7 April 2013

Packing for Great Britain

I have been packing for two solid weeks.

At least, that's what it feels like. The longest trip I've been on to-date was 10 days in the Rocky Mountains with my family—and I was how old? Eight? I've never had to pack like this.

Journalist Susan Heller once wrote, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” I think I've got enough money, it's the clothes thing that I'm not sure of. 

What does "packing light" mean, exactly?

I'm pretty sure it means leaving behind my handy dandy sweater shaver. But what about my hats, scarves, camera, and hot shoe flash? My laptop, my Nexus 7, my iPod touch, my lip balm and razor...what is necessary and what is superfluous? How many pairs of shoes say "prepared" and how many say "newbie tourist"?

Spare me.

I'm sure that when I return I will be chock-full of valuable information for next time, or for those who would follow in my footsteps. At the moment though, I'm just figuring this thing out. In order to help any fellow travelers, I'm going to be utterly transparent about my adventures. This means detailing my budget, giving you my complete packing list, and generally relating every tip and trick I learn. It'll be good to have a record for myself too—so I don't have to make the same mistakes twice!


Here is the list of stuff that I actually brought with me to Britain:

Snowboarding Pants
Purple sweater and white cami
iPod and earbuds

Laplander hat
Red Beret
Scarves - multicolored, blue, dark diamonds
Red gloves

Camisoles - black, brown
Undershirts - black, white
White sweater
Red sweater
Jean shirt
Grey cardigan
Black shrug

2 pair jeans
Green skirt

Pajamas and Underwear:
Gray pajamas
Leggings - gray, brown, black
Bras - 2

Socks and Underwear:
7 pairs socks
8 pairs underwear

Shoes and Misc:
Black dress
Picnic supplies

Contact solution
Contact case
Extra contacts
Face wipes
Pimple popper
Cold sore medication
Eye shadow

Jewelry (not expensive):
6 Necklaces
3 rings
5 pair Earrings
Hair bands, etc.

Day Pack:
Jacket in bag
Little camera
Passport, ID, travel card, debit, and customs papers
Nexus 7 charging cord
Outlet to USB converter
Mini flashlight
Neck pillow
Compact mirror
Lip balm
Nexus 7
Sleeping pills
First Aid and sewing kit with clothesline
iPod charging cord

Important document copies
Razor blades
Extra earbuds
Small notebook
Money belt
Little camera battery charger
1 pair underwear
Red shirt
Face scrub
Dandruff shampoo
Baby powder
Cold sore medicine
Eye drops
Washcloth and soap
Camera - charger, cleaner, 4 cards, 2 cords
Laptop - sleeve, mouse, cord


  1. I'm a guy so it's hardly in my experience to know what items a girl may need to take on a trip, but it seems to me that you have not mentioned a coat of any sort (unless I missed it somewhere) - it's not that warm over here yet! I also notice plastic cutlery as carry on items?? Why? Most planes carry perfectly good plastic cutlery for your use on board, be aware however, that on the return journey there "may" be stricter rules on what you can take as carry on. We have found that in the US people take much larger luggage as carry on bags and are usually accommodated, this is not always true travelling from here back to the States - just be prepared is what I would suggest.

    I note you have not gone too heavy on toiletries - Thats good. we have perfectly good stuff here much of which is the same as in the US, but if you have a particular penchant for certain painkillers, Advil for instance, then bring your own. We have good painkillers, but maybe not the ones you are used to.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your trip


    1. Thanks for your advice, Steve! I will be wearing a lightweight waterproof windbreaker over layers of sweaters and undershirts, so I hope to stay warm that way. The plastic cutlery is actually a heavy-duty picnic set from Rick Steves (https://travelstore.ricksteves.com/catalog/index.cfm?fuseaction=product&id=369), which I hope to put to good use with cheap lunches in Europe.

      I am trying to pack light, but still trying to bring everything necessary. Not easy! Hope you stay tuned to the blog :)

  2. I'm a guy too - but my one bit of advice is this. If you can buy it in the USA - you can buy it in the UK. Toiletries, accessories, etc - you can get most of that at the local store in the UK. So, while it's a good idea to take all that stuff if you're going for a week. You're going for 2 months, so there's no need to take everything with you as you're bound to run out on stuff anyway and have to replace it. So, save your back and pack lighter. You get the fun of discovering all those things in UK stores.

    You're clothing list seems good. My advice usually is to pack enough clothing for a week and then just plan to do laundry so you're on the right track.

    So exciting!

  3. Oh and one more bit of advice I'm sure you've heard elsewhere - pack as light as possible. I've taken 10 trips to the UK now and every time, luggage is always the worst part of the travel experience. Try to keep it to one large suitcase and one small carryon. Especially if you have to transfer between multiple flights and then ground transport.

    1. I'm glad to get custom recommendations from such an experienced traveler! It's hard to remember that I can buy things in the UK--it's not like I'm trekking into the Outback. I am petrified of leaving something important behind, but don't want to get a back injury from the weight of my luggage!

