Scotland Is Open for Tourists. Here's What to Expect

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on June 11, 2021

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Traditional Scottish bagpiper out in nature.

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Scotland joins a growing list of countries bringing tourism back.

It used to be that if you wanted to travel to another country, you only needed to get a passport (or update an existing one), book a flight, and pack your bags. But travel to some countries has been extremely restricted due to the pandemic.

In May, the European Union decided to allow fully vaccinated visitors, Americans included, to pop over for a visit. And since the United Kingdom is beginning to allow tourists, you may be able to book a trip to Scotland this summer. Here's what you need to know.

Entry requirements

The U.K. is expected to lift restrictions and return to mostly normal life by June 21, so if you're planning a summer trip, you may be in luck. That said, the U.S. is on the U.K.'s amber list, which means that to visit Scotland, you need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken 72 hours before your departure. You then must self isolate at a rental property or hotel for 10 days upon arrival.

On the second and eighth days of quarantine, you must take a coronavirus test, which must be purchased in advance from British authorities and could cost several hundred dollars. If you want to cut your quarantine short, you can take another test on your fifth day from a private provider (also potentially several hundred dollars), and while that grants you freedom to roam the country, you still need a follow-up test on your eighth day.

How to budget for a trip to Scotland

Due to the pandemic, there are added costs you might incur if you travel to Scotland. For example, in addition to those test costs, you may have to pay for additional nights of lodging to meet the quarantine requirement.

There's also good news: You may be able to enjoy the full tourist experience once your quarantine is over. But since your trip might cost a lot more than usual, map out your expenses carefully to make sure they don't exceed your travel budget.

Before you book your trip, take a look at your credit cards to see which offers the most rewards for expenses like airfare and lodging. If you have a travel rewards card, see if you're eligible for other money-saving perks, like free checked baggage for your flight.

But don't rack up debt on your trip to Scotland, because that trip will cost you more in the form of interest charges. This holds especially true if you use a credit card with a high interest rate.

If you want to travel this summer but can't swing the entire cost of your trip, it could pay to consider a vacation loan. Though you still end up paying interest, the amount you pay might pale in comparison to what a credit card charges.

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