Renting a Car After an Overnight Flight to Scotland

Arriving in a new country after an overnight flight can leave even the most seasoned traveler feeling disoriented. Add driving on the opposite side of the road into the mix, and it’s no wonder that renting a car upon arrival in Scotland can be a daunting prospect. But fear not, fellow adventurers, for with a bit of preparation and a good night’s sleep, you can navigate the roads of Scotland with confidence.

The Dangers of Renting a Car After an Overnight Flight

Picture this: You’ve just touched down in Scotland after a long-haul flight from the USA. Jet-lagged and bleary-eyed, you make your way to the car rental counter. While the convenience of having a vehicle at your disposal is enticing, it’s important to consider the risks of hitting the road immediately after a red-eye flight. Whist on the Isle of Skye last week I sadly encountered numerous accidents involving rental cars.

  1. Fatigue: Lack of sleep can impair your judgment, reaction time, and overall cognitive function, significantly increasing the risk of accidents on the road.
  2. Jet Lag: Your body’s internal clock is out of sync with the local time, leading to drowsiness, decreased alertness, and diminished concentration—hardly ideal conditions for driving.
  3. Driving on the Left: For those accustomed to driving on the right side of the road, adjusting to driving on the left can be disorienting and potentially dangerous, especially when navigating unfamiliar terrain.

The Pleasures of Scottish Drives

Despite the initial challenges, embarking on a road trip in Scotland offers unparalleled opportunities for exploration and adventure. Here are a few scenic routes worth considering:

  1. North Coast 500: Dubbed Scotland’s answer to Route 66, this 500-mile circuit takes you through some of the country’s most breathtaking landscapes, including rugged coastlines, windswept moors, and picturesque villages.
  2. The Isle of Skye: Connected to the mainland by bridge, Skye is a paradise for nature lovers, with its dramatic mountains, cascading waterfalls, and mystical fairy pools. However, navigating the island’s narrow, winding roads can be intimidating, particularly for drivers unaccustomed to such conditions.

Coping with the Challenges

Before setting off on your Scottish road trip, it’s essential to prioritize rest and acclimatization:

  1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Allow your body to adjust to the time difference and recover from jet lag before attempting to drive. Consider spending a night in a nearby hotel or guesthouse to ensure you’re well-rested and alert.
  2. Familiarize Yourself with Local Driving Laws: Take the time to familiarize yourself with Scottish road signs, speed limits, and driving etiquette. Remember to drive on the left and give way to oncoming traffic when navigating narrow roads.
  3. Take it Slow: Don’t be afraid to take your time and drive at a pace that feels comfortable for you. Pull over frequently to admire the scenery, stretch your legs, and recharge your batteries.
  4. Consider Opting for a Guided Tour: If the thought of driving in a foreign country fills you with dread, consider joining a guided tour or hiring a local driver to navigate the roads on your behalf.


Renting a car and exploring the scenic wonders of Scotland is a thrilling adventure, but it’s essential to approach it with caution and mindfulness. By prioritizing rest, familiarizing yourself with local driving laws, and taking it slow, you can make the most of your Scottish road trip while staying safe and stress-free. So, buckle up, embrace the journey, and get ready to discover the magic of Scotland on four wheels.

Leave a Reply