

According to this article, I should act more like a snob, not so friendly. Don’t bother people. So, why is it when I am in Scotland I can just turn to someone and we both smile and the words just come out and we are both bouncing? I guess it’s just Scotland. The Irish I have encountered pretty much do the same. Oh, wait, the guy was in Sweden.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/charlie-shaw/2014/05/35-europeans-answer-whats-a-dead-giveaway-for-americans-in-your-country/

 

Travel, Data on Your Phone, and Other Sunday Tour Prep

IMG_0390I am sitting here in PDX at the cafe and listening to The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour with a smile on my face. I just spent an hour with my cell phone provider trying to make sure I had the right travel plan for the UK and not get caught unawares as last year. I have opted for the $10.00 per day unlimited and spent time going over what needs to be managed on the phone itself while traveling to keep things under control.

You see, here in Merica, we tend to supersize everything. It’s not just food we gobble. We suck up the data and really don’t realize we are doing it, and that’s what the providers are counting on. The fact that we don’t think like Europeans do about conserving resources can really hit your pocket when you return from your trip. So, let’s look at what you can do to manage your data use and still get around as you like in a big new city.

Roaming

Roaming has always been an evil word in telecom, but since you will be physically wandering joyfully, try making it less painful. I have had cell phones for over 20 years now and still remember this is the most costly thing to deal with, borrowing another network while traveling. Only have roaming on when you are not in areas where you can get WiFi. Make calls when you can be in a WiFi zone. Using maps is tricky and will use a lot of data.

Map Apps

Guilty pleasure here. I do bring paper maps with me of places, but they can be a combersome nuisance. Although if I were traveling with children i would make them use and help with this, it’s becoming a lost art, the reading of a physical map. It can also make you stick out like a tourist target. But if you don’t know a city, it will have to be how you roll. Some map apps and tour guides apps have a offline feature. This may still access data but saves a big file on your phone. You can dump it later or course, but think about it.

How to Access Maps Offline

Warning: Some Offline Map Apps will cost you money. Some are free to try, but full features will cost you.

List of Offline Map Apps

eTips Around the world with specific destinations. Free basic app, more in depth with attractions and such will cost you.

Google  Maps the classic app. IPhone will come with Apple maps,  but this too can suck up data.

MAPS.ME will download a map for your area. Try doing this when you are in WiFi mode as it will go faster and cost less for initial download.

CityMaps2Go Operates off of saving map for area.

Offline – Currated Events and Things to Do in Your City. App grabs information from location on current events happening and has it ready for you.

For a full list see here.

Penny Lane was playing, and made me think what traveling and meeting people in their neighborhoods and communities really brings to travel. Enjoy your travels this season and share them with us. Hopefully with less data fees. Oh, it’s still okay to ask someone where a street is.

https://ting.com/blog/ting-tip-for-ios-download-google-maps-for-offline-use/

http://itstillworks.com/iphones-gps-use-up-data-18643.html

https://www.slant.co/topics/1182/~offline-gps-navigation-app-for-android

When Your Travel Budget Takes a Hit, Retrench

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Glasgow Street Art – Free things to do

You have been planning for 11 months a travel that will make up for what little you were able to explore the last time you went to the most spectacular country experience you could have imagined. When you attempted to master the travel experience of that country, you came back with the realization that you barely scratched the surface of its locals and people. You vowed to make it back and explore more than before, and take on an adjacent country to boot. And you were going to go for longer on the same budget because you learned a few travel budget things the last time. Speed forward a few months and you are prepping for the new trip becoming a reality. Tickets and bookings happened for great budgetary prices during the holidays. You have been setting aside a bit per month to buy currency. Then the shocker hits you. A disaster happens, like taxes. You have already invested so much, if you back out now you are at a loss. Can you still go on this amazing trip?

Such a wall of shock hit me this week. I spent 24 hours on one of the most stressful decisions all year: Call it a loss and stay in the US, miserable, or cut the daily travel budget in half and still have a wee bit of debt, but a wealth of experience. On day 2 I decided to go ahead and challenge my already challenged tight budget.

Retrench
It’s an old term from the UK, meaning to get back into the battle. Recover from a loss. My brain had to wrap around how to get a daily budget for food and maybe the occasional fun thing to do paid for after taking a hit to an otherwise already tight travel budget.

