Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Packing Light: Ten Days in England

We are leaving for England Friday, granted that the stupid ash cloud doesn't shut us down. This trip has been a life-time in the making. I have wanted to go to England for as long as I can remember - my academic career has been devoted to British literature, and I probably know as much (if not more) British history than American. I have no doubt idealized England as a mythical fairy land - the land of Stonehenge, King Arthur, Victoria, and Jane Austen. But I am going!

I posted earlier (months ago, I think) that I was looking for a trench coat to take. After much searching, debating, and considering, I landed on the Travex jacket from Eddie Bauer. It is light-weight and waterproof, and has pockets everywhere. The sleeves can be buckled up. It is belted and can be packed up in a small space. It is not a classic trench - it has a more military/safari look to it, but I rather love it. It's perfect for England in May.

Here are the contents of my bag. We have decided to do carry-only, and I am determined to pack light - I don't want to stick out as a clueless tourist and I don't want to lug forty pounds between train stations and hotels. So here is what I am taking: one pair of jeans (Gap Curvy, boot cut), one pair of gray cords (Aeropostale, straight cut), long-sleeve light pink cotton/cashmere sweater (Fair Indigo), 3/4 sleeve coral cotton sweater (Gap), long sleeve white T-shirt (Target), white camisole (Gap), black button cotton/cashmere cardigan (Gap), black track pants and pink camisole for sleeping in, brown Mary Jane walking shoes (Skechers), black flip-flops, scarf. Also pictured: liquid toiletries in Ziploc bag and non-liquid toiletries in pink bag.
I believe that these can be easily layered, they all coordinate (pink, white, and black), and they are light-weight, but warm. The scarf is great. It is a wide retangle that can be worn around my neck or as a shawl and can also be used as a blanket on the plane. I am bringing the track pants instead of pajama pants so that they can be worn out if need be.

Here are the contents of my purse. I have had my Ameribag for several years and it is great for travel. It is not the most stylish-looking bag, but it is designed to feel lighter and it has tons of pockets for everything. Top row: Totes umbrella (tiny folded up, but expands to full size), Fodor's England 2010 (this is the heaviest item I am taking, but I can't bear to tear it up and I can't leave it behind and I need too much out of it to make copies), travel journal (Moleskine cahier), pen and pencil. Bottom row: wallet (Vera Bradley - very cool design with wrist strap so it can be carried on it's own) with cell phone, camera (just the case, since I was using the camera at the moment - my trusty old point and shoot, Olympus FE110), passport, reading material - Diana Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn. This was a point of some consideration - I needed something long enough to last the whole trip, interesting, but not too fluffy. Gabaldon's fourth installment in the Outlander series should be just the thing. Sunglasses (Armani Exchange for $20 at Ross - I love that store!) and their case.

Here is everything packed up. One carry-on (my Nine-West valise, also from Ross) and one purse. The carry-on is actually only about 2/3 full, so I should have room for some souvenirs.
I actually love planning what to pack, and this trip was thoroughly researched. Of particular use was One Bag, a website with an exhaustively annotated packing list - it is really geared for more tropical, exotic travel, but also worked for thinking about the England trip. I also love the articles that Harper's Bazaar includes about how to pack. Of course, those trips are super-luxurious (heli-skiing!?) and include suggestions for thousand dollar zebra striped Kate Moss bags, but it helps me get in the mind-set of super-chic, jet-setting luxury. Here is an article in their latest issue: Packing Like a Pro: Tips for Travelling Light but Fashionably. I also just like to see what people carry around with them. The Flickr group What's in Your Bag is voyeuristic fun.

Mother's Day

Yummy rhubarb upside-down cake - possibly a new favorite; tart and sweet at the same time.

Irises are one of my (and my momma's) favorite flowers and these in my parents' front yard are especially pretty white and purple bearded specimens.

My little sister is going to be a momma soon herself. Happy Mother's Day mommas and mommas-to-be!