Travel Packing

We are flying out on Thursday for ten days to London, Edinburgh, and Inverness.

Were our vacation plans inspired by the Outlander books (read them three times) or the television series? NOOOOO. But I have to say that I did learn a ton about Scottish history from reading those books.

The weather is going to be crazy when we’re there. Ranging from the low 80s during the day in London to the low 40s in the Highlands at night. Because I prize high mobility, we’re only taking carry-on luggage and backpacks. We need clothes for mucking about during the day and different outfits for nice restaurants in the evening. So, packing must be done very sensibly.

The boys and Steve have finished packing (with a lot of oversight from me). I haven’t yet commit to my outfits. The options are draped over a chair awaiting final decisions. The color scheme is black, white, denim, and pink. I have a summer dress for London that will work with black tights and a sweater in Scotland.

Honestly, I adore packing. It gives one an excuse to buy new stuff. I like the exercise of reducing one’s possessions to the core essentials. I like figuring out how to re-purpose outfits. I like shrink-raying one’s toiletries into a little bag.

I even like the slight element of danger – what happens if it’s too cold and you don’t have the right sweater?!!! what happens if you get invited to join Prince Harry for Pim’s and all you have are some nasty shorts and a t-shirt?!!! Those anxieties increase the challenge level of packing, so that’s fun, too.

This year, I have invested in packing cubes. I explained them to Ian as dresser drawers for your suitcase. How anal retentive am I? Well, I’ll tell you…. I bought cubes in different colors for each family member. Green is Jonah, Red is Ian, Black is Steve, Pink is me. And then everything I bought for the trip – backpacks, power converters, travel toothbrushes, also conforms to the color scheme. Nice, huh? I can tell you my entire family sighed in deep relief, when they learned that there will be no mistaking their backpack for another person’s backpack.

(more later)

16 thoughts on “Travel Packing

  1. Oh, wow.

    Husband had a 4 week trip to England late this spring. The big kids joined him for the last week for sight-seeing in Oxford (museums and castle and Blenheim Palace), London (British Museum and Tower) and Bath while based in Oxford. It was both their first trip overseas and their first flight without an adult. Some notes from that:

    –I packed the kids as if for Western Washington the same time of year, which turned out to be just about perfect.
    –D (age 14) had a nondescript black rolling backpack. We had put a Polish flag patch on it to distinguish it, which I belatedly realized might be a wee bit un-PC in the UK these days.
    –They enjoyed their nearby Polish grocery A LOT and my husband discovered a love of British cheeses.
    –C (age 16) enjoyed Oxford stationery and art stores and they went to at least one book store.
    –Oxford apparently has CRAZY amounts of Harry Potter souvenirs.


    1. Oxford has tours of the room where the HP infirmary scenes were filmed, which has amazing reliefs all over the ceiling, and the old library that inspired the HP library. I can’t remember if they actually filmed there. Depending on time/day/school schedule, you can also poke your head into the Great Hall. So yes, plenty of Harry Potter connections!


      1. “Oxford has tours of the room where the HP infirmary scenes were filmed, which has amazing reliefs all over the ceiling, and the old library that inspired the HP library. I can’t remember if they actually filmed there. Depending on time/day/school schedule, you can also poke your head into the Great Hall. So yes, plenty of Harry Potter connections!”

        I haven’t been myself, but aren’t there oodles of specialized tours in the UK?

        I learned of the existence of this chain of UK Mexican restaurants over dinner:

        I haven’t taken Spanish, but I feel that that “El Mexicana” cannot possibly be correct.


  2. You truly and sincerely seem to enjoy packing.
    And Not just for yourself, but for the whole family.

    I find this . . . revelatory.
    This may take me a while to completely digest.

    This does sound like a great family trip. Hope you all have a good time.


  3. cy said,

    “You truly and sincerely seem to enjoy packing.
    And Not just for yourself, but for the whole family.”

    I identify with this bit that Laura wrote: “I like the exercise of reducing one’s possessions to the core essentials.”

    It’s kind like short-term KonMari.


  4. There’s a fun self-help book in this, with photos.

    Don’t laugh!

    It could start out as a series of articles for travel websites. Of course, you’d have to go traveling to test out your recommendations, all deductible as business expenses.


    1. Cranberry said,

      “There’s a fun self-help book in this, with photos.

      “Don’t laugh!

      “It could start out as a series of articles for travel websites. Of course, you’d have to go traveling to test out your recommendations, all deductible as business expenses.”

      I’d be careful about that last bit, but yes, a lot of this would be deductible.


      1. Off topic, but my daughter and I discussed her experience of men using PUA tactics, which you’ve written about. She said they’ve been in use for a long time. As she described the tactics, though, it seemed they have to function as a way to warn women off of a bad guy (anyone who’d try to use such tactics as “negging.”

        Anyhow, our conversation touched on the problem of men grabbing tipsy women leaving bars alone. My daughter mentioned the “What’s My Name” movement. IF YOU HAVE A YOUNG FEMALE FAMILY MEMBER, MAKE SURE SHE KNOWS ABOUT THIS.

        My daughter and her friends have joined the movement trying to make it standard practice for people being picked up by ride shares to ask the driver, “What’s my name?” There are unscrupulous predators pretending to be ride share drivers. Women have died. On March 29th, 2019, Samantha Josephson died.



        Plan ahead. Before you request a ride, think about where you’re headed and review the safety features in the app so you know how to use them.


        Ask your driver “what’s my name” to confirm they have booked a trip with you through the ride sharing app.


        Match the make, model and license plate of the car with the one displayed in the app.


        Share the details of your trip with a friend. Utilize the “share status” function in your ride sharing app.

