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Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

Brossard, Canada
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Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

I'm trying to decide if it's worth the $$ to get a GPS with the rental car for my 2-week trip around Scotland.

I'm bringing a Michelin folded map of Scotland (map #401) and have a couple of guidbooks that also provide general driving directions.

I'm not too concerned about getting from one large town to another, but wonder if a GPS is worthwhile when travelling to more remote destinations?

My driving itinerary includes St. Andrews, Forfar, Royal Deeside, Elgin, Inverness, Gairloch, Isle of Skye, Glencoe, Tarbert.

Your thoughts? Thanks!

Montreal, Canada
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1. Re: Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

since you are from Quebec and probably not use to drive on the wrong side i would strongly suggest you rent or buy a GPS. Anyway this is what i did when i visited the UK.

Its one stress you can live without. Most of the street signs in UK are so small you can barely read what's on it.

Place safe, bring a GPS.

Basingstoke, United...
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2. Re: Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

I have always managed with a good map book.

Scottish roads are pretty good - even in fairly remote places. You often travel a long distance without having to make a turning. I would personally not trust a sat nav as if you do make a wrong turning (and I often do with mine in England) it could be an expensive mistake!

Sign posts are not that small - and on smaller roads you will not be driving fast.

Edinburgh, Scotland
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3. Re: Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

Outside the cities, and especially around the places you mention, there really aren't too many roads in Scotland! And they are all well signposted. It's very hard to get lost, as long as you have a map and basic map-reading skills. A GPS can be handy for providing directions in the complicated one-way systems of central Glasgow and Edinburgh, but you are better off not driving them at all, if possible.

Bingley, United...
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for Edinburgh
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4. Re: Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

< A GPS can be handy for providing directions in the complicated one-way systems of central Glasgow and Edinburgh >

Wouldn't use a GPS in central Edinburgh - road systems change too frequently.

I also wouldn't consider a GPS for much of Scotland as generally you don't have a choice of roads and so it's pretty obvious which way you have to go

Assuming OP isn't going to leap into a car within minutes of landing, I'd suggest they save the money on a GPS and get a road atlas from a branch of The Works for under £5 - Glasgow has a branch on Sauchiehall Street and Edinburgh on Princes Street.

Virginia
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5. Re: Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

I can't say I have experience with GPS, but I've managed to make do with paper maps on my visits to both Ireland and Scotland. I've thought the roads were well marked, to the point at some larger roundabouts that the signs indicate which lane to use for each exit point form the roundabout. It helps that both my wife and I can read maps comfortably (I know that's not the case with everyone), so the driver almost always had clear instructions from the passenger. If you don't have a helper, the GPS might be a good idea. I remember from one of your previous posts that one of your first stops will be in St. Andrews. I remember there was a bookshop in Market Street there where I bought a good large-scale map of Fife, I'm sure they could supply additional maps if you need them.

UK
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6. Re: Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

A GPS can stop arguments about who said what and where 20 miles ago about which turning to take, or "why you didn't say turn left 10 seconds ago instead of after I passed the *** road", keep you on route , and conversely mean you can take a last minute detour down an interesting looking road without worries about getting back on route, and generally smooth the driving so you concentrate on the roads and not a map.

Maps are fine if you know where you are, once you don't know that (or worse, think you are somewhere you arent) they are worse than useless.

Edited: 14 May 2012, 19:58
Brossard, Canada
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7. Re: Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

Thanks for all your advice.

I've made up my mind to skip the GPS, and go with a good map. I'm a decent navigator and my sister does a good job of driving on the left, so we should survive this trip. We only got 'slightly' lost once on our trip to Ireland a few years ago and survived, so I'll hope for the best this time as well!

London
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8. Re: Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

Personally, I always find its more fun with a map! You get to find all those interesting little detours and stopping places that you wouldn't know about if relying on the GPS.

I've been persuaded to borrow the In-Law's GPS for my trip to Scotland, just in case; however I intend for it to be left safely stashed away in the glove box, only to be taken out in an emergency!

Montreal, Canada
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9. Re: Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

It makes a whole lot of difference if you can have a navigator with you. I usually travel alone, therefore to handle a map while driving is not recommanded.

Enjoy your trip...and dont get lost !

Haddington, United...
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for Haddington, East Lothian
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10. Re: Touring Scotland by car without a GPS

Personnaly I have found that since getting a good GPS the chances of committing murder or getting divorced have greatly diminished, But don't try to use one in Central Edinburgh you will probably end up with a nervous breakdown.