Glasgow travel tips

Previous: Scintillations | Picofarad #3 contents | Next: Days of Yore

There's a bunch of useful information for international travellers in Armadillo Dreams #3 (PDF at, but here are a few more tips on stuff it doesn't mention. Most of this information comes from either Frommer's Scotland or a trawl through the Interaction LiveJournal. (Note for future Worldcons: a blog is fine for announcements, but it doesn't work very well as a threaded discussion forum.)


Typical summer temperatures run in the high 50s to low 60s Fahrenheit, and it is known to rain, though not heavily. (Portlanders, just dress like you're staying home.)

Getting around

The Passenger and Transport Executive for Strathclyde can be found at Some poking around under "Tickets" and "Travel Information" will get you most of what you want to know about mass transit in and around Glasgow. The exception is the bus system, which is contracted out to private operators that the site will not even name.

Exchange rates has a currency converter, and lists the $1-£1 midmarket rate on its root page. Recently the pound has been hovering around $1.75. This is probably not the rate you.ll be able to get, but the best approximation is usually had with credit cards, then with ATM withdrawals. Oh, and warn your credit card company you're travelling to Scotland, or it may decide that your card has been stolen.


Cabs: 10-15%, plus 50p per bag the driver loads and unloads for you.
Hotel porters: 75p per bag carried.
Maids: £1/day.
Hotel restaurants add a service charge of 10-15% to the bill, but small B&Bs may not do this. If the service charge isn't on your bill, tip the waiter serving you.
Restaurants will add 15% to the bill; add another 3-5% yourself. Sommeliers: £1/bottle served.
Bartenders are not usually tipped, but cocktail waitstaff typically get £1/round of drinks.
Hairdressers: 10-15%.
Tour guides: £2

Taxes, and how to get them back

The UK levies a 17.5% VAT on all goods and services. However, there is an arrangement for non-EU residents which allows us to get some of it back. If you make a purchase of £20 or more at a participating store (look for a sticker reading "Tax Free Shopping" alongside the credit card stickers), and do not intend to use, wear, or consume what you buy, you can show your passport and ask for a refund form. You must do this at the store when you make your purchase.

You then get your refund forms validated at customs as you're leaving the UK. You must show customs the stuff you're getting the refund on, so this won't work for anything you plan to ship. If you're leaving via Heathrow or Gatwick, there are booths where you can get your refund in person; otherwise you need to contact Global Refund, the organization behind all this, for an address to mail the forms to. Their Web site is (warning: needs JavaScript); US phone number: 1-800-566-9828; US e-mail:

Picofarad home