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England Packing Report (5 1/2 weeks of travel)

Checked Bag: Last year, I used the Cotopaxi 35LAllpa but because of a broken humerus in January, I opted to go back to my TravelPro Maxlite 5 carry-on spinner. It has always stood me in good stead and is a real trooper. I did not use the expandable zipper and everything fit well. I also had an AirTag inside.

Carry-on Bag: I used my Calpak Glenroe travel backpack, which I love. It’s 24L, has great pocket organization in front and inside, a laptop sleeve in a separate compartment, and many other features. The only thing it does not have is a sleeve for a water bottle, which I would have liked. But it holds a lot, so I put a complete change of clothes in here, since I was checking my TravelPro. Plus it held my 3 Travelon bags (toiletries, meds and first aid) and my 2 Tom Bihn travel trays and cubelet, which held my electronics.

Personal/Day Bag: This changed on the way back (details later) but on the trip over, I brought my Sherpani Vale crossbody bag, which I also used as a day bag while out and about (at least until I bought a new bag). This had my passport, ID, credit cards and phone. I also brought a packable “grocery” tote bag that I kept rolled up in my day bag. I found this worked better than carrying a larger day bag.

Clothing: For the most part, everything worked. I packed 4 prs of pants, 5 tops, 1 sweater-fleece vest, 5 prs undies, 6-7 prs socks, 2 bras a 1 nightgown:

  • Chico’s black traveler pants. These were good for when I wanted a dressier option, and so comfortable.
  • Eileen Fisher black ponte pants. Again, these are a dressier option and also nice when it’s a bit warmer outside.
  • Old Navy PowerSoft Joggers in black. I bought these right before the trip but lucked out as they're comfy, looked good on me, were lightweight and they wash well and dry very quickly. They make great travel pants.
  • Jockey knit grey joggers. This is an older pair of very comfy knit joggers that I mostly wore when I was walking outside or just lounging around on the “days off” from my vacation.
  • Red, black and white print top from Anthony’s in Naples, Florida. It was super comfy (poly/spandex blend), lightweight, looked good and washed and dried very quickly. I plan on getting more of these types of tops for my next trip.
  • Lucky Brand heathered grey pullover lightweight sweater from Costco. Again, comfy, also warm, and looked good. Took a bit longer to dry, though.
  • 1 solid black and 1 light blue knit LS top. These were fine when worn with my Orvis sweater-fleece vest but I didn’t really like them well enough to wear them by themselves.
  • Lightweight blue/white print hoodie. This was comfortable and an old favorite of mine, but it got black grease on it in a noticeable spot, so I had to throw it away about halfway through. No clue how that happened.
  • Heathered-blue Orvis sweater-fleece vest. I think I wore this almost every day. It matched all my tops (enough) and gave me just that extra bit of warmth I needed when it was too warm for a jacket but a bit too cold for just the top. It was thin enough that it fit under an outdoor jacket and it had 2 deep side pockets, which was handy for holding my phone.
  • Underwear. This year I learned my lesson and brought 5 pairs of my tried-and-true Gap Breathe High Rise underwear, along with 6-7 pairs of socks, and 2 soft bras (which I rarely wore). Next time I’ll bring just one.
  • Shoes: I had one pair of my Oboz walking shoes, which I wore most days, and one pair of very lightweight Tioseban lightweight walking shoes that were for times when I needed something a little bit dressier. Both were rock stars.
  • Nightwear: I packed one knit nightgown and that was it. I washed it about every 5-6 days.
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Electronics: I wrapped up and packed all my cords into my Tom Bihn cubelet, and it worked great. They were contained but easy to get to, and the Cubelet is a nice little compact pouch in bright yellow, so I can spot it easily. All the electric plugs/adaptors went into a Tom Bihn travel tray, and that also worked well. I used my other Tom Bihn travel tray for miscellaneous stuff that I wanted to keep handy, like my lotion bar, carabiners, and so on.

I also bought new UK adaptors for this trip and really liked them, and they are so much better than a single adapter (at least for me). They have 3 regular plug outlets, plus 2 USB-C ports and 1 USB-A. I’m planning to buy a couple for the rest of Europe as well.

