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TRAVEL Q&A

Scotland on the Cheap

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By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, July 13, 2008

Q. Our group of four plans to visit Scotland in September and travel in a rented van. Any suggestions about how we can ease the dollar-vs.-pound expenses?

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Johnny Ling, Montclair, Va.

A. Language lesson first: Ask for a "people carrier" instead of a van, or you're liable to end up with something you could move furniture in. But if your group doesn't have a ton of luggage, you might want to consider not renting a van at all. The tab for a Kia Sedona people carrier, for example, is $642 a week through the British car rental firm 1car1, compared with $356 for a five-passenger, manual transmission Vectra. (It looks like a Toyota Camry.) Linda Daller of 1car1 said the Vectra should fit your group of four comfortably, assuming one piece of luggage each. Both rates include all taxes and fees, and the company offers a free meet-and-greet service at most U.K. airports. Details: 866-362-3121, http://www.1car1.us.

To trim lodging costs, stay in self-catering cottages rather than hotels, advises Jeremy Viray of VisitBritain, the U.K.'s tourism office. These short-term rentals can be found in almost every region and usually house up to eight people. VisitBritain's online catalogue, for example, includes West Holmhead Cottage, on an organic farm above Loch Ken in southwest Scotland "surrounded by woodlands, rocks, flowering marshes, rivers and green hills, with wonderful wildlife." The 250-year-old stone cottage rents for $435 to $750 a week. Self-catering cottages also cut down on food expenses. You can search for them by city and region at http://www.visitbritain.us; click on "Accommodation," then "Short-term rental."

If culture is on your agenda, you'll find that admission to many of Glasgow's galleries and museums is free, including Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (the United Kingdom's most-visited museum outside London) and Edinburgh's National Museum of Scotland. And if stately homes are your thing, consider VisitBritain's Great British Heritage Pass, which allows unlimited entry to about 600 stately homes, castles and properties throughout the country. A four-day pass is $60; seven-day, $88; 15-day, $117; and 30-day, $157. Details: http://www.visitbritain.com/onlineshop.

Gas prices being what they are these days, I've been researching transportation alternatives to the Eastern Shore. Is there a mode of transportation to get across the Bay Bridge other than a car?

Maria White, Arlington

No need to drive when you can ride the dog. Greyhound travels from Washington to Ocean City on weekends for $96 round trip, and to Rehoboth Beach, Del., for $86.50 (higher for refundable fares; lower fares on weekdays). Details: 800-231-2222, http://www.greyhound.com.

Another option: Rehobus, a gay-owned, straight-friendly weekend bus service that runs between Washington and Rehoboth and Dewey beaches from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Buses leave Washington on Friday evenings from the Duplex Diner (18th and U streets NW) and the New York Avenue Metro station, arriving about three hours later at the beach, and return Sunday evenings. Saturday early-morning and late-evening service begins July 26. One-way tickets are $45; weekend round trips, $78; Saturday round trips, $50. Details: 888-697-4287, http://www.rehobus.com.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.


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