Posted by: marymarthatours | August 28, 2013

We’re packing for our upcoming tour

Delta 767, Lasse Fuss, CCASA3.0

Next week, Mary and I and the 20 travelers on our Quilts & Textiles of England & Wales Tour will be leaving for England.  We know that everyone is excited, and we hope they are ready for the fun ahead.  Here are some thoughts from a previous blog that will provide good reminders for packing and saving money while traveling.

Clothing and What to Take — Some tips for packing and what to take:

04 Kings Cross,ml, 2010

Mary and Martha’s luggage for two weeks in England

  • I shop for clothes at local charity shops before I travel, and then I ‘dump’ (leave behind) anything bulky that takes up luggage space for my return home.  I tell the lodging owner to pass on the item(s) to someone or to a charity shop.
  • Mary likes to take old clothing that she can toss before returning home.
  • We take soap for doing laundry in the bathroom sink.  Mary and I take turns washing our socks and ‘personal’ clothing.  Liquid shampoo can also be used for washing clothes.
  • I always Scotch Guard my jacket or coat (with a hood) before I travel to the UK.  On our York trip in 2010, I never regretted the long trench coat I took.  Boy, did we have rain.  I take an umbrella, but only to have in my purse, just in case.  I find umbrellas a bother to open and close, and they drip and blow apart in the wind.  We who live in the Pacific NW have plastic skin and prefer hoods.
  • I always pack a supply of zip lock bags in small and tiny sizes for toiletries and purchases.  I take a straw so I can create an ‘air pack’.  Sometimes I take bubble wrap and a mailing tube (for rolled up paper items), and if I don’t need them for protection of purchases going home, they are thrown away.
  • Two pairs of shoes only.  One that will survive being wet and another for a change.  I have a favorite brand that look nice and are very comfortable.  Hint: I get these expensive shoes at a reasonable cost on eBay, and I could ditch them too if I need more luggage space.
  • A small supply of medications for an emergency, aching muscles, or an illness.  You can find a drug store for any over the counter meds you need while traveling, but taking a few for ‘just in case’ will save you time and bother.  I carry my routine meds in a weekly dispenser.  I have never been questioned about medications.  I do advise that any narcotic or controlled medication be taken in the original, labeled bottle.  Always pack your meds in your carry-on bag rather than checked luggage.
  • Mary and I each carry a small, laminated card listing our own and each other’s medications and doses.  In an emergency, we would have this information readily available for medical personnel.
  • For that extra bit of security in this technological age, we recommend that you carry your passport and credit cards in RFID-blocking wallets, envelopes, or cases.

Navigating London – We’ll be spending 4 nights in London on the upcoming tour.  Here are some tips for getting around in London:

Blackfriars tube sta, PD

Blackfriars Tube Station, London

  • Use the Tube.  It is the fastest and cheapest way to move.  Use the city bus for short distances.  And get a map for each on-line before your trip to become familiar with the routes and terms.
  • When traveling on our own, we ride the Tube from and back to Heathrow Airport; far faster and tons cheaper than any other mode of transportation.  My advice: schedule your flights to avoid the London rush hour.
  • Purchase either a limited time Travel Pass or an Oyster Card (a debit card) for riding the Tube and buses.  Check on-line for which will best meet your needs depending on how long you will be in London and how much you will use the transit system.  For help deciding which option is best for you see:  http://www.londontoolkit.com/mnu/london_transport.htm.
  • Have a good street map with you at all times.  Step aside to consult it so you don’t look like a tourist.  If you need to ask directions, be aware that most of the people on the main streets are not from London.  We laughed when people asked us for directions.
  • Plan ahead to coordinate your activities by location.  And be sure to check the days and times that sites are open.  I like to make a prioritized list of ‘what I want to see’ before leaving home.  Part of the fun of preparation.
  • The main streets of London can be a mob scene these days.  If you go one block off the main street, you will find fewer people and some interesting adventures.

Eating in London:

London Pub mw

Sherlock Holmes Pub, London

  • Museums and galleries often have cafes and restaurants that serve great food, usually cafeteria style.  You will save time and money and not need to tip.  Go to these places to eat even if you are not staying to view the museum.  You can usually get in to just eat without paying the admission fee if there is one.  (Most London museums are free.)
  • Pubs are a favorite for Mary and me.  There are more locals and fewer tourists eating dinner in the pubs.  A pub ordering lesson:  go to the bar to order and pay for your beverage and take it to your table.  When ready, go to the bar to order and pay for your dinner – they will deliver it to you, and no tipping here.  Ask questions and enjoy a good conversation with the servers – you will find them helpful and fun.
  • Check the menu that is posted outside most restaurants for food items and prices.  Be aware that if there is not menu posted outside that probably means ‘Expensive’.
  • If you find an eating place that you like, return for another meal.  I figure a sure thing is better than a risk.

Items that are “A Good Thing” to take (says Martha):

  • A small, wireless computer with Skype capability for doing research, for checking trains and sightseeing spots, for flight home check in, for communicating with family and friends.  Many hotels have a computer for the use of folks lodging there, but it is in the lobby and you will get very little time on it.  Most lodgings now have free WiFi access so you can use your own computer comfortably in your room.  We find it essential on our trips and worth its weight to carry.
  • A spirit of adventure.  You might not see everything on your wish list and might not have ideal weather, but you will find some surprises and extras you never imagined.
  • A sense of humor.  I am forever doing the wrong thing with tickets on foreign buses, and Mary has lost the B&B key in her own purse.  With memories (and laughs) like these, why would we ever want things to go entirely smoothly?

(by Martha)

Photo credits:  plane – copyright Lasse Fuss and licensed for reuse by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license; Blackfriars Tube Station – public domain; Mary with luggage and Sherlock Holmes Pub – copyright M&M tours.

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Responses

  1. Looking forward to seeing you all next Tuesday . Darren

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. It can be wise to photocopy the passport photo page and have that copy in the luggage. That way you have the information (passport #, issuing office) if the passport is lost. It speeds replacement significantly. (Updated version of this: take a picture of your passport photo page with your phone).

    “Rookie Bulge” is a common error. Take one fleece, not three sweaters. These days Bag Boys are rare. You have to lift and carry everything yourself.

    Split meals with a pal. Eating out three times a day can mean going up a pants size in a week!

    Get a haircut/trim before you travel. The one time I didn’t do this, I looked electrocuted in all the pictures. My hair didn’t like the water . . .

    Make time for silence. The body needs to process all that is being seen and heard and eaten. You can say “I need a moment to digest this,” and step away to feel alive in the moment.

    Bon Voyage!

  3. Wonderful tips, Ellen, we’ll add them all to our collection. Glad to have you with us as an ‘armchair traveler’. Mary

    • I’ve been watching the weather forecast for our travel areas (good idea before a far-away trip). With temps forecasted into the high 70’s, be sure to pack short sleeved items and a “light weight” sweater this trip. Great thing about a JWJ tour – your suitcase is portaged for you, coach to hotel room. Happy travels, Martha


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