It is entirely possible I spent too much time on the packing forum prior to our trip. That said, without this lovely forum I would have never felt confident enough to venture into the carry-on only club. We spent 14 nights in the UK with only a carry-on sized roller bag and Vera Bradley tote for me and tactical backpack and sports backpack for husband.
Our driver who met us at Heathrow couldn’t believe that what we had was the total of our luggage. He claimed my bag would have been his wife’s shoe bag!
With deep thanks for all of the posts and advice and experiences shared before I left, I would like to return the favor by sharing my experiences.
Money belt or not: Before reading all of the posts on waist belts versus neck wallets it had honestly not occurred to me to worry about this. Full disclosure, I lived and worked in a major city for 16 years and routinely travel around the country to large cities for work. I say this because it has probably made me more comfortable in areas where I may be a target (believe me, I look like a tourist/I don’t know where I’m going no matter how many times I travel to NYC). I wore a small Vera Bradley cross-body bag and husband had a small wallet in his front pocket. We each had a credit card and small stash of cash. We did not carry our passports (except at the end of the trip, when I forgot to put them back in the bigger bag). Yes, we were in high-traffic touristy areas, on public transit, and looked like tourists. We had no troubles. To me, the discomfort of wearing a money belt over rode the extra protection. I am accustomed to keeping a hand on my bag, especially in busy areas, and used to public transit.
Packing list: I took 4 short-sleeved tops, 2 tank tops, 2 long-sleeve tops, 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of leggings, a workout outfit, and pajamas, 2 bras and 6 pairs of underwear, 5 pairs of socks and a small pair of ballet flats. I also took some maps, guide books, adapters, phone charger, makeup, and some toiletries. Husband took 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of nicer pants, 3 pairs of workout shorts, 5 t shirts, 1 long-sleeved shirt, and underwear and socks and a rain jacket plus another 2 pairs of shoes.
Plane: I wore leggings, walking shoes, tshirt, cardigan, rain jacket and scarf. Husband wore jeans, running shoes, tshirt, and hoodie. I had my larger Vera Bradley tote with my journal and pens, some books, torn-out sections of guide books, and my smaller purse, and all of our travel documents and itineraries. Husband had a backpack that included his laptop (he needed to do some work), a book, and some snacks.
Experience: We rented a flat for the first 7 days and did laundry toward the end so we had clean clothes for the next week. It was colder than expected for May, so we each did a lot of layering. I’m pretty sure husband’s hoodie could have walked across the Atlantic by itself by the end of the trip. That said, this plan worked really well. I wear jeans a lot, and they were warm and also didn’t show dirt or smell, making them ideal travel partners. I had those with at least 5% lycra so they held their shape. I had thin tshirts that were easy to rinse out and layer with a long-sleeved shirt or a cardigan.