Renting a Car for a Scotland Golf Vacation
Most Independent Golfers become really independent when they
rent a car and strike out with map in hand. You can, of course, go with an
international car rental agency, but if saving money on the rental is important
to you, Local
Scottish Rental Agencies give the real bargains.
And, yes, there is also that driving-on-the-left-side-of-the-road
thing! Going straight down the road isn't hard. It's the turning, the roundabouts
and the traffic coming from the "wrong" direction that gets us.
If you are going to drive a rental car on your Scotland golf trip, it is important, both for your peace of mind and your safety, to understand some basic principles of driving in Scotland. With this understanding, you should have no difficulty.
The Independent Golfer's Guide devotes an entire chapter to this important topic. To look at a excerpt from Chapter #6 – "First, Look Right",
While you are waiting for your book order to arrive in the mail, if you want to look at a few tips for American golfers driving in Scotland
Other Transportation Besides Rental Cars
If you travel in the West you will probably need to take a ferry to some destination. To learn a bit about Scottish ferry service,
Finally, to get around Scotland, there are other choices beside rental cars.
Local Scottish Rental Car Agencies
The cost of rental cars in Scotland is about as reasonable as you would find at home but be warned, the cars, themselves, tend to be smaller than we are accustomed to. The advantage is that these smaller cars get very good gas mileage, a welcome trait where gas can cost over $5.00 per gallon. The disadvantage is space. Two golfers with their suitcases and their golf clubs take up more space in a car than you might think. A group of four will probably need a mini-van or at least a station wagon.
All the large rental car companies that we know in the U.S. operate in Scotland. If you are comfortable with them, fine, but you should know that there is a much less expensive alternative. There are two Scotland-only rental agencies that offer considerable savings over their larger, international competitors. Shop both of them to find your best price.
One reason that agencies like DCH and Arnold Clark are less expensive is that they are “off-airport,” that is, they don’t have to pay the costs of maintaining operations at the major airports of Glasgow and Edinburgh. When they know you are arriving they will send a car to pick you up at the airline terminal and take you to their car park which is nearby. Their prices are consistently more reasonable than those offered by the major international agencies and their personnel are always easy to work with.
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Ferry Travel in Scotland
The Machrie golf course on the Isle if Islay, Tobermory on The Isle of Mull and Shiskine, Brodick and Corrie on The Isle of Arran can only be reached by ferry. Caledonian MacBrayne (known to the locals as CalMac) runs all the regularly scheduled ferry services in the Highlands and Islands. The timetables and fares are set well ahead and adhered to with punctuality so that planning a passage by ferry can be as dependable as it is adventurous. All the information you need can be found at CalMac. You should pay special attention to the series of packaged deals they offer tourists. One, called the Island Hopscotch tickets, offers special combinations at educed cost. Another, the Island Rover, allows flexible travel on any routes for 8 or 15 days. Generally, the CalMac ticket agents are eager to help you find the best deal for your needs. Don't be hesitant to ask how you might save money.
It is a good idea to reserve your spot on a ferry ahead of time. This is a working enterprise that services local needs including large freight trucks. If you show up at the dock and the boat is full, there will not be another for hours or even days. Plan and book ahead.
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Other Scottish Transportation
You really have a choice between spending money for a rental car and traveling rapidly or spending less but investing more time in getting there.
The cheapest travel in Scotland is by bus and train. You can get anyplace in Scotland by Citylink Bus. The fares are very reasonable and they are quite good at keeping to their schedule but, typical of all bus service, you must conform to their timetable and this might mean waiting for some time between connections.
ScotRail offers the faster and still reasonably priced alternative of traveling by train between larger destinations. They also offer “Explore Scotland” packages that allow you the freedom to hop-on and hop-off a specified number of times within a set number of consecutive days.
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