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 All the fine print 

  • Do you lead tours anywhere else besides Scotland?
    In a word... nope. Scotland is what we know and love. It takes time, a lot of time, to learn the ins and outs of a land, to forge connections, to hone an itinerary and to know enough about the areas, to add in last minute surprise happenings. I'm always shocked at how many people lead tours to places they've never been or only been once or twice. This is not about creating new markets and income streams for us. This is about Scotland and introducing all that encompasses this special land to those who travel with us.
  • Where are we going on my tour?
    The advance itinerary at booking is subject to change. An updated itinerary will be emailed to all participants at least 30 days prior to departure. Occasionally, last minute changes may happen due to circumstances beyond our control such as weather, local unplanned closures, late arrival of aircraft etc. ​
  • What's included?
    4 star eco-friendly hotel accommodation when available (double occupancy) with 2 single occupancy rooms available per tour and upon request for an additional charge. Breakfast each day and the dinners specified for your tour, all ground transportation, guide services, site entrance fees and gratuities for venues and group dinners. NOTE: If you are sharing a room but want two separate beds, we will do our best to accommodate but you may not have two beds in all locations.
  • What's not included?
    Airfare to and from, Trip cancellation insurance and meals and extras not mentioned above.
  • Who will be my guide on the tour?
    If you are on a music tour, you have a tour host. This is, in most cases, the musician who introduced you to our tours. The music host is not the guide, however. They will be taking the tour just like you and will also be performing a private concert one of the nights and perhaps joining a session or two as well. Your guide will either be the company's owner, Raven Sinclaire, or Traceless Tour historian and native Scotsman, James Barrowman, or in some cases, both! We also occasionally have local guides that join us for an afternoon or at a site. The Sacred Scotland tour is Raven's original tour. However, Melinda Wood Allen is hosting upcoming ones so you will have both Raven and Melinda on these. The History and Ancestry Tour and the ABC Tour will have both Raven and James as guides. Whichever tour you choose, you'll always be well taken care of!
  • Are Green or Sustainable tours more expensive?
    The costs to hotels and restaurants who are committed to conservation is often higher than those who are not. In addition, Traceless Tours books 4-star hotels when available while most standard tours offer 3-star accommodations or lower. Even taking these points into consideration, Traceless Tours prices are generally comparable with other companies.
  • What holds my place?
    For most of our tours, an $800 or $1,000 deposit secures your reservation on the tour of your choice. Check your particular tour detail page to confirm. Reservations are accepted on a first come first serve basis, as space is limited.
  • I paid my deposit for 'such and such' tour. When will I receive more details?
    If I have specific questions about your reservation, I'll reach out within a couple of days. Otherwise, group emails begin between 6 months before that tour starts. You'll receive a series of emails with lots of info and a few questions about dietary preferences and accessibility. Sometimes these group emails will go to spam so make sure you add "" to your contacts.
  • When is the total due?
    Unless otherwise stated, the 2nd of 3 payments is due 6 months before the tour and the 3rd payment plus any single supplement fee is due 60 days before the start of tour.
  • What is the cancellation policy?
    If the tour is cancelled by us due to lack of numbers or any other reason, we will fully refund. ​ If you need to cancel your place on the tour, the following applies: The deposit is non-refundable except under the following conditions: (1) You or we find a person to replace you on the tour, or (2) The deposit is transferred to a future tour. The following cancellation charges apply (per person of total tour price): 120 – 90 days prior to departure 30% 90 – 60 days prior to departure 50% but ONLY if your spot can be filled. If it cannot be filled, there is no refund. 60 days or less prior to departure or no-show 100% of total tour price is non refundable ​ Covid-related Refunds: Note that there is no leniency given for Covid concerns at this point. Venues will not refund us unless the country restricts us from entering so we cannot accommodate refunds due to Covid concerns. We will of course follow safety precautions on the tours.
  • What is the refund policy for Teaching Retreats?
    Please reference refund policy FAQ
  • Can I change my single room to a double and share with someone on the tour?
    In some cases, if it is still 6 months or more until the tour date, you can. However, if a tour is sold out, that means all spaces have been paid for and allocated and it is not possible to change rooming arrangements.
  • My roommate and I decided we want two single rooms rather than a double, can this happen?
    In some cases, if it is still 6 or more months until the tour date and if the tour is not already sold out, this can be arranged.
  • Should I purchase Travel Insurance?
    Absolutely. I cannot urge this strongly enough. Refer to our cancellation policy above. If you have an unavoidable issue and must cancel, depending on your time frame, your only recourse may be travel insurance. In the past, I have partnered with World Nomads and Silver Nomads, but since Covid, and policy changes, I am in the process of reapplying for that partnership. You'll be notified when that is complete. ​
  • Booking Flights: Please book directly with airlines or through your travel agent, if possible.
