1st February 2023
Have you ever considered solo female travel in Scotland? Scotland prides itself in the warm welcome all visitors receive upon arrival. At Away from the Ordinary, we are especially pleased that we have been able to help various different types of travellers enjoy the most of what our country has to offer.
Specifically, we have seen a rise in solo female travellers booking with us over the last two years. To dig a little deeper into this trend, we have interviewed three recent AFTO clients to find out a little more about what makes Scotland such a great place to visit for an individual travelling on their own. We are delighted to introduce you to Christina Ho (travelled with us in February 2022) Gulbin Brown (travelled with us in August 2019), and Rebecca Irwin (travelled with us in September/October 2022):
Christina: Two things, as a chemical engineer who loves breweries and distilleries, I had always wanted to do a whisky tour of Scotland and both taste and see what makes Scottish whisky so special. I also have always wanted to visit Loch Ness and get a sense of beauty and magic that spawned lore like the Loch Ness monster.
Rebecca: When I was about 12 years old I went to a performance of the Scottish band Battlefield Band in my hometown of Boise, Idaho for a school assignment. Their music and stories ignited a lifelong desire to visit Scotland.
Gulbin: Scotland has been close to my heart for a while. I visited Edinburgh and the Highlands a few times before with friends and relatives, however, I felt that Scotland would be the perfect place for my solo trip because I’ve always found the people welcoming, the nature breath-taking and the environment nourishing for my soul.
Rebecca: The people were just wonderful! Everyone I met treated me like an old friend that they hadn’t seen in ages. I was gifted cups of tea, a bottle of local beer, professional photograph prints, and rides home from the pub, all from total strangers for nothing more than a lovely bit of conversation, which is gift enough in itself! Then of course there was the scenery, which was a big part of why I visited in the first place. It seems like around every bend in every back road there’s a new postcard view waiting to be discovered!
Gulbin: The Edinburgh Military Tattoo, beautiful and inspiring. The Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar is unbelievably unique and stunning. The wild beauty of the Highlands, particularly Braemar, everywhere you go is just breathtakingly beautiful and genuinely replenishes your body and mind. The incredible history and architecture of some of the castles such as Cawdor and Dunottar. The extraordinary food was produced beautifully and tasted delicious.
Christina: The food, the people, and particularly my guides. The food was exceptional no matter where I went. Given that the UK has a bad (and clearly undeserved) rep for their food, I have to say everywhere I went the food was outstanding. From the hotel meals to the exceptional food I had at Fhior (thanks to Away for the Ordinary for the hook-up on the reservation), to the fish and chips on my way to a whisky tasting. I’m salivating thinking about it now. Fhior makes the top 5 meals I’ve ever had in my life.
The guides I had really made my experience special. Given it was a solo trip I really did feel like I had friends everywhere I went. I had as much solo time as I wanted but also had people to chat with and ask questions of everywhere I went. They were all so nice, fun, engaging and a delight to spend time with. Oh, and of course, the special opportunity to catch a six nations rugby game and attend a local black tie rugby event the night before the game. That would never have happened on my own and was such a special experience.
Gulbin: Nowhere compares to Scotland. I have been all over the world from West to East and Scotland has its own unique wild beauty, immersive culture and welcoming people.
Christina: Scotland was so interesting in the sense that even though I know I was clearly not at home, I somehow felt at home there. It was fairly easy to know where I was going and easy to talk to people. Also, there is a comfort factor, I just felt at ease. I’d also say the weather meets its reputation. I was prepared for everything and I got everything. One day it snowed, rained, and was super windy and then the sun came out and I was sweating! But it was fantastic. Driving across from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye, and crossing Lochs was some of the most beautiful drives I’ve experienced anywhere. It felt like magic even when the weather wasn’t perfect.
Rebecca: If I can only pick one, Rock Rose Gin out of Dunnet Bay distillery, specifically their autumn gin, was the best hidden culinary gem of the trip. I knew going into it that I’d be happy in Scotland as a whisky lover, but I didn’t realize the amazing craft gin scene that has taken Scotland by storm recently. Not only was Rock Rose a wonderful gin, their distillery tour was the best I went on during the trip, encompassing gardening, the art and science of distilling, and a gorgeous tasting room with several tastes and a cocktail. That being said, Scotland is a seafood paradise, and I had amazing examples of it ranging from langoustines to fish and chips. I recommend to other travellers they should try Cullen Skink, it’s a smoked fish soup, similar to a chowder, that isn’t much advertised, but is delicious and distinctly Scottish.