Gifts: Once again, I bought a lot of gifts, but I have decided to live with it. And really, I don’t mind it. I enjoy shopping and consider it part of the travel experience. I did make better choices this time and really kept the size of gifts down to a minimum. It still adds up, of course, but I had allotted extra room in my suitcase for the gifts so I was okay with it.

Toiletries: Last year I vowed to leave most of the toiletries and stuff like that at home, and I did to a certain extent. I omitted all the “just in case” stuff, but did keep my supplements in there; especially the calcium since I broke my shoulder bone in January. I was pretty careful about taking this every day.

For medications, I bought these very small ziplock pill packs from Amazon right before I left (I got the idea from someone here but can’t find the post). They were great to hold everything and I had no problems with the TSA or Heathrow security. I also carried one small weekly pill dispenser (the smallest one I had, which is about 6” long) and just filled it up once a week.

Also, I’ve been having some problems sleeping, so I packed some CBD gummies I bought before I left, and had no problem getting them through the airports. My 30 day supply ran out while I was gone, but I found some at a shop in York (pill form, not gummies). I made sure they were in their original container, though.

Binoculars: I went back and forth with this but finally packed them. They were invaluable when I went to see all the birds at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, and they came in handy in Yorkshire for spotting wildlife. They’re small and relatively lightweight.

Trekking poles: I completely forgot to pack my trekking poles, and I could kick myself! I considered buying some but thought I was good without them until I started walking the hills in The Peak District.

Umbrella: I packed an older travel umbrella but it was pretty worthless as it kept flipping inside out with the heavy winds in the UK, so I just pitched it. A couple of times I borrowed one from the hotel I was staying at, but usually did without. The rain was never really heavy here, so usually my jacket was fine.

Outerwear: I wore a $10 Costco puffer jacket, and packed a $16 Costco rain jacket. The puffer jacket was great, but sadly I left it on the train at Plymouth. I bought another jacket at the TKMaxx in Truro, and it was very nice, but in the end, I didn't think I would wear it again so I left that behind at a charity shop.

Misc. I brought my Yeti 10 oz. Rambler mug, which I had just gotten for my birthday. It was really nice to put coffee in (and tea) while I traveled, and especially nice to have at the airport. It’s pretty small and relatively lightweight, so it was worth it to me. Plus once I had the Roka bag (see below), I used the water bottle sleeve on the side to hold the Yeti mug, and it fit perfectly.

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What I Bought:

The Roka makes a great day bag and I am continuing to use it at home. It’s very water resistant. They sell Roka bags all over the UK (including National Trust gift shops), but the above links are to their US shop called OriLondon that ships to the US.

And I love the Noslife packable cap–it is awesome! It fits well, is very comfortable, is insect resistant and completely packable, as the brim folds in the middle. It will be great at home when I head out on walks. I bought it at the Birdoswald gift shop.

Once I bought the two bags, I folded up the Sherpani crossbody and packed it away, then started using the small backpack as a day pack. When I was organizing everything for the flight home, I packed away the small Roka bag and brought out the medium backpack to use as my personal bag on board. I packed the gifts in my suitcase, which was to be checked, and the clothes in my Calpak backpack. All the tech and toiletries went into the Roka medium Canfield backpack, along with my personal stuff like passport, credit cards, phone, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that with all the gifts, the extra 2 bags I bought, and the hat I bought, I still managed to get everything in my 3 bags without it being cumbersome. I checked the bag on the return home, and even with my canceled flight, it made it back to MSP in great condition.

Posted by
14151 posts

What a great review! I'm glad your clothing choices mostly worked out. I have a love-hate relationship with carrying an umbrella on vacation. I usually wind up buying one and then don't take it next trip because I've had to get one that is too heavy. I hate it when they turn inside out!

Poo on leaving your jacket on the train but it was an excuse to go shopping, lol. NOT that you needed one.

Those daypacks are excellent looking. You know I just bought one of their cross body and they are well made with lovely colors!

