Scottish Holiday – Day 22: The End (and some packing tips)

Today was rather uneventful in comparison to previous days.  We stuffed ourselves with a final full Scottish breakfast (I’m seriously going to miss having baked beans with my eggs) and drove to the airport.  The flights home worked out just fine, except that I somehow got flagged for a bag and body search before leaving London for the US and we got pulled out of line right before boarding our plane.  Luckily, we made it on just in time to keep a lady in another row from stealing all of our luggage space.

I read a historical novel (Elizabeth I by Margaret George) on the flight home; it was 600 pages long and I got through almost half of it before we landed, so that kept me busy.  Unfortunately, the reading light on the plane gave me a migraine, complete with flashy lights and loss of my peripheral vision – something that hasn’t happened since I was 16.  It’s a bit unnerving to be on an airplane flying across the Atlantic without being able to see!  But, it went away and the headache that followed wasn’t that bad thanks to some preemptive Advil.

And, that’s it.  The End 🙂

All in all, the trip was simply fantastic.  It was an experience we will remember forever, and I’m so, so grateful we were able to do it.  🙂  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our adventures as much as I have enjoyed writing about them!

In this final post, I wanted to write about the stuff we brought on the trip that worked really well and helped everything go smoothly.  We traveled very light and I did a lot of research on how to pack and what kind of things would be useful on a trip like this.  It worked out so well that I hope to never check a suitcase again!

Essential items for a cool-weather trip to the UK:

1.  Garmin GPS unit loaded with maps of the UK (we purchased the maps separately) – we never would have managed to find our way around the country without this.  Our phones wouldn’t have helped much, as service was slow in many places or data coverage was simply nonexistent.  GPS is the only way to go.  Definitely worth the money we spent and I will be using this on other road trips as well.

2.  Tom Bihn luggage.  On the way over, we didn’t check any bags.  Yes, we managed a three-week trip in cold weather with only one carry-on each.  And these were not maximum-size carry-ons.  They were each small enough to fit under our seats on the plane.  In addition to our carry-ons, I had my purse, Mr. Pilgrim had a laptop bag, and the girls each brought a sheep stuffed animal that converts into a pillow and blanket.  That’s it.  It was so incredibly nice to travel so lightly, especially when most places we stayed had several flights of stairs to walk up and down.

These carryons were THE BEST.  They are a bit pricey but are made in the U.S. and will last forever.  They have so many compartments and it is very easy to keep your stuff organized and accessible.  They can be carried or worn as a backpack.  You can also buy a strap to wear them messenger-style.  I am looking forward to many trips with these guys.

3.  Pacsafe messenger-style bag.  This is a great travel purse…. and now comes in an adorable tweed option that wasn’t available when I bought my plain brown one.

With a Pacsafe bag, you don’t have to worry about your stuff as the bag is slashproof, the strap can’t be cut, and the zippers can be secured with handy clips.   You would basically have to hand this bag over at knifepoint if anyone wanted to get inside it. 😉 We weren’t really in any cities where we had to watch out for that, but it was nice to know at the airport and other crowded places that my stuff was safe. It is waterproof (and kept my things dry through many a rain and hail storm) and has several compartments so you can stay organized.  I kept SO much stuff in here:

  • lip gloss
  • tissue
  • thermometer and bottle of medicine for my sick girl
  • my iphone (and sometimes another phone too)
  • an ipod touch
  • three passports
  • a clip-on zipper pouch with my money and credit cards
  • my camera
  • extra camera battery
  • warm gloves
  • city map and other brochures
  • GPS unit
  • pen and small notebook
  • snacks
  • an occasional bottle of water

No joke, all of that stuff fit inside.  I felt like Mary Poppins. 🙂

4.  Good rainboots. The girls and I each brought a pair of comfortable walking shoes and a pair of Hunter rainboots.  The shoes got used one day.  The rest of the trip we wore our boots.

They were comfortable, and with the fleece wellie socks inside, they were warm, too.  We never had to worry about ruining or cleaning our shoes and they were easy for the girls to take on and off in the car.  A must for all of the walking about the countryside that we did.

5.  Travel camera.  I don’t like traveling with a big camera that has to have its own bag.  Last summer I bought an Olympus EP-2 Micro 4/3 camera and it was perfect for this trip.  I’m sure I could have taken some better pictures with a nice SLR.  But this little camera with its pancake lens easily fit in my purse and I didn’t have to look like a tourist all the time…or give myself a sore neck. 😉

6. Icebreaker wool layers.  Icebreaker makes the best clothing for traveling, hands down.  Icebreaker clothing is made from 100% fine gauge New Zealand merino wool.  It doesn’t itch, it’s very thin, and it keeps you nice and warm.  Another good thing is that it is breathable, naturally anti-bacterial, and odor resistant, so you can wear it multiple days at a time, even the socks.  Seriously.  It can be washed in the sink and hung to dry and will dry by the next day.  It hardly takes up any room in a suitcase.  The girls lived in theirs day and night and never wanted to take them off.  Worth every dollar we spent.

7.  Patagonia Better Sweater – I wore this every day.  It has a nice sized hood, is toasty warm, and dries quickly.  The fleece has a tendency to pill up but overall I was happy with it.

8.  Northface waterproof jacket with hood.  The exact one I have isn’t available anymore.  But it is a thin shell, belted, wind and water proof, and a perfect top layer.  If I didn’t feel like wearing it I could roll it up and squeeze it in my purse.  Great for traveling light.

9.  Travel Blowdryer – This little guy is dual voltage (so no need to bring a huge converter) and blows a surprising amount of hot air for its size.  It works as well (maybe even better!) than my regular sized blow dryer, and is teeny tiny and very light.  Amazing!

10. The last thing I need to mention is that there were several places where the internet connection was so spotty that Skype wouldn’t work.  So, we bought a pre-paid phone over there rather than paying the ridiculous per-minute charges that AT&T was offering.  I would definitely recommend going this route if you’ll be needing to check in often at home.  I think with the pre-paid card we were able to call home for around 7 cents a minute.

And now to start planning the next trip….. 😉

2 CommentsLeave a comment »
  • January 13, 2013 Reply
    Lisa said:

    “You would basically have to hand this bag over at knifepoint if anyone wanted to get inside it. We weren’t really in any cities where we had to watch out for that, but it was nice to know at the airport and other crowded places that my stuff was safe.”

    I laughed a little at this part only because just a couple weeks before you wrote it, we had been talking with our former Scottish missionary friends that lived in Edinburg about the city crime and safety and they casually mentioned that the stabbing rate there is pretty high, like one of the highest in the entire world, yikes!

    • January 14, 2013 Reply
      Virtual Pilgrim said:

      Ha! That is funny. I came across bad statistics about Glasgow several times, but not Edinburgh. I never felt unsafe there… maybe it’s good that I didn’t know. 😉

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