Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[jet set] Packing for the United Kingdom, a few thoughts

Our family will be enjoying a rare (for us) treat this summer: an actual get-out-of-town vacation!  Tickets have been purchased, hotels and B&Bs booked, car rental reserved…  There is no backing out now!  As we are traveling with a three year-old, we will not be sticking to a strict schedule.  We have a list of sights we’d like to see, but are going to play it by ear when we arrive.

With most of our flexible agenda decided, my thoughts turn to other preparations—specifically packing!

Four people, fourteen days, four different overnight locations.  We’d like to travel as light as we can.  Ideally, each person should have no more than one bag.  Preferably, that bag should be carry-on sized.  I have yet to inventory our luggage, though, so we may have to settle on whatever sized bag we have at our disposal.

Most of our stay will be in Bed & Breakfast establishments, so in room laundry is limited to washing a few items in our ensuite sink.  I certainly do not want to spend any of my time off at a British laundromat, so it’ll be necessary to pack a variety of clothing.  Thankfully, most of our trip will be spent enjoying museums, so no need for specialized garments (beach clothing, ski attire, et cetera).

The last out-of-country trip that I took, I decided to try the valet packing technique/bundle wrapping.  I used tissue paper and folded the clothing into the requisite bundles.  It worked beautifully in keeping my clothing mostly wrinkle-free.  But this time around, I want to give the rolling method a go so as to not feel pressured to completely unpack at every destination.  (Did I mention that there are four?)

Since I’ll be folding and rolling my clothes, wrinkle-free fabrics seem the best bet.  Fortunately, there are a lot of beautiful, classic knit and jersey items that are also mostly wrinkle-free.  I decided against wearing vintage for this trip because we may have to check a bag and lo! would I be upset if I lost any of my favorite pieces.  Anyway—on to the list!

I find that for a trip like ours, two pairs of shoes are needed.  No more than three should be taken.  I’d like a pair of shoes well suited to hours of walking.  This pair should also be able to handle cobblestones and rougher terrain without compromising my comfort.  I used to own such a pair—purchased specifically for our trip to Ireland back in 2010, but since we moved into our haus I haven’t seen them.  If we cannot find that pair, I may be stuck with bringing my well-loved Birkis.

The second pair will be my Dansko sandals.  I’ve been able to wear these beauties all day at Disneyland with 100% comfort.  I know that they’ll be great for long walks, but probably not too grand on cobblestone.  However, they dress up nicely and we do have one night at the theatre already planned for my daughter and I.

IF I bring a third pair, I’m thinking of packing my running shoes.  In the off chance that I am able to go for a jog, I’d like to be prepared.  Sure, I could also use them for some touristy errands, but we’re going to the UK.  To many Brits, the sneakers with everyday clothes is an immediate call-out for the touristy American—a designation I’d like to avoid when simply glanced.

Now that shoes are settled, it’s time to think on the clothes.  I like to break it down thusly—first choose a handful of classic neutrals that layer and pair well.  A classic tee, black trouser, neutral tank, cardigan… 

Next, select some separates to add color and interest.  Again, I go for classics over trends, since I tend to dress more retro-inspired when I’m not wearing actual vintage.  Finally, choose a handful of accessories to finish the look.  Scarves will be my go-to here.

Outer wear is easy in my case as I still have the raincoat I purchased in Ireland.  It’s a beautiful gray, looks great, fits beautifully.  I did also recently score a red London Fog ladies coat that I will likely lend to my daughter.  Either option works great and will be worn on the plane so as to be immediately available upon landing, should we need it, so it will not take up valuable space in the suitcase.

Here is what I have on-hand, besides the items listed above, that I’m considering:
  • White with red polka dots blouse
  • Gray, plain cardigan
  • Gray, denim, sailor-style pants
  • 2 black, convertible dresses.  One is from a company that no longer exists, sadly.  The other is from Hayley Starr.  Both also double as skirts.
  • Black, lacey, long sleeve top
  • Two camisoles: one white, one black
  • A variety of scarves
  • Classic sliver Tiffany necklace
  • Classic silver Tiffany charm bracelet.
Here is what I’d like to round out my list:
  • A colorful dress—ideally, a wrap dress or other classic silhouette
  • One more pair of pants—ideally in a neutral color, perhaps capri-length
  • A classic long sleeve white tee
  • One or two more shirts—ideally a boat neck with stripes, or a colorful classic blouse
So far, I think I’m on the right track.  If done right, I’ll have multiple outfit combinations to wear that will easily fit into a carry-on sized suitcase.

Do you strategize your packing?


  1. when i was a teen, my uncle o'dell would pick on me and mommy because of our ability to back and be ready to go somewhere in under 15 minutes (sometimes, because she was ill, we had to - which came in handy when i had to do the same for/with/because of thomas). he also gave us a hard time over our "corbin suitcases" ~~ sometimes we'd literally pack in kroger t-shirt bags, especially if we were in a real rush.

    i pack differently when i'm going to a convention than when i'm going to, say, preston's mom's. which really are the only places i really ever go any more. :)

    for conventions - because i always carry home more than i take with me - i take our flight carry-on and my laptop backpack and two satchels/totes. the totes get packed, and i use them to carry books and/or swag, etc, home. two pair of jeans, three t-shirts, three dress(y) shirts, and four sets of underclothes (including socks). ~~ mommy always had this thing - always pack one more set of underfugs than the number of days you're going to be gone. then i have two "justin case" bags that go in with all that: one with all my toiletries and one with all of my medications. (take all meds, not just your weekly tray; i learned this with thomas!) i also take two t-shirt bags (for dirty clothes!) and quart and gallon sized ziploc bags (for wet or damp toiletries or clothes). and yes, i do the rolling thing. that's one good thing i learned from david when we were together; he was an army rat, and that's how he always packed everything (even thomas' diaper bag!)

    of course going to jan's is different. i haul out my suitcase. it's not big - maybe twice the size of our carry-on. i pack pretty much the same minus the swag bags and rolling my clothes. :)

    the only "international" travel i've ever done is to winsdor, canada. so i'm not sure what i'd do there. i've said for 20 years if i ever set foot in wales that i won't ever be coming back to kentucky. so it's a conundrum. LOL

    1. Great tip about the meds! I think I should pick up a pill dispensary to pack.

    2. be sure to check the tsa for the rules about traveling with medications. i'm not sure what they are.



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