Thanks for posting your packing list. It's always good to see how others organize. I have not succumbed to Tom Bihn but I may have to, hahaha! Are your travel trays the large or small?

Posted by
687 posts

Thank you for sharing your packing list! The Canfield is really cute. How were the shoulder straps? What is the inside like?

I have always had issues with my daybags. Tried a fanny pack, waist belt style, small backpack, crossbody...everything causes me back pain. I am not carrying a lot either! I don't know what I am doing this year. I thought about the Tom Bihn Side Hustle actually.

Posted by
6778 posts

Pam, I'm the same way with umbrellas. Wouldn't it be great if we could predict the weather months ahead of time? :-) Nope, you know me - I never need an excuse to shop! My TB travel trays are both small. And thanks!!!

SandraL, the shoulder straps feel pretty good to me, and it feels very comfortable when I'm walking with it (both sizes). They're canvas and very sturdy. The Canfield has a very roomy interior, with a padded section that will fit a laptop (medium size) or iPad (small size). There are two zippered pockets inside; one in front and one in back (if that makes sense). You can see them in one of the photos on the website. There is also a hidden vertical zippered pocket on the outside back under the shoulder straps, and a zippered pocket on the front that is covered by a tab. I like it because the top rolls down and closes with heavy duty magnetic snaps. It also covers the zipper to the interior, so you don't have to worry about things getting wet.

Several of the Brits here on the forum have them, including Golden Girl and Skye Girl (Jacqui).

Posted by
2845 posts

Mardee, Thanks for a great packing list and review. It's always good to know what works best and what doesn't. You've given me ideas for England and Ireland's cold rainy weather next June/July. (Before you laugh, remember that I'm traveling from 105* to 115* Arizona.)

Guys can stop reading here. I have a GIRL'S ONLY question about

2 soft bras (which I rarely wore). Next time I’ll bring just one.

What did you wear instead? I despise bras and usually wear Chantelle camisoles instead.

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6778 posts

Horsewoofie, I about snorted laughing when I when the line about "Guys can stop reading here," lol!! Okay, back to question: well, lots of times, nothing. I had breast reduction surgery about a year ago so I'm much smaller now, and I love going braless. Most of the time, I was wearing the Orvis sweater-fleece vest over my tops, so it was not an issue. If I wasn't wearing it, I either wore a Gap bralette that was one of the two I brought, which is very comfortable and does not have a back clasp, or nothing under my top.

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1421 posts

Thanks for the report Mardee and for the Canfield backpack links. I really liked the plum color. I think I know what to ask for Mother’s Day!

Posted by
2553 posts

Thanks for the report. I was in UK for a week with work last month and borrowed a Chico vest from my mom. I wore it a lot so was interested in yours which seemed warmer for a fall trip to Portugal. But it is all sold out in blue in anything but XS! It is not the kind of thing I look for as I live in Florida but will have to do some searching.

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6778 posts

Trotter, ha ha! I love gifting holidays!

Tammy, aren't they nice? I have two of them. The first one is probably 6-7 years old and it's still going strong.

Beth, I have the blue one but I also have a green one that I like. I like the heathered colors the best. I would keep checking back. They've been selling these for at least 7 years, and they will undoubtedly be bringing more back as the weather turns a bit cooler in the fall.

Posted by
198 posts

Thanks, Mardee - so many great suggestions and tips! And happy for you that your underwear worked out better this trip. :)

I'm also interested that you were able to bring the CBD along. i haven't taken the time to research other countries' rules so didn't bring the CBD sleep gummies on a recent Italy trip. Glad they worked out for you and you were able to buy more!

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6778 posts

Ha ha, Sharon, so am I! Ill-fitting undies are no joke, lol!

With regards to Italy, from everything I've read, Italy is one of the more relaxed countries when it comes to CBD. It just needs to contain less than 0.6% THC, which is actually better than England, which caps it at 0.5%.

Posted by
10325 posts

Thanks for sharing your excellent packing list. As for the Orvis vest, I can attest to how warm and comfy it is. I bought a black one for my Christmas market trip and loved it, thanks to Mardee’s recommendation. The bonus was that it was on sale!

