What Should You Bring?

Several of you have contacted me about what you should plan to bring with you on the trip.  We are taking care of all the field equipment we will be using, so you should only be concerned with your personal items.  When packing, remember that most US airlines limit you to one free checked bag on international flights.  The weight limit is normally 50 pounds, so be sure to weigh your bag before heading to the airport.  United Airlines, for example, charges $50-$100 for a checked bag that is over the weight limit.  In addition, they charge $100 for a second checked bag, so please try to avoid any unpleasant surprises at the airport.

Most airlines also limit the number and size of carry-on luggage, so be sure to consult your airline’s website for all of this information.  Most US carriers will permit you to carry-on one small piece of luggage suitable for the overhead compartment and a second personal item (purse, computer bag, etc.).  Although these items are usually not weight restricted, they do require that you be able to load and unload them into the overhead bins without needing assistance, so keep that in mind as you decide what to bring.

You should also consider that you will need to carry your luggage through the airport, to the train, and to-and-from our hotels.  It is always advisable that you travel with a large rolling suitcase as your primary luggage, with a couple of other small handbags for other items.


  • Work clothes – These should be long pants (blue jeans are fine) and shirts.  Anything you choose to wear in the field will get incredibly dirty, so be sure to select field clothes appropriate for physically intensive labor.  The daily high temperature will range from the low 60s to the mid 70s, so plan accordingly.  Dressing in layers may be a good idea on most days.
  • Waterproof outerwear – The weather on South Uist can be nasty, wet, and cold in the summer.  We could be facing regular storms or we could have a dry summer, it just depends on the weather in the North Atlantic at the time we are there.  You should plan for the worst, so a durable waterproof jacket with a hood and water proof pants you can put on over your jeans would be a wonderful idea.  There are few things in archaeology worst than working in wet clothes.
  • Comfortable hat – Whether in the field or out sight-seeing, you need to wear a hat to avoid sunburn and heat exhaustion.
  • Sunglasses – You should bring a pair of comfortable, inexpensive sunglasses.
  • Personal electronics – It is up to you what combination of phone, computer, iPad, and camera you bring, but you should think about the collective weight of all the cords, chargers, and ancillary materials you need to bring to support those devices.
  • Credit & Debit Cards – I don’t anticipate anyone will bring large sums of cash, so you will probably need to use a credit or debit card during your trip.  Make sure to let your bank know you will be in Scotland during July to ensure you won’t have any trouble using your card.  Also, many places in the UK won’t take a non chip-enabled card, so plan accordingly.  You should also remember to keep your money and credit cards in a safe place.  Being the victim of theft is a terrible reality for travelers, so please protect yourself as proactively as possible!
  • Prescription Medications – If you need to take prescription drugs, be sure to get an adequate supply prior to our trip.  You also need to leave your pills in the original prescription bottle, complete with label.  Although I’ve never seen it happen, some guidebooks suggest traveling with a copy of your doctor’s prescription as well, just in case you get stopped at customs and immigration for a random check.
  • Comfortable walking shoes – You should anticipate walking 4-5 miles per day while we are in Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Don’t attempt to wear brand new shoes!  You need to wear a pair of comfortable shoes that have some walking history in them.
  • Closed-toed shoes for work – You don’t have to go buy work boots, but you should definitely have a pair of durable, closed-toed work shoes for our fieldwork.
  • Pillow and a towel – Although the place where we are staying is already supplied with sheets and towels, you might consider bringing your own pillow and at least one towel for your personal use.
  • Toiletries – Although there will be plenty of places to shop in Scotland that sell bathroom essentials, you should plan to travel with a small collection of your own toiletries (soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.).

The Do Not Bring List:

  • Illegal Drugs – Unless you want to spend some time in some very unsavory places this summer, please don’t engage in any obviously illegal behavior.  This is one that is taken very seriously and will result in some very adult consequences for you should you disregard the warning.
  • Weapons – You don’t need firearms, knives, boxcutters, or any other weapon for our trip.  You also can’t bring mace or any similar product into he UK.
  • Pets – This one should be obvious, but you shouldn’t bring (or try to return with) a pet from our summer expedition.


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