  4. Hi! I just stumbled across your blog. From what little I've read, it looks like you're going to be in the UK for almost 3 months? And you leave in a few days. YAY! I've studied abroad twice and traveled to visit friends. I'm just leaving a few thoughts I had about your packing list. Go with what works for you.
    *First and most important: Remember to leave room for souvenirs. I packed my suitcases full my first time out and had to mail things home before I left. It wasn't cheap and I wish I'd planned better. This is important when you're thinking about things like scarves and shoes. It's summer there, but you're likely still to get cold. I wouldn't bring more than 2 that are really versatile. Same goes for hats and such. You can always buy them there and they're great for when you've gone home.
    -Think about washing your clothes while you're there. You'll be gone long enough that you won't have any other option, but think about things that are easy to wash. You don't want to bring a dress you love that has to be dry cleaned. Also look into a 'wool' wash like Eucalan (eucalan.com) or Soak wash (soakwash.com). They're no rinse formulas you can use almost anywhere as long as you have time to let clothes dry. They're okay with jeans and pants but they're amazing for light shirts, bras, underwear, camis and sweaters. You can find one of them or a comparable product in almost any knitting/yarn shop. There'll be a bunch overseas.
    -Can you wear your camis as undershirts and therefore bring less undershirts and maybe one more cami? Or pick undershirts you can wear without something over it in case of hot weather. Don't bring clothes you don't want to wear out in public.
    -I generally don't pack heels. They're not comfortable enough. Especially if you're bringing 'dress boots'. If you need something dressy for a night out or a ceremony or something, flats all the way. They should be comfortable enough to walk around a lot in. Or wear the dress boots. And if possible make sure everything's broken in before you leave. Otherwise you're going to end up with blisters. You might end up with them anyway. When you do: Compeed. They're in Boots, Superdrug, or whatever drug store is nearby.
    -Little black dress is great. Can you layer a shirt or sweater over it and get a whole new outfit out of it?
    -Bathrobe is ify. It's a personal choice, but I've always found they take up too much room. If you don't bring it and find you have to have it - buy one there.
    -Toiletries - bring enough contact solution and extra contacts for a week longer than your intended stay - just in case. Toothpaste - bring a travel size and pick up a full tube there. If you have sensitive skin or random allergies to things bring your own shampoo, soaps, lotions, etc. You can either bring a small amount of each to get you through a week or two AND a tube of hydrocortizone (think cortizone 10) and buy new stuff there or bring enough for your whole trip and leave whatever's left over there when you leave.
    -Jewelry - it doesn't take up much space, but don't bring anything you can't bear to loose. And again, you can always find stuff there that you like.
    -Clothes - When you're picking out clothes, take the time to plan outfits before deciding. See how many outfits you can get out of each piece of clothing. If you have a shirt you can only wear with a pair of jeans and nothing else? It's not worth the space. Try and make it work with at least two other outfits. And one tip I've heard but haven't had a chance to try yet is to lay out outfits and take pictures. That way you can look back and see how many outfits you can get out of each piece but also when you're overseas you've already got established outfits and you can just flip through pictures before picking what to wear.

    Alright that's much longer than I expected it to be. Hope some of it helps!Good luck and have fun! :)

    1. Thank you so much for your amazingly detailed reply! It's not going to be easy leaving room for souvenirs, but I will heed your sage words of wisdom. The clothes washing thing might be dicey, as there will be washers at school but some of of my favorite items are hand wash. I have also rethought the heels and plan to pack flats. My undershirts are long-sleeved to help with cold weather, but I might trim down and only bring 2 of them and 3 camis. I'm going to experiment with outfits holiday to see how much I can mix and match!

  5. Hey Abigail!
    LOVE that you're being so detailed in mapping out everything about your trip! It is extremely helpful, especially for me since I will be following in your footsteps in about 6 months. I am terrified as well because I will be there for 9 months! That means a change in the seasons and weather and I just have no idea how to pack for that.

    Your list looks great from my quick overview, but the only thing they said to include that I did not see on your list was bath towels. Do you plan on buying these there? I know they provide bedding, but on the FAQ list they suggest to bring towels along.


    1. That is amazing, Bethany! Part of me wishes that I was at Capernwray for both winter and spring.

      Yes,I do intend to buy towels over there. No sense taking up precious room for something I can easily buy over there!

  6. Hi Abigail!

    -If you are trying to pack light is a bathrobe which is quite a bulky and more a luxury item one you can afford to be without? Especially if you will purchase a towel over here. I would say a pair of really comfortable 'walking' trousers is more essential than a bathrobe.
    -I think your decision to not bring the dress boots is a good decision. Dressy flats will be more than enough.
    -With jewellery, I wouldn't bring anything you don't mind losing.
    -I reckon you only need one winter scarf.
    -I always pack my carry on bag with any (permitted items) it would be a pain in the arse to lose. So obviously things like phone, ipod etc but also I pack 1 pair of knickers and a t shirt. Just in case my main suitcase goes walkies, it gives a bit more breathing space to the panic. I appreciate I'm probably alone in doing this!!!
    -I don't see 'a book' on your list. Personally I can't travel without a good book to read so I'd thought I'd mention it incase you are the same.
    -Don't forget we don't have the same plugs as America, so do you have all the relevant adapters to plug laptop etc in? (though widely available from amazon uk)

    Definitely don't panic too much about forgetting things like toiletries as we do have ample places to purchase things like that. Plus, I think I read you are staying with people for the first two weeks so anything you do forget you can get cheaply on Amazon posted to their address or buy from a shop.

    -Lastly, I find it helps to have a final list of what I pack and pack that!! That way, when you are packing up and moving about, you have a quick reference to make sure you have packed all your things up and aren't going on accidently leaving something behind.

    Not sure there is anything else I think to add... hope some of this helps.

  7. Hi Abby!

    I just wanted to let you know I'll be praying for you. Praying you have a safe trip, a wonderful time, learn a lot, glorify God, see his hand in your life, make fantastic memories and have an amazing adventure!!

    It has been so neat to see God work this all out and I know he will be at work while your over there as well!

    Have a wonderful time!
    P.S. Looking forward to updates!

  8. I am so impressed at your packing skills! I move and travel a lot, and my packing is usually light compared to most people, but sometimes I get carried away. So I love the list here and the fact that you make it obvious that it is possible. :D

    I wish I could be packing my bags for England now instead of waiting six months!
    Anyway, thank you for all the help and the packing list!!


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