I recently traveled through Scotland with my husband and parents. It was a lovely trip, we saw a lot, and had an overall great time. We started in Glasgow, made our way up through Fort Williams, Isle of Skye, Inverness, Pitlochery, St. Andrews, Edinburgh. I am still digesting all of my impressions and thoughts. IBD wise, I thought that Scotland was a great place to travel through. As with anything, preparation is essential, but overall, I found Scotland to be a great place to travel through, even with Crohn’s.
- We all travel with our prescribed meds, but it may so happen that you run out of tylenol (paracetamol) or band-aid etc. Boots and Superdrug are drugstores/pharmacies that generally have most everything, but also supermarkets like Tesco, Selfridges, Marks and Spencer (M+S), depending on their size, have medical essentials.
- At almost every restaurant, our waitperson asked whether there are allergies or dietary restrictions they should know of. To be sure, I don’t know whether their kitchen would have been equipped to handle, say a very strict gluten-free diet, but it is more than I have previously experienced. Most menus also had indicators of what the food contained, and most menus also listed the sources of their dishes’ ingredients. Using local ingredients seems to be a source of pride in Scotland, one that I, for environmental reasons, support wholeheartedly.
- In that vein- even though traditional Scottish cuisine may be a bit meat-heavy, finding vegetarian alternatives, or even vegan ones, was rarely ever a problem. The Scottish food scene is diverse, you can truly find so many wonderful flavors, textures, you can be as adventurous or as careful as you see fit when it comes to finding food.
- In the touristy areas, finding clean and accessible bathrooms was not a problem, however if you are using your own wet wipes, do not flush them in the toilet! Almost every bathroom had a sign informing us that this would be an issue for their systems, and I had not intention of testing their claim!
- This isn’t necessarily IBD specific, but Great Britain has long lifted mask mandates. Since I am on team careful when it comes to Covid-19, I opted for wearing masks inside very crowded buildings. Still, Scotland has a vaccination rate of 77% (something to dream of in the US!), so I did feel fairly safe.
- Overall, people have been incredibly friendly and helpful, from taxi/cab drivers to waitpeople, to random, chatty strangers, which gave me the feeling, that if anything ever happened that required medical attention, I would find help (aside from that, I was traveling with family members!).
I won’t repeat all the usual Scotland specific advice on what to pack- it’s a four seasons in a day kind of place, even though we were blessed with amazing weather (I had to buy a sun hat!!!). Halfway through, on Isle of Skye, we stayed in an airbnb (inside a sheep meadow, lol!), which allowed us to wash our clothes, which was nice, since we had packed light.
Scotland itself is an incredible place, I understand why my parents love it. I also understand why so many New Zealanders felt reminded of Scotland on the South Island, lol! All in all, aside from being able to spend an extended time period with my parents (something not taken for granted if you live on different continents!), I am glad I went, and was able to do so. Gratitude abound.