Newcomer to travel

Old Feb 12th, 2001, 06:01 PM
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Newcomer to travel

I am going to Scotland for 10 days, the end of this month (February) - I have never traveled outside the US before. What do I need to pack? What is the weather like?Should I do a monetary exchange before I leave the US? Traveler's Checks? Any help would be welcome. I have no clue.
Thank you
Old Feb 12th, 2001, 06:08 PM
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Check out the weather at main news channels. Expect cold rain and maybe snow. Pack light and then cut by 1/2. Take a few travelers checks for emergencies but use a credit or debit card for day to day expenses and cash. Only exchange alittle before you leave, taxi fare and a meal till you get to an ATM. Have fun! Galloway is the best!
Old Feb 13th, 2001, 05:35 AM
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When you access a forecast for a city, at the bottom of the "current conditions" table, you'll see a box for "Historical Conditions". Not all cities have data; it seems to be available for larger cities in the country, but it's great for getting a general idea of temps/conditions during the timeframe you'll be there. weather section also has historical data.

At a currency change establishment you should be checking the "buy" rate for your home currency, not the "sell" rate. It is considered best to charge as many purchases on credit cards as you can, as you'll get the best rate of exchange. It is best to bring two cards, a credit card plus a debit card, in case one doesn't work
Try to have as little local cash left over at the end of your trip as possible, just enough to get you to the airport. If you have a bunch of coins, ask your hotel to give you bills in exchange when you check out. You can change the last of your British money at the airport, but bills only, not coins.
Many travelers agree that since the proliferation of ATM machines, traveler's checks are unnecessary. Many travelers carry one or two traveler's checks in their home currency just for emergency backup in case you lose your ATM, credit, or debit card, or it doesn't work for some reason. If you don't use your traveler's checks you can deposit them into your bank account when you return home, or just save them for your next trip. Buying travelers checks in the local (foreign) currency before you leave home isn't an advantage. You lose money on the currency exchange rate at home, plus you usually pay a small fee for the traveler's checks themselves. Then when you get to your destination, banks and some currency exchange desks will charge you an additional commission to cash the travelers checks for you, even though the checks are in pounds. Your hotel and shops may or may not charge you to cash them. ATMs are easier all the way around, in
my opinion, even if your own bank charges you an ATM fee. In the end, unless your transactions involve many thousands of dollars and many cash withdrawals, the differences in fees and commissions probably aren't
significant from one method to another. Of course, the fees and interest applied to cash advances on credit cards are exorbitant compared to the small fees which may apply to using your debit card/ATM card to take money from your bank account.
By the way, many ATMs outside of the USA require a 4-digit PIN code, not beginning with a zero, can't recall if this applies to the UK.

Old Feb 13th, 2001, 10:46 AM
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If this is a "holiday" (as the British would say) and you are planning to travel using public transport, do these things:

1. Be sure you have an ATM card (credit/debit/etc) with a 4-digit PIN number. I'm not sure if this is as much of an issue as it once was, but better safe than sorry. Also be sure you know what your PIN is (I almost made this mistake once!), and that your card is part of a major ATM network (Cirrus, VISA, etc). I would also strongly recommend that you take a second card in case your first gets eaten by an ATM.

2. Buy a lonely Planet Scotland Guide. Fairly compact (at least for an LP guide) and the best for budget accomodations/public transportation.

3. Consider a Britrail (or Scotrail) pass. Depending on your plans this may or may not be the way to go, but you can only buy them outside the UK so you have to decide now. You can find details at or

As long as you have your passport, airline tickets, ATM card, and a good guidebook you can handle just about anything except an attack by rabid haggi (plural of haggis).


Old Feb 15th, 2001, 02:29 AM
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be aware that in scotland they have their own currency as well as british notes. be careful when leaving scotland with scotish pound notes as most places in england wont accept it and you will probably not be able to change it back at a bank in your country, have a grt trip
Old Feb 15th, 2001, 04:26 AM
Tony Hughes
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I'm not one to be picky, Lorrie, but we have our own notes (coins are interchangeable as only special editions and pound coins/two pound coins are different and then it's only the inscriptions on them) as opposed to English money not British. We ARE British.

Sean if you find you have a lot of local currency left over then change the Scottish notes at a bank for English ones, it won't cost you anything.

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