Monday, April 11, 2022

Packing: Taking Enough, But Not Too Much!

This is the 4th or 5th trip I have taken to the UK, and over the years I have learned what I need to take and what I can leave at home.  First, it is important to know that I have learned that I can handle only one carry-on suitcase and a laptop carrier of some sort.  I am going to have to lug my own luggage on the train to London from Heathrow and also on the trains that I plan to take to Edinburgh from London, and then to York.  While I am renting a car for the middle of my trip, I will be leaving it north of London and taking the train there and then to Heathrow a couple of days later. 

Basically, as I get older, it gets a lot harder to handle luggage.  The last trip I took for six weeks in 2018, I bought a larger suitcase and had a lot of trouble managing it and even lifting it onto a bed to open it. 

So, let’s start with the non-clothing stuff I have already put aside into a small duffel bag.  Most of this stuff will have to go into my carry-on size suitcase that I will check as baggage on the plane, but some will have to go in the even smaller laptop bag that will go on the plane with me.   

Here is my list of non-clothing stuff:

  • Laptop, charger, and mouse.  Laptop will go in foam sleeve to protect it. 
  • My cell phone.  I will switch out the SIM card for a UK version at a Carphone Warehouse store as soon as I get to London.  This will give me a UK phone number and limited UK phone calls, unlimited text, and substantial data, depending on which plan I purchase.  Last time I paid about $20 for all of this. 
  • Cords to all electronics and camera battery charger.  Don’t need a converter but will take UK plug I can use for computer. 
  • My camera, a supply of rechargeable batteries, and a specialized charger for those batteries.   
  • Six, filled weekly pill containers and the documents from the pharmacy showing that these are prescriptions drugs I need every day.  (Four weekly pill containers are very old so will be tossed as I use them.)
  • Small supplies of pills I take every day, such as Aleve and some cold medicine in sealed capsules. 
  • A supply of face masks to protect myself against COVID.
  • Four COVID test kits and a thermometer.
  • Hand cream and glasses cleaner in packets.  
  • Two washcloths, which are not supplied in most UK hotels.
  • A couple of small bars of soap because I do not like the liquid stuff supplied by many hotels.  
  •  Very small sewing kit, fingernail scissors, and nail file.
  • Laundry washing sheets for washing clothing in hotel sinks. These are dissolvable and contain soap for washing things in sinks, or even washing machines.  There are no laundromats in UK hotels. You can get laundry done sometimes, but it might be very expensive, like $15 for one load of clothing that get folded, not ironed.
  • Plastic hooks for hanging laundry on shower rods or closet rods to dry.
  • Large supply of two sizes of ziplock bags.  I plan to buy a small cooler and will need these to store food in.  I plan to buy cheese, crackers, cookies, and fruit for lunches and snacks. 
  • Paring knife to cut up cheese and fruit with so I do not have to gnaw at a plastic wrapped chunk of cheese, as I had to do once! 
  • Stack of paper bathroom cups.  Will not use hotel glasses, and paper cups hard to find last trip. (Complained at Sainbury's once because all they had was plastic, while the country was forbidding plastic straws in fast food places!) 
  • Very small pad of paper and a pen.

I will be using many of these things up or throwing them away before I head home.  This will give me room for a couple of shirts and a sweatshirt, plus some booklets.  For example, I will not bring home the washcloths, paper cups, plastic bags, COVID test kits, or extra hand cream.  I will send any souvenirs home via UPS before I go to London at the end of my trip. 

With all of this, I will not have much room for clothing, but I really don’t need much.  Here are the essentials I have learned I need:

  • A good, LL Bean rain jacket.
  • A thin, lightweight cotton hoodie.
  • An old, thicker sweatshirt or hoodie that I can toss at the end of my trip, or whenever I replace it with one I buy there.
  • A nightgown and four pairs of underwear.
  • Two pairs of long pants—not too heavy.  
  • Two pairs of Capri-length pants.
  • One pair of shorts. Might take a second stretchy and comfortable pair for evenings in hotels.
  • Three or four t-shirts.  (I plan to buy a couple of these in the UK, so don’t want to start out with too many of these.) 

If I need anything more, I can buy it there.  I am NOT taking huge bottles of shampoo or hair rinse or even large packets of wipes because I know there are Boots stores everywhere! (Boots is a pharmacy and beauty products chain that even has snacks, drinks, and packaged salads and sandwiches.  If you don't know where to find something, try Boots.)

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