What to pack for the North Coast 500 (NC500)

Known as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the North Coast 500 road trip attracts visitors from all over the world. It connects some of Scotland’s most picturesque places and should be at the top of your to-do list if you’re planning a trip to the Scottish Highlands.

As an official partner, and their chosen Businesses of the Month for 2019, we’ve put together a list of important things you’ll need to add to your North Coast 500 packing list.

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Insect repellent

Bringing a bottle or two or three of insect repellent is essential – the West Highland midges are known to be pretty vicious. You’ll need to make sure your insect repellent has a high DEET percentage for the best protection against pesky bites.

Top tip: If you forget the repellent, Tiger balm is a great way to soothe bites.

Insulated flask

An insulated flask will be your best friend and the perfect travel companion for all of your day trips and outdoor activities. There’s nothing better than a nice hot drink to warm you up after a long day exploring, and cold water is a great way to stay hydrated while you’re on the road. And, because the majority of cafés and NC500 pitstops will be happy to refill your flask with tea and coffee, you might even save money, too!

Top tip: A hot cuppa is the perfect accompaniment with a traditional slice of Scottish shortbread or tablet.

Suitable clothing

Scotland is prone to unpredictable weather, even in the height of summer. So, if you’re taking on the NC500 it’s important to pack clothes to suit every season. There’s a running joke between locals that you might experience all four seasons in the one day! Expect gloriously perfect blue skies one minute and torrential rain the next.

Clothing items to consider packing (Even in summer months):

  • • Waterproof jacket
  • • Hat
  • • Thermal fleece
  • • Comfortable walking shoes
  • • Sunglasses


As you pass some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, you’ll want to take plenty of pictures. If you’ve got a good camera on your phone then you’ll want to make sure it’s got plenty of charge to snap away. Or, for the more adventurous traveller, a GoPro could be a worthwhile investment – how you choose to document your unforgettable road-trip experience is entirely up to you!

Top tip: You can hire a dashcam from our Inverness branch and film your journey around the NC500. They only cost £5 to hire for the duration of the tour!

Portable charger

Our phones are our navigation system, music player, camera and everyday communication hub. It’s no surprise that they can run out of juice fairly quickly which is less than ideal at the best of times. We’re lost without our phones and this is especially the case when you’re out on the road. That’s why a portable charger is an essential road-trip companion.

A standard, portable charger generally costs between £10 and £20.

First-aid kit

You might be travelling in remote areas for prolonged periods of time, which is why it’s a good idea to pack a small first-aid kit with all the essentials.

First-aid essentials to consider packing:

  • • Over-the-counter pain relief e.g. Paracetamol or Ibuprofen
  • • Sun cream
  • • Anti-histamines
  • • Rehydration sachets
  • • Plasters and blister packs
  • • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • • Medical tape
  • • Small sterile dressing
  • • Small bandage
  • • Sachet of sterile water
  • • Small scissors

If you’re interested in completing the NC500, we would always recommend doing some research before you travel. It’s important to think about where you want to go and what you’d like to see. You can read our tip tips for completing the NC500 here. And, for more Scottish road trip inspiration, click here.

Car rental is a really popular option for tourists and locals alike who want to drive the 500-mile coastal route. You’ll get a 15% discount with Arnold Clark Car & Van Rental if you complete the North Coast 500 route.

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