- Two pairs of lightweight dress pants, both black
- Two cardigan sweaters, one white and one black
- Two three-quarter sleeve dress shirts
- Three short-sleeve knit tops
- 5 pairs of underwear, 5 pairs of socks and an extra bra
- A lightweight wind- and water-proof jacket
- Lightweight black Cuddleduds pant liners
All in all it went well. We spent one week in Edinburgh and one week on a guided tour of the Highlands. I was a little concerned about only having one pair of shoes since I have seriously screwed-up feet, but these were awesome. We walked a LOT and my feet were tired at the end of some days, but never really hurt. I checked the weather forecasts before we left but temperatures were still colder than we expected - high forties to mid fifties most days, with a lot of wind and rain in the Highlands. I'd planned to dress in layers and that worked perfectly. Even with cold temps, the occasional hail storm and fairly light clothes, I was comfortable. I wore the Cuddleduds once on an especially cold, windy day and they were awesome. It was well worth bringing them even though I only used them once. I bought a pair of cashmere fingerless gloves in Edinburgh that I wore a lot in the Highlands. Not only were they warm, I could use my camera (which was my phone) without taking them off. Having a wind- and water-proof jacket made a huge difference, comfort-wise. Mom's jacket was neither and she had to buy one early in the trip.
There were a few things I didn't use at all: the umbrella, notebook, journal, guidebook. I used the printouts once for reference but could have easily relied on scans saved on the iPad. Leaving out all the above would have really cut down on the weight in the Vera bag.
If I were to make the same trip again, I would pack another pair of dark jeans and ditch the dress pants. I'd read that people in the UK tend to dress up more than Americans, but dark jeans were fine. I'd take fewer socks and underwear and just wash things more often. I'd swap the two dress shirts for knit tops (none of the b&bs had irons), and pick a softer cardigan. I brought a brand new one that's made of a tape-style yarn that turned out to be itchy. I wore it once and never got it out of the suitcase again. I'd also bring one comfy pair of lounge pants for evenings. That was the only thing I ended up wishing I'd packed.
I got a LOT more use out of the microfiber towel and washcloth than I expected. I packed the towel because it's great for my hair but used it daily for wringing out laundry. And none of the B&Bs we stayed in had washcloths. Next time, I'd invest in a microfiber one. I also brought a lightweight nylon tote bag thinking I might use it for souveniers on the flight home. I did, but I also used it every day to carry an extra layer of clothes for Mom. (She's hypoglycemic plus she freezes if it's below 70, so she always wanted snacks, an extra sweater, gloves and hat with her.)
I knew I wouldn't be able to use my cell phone (stupid Verizon), but I brought it anyway and used it just for the camera. I borrowed a bigger battery from a friend who has the same phone and didn't have any problems with battery life, even when I took well over 100 pictures and several short videos in one day. I had a few issues with outdoor photos turning out dark, but overall the phone did just fine and most of the time took better pictures than Mom's little camera. All the bed & breakfasts had wifi so I set up a Dropbox account before I left and synced my phone every night to back up my photos. Instead of calling home I used my iPad and Google Hangouts to talk to the Big Guy and Little Guy every day, which was awesome. I also used the iPad to read ebooks, surf the web or plan our next day's routes & itineraries.
One important note: Mom and I both contacted our credit card companies before the trip to make sure we could use our cards overseas and were assured it would be no problem. I planned to use cash for as many of the day-to-day purchases as possible, so I also brought my debit card. The UK uses a chip-and-pin system for debit and credit cards. If you want to use them for non-signature transactions (like cash advances or ATM withdrawals), MAKE SURE YOUR CARDS HAVE CHIPS. My debit card was the only one of our four cards that did, and that was pure luck. Mom could use her cards for signature transactions but not withdrawals so we relied on hers for big charges like the hotel bills, and I took out cash for everything else. It worked out, but it was a pain.
Oh, and the only time I used my credit card (on the last night of our trip, fortunately), the credit card company blocked it for suspicious activity even though I had called ahead of time to let them know I would be out of the country. To unlock it I had to call customer service, which they advise you to do collect...and then they wouldn't accept an international call. The only other way to contact them was to charge the call to a credit card which, duh, they'd blocked. In the end, having an international customer service number was no help at all. I couldn't get the card unblocked until I was back in the US. At least one other family on the tour with us had the same issues.
So there you have it: lessons learned from two weeks of international travel and my first attempt at packing (somewhat) light. How about you? Any favorite travel tips or tricks?