Christina: It would have to be drinking whisky at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and eating the tasting plate of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. The place is beautiful. You can learn a lot about whisky there and the food was delicious. I’m serious. I can’t not mention the Cranachan I had at Ghillie Dhu in Edinburgh. A great experience.
Gulbin: I had the best and the freshest oysters ever at an oyster shed near Talisker distillery.
The best restaurants in my experience are The Grain Store in Edinburgh and I also loved Chez Roux in Cromlix Hotel. The restaurant in Fife Arms also serves great dishes. I am not a whisky drinker at all but somehow, I love a dram of good whisky when I am in Scotland, particularly, as an aperitif before dinner.
Gulbin: Just go for it! Scotland welcomes you as a solo female, it is safe, it is beautiful and its natural beauty in particular is the best therapy for mental well-being.
Rebecca: Firstly, don’t be afraid to ask for help or recommendations from the people you meet. I got lots of great recommendations from locals, and even other tourists. Secondly, finding a great place to stay is very important, whether that’s making sure you’re close enough to the pub or distillery to walk so you aren’t drinking then driving, or a place which has the perfect ambience so you can relax and be well rested for your adventures the next day. As a side note, many of the distilleries with tours offer tastings-to-go for drivers, so you can still participate if you are driving yourself!
Christina: Call Aeneas. The end.
Just kidding. Scotland was super safe. I felt very comfortable walking around everywhere on my own so really just start planning as soon as possible. What are you waiting for?
Gulbin: None. I went out for dinners on my own, I walked in Braemar, Edinburgh and other locations in the evenings when it was dark. I never felt threatened by anyone or anything and was always made to feel welcome.
Christina: Not particularly. The only thing I would say is that if you travel on your own anywhere, but also specifically Scotland, you’ll likely hit multiple places in your time there. Spend time planning what you pack. You won’t have a lot of space and you need to pack for multiple types of weather so bring layers and don’t bring a million suitcases.
Also if you need a hair dryer, check with your hotel. Not all of them have hair dryers readily available in the room and there are no plugs in the bathrooms so you’ll be doing your hair by a mirror in the room. It was also really great to have a guide so that I didn’t have to drive and I could enjoy the scenery.
Rebecca: The primary challenge, as with any solo road trip, was navigation while driving safely, especially on the opposite side of the road from what I was used to. I found that it helped to look up the route ahead of time and to allow plenty of time in case of getting lost. Aside from that, it can get lonely on the road occasionally, but if you put yourself out there and chat with the people you meet, or head to a bar or other gathering place in the evenings, the new friends you make help relieve those feelings. I’ve added several of the people I met in Scotland on social media, and I look forward to visiting them again on future trips!
Christina: Prepare for the variable weather. Pack layers. Don’t tour more than 2 distilleries. It becomes repetitive at a certain point. Do tastings at as many places as you like but don’t tour everywhere. Also. If you’re in a city take public transportation at least once or twice. You get a much better sense of the people in the area. A little slice of real life.
Rebecca: Staying for at least three nights in any one location is definitely recommended. If you keep your plans flexible it can let you plan around the weather more easily! But also, if you dress appropriately for the weather you can enjoy just about any activity, so don’t let that stop you!
Gulbin: Make sure your trip is planned well ahead preferably by Away From the Ordinary! Every detail was addressed, and the best options were offered or given to suit my likes and interests.
Gulbin: If you have a dog, definitely take him/her with you! The best companion ever if you need one and they are welcomed wherever I have been in Scotland, apart from obviously the restaurants.
Rebecca: Just a random note, but the friendliest people I met on my trip, all over the place, were all from the small town of Badachro. I’m not sure what it is about the place, but I’m definitely going to have to stay there someday!
We would like to thank Rebecca, Gulbin and Christina for sharing their great insider tips and knowledge with us. If you are a solo female traveller, Scotland should be top of your list of places to visit. Here at Away from the Ordinary, we have the experience and expertise to make your dream trip a reality. Get in touch to start planning your bespoke vacation to Scotland.
If you would like to read more from us, click here: