Sunday, July 10, 2011

Countdown: Two Weeks

I need to buy a rolling suitcase. Any suggestions, esp re size? (This is for a checked bag, not a carry on.) What size? Any brands stand out (for good or not)?

Except for packing sorts of stuff, and buying some stuff (socks, bras), my preparation is coming along. I need to call my credit card company and let them know I'll be using the card elsewhere, and also the debit card folks.

There's GOT to be an ATM at the airport, right, so that I can get pounds?

I tend to focus on and fret about things that aren't worth the energy. Right now, I'm sort of fretting about being basically alone for a month in the big city and surrounds. Logically, I know I'll be fine, but I'm weirdly fretting about that and the money.

The Tour this year has been especially dangerous, it seems, but the car hitting a rider (and knocking him into another) was especially bad.

The winner of the yellow jersey (Thomas Voeckler) today was amazing, as was the stage winner (Luis-Leon Sanchez), and the other guy up with them (Sandy Casar). Voeckler has over a minute and a half on the next man in the general competition (Sanchez), which must mean he has four minutes plus over Contador? Does that push Contador pretty much out of the competition?

I'm off to have a bike ride, and hope to avoid contact with cars and asphalt. Rubber on the downside, blood on the inside. /nod


  1. i've got nothing on brands, but look for sturdy, duh. you're going for some period of time, covering a variety of weather presumably, so you probably want something bigger than standard size.

    when we went to japan, we went to the bank first and got yen + traveler's checks. i'd guess that you'll have more access to ATM's where you are going, but can't hurt to have some of the appropriate cash before finding out that there is a problem with the only ATM you can find.

  2. There is an ATM at Heathrow.
    For 6 months, I would assume a 28 or 30 inch suitcase -- I.e big. You'll need sweaters, coats, clothes for summer (London can be hot) and winter. Depending on your style, you'll want work clothes and play clothes.

    But I always overpack. I've gotten over the "but what if I get a chance to go to x [insert activity from hiking to meeting the queen] that requires a spe ialized wardrobe] but I still worry far too much about changing weather.

  3. Lands' End luggage is amazing. Sturdy, well priced, and if it ever breaks (ever) they will replace it for free. My set was almost 20 years old (I moved like 15 times in those years and was part of a long distance relationship for a while) before I finally upgraded from my first set to a second set because my first set was back before they thought to put wheels on luggage and now I was chasing a three year old as well as carrying luggage.

  4. Anonymous8:51 PM

    Best piece of advice I ever got about luggage was from a friend who travels like 36 weeks of the year for her job: whatever you end up buying, don't buy black! Cases of mixed up luggage, not being able to spot your luggage when it rolls around on the carousel, etc., is much more easily avoided if you just buy a color. (I have never been on a flight where people have my luggage, though I'm sure other people must buy it or it wouldn't exist. I think people go for black thinking that it will match what they're wearing or something? Or that it looks "professional"? I don't really get it.)

    I really like my Samsonite luggage ( - the four wheels make wheeling it along easy, and the shape of it makes it good for packing a ton of stuff. Also: the bigger pieces are expandable, so what I typically do is pack it to leave for my trip unexpanded, and then that means I have room for anything I might buy when away, or even just for haphazard return packing. I've got two of the pieces pictured, and I love them. That said: I bought both hugely on sale (like, think 60 to 70 percent off) because I think it's insane to spend the non-sale price for something you don't use every day.

  5. And do I remember correctly that after your month alone in the big city, students from your college are joining you for a semester abroad? Big adventures awaiting!

  6. I look forward to tales from your travels?

    Rick Steves' guidebooks are very helpful on basic travel logistics (like where to get pounds when you arrive and how to find the bus to go to X). Might be worth a look.

    I've had some excellent experience w/Lands End luggage, and also Eagle Creek luggage, too.

  7. Anonymous12:28 PM

    There's an ATM in Heathrow terminal 4 in baggage claim at the bottom of the escalator after you pass through passport control, and at least one other once you're through baggage and out in the area where the shops are and people's rides can meet them. (I'm sure there are ones in the other terminals, too, but terminal 4 is the one I always arrive in.) The one in baggage claim is a bit odd, in that it gives you the exchange rate and you have to select "yes" or "enter" or whatever, and iirc, it charges one of the higher fees, but it's handy. There's also an bureau of exchange at the top of the escalator, but of course they have the worst rates. ATMs are much better. And they are plentiful in the cities in England.

    On luggage, I like Samsonite, and like Dr. Crazy, I also have expandable bags and find that all sorts of handy. If you're stuck with black, buy a bright colored luggage strap (the kind that goes all the way around) to strap around it. My black luggage looks like everyone else's *except* for the neon pink straps around it!

    Susan's right about being prepared for all sorts of weather in England in the summer. But in a pinch, Marks and Spencers is likely to have whatever basic thing you'd need to deal with it, from t-shirts and shorts to cardigans (or, in my case, bras -- one long trip I forgot to pack any bras beyond the one I was wearing).

    And once there, buy an Oyster Card for using the Tube and buses, and route your journeys using the journey planner at

    (Wait, I'm assuming the big city is London. Ignore me if I'm wrong.)

  8. I'm so happy for you that you're getting to go on this trip. (And a tiny bit jealous! :) ) Hope you have an excellent time and that you get to write some blog posts about being over there. And pictures!! I miss England. I really hope I can get back there next year.

  9. I love LLBean luggage. It's durable and sturdy.

    Double check on your debit card. My debit card didn't work in Europe, but perhaps the U.K. is different.

    Under pack. Seriously. You're going to buy a lot of stuff and you'll want to be able to get it back. I spent three weeks in London, Paris, and Vienna in one pair of jeans and three different tops (and I'm a total fashionista), but I got all my prezzies home for family.