        You may not think your daughter will ever need this. Until she’s traveling with friends somewhere, or living in a city, and the friend she thought would be with her flakes and leaves without her, or she misjudges how strong the wine she had with dinner was, and she’s far away from home and alone…


      2. Cranberry,

        I think probably 99% of the guys who do PUA are terrible at it (which is why they need a “technique”), but there have to be at least a few guys who are socially savvy enough to pull it off unobtrusively.

        But we are talking about a group where “befriend/follow drunk young women home at bar closing” and “ask to use her bathroom to get into her home and then refuse to leave until she has sex with you” are treated as ground-breaking insights.

        That is a very helpful advice about ride share.

        With a lot of Bad Stuff, just being aware of it goes a long way to increasing safety. I also really like the “PINS” list from The Gift of Fear:

        “Typecasting. An insult is used to get a chosen victim who would otherwise ignore one to engage in conversation to counteract the insult. For example: “Oh, I bet you’re too stuck-up to talk to a guy like me.” The tendency is for the chosen victim to want to prove the insult untrue.”

        Nowadays, you could get a lot of mileage out of accusing the victim of racism for not trusting a totally random guy (this would work especially well with a drunk college student who loves everybody).

        “Loan Sharking. Giving unsolicited help to the chosen victim and anticipating they’ll feel obliged to extend some reciprocal openness in return.”

        “The Unsolicited Promise. A promise to do (or not do) something when no such promise is asked for; this usually means that such a promise will be broken. For example: an unsolicited, “I promise I’ll leave you alone after this,” usually means the chosen victim will not be left alone. Similarly, an unsolicited “I promise I won’t hurt you” usually means the person intends to hurt their chosen victim.
        Discounting the Word “No”. Refusing to accept rejection.”

        A little bit of awareness of those techniques makes them much less effective.

        The other item in my teen syllabus is the classic “Schroedinger’s Rapist” essay:

        The message of both of those two works is “It’s OK to think about your safety!” and “People need to earn your trust rather than expecting it!” I think there is a generational problem with “kids today” in that they have been sheltered and trained so hard to be nice that a lot of them don’t have a lot of street smarts, but again, just being aware of that is very helpful.


      3. This is catastrophizing — “Stranger Danger” for adult young women. The advice I give is that women need to fully embrace the idea that being liked is less important than lots of other goals. If you have sufficient confidence that you’re impeded by being nice, you can avoid a lot of those tactics (i.e. unsolicited help, accusations of snobbery, . . . ).

        I’ve never gotten the attraction to men/boys who behave badly (which Y81 is conflating with confidence) or the attraction to stalking (i.e. singleminded pursuit/clinginess) so I may not be a good advisor, but it seems to work for my kids.


  5. OK, there’s a big difference between murderers pretending to be Uber drivers and murdering their victims and college boys trying, perhaps ineptly, to pick up a girl in order to have a casual sex. (I realize some people don’t see the distinction, but that is moral blindness.) Based on my limited exposure, I think most PUA techniques amount to making guys seem confident, secure, and successful, which is indeed a very good way to attract women. Since women in bars and nightclubs can only make superficial judgments, PUA techniques necessarily involve creating superficial impressions. All of which may indicate that bars and nightclubs are not the best places to meet one’s soulmate, but as long as there are women willing to try, there will be men to accommodate them.


    1. From the links AmyP provided some time ago, you can read up on the red pill/pua/incel communities online. It’s an alternate universe. On those pages men will brag about “pulling” a drunk girl home when the bars close.

      In two months in Boston, two young women were kidnapped at closing time, one by a man who grabbed her from the sidewalk, another who fell prey to a fake Uber driver:

      One died, the other was rescued, due in great part to the police use of modern technology (video footage, cell phone data.)

      Neither of the rapists were college men. The internet reaches a wide range of people.

      In point of fact, most traditional college students can’t legally hang out in bars, due to drinking age restrictions.

      In my daughter’s anecdotes, though, it’s not behavior that would make anyone seem more attractive. She is usually accompanied by her boyfriend and other mutual friends, in a large group. Randomly insulting other men (which may be a technique recommended by PUAs, but I haven’t tried to find it) only makes one seem to be a jerk.

      It is heartbreaking that in both the cases earlier this year, the women were out with friends earlier in the night. The world seems much safer than it was a few decades ago, but it really isn’t. Yes, you can call a ride share to get home, so you don’t have to take any offers of a ride home from strangers. But the world adapts.


      1. Crime really is way down from what it was in, e.g., the late 80s and early 90s when I was in college. That doesn’t mean it’s perfectly safe, but it really is safer than it was.


      2. Nobody expects that you can commit as many crimes now as you did in college. We’ve all got jobs and kids.


      3. elizardbreath, trying to find data on that point made me realize it’s a vast topic. Roughly it seems that crime may have returned to the level of the ’60s, but looking at various sites online (especially good:, that doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone all the time.

        Young people between 20 and 29 are the largest percentage of crime victims. That’s most likely because they are making different choices than older people. They’re out and about in new places, meeting and mingling with people they don’t know, out on the streets after midnight.

        There are more ways to avoid trouble than there used to be. You can call for help, from friends, ride shares, or police. You can document what’s happening. You can pull up a map of your location. You can check out a place’s Yelp reviews. You can let friends follow your phone’s location remotely (and yes, my daughter and her friends do that.)
        Video footage can help determine where you are, if you go missing. DNA matches can determine an attacker’s identity, if he left physical evidence.

        So you’re safer than you used to be, especially if you remember the ’80s and ’90s. It’s less likely that you’ll be accused of a violent crime for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

        Then again, looking at the statistics from the crime data explorer, the most dangerous place for violent crime is the home. The most dangerous attackers are friends and family.


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