Fundraising on funding sites won’t attract sympathy from anyone unless you’re traveling to do a scientific study, so how do you do it. It’s spring, it’s time for a garage sale. You need to clear it out anyway, look for items you can sell in a garage sale and or on eBay. You may be able to get a few days of meals out of it.

Accommodations
Hopefully you were smart and shopped at AirBNB or other sites and found the best rated spaces for your very limited budget to begin with. Think if you can about the type of place you are staying in. Part of a vacation is that you want to spoil yourself a bit if you can. Well, if you plan really well and read reviews, real time, real people reviews, you may find some great bangs for your travel buck. One thing to consider, if you are in a location for more than one night, find one with service or kitchen facilities in the room. Even a small fridge will do. You can pick up a few items of food or a bottle of wine, mix up a picnic lunch and save some money. If you save a bit, and some days you have a bit left over, you have money for a little splurge later. If you are lucky enough to travel and have patience with travel partners, room and other costs can be combined, and you can stretch your more. Just plan for some “me” time on your trip so you don’t get into a horn lock with your travel mates.

Food
Decide how you can save daily expenses in a city. Cities are very expensive to live in, but if you have been a university student in a large metropolitan city like where you are visiting (Dublin), you can find the best places to eat for a tight budget. Think like a starving student. Chose where you stay to help with your budget. Is the place you are staying only accessible to high-end restaurants, and can you walk or bus it to where you can get groceries if you have a refrigerator at your disposal. Granted, one of the great things about travel is fantastic food. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive restaurant in town that has the best. Again, think like a student. Amend look for pop up restaurants, great variety and smaller overhead can help your budget.

Travel
In the city, try to walk as much as you can. It’s the best way to experience it after all. I have been in training for the last two years with travel in mind, I sometimes walk 12 miles or more a day when I am visiting a city. Walking is free, but make sure you invest in good shoes before you leave. Cabs are very expensive, plus there’s the tip you should give. I usually only do them coming from an airport and getting to one if the bus is too difficult. Bus systems in most cities may seem an alien experience to you, but can save you loads of money and you can talk to locals. By keeping your transit to walking and buses, you can save money for a splurge on a tour maybe. Start by booking any train travel about a month out. Many trips can be purchased in advance and be really cheap with your fees being prepaid. If you wait too long, the prices double and treble. Most rain travel is accessible by internet booking now and you can set up an account with the train line that you can access later. Make sure you know where you can pick up your tickets, as not all railway stations have machines.

Entertainment
This year I am going for the festival experience. This means a plethora of overwhelming amounts of theatre and arts venues, and way too many choices. Shop ahead online before you go if you have a particular artist you want to see, or surprise yourself and load one of the festival apps with GPS. Venues with tickets still available will show, and if you are lucky, some days of the festival like Monday or Tuesday are cheap seats days. There are many free performances and street performers are pay as you like.

Set Your Daily Budget
The reality is if you only have so much money to take with you, budget the cash divided by days. Logical right. There are articles and books on doing cities and places on x $ per day. Many things can and will add up to an expensive day. Taxi rides to and from to the airport if public transit is a no go. Food. Food doesn’t have to be extreme. There are plenty of great priced places and great articles out there on top food choices on a budget. Don’t forget farmers markets, many towns have them and you are supporting locals v. Corporate farms. If you can get the breakfast at the inn deal, sometimes they are a bit tasteless.  Then you only have to worry about dinner. If you are very conservative and keep your big splurges down, you can save from your budget for a great treat at the end. Remember, really experiencing a place is all in the wandering. I keep a list of free things to do in each city on my phone. And warning, going to the pub is much more costly in Europe than in the US or Canada. So if you can get that kitchenette, it’s cheaper to buy bottles and stay in.

So, the budget vacation doesn’t have to be boring. True travel adventures don’t need to be costly if you plan ahead and think about real value. Avoiding high costs like car hires unless you have 4 people minimum will help keep your budget under wraps. Public transit and walking everywhere save money for food and the occasional theatre ticket. It can be done, besides, it’s what the locals do.


© 2017 photo by Alison McEwan

Great Escapes From Glasgow

Finding The Devil’s Pulpit and More in the Trossachs As a Glasgow boy, vacating the city for the outdoors leaves numerous open roads, all incentivising and grappling for your attention in their own unique way. None are more convenient or more accessible though than the fabulous Trossachs. In addition to my top picks in the…

via Day Trips from Glasgow – The Devil’s Pulpit and More — Travels with a Kilt