Posted by
9762 posts

I want one of those Orvis vests too. Will need to wait until the heathered ones come back .

And Sharon said exactly what I was thinking !!! Hahahahahaha

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6778 posts

Andrea, I've thought about getting a black one and probably should!

Kim, happy to know everyone is rooting for a good underwear fit!!! I need a laughing emoji here, Andrew!

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10325 posts

Kim, my vest is a heathered black.

To Mardee The Enabler, thanks to you I stopped at Old Navy this morning and picked up a pair of the PowerSoft joggers. I just got home and tried them on. Very comfy. I wish they came in a gray.

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342 posts

Andrea, Old Navy got more east coast business from “the enablers’ :)” suggestions yesterday! I bought three pair! Lol Two for me in black and navy, and one for my daughter in black. I wore mine around the house yesterday and really like them!

Edit: Thanking both enablers- TheOrdinaryRebecca and mardee.

Posted by
451 posts

I love reading packing reports! Now I need to go look at the Old Navy site for those joggers.

Edit: I bought the cargo version of the joggers, which happens to be on sale. I'll pick them up over the weekend when I get back into town.

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Sherry (slws2137) Aw, there was a 2 day sale on the joggers mentioned in this post, half off Monday and Tuesday so you missed it by one day! I tried to order twice yesterday but it kept saying sold out, so I tried last night and was able to get a pair. I'm travelling next week and everyone's enthusiastic comments convinced me I need these for the plane and apparently for almost everything else. Worth a shot for $20 plus tax!

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451 posts

K2, oh, darn! At least the cargo version that I bought was on sale.

Edited to add: I picked up my online order of the Power Soft cargo jogger from Old Navy late on Sunday afternoon. Later that evening, I opened the bag and there wasn't any tag on the joggers, nor were they clean. I'm assuming they were a return. I was at the store when they opened on Monday morning and the store as well as online was sold out. So I asked the assistant manager, who was helping me, if they would give me a discount if I kept them. She said yes, half price, so I agreed, thinking that would be about $11. Turns out the price had dropped, so I ended up paying $4.99 for them. And after washing, they are perfect!

Posted by
512 posts

Mardee, I see that you have Tom Bihn packing cubes, so I'll ask this question: is the Bihn stuff really worth paying 3-4 times versus apparently equivalent products from other competent suppliers? I'm thinking of, say, Eagle Creek and Osprey, whose products I regard highly.

Posted by
6778 posts

I don’t have any of the Tom Bihn packing cubes, but I do have several bags, two travel trays, and a cubelet. So obviously I think they’re worth the price. I can tell you that they last a very long time, the quality is excellent, I like the colors, they are very durable (I’ve had one bag for 15+ years and it’s still going strong), and I especially like the fact that they are made in the United States.

I can also tell you that the resale value is high. I bought one bag about 12 years ago and sold it five or six years later, for pretty much the same price that I had bought it for.

I don’t own any Eagle Creek or Osprey bags, so I really can’t compare them. But all I can tell you is that they’re worth it to me.

Posted by
687 posts

Mardee, did you buy your Canfields in London? If so where can I find them?

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6778 posts

Sandra, I did not—I bought one in York and one in Helmsley at Browns in York but I would think you could buy them in London. That's where Roka is based, although i do not think they have a brick and mortar store. However, many stores in London probably carry them. I saw them all over when I was traveling.

That said, I think that most department stores and other stores that carry bags would have Roka bags for sale. Someone told me Harvey Nichols carries them, and most National Trust gift shops do (although they are limited in size and color).

Some of the Brits here might know. You might want to ask in a separate post if anyone knows where you can buy Roka bags in London. I did message them and ask, and if I get a response I will let you know.

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Sandra, I heard back from Roka and they gave me a list of shops that carry their bags. See below.

Ryman Design - W2 2EH & EC2N 3AS
Cachao Toys - N10 1BS
National Maritime Museum - SE10 9NF
Sahara - W1H
The Ark - N16
69b Boutique - E8 4PH