    Third party booking websites have caused many issues with our travelers in the past. Also if possible, avoid a connection at Heathrow. We have found that Delta flights that connect in Atlanta then New York's JFK to EDI, are fairly easy as far as customs coming back into the U.S. However, our favorites are the ones that connect in Atlanta and go straight to EDI from there.Note for those who are first time overseas travelers: you will leave the day before you arrive!
  • When does the tour actually begin and end?
    We understand this can seem confusing. On most tours, we begin with a meet and greet at 5:00PM on the first day (ex: for an April 3-13th tour, that would be on the evening of April 3rd). Many participants fly in that morning. However, you may want to come a day or two early to acclimate and visit some places on your own. The last day of the tour is the morning you depart or travel farther on your own (which would be April 13th on the above-mentioned). I include the day of departure in the tour description dates since breakfast is included in your tour price that day, then you are off on your own! Note: There are rare exceptions to the 5PM meet and greet on the first day, such as the island tour, which begins with a coach pick up on the morning of the 1st day. Your tour descriptions should state this. Note: There are rare exceptions to the 5PM meet and greet on the first day, such as the island tour, which begins with a coach pick up on the morning of the 1st day. In this case, the night before would be lodging on your own, but of course, we will have a suggestion and make this as easy as possible."
  • Can you accommodate disabilities?
    Of course we can arrange for easy access hotel rooms if available when you book your tour. Please let us know asap. However, be advised that our tours do include quite a lot of walking so there may be many parts of our journey that are not accessible to various needs.
  • When should I arrive?
    You may book your flights to arrive the morning or early afternoon of the first day. There will be time for rest and leisurely sight-seeing close to the hotel before we meet as a group. If you arrive before checkin time, which is generally 3:00PM, you can go straight to the hotel and ask if your room is ready. In many cases it may be or they can give you a time frame and you can leave your luggage with them and return at the time quoted.
  • I would like to arrive in Edinburgh early and stay in the same hotel we will be staying in for our tour. How do I do that?
    You will need to contact our hotel associate, whose name and email will be provided in your group emails closer to the time of departure. If you already know your tour begins with a stay at Radisson Blu, Edinburgh, your contact is Sarah. Email her at, and tell her you are with "the Raven Sinclaire tour beginning at such and such date" then tell her the dates you would like to add on at your cost. ​
  • Does your tour offer a shuttle service ?
    Since there are so many flights coming in to EDI, we found it was not conducive, and a bit chaotic to hire a shuttle service because of wait times in between. Additionally, many of our participants come in by train from parts of Europe or have arrived in Scotland several days before the tour. There are taxis at the EDI airport. Just follow the signs upon exiting and an attendant will assist you. Our tours that begin in Edinburgh stay at Radisson Blu on the Royal Mile. Your driver will know where it is. The cost for a taxi is usually about 25gbp. Costs for Uber and Lyft tend to be the same.
  • Tipping: I'm often asked about tipping in Scotland.
    It is much less expected than in the U.S. However, for waitstaff at restaurants, 10-15% is nice. For bartenders, it is not expected for each round of drinks. However, if you are paying with cash, you may tell them to keep the change or "buy them a drink" if you are settling up. For your tour, gratuities to hotel staff, local guides and waitstaff for the 4 group dinners are included. If you wish to tip your coach driver or Traceless Tour guide at the end of the tour, that is lovely but not at all expected.
  • What should I pack?
    For our Scotland tours, keep in mind that it is an unpredictable place at any time of year. It's best to bring layers including sweaters and a raincoat. The weather can change from warm to cold to rainy and back again in a matter of a few minutes so keep this in mind and dress to peel off and add back on. There is a fair amount of walking so bring comfortable walking shoes for stone walkways and city streets, and one pair of all weather foot wear for hikes. There is no need for dress clothes but you may want to bring something akin to business casual for a nice dinner. We most often hear from travelers that they brought too much and didn't wear half of it. Light packers seem to be happy travelers!
  • What about cash?
    Scotland uses GBP or pounds sterling. You will usually get the best rate if you exchange for these at your own bank before you leave. Since everyone takes a credit card and you can also get cash if needed from an ATM while there, I usually suggest taking only £300-£400 with you.
  • Should I bring my guitar, violin, etc on the Music Tour?
    If you like! There are times and places on the tour for musicians in each group to meet and play and sing, either in small groups or the whole group, if that is of interest.
  • I would like to fly fish or play golf while I'm in Scotland. Is there time?
    We have some down times or group activities that are more conducive to your "missing" them. Let us know you're interested and we can help with the best time to schedule and the appropriate people to contact for your activity.
  • How much walking will there be?
    That depends on your tour. The music tours have minimal walking. We will have some city walks of a few blocks and we visit the Birks of Aberfeldy, where we spend a couple of hours. It involves some steep steps but you can take it slow and enjoy or choose to only go so far! It's a magical place and you'll be so happy if you see the whole loop. Most feel these tours are a good balance of active and passive experiences. Note: For the Sacred Scotland tour, we visit some places off the beaten path that I don't name because locals don't want tourists to bombard. We will also visit the Fairy Pools of Skye and take in several hikes to hidden bridges and waterfalls. This tour requires more mobility and is not recommended for those with any limitations.
