While planning this trip, I was determined that THIS was the year I would finally manage to pack light.
Fat chance of that.
This is similar to my many New Year's resolutions to live more simply. I start out with good intentions... but some cool gadget catches my eye and it all goes downhill from there.
Part of the problem is the unpredictability of the British weather. I'm told that London is lovely right now... but that could change by the time we land tomorrow. And we've been advised to plan for all kinds of weather emergencies during our stay in the Lake District.
"Waterproof clothing is vital as the Lake District is one of the wettest places in the UK and what starts out as a nice day can quickly change. It can get windy and old on ridges and fell summits so bringing many layers of clothing is a good idea."
We will be spending an entire week in the cottage my brother-in-law rented for us up there. So in addition to my usual summer t-shirts, I've packed every cold-weather sweater I own. And my UGGS.
But before we go to the Lake District, we'll be in London... and Megan and I might want to take in a high tea. And I still remember being forcibly ejected from the lobby of the Ritz because my jeans and t-shirt did not conform to the hotel's dress code (which only doesn't apply when you are a guest). So my suitcase also contains a little summer dress... which likely still won't pass muster with the bouncers at London's highest class hotels, but should be adequate for tea in our price range.
And then, there's the plethora of grooming items I need to keep from looking like the crypt keeper at my advanced age. The budget hotel we are using in London does not provide basic amenities like soap and shampoo, so I've stocked up on tiny bottles of Pantene and shower gel. Some of the reviews at TripAdvisor mentioned extremely thin pillows on the beds... so I'm bringing my comfy down one from home.
So it's turning into a challenge to get everything I'll need for the next two weeks into my 24" bag.
Ah, but most of that stuff could go in my carry-on, right?
That's what I used to do when I first started making this trip. But these days, I don't go anywhere without a ton of electronics. A computer, phone, flash drives, two digital cameras, pocket camcorder, iPod, chargers and cables for all of those devices, extra rechargeable AA batteries, and battery charger.
The fact that we're traveling to another country on the edge of Europe adds another level of complication to our stash of electronics. Standard electrical frequencies in Britain are different from the US: Our appliances run on 120 volts/60 Hertz... theirs are 230 volts/50 Hertz. I'm not sure what that means... except for the fact that you will end up frying your device if it cannot handle the voltage.
In the old days (like a decade ago), we might have had to purchase a converter in order to use our electronics. But most modern electronic devices are manufactured for the global market and automatically convert (exceptions tend to be personal grooming tools like hair dryers and shavers).
I checked the voltage on all of the items I'm bringing and was relieved to see that all will work in the UK (including the battery charger, which was worrying me). We even purchased a special surge protector that not only converts, but will accommodate US plugs (oh yeah. Even though we don't need a converter, we had to purchase some adapters so we can plug our stuff in at all).
So a simple thing like packing isn't as simple as one would like.
On that note, I'd better get back to it.