Next March, Adventures By Disney is launching a Scotland tour pegged to the Disney-Pixar movie Brave, which follows the fate-defying, longbow-wielding princess Merida as she Clydesdales her way through medieval Scotland.
As you might expect, the itinerary’s spectacular experiences have spectacular prices to match, upwards of $5,619 per adult and $5,339 per child for an escorted 9-day land package. And while you won’t go wrong on an Adventures tour, you also won’t go wrong taking a lesson from the film: Merida may be a princess, but she prefers galloping unescorted through the Highlands to rolling with a pack.
With that in mind, here are ways an independent traveler like Merida might brave Scotland for less.
Bundle your air, hotel, and car together, sort of like a Scotch egg. For next March, the online travel agencies priced an air-hotel-car package at around $1,500 per person for travelers using an Edinburgh hotel as a base. If you needed multiple lodgings, Scotland has a fair number of B&B's with good deals year-round.
Take a drive. A self-guided driving tour will save you the cost of a tour guide. Among the six “Brave”-inspired drives crafted by the folks at Visit Scotland is an Ancient Scotland route that takes you to the Isle of Lewis' Callanish Standing Stones (pictured above), which includes the Stone Circle that inspired the one Merida visits throughout the film.
Budget a few short tours. Unlike Merida you won’t have the Will-o'-the-Wisp to guide you, so if it proves intimidating to navigate, drive to the left, and avoid livestock, you can leave motoring to someone else at least part of the time. Consider a personalized chauffeured tour like the one offered by Ocean Wheels, which motors around Edinburgh and its environs. And if you have a hankering for other overview or specialty tours, there are many that can be arranged upon arrival.
Grab some passes. Many attractions in Scotland are already free, including more than 340 museums. One in particular that will pack appeal for families is Edinburgh’s toy-laden Museum of Childhood. If you’re budgeting paid attractions, Visit Scotland says you can pick from several discount passes, including the Edinburgh Pass (from $46 for adults, $28 children) good for more than 30 attractions and the Heritage Pass ($64 adults, $37 children) that permits access to more than 120 sites around the country.
Draw back your bow, or club. If one activity from “Brave” begs to be emulated on location it’s archery and “options are plentiful for those that would like to try it," according to Visit Scotland, "with several companies in Scotland that offer archery as part of their activities stable and provide the necessary equipment and instruction,” including the longbow variety that Merida practices.
If golf is more your thing, you've obviously picked an iconic place to play, and the Kingdom of Fife has 12 courses with three-round golf passes available from $100.