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Tour company or on our own

Which would be better? I am planning a trip to Scotland to be between 9-14 days and not sure of the dates yet.

Edited: This trip is for my husband and I (40s). I did go on a tour to London, Paris and Italy with a student tour company. We spent most of the time on a bus which I thought they were trying to get the kids around faster.

From the responses it may be a wise decision to go on our own. We don't want to feel trapped if we are ready to leave and others are not, vice versa. I would also love to try driving on the other side of the road.


Posted by
74 posts

Hi, 9-14 days is the opportunity to do a lot in Scotland, but without more detail, ie. age, travelling with anyone, interests, it is tough to make any suggestions. More details please! If you're a confident driver and fairly detail oriented, the opportunity to rent your own car and set your own pace and destinations is both relatively inexpensive and liberating. But you will need to do some spadework in planning & booking(ie. overnights and bookable sights). Otherwise a tour gets your feet wet, but you are paying for that with extra costs, a timetable, set itinerary and travel companions not of your choice. It's a tradeoff!

Posted by
308 posts

I've had fabulous trips to Europe on my own and I've also taken two amazing RS tours. I save the RS tours for times when I don't want to drive and some of the destinations are hard to get to using public transportation. At the end of the last RS tour, my husband did say he got a little tired of the set schedule, so you should decide if a regimented itinerary and group is right for you.

The three times I've been to Scotland were on my own. One time I did take a one-day tour to the Highlands/Loch Ness using a local company (Rabbies). Another time my friends and I rented a car and drove in a loop from Aberdeen to Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye. There won't be a language obstacle and the public transportation is very good. The people are so friendly and helpful. It's really up to you and your special circumstances.

Posted by
1248 posts

We usually go on our own and plan days where we do a tour with a local tour company. The best of both worlds! Sometimes we need to take a train to the location and other times there is a pick-up spot in the city with a coach that transports the group to the destination.

Posted by
6516 posts

What do you mean by better? Less expensive, or more quality time? On-your-own requires you to know exactly what you want to see and do, and how to accomplish it. A tour takes care of all the logistics and details, but means you're on someone else's schedule. If you've never traveled in Europe before, independently, than a tour is very convenient. If you have specific places you want to see, and can handle the logistics, independent travel gives you freedom.

Posted by
3399 posts

My wife and I only travel independently , going on a tour would be anathema to us . In addition , a car in rural Scotland is pure joy . One caveat - if your trip includes substantial time in Edinburgh and/or Glasgow , don't bother with a car there , it will only be a nuisance . As has been said , going at your own pace allows you to linger at your pleasure . There is nothing worse than being rushed through a place that calls for you to slow down .

Posted by
697 posts

It totally depends on your comfort level with the places you want to see. We've always done self guided (Paris, London, Rome, Venice) but for the first time we are doing a tour (Ireland). We discussed this so much & finally decided since we wanted to see so many places in Ireland and neither of us really wanted to drive, we would do the tour. We'll see how it goes. After the tour ends, we travel to Liverpool & Edinburgh on our own. But since its just cities and not the whole country, I am very comfortable with it. Good luck to you.

Posted by
556 posts

I often travel alone, and I did three weeks in Scotland on my own and rented a car to get to most of the places I wanted to see as the train/bus schedules were too restrictive. Definitely go for the longer time if you can as you will find that although the distances look short on the map it takes a lot longer to get there than you might think. Remember, you can fly into one city and other of another so you don't have to waste time backtracking (into Edinburgh and out of Glasgow). I landed in Edinburgh, spent a few days, rented a car then did a loop that took me up to Inverness, across to Skye, back down to Oban, then finished in Glasgow (with other stops along the way). With less time you will have to remove some things, and it will depend on your interests, also. I saw a lot of castles, and ancient places.

A few years ago, my family did a 2 week trip to Scotland. In a way, it was a combo. trip. We did 2 day trips with Rabbie's. You can easily look Rabbie's up online. There are many options with them. A friend did a multiday trip with Rabbie's to Isle of Skye and had a postive experience. You can train from Edinburgh to Oban. Then, bus to Inverness. Then, train back to Edinburgh or Glasgow. That's what we did. No car! Oban is good for day/boat trips to the Isles. Again many options. Check out Gordon Grant Tours. I believe the main ferry is called Caledonia. You can check their site as well. (CalMac tours) With 14 days, you can have a great trip. Plan on about 3 areas of Scotland to use as a base. Or, combine a Rabbie's multiday trip with travel on your own. Ask more questions here. We will help you.

Posted by
30 posts

My family and I have always planned our own trips and use public transportation to get around. It takes time researching but the internet makes it very feasible and then we, not the tour company, decide what to see, when and for how long, and whether to make a last-minute change. We have done day tours and I would like to give a shout-out to Rabbie's. We took their Hadrian's Wall day trip and were very pleased.