  • Is there a requirement to sign any waivers?
    Waiver of Release - All tour participants will be required to sign a waiver releasing Traceless Tours from responsibility of injury or mishap.
  • Are there books I can read to get ready for my Scotland visit?
    This list is ongoing so check back often.... Novels: Outlander (Outlander 1/9) by Diana Gabaldon, 1991 The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord… 1743. A Dark and Distant Shore by Reay Tannahill, 1983 Reay Tannahill’s great bestseller is the story of an extraordinary woman’s determination to win back her birthright – the remote and beautiful West Highland castle of Kinveil – sold by her father to a Glasgow merchant when she was seven years old. It is also the intricate picture of a family in the heyday of the British Empire, an epic story spanning almost a hundred years and stretching from Edinburgh to the Crimea, from an expanding America to the India of the Raj. Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Isabel Dalhousie 2/11) by Alexander McCall Smith, 2005 Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective. Whether investigating a case or a problem of philosophy, the indefatigable Isabel Dalhousie, one of fiction’s most richly developed amateur detectives, is always ready to pursue the answers to all of life’s questions, large and small. The Observations by Jane Harris, 2006 A powerful story of secrets and suspicions, hidden histories and mysterious disappearances set in Victorian Scotland. Scotland, 1863. In an attempt to escape her not-so-innocent past in Glasgow, Bessy Buckley—a wide-eyed and feisty young Irish girl—takes a job as a maid in a big house outside Edinburgh working for the beautiful Arabella—the “missus.” Bessy lacks the necessary scullery skills for her new position, but as she finds out, it is her ability to read and write that makes her such a desirable property. Bessy is intrigued by her new employer but puzzled by her increasingly strange requests and her insistence that Bessy keep a journal of her mundane chores and most intimate thoughts. And it seems that the missus has a few secrets of her own, including her near- obsessive affection for Nora, a former maid who died in mysterious circumstances. The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark, 2014 Elizabeth Pringle has lived on the beautiful island of Arran for over 90 years; the retired teacher and spinster is a familiar and yet solitary figure tending her garden and riding her bicycle around the island. When she dies she leaves her beloved house, “Holmlea” to a woman she merely saw pushing a pram down the road over thirty years ago. That young mother, Anna, had put a letter through Elizabeth’s door asking to buy the house, but Elizabeth never pursued her. But time passed and Anna is now in a home with dementia and it falls to her daughter Martha, the baby in the pram, to come and take up their inheritance. The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell, 2017 Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost … In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley In this novel, readers follow two protagonists in a dual timeline: Carrie McClelland, a modern-day American author, and Sophia Paterson, Carrie’s ancestor from the early 1700s at Slains Castle. Carrie, seeking inspiration for a new novel, becomes captivated by the castle ruins in Cruden Bay. As she writes, the events in her dreams seem to blur the line between fact and fiction, unraveling a lesser-known aspect of Jacobite history and delving into the concept of genetic memory. The Blackhouse by Peter May In this suspense thriller, Edinburgh’s Finlay Macleod investigates a murder on the Isle of Lewis, a place he left after university. Intriguingly, he discovers the crime is linked to his childhood, with the victim being a former high school bully. The smashing success of The Blackhouse led May to write two additional novels in the series: The Lewis Man and The Chessmen Non-Fiction: The Highland Clans by Alistair Moffat The Highland Clans is one of the best books on Scotland history, delving into the origins of famous clans. Moffat explores Highland Clan culture, religious beliefs, Gaelic, and notable battles. If you’re an Outlander fan seeking a comprehensive guide to Highland culture, this book is an excellent starting point, complete with a clan map and names list. Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser You may want to read this non-fiction book after reading the historical fiction account of Mary, Queen of Scots. Although most people are familiar with Mary’s tragic end, you may not know about her earlier life, the marriages that became her undoing, and the rest of her fascinating story. Fraser’s engaging writing style brings her subjects to life, making this non-fiction read enjoyable even for those not typically inclined toward the genre. Robert the Bruce: King of Scots by Ronald McNair Scott Robert the Bruce had himself crowned King of Scots at Scone on a frozen March morning in 1306. After years of struggle, Scotland had been reduced to a vassal state by Edward I of England and its people lived in poverty. On the day he seized the crown Bruce renewed the fight for Scotland's freedom, and let forth a battle cry that would echo through the centuries. Using contemporary accounts, Ronald McNair Scott tells the story of Scotland's legendary leader, and one of Europe's most remarkable medieval kings. It is a story with episodes as romantic as those of King Arthur, but also one which belongs in the annals of Scottish History, and has shaped a nation.

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