Happy last day of 2016 to everyone!!!

We got home late last night and are up early, still on UK time. I have not been on YLF much while we were away. It’s great to see all the EOY summaries, wrap-ups, etc, which are a first for me since joining YLF
earlier this year. I will enjoy catching up! I thought I’d start off by commenting on my travel capsule.

Our trip included 5 days in London (including Christmas), 3 days in Oxford, plus close to three travel days. We booked less than a month ahead, so spent the night in Washington DC to get a good fare before flying “across the pond”, and used it as a chance to have dinner with an old college friend of Mr Chris’s. We planned to do a LOT of walking like normal tourists, and that is exactly what we did. We had been to London 20 years ago, long enough ago that it didn’t feel like a repeat visit. It’s a huge city and was packed with tourists everywhere, plus locals enjoying a holiday break from work. I just had to go into Harrods, which we did on boxing day, but it was so crowded we could hardly move until we ducked into the coffee/tea area.

My goals were: happy feet, warm and dry overall, clothes I could easily repeat, and being moderately stylish. I am willing to sacrifice style a bit on trips like this in favor of practicality. I also thought I might want to get a bit dressed up at least once for dinner, but we really got into the English pub thing, so had no urge to dress up. I also thought I might encounter some wet or snowy conditions but it rained only once and no snow at all although there was a lot of frost in the mornings in Oxford. I wanted to fit everything into my suitcase that fits overhead and one tote bag, especially on an outbound trip. I’ve had a checked bag not arrive with me a few times and it’s a huge hassle.

I met the most important goals but brought too many or not enough of some items, and wasn’t so happy with my tops. That’s ok, I paid a lot more attention to my travel capsule than ever before and I learned a LOT. I also did not let any of the issues interfere with my enjoyment of my trip. We had a terrific time, visiting museums and cathedrals, loving the architecture including in Kensington where we stayed, plus had a great time chatting with locals folks and travelers. We got a bit overwhelmed by London after a few days and were delighted that we had planned to spend the last part of the trip in Oxford, which also had plenty of tourists but is smaller and more manageable. Mr Chris and I are both lovers of the rich history of the UK as well as many of the TV shows and movies made there, and we always love hearing as much as we can about the history.

Luggage: I used my rolling suitcase that is the largest size that fits the overhead bin, plus my leather tote that I’ve used for a lot of travel. The suitcase is a workhorse, but the tote is worn over the shoulder
and does not close completely so it’s not ideal although I’ve used it a lot eve the years. When you are pulling a suitcase through train stations, bus stations, and down city streets a backpack would be much easier
than a tote bag.

The clothes I brought are almost all represented in the capsule here: http://youlookfab.com/finds/co.....ction=3633

Footwear: I brought three pairs of shoes, all ones that have worked in the past for all-day walking. Ugg snow boots, Clark walking sneakers, and Reiker leather ankle boots. All in black. The first 4 days I wore the Clark sneakers, with black merino wool socks, very happy feet. Day 5 I
wore the Ugg snow boots mostly for a change, and later that day and the next day had a bout of what I think may have been plantar fasciitis, which I’ve never had before. Quite a pain in my heel when walking. I had worn these boots all day for several days in Brussels a year ago, but either they have broken down a little or my feet have gotten more sensitive. I went back to the Clarks and stuck with them for the rest of the trip and the foot pain improved within a few days, although it’s not completely gone. Never wore the Reikers at all.

Outerwear: my insulated EB trenchoat which is waterproof and has a hood. I considered bringing another coat but it would have required checking a bag which I didn’t want to do. The coat lining is quilted and makes the coat warmer than most insulated trenchcoats plus it zips close so acts like a windbreaker. The coat was perfect for London, including the one time it rained where it was way too windy for an umbrella, so the hood was a godsend. However, in Oxford where it was noticeably colder, I was not quite warm enough even with multiple layers underneath, scarf, had and gloves.

Accessories: Light blue wool scarf (not shown), knit cap, lined leather gloves. One bag – my black nylon Bagellini cross-body. I love this for travel because it’s lightweight, waterproof, zips completely shut, is a perfect size for everything including small gifts I might buy, and leaves me hands-free. Two “indoor” scarves, minimal jewelry including long pearls I did not wear. Umbrella that I never used. I got a gel manicure before leaving, in a classic dark red, which worked really well because it actually strengthens my nails a bit and lasts a long time.

Pants: 3 pairs of straight leg jeans in darker washes, 1 pr black ponte slacks. Could have taken one fewer pair of jeans. I brought the black slacks because I don’t like to wear jeans to church, but because of my
foot pain we ended up going to a church very close to the hotel, to a very casual “family friendly” Christmas day service where the minster was in jeans! Could have brought one fewer overall.

Toppers: camel faux leather jacket and grey/brown moto sweater. This was ok but probably didn’t need both, I wore them mostly for warmth when out and about.

Tops: This part of my capsule was quite disappointing. 3 cashmere crewneck sweaters, plus two long sleeved under layers and two short sleeved.I find cashmere too itchy to wear without underlayers, and with those underlayers I was too warm in restaurants, which was a bit of a surprise. Outdoors I had to add a topper under my coat to be warm and my neck was a bit cold even with a scarf because the sweaters were crewnecks. The sweaters were solid colors (camel, blush, black) and honestly were boring even with the jewelry I brought, plus they pilled quite badly,probably because I was wearing them every third day (brought too few) and always wore them under a topper. I need to spend some time with my defuzzer when I get home, and I need to find a different approach next time

Mr Chris traveled with two pants, two walking shoes, two dress shirts (plaid, solid color), one heavy sweater, a sweater vest, a wool blazer, ,a couple of underlayers. and one waterproof jacket. He’s done a lot of
business travel including halfway around the world and has this down to a science. In-room laundry is required but overall it works really well. I need to learn from this, although I don’t want to wear button down shirts every day like he does. Further research required….perhaps a better approach would be a mix-n-match assortment of sweaters, denim shirt, lightweight tneck, light down vest. I wish I could remember some of my past travel capsules because I don’t remember being disappointed
like this before.

Underwear, socks, PJs…all good.

I tried Neutrogena makeup remover towelettes for the first time and LOVE them for travel. They replaced the eye makeup remover and skin
cleanser that I would have had to include in my liquids bag, and they are not drying so I was able to skip night time moisturizer, at least in a damp climate like the UK.

Some wants for next

  1. a replacement wallet on a shoulder strap for passport, cell phone, other check-in essentials. Mine is old and fits a passport but not quite big enough for a cell phone.
  2. A backpack that fits a laptop and can work as a carry-on bag. I have one that I think will work and I’ll try it at least once before buying anything else.
  3. Maybe a water resistant puffer coat…don’t have one but thinking about it.
  4. A better assortment of tops/toppers and probably fewer of them.
  5. A second pair of all day walking shoes – I have hiking shoes that would work but already want to get some leather ankle boots like this.

The trip home was long and we had to figure out if we were going to be able to get into the driveway, since it snowed a bit while we were gone. We live on a busy road and if there is more than a few inches of snow the snowplows create quite a pile at the head of our driveway, but it was all very manageable this time.

Glad to be home and sleep in my own bed. My two kitties, who were well looked after by a neighbor that they love, are also glad we are home.