Efficient Travelling: My Trip to London


I'm leaving for London tomorrow. I'm only going for a week, but since I haven't travelled a lot lately, I'm trying to think of the minimum I can bring without thinking, "Damn, I should have brought that." I hate travelling heavy... as Rick Steves once said, no experienced traveller ever says, "Every year I bring more and more."

I divide the travel space into two areas: My carry on backpack and my checked baggage. Yes, I know there are some people who do it all with just a carry on, but I hate that. Check your baggage and relax: International trips take forever, always filled with random delays and are stressful enough as it is, trying to save 20 minutes on each end by lugging your rollaway with you everywhere isn't worth it, IMHO.

Anyways, the clothes, toiletries and extra stuff go in the suitcase below and the important things go with me. First thought for the backpack is of course, which of my bag of electronics to bring. I've got the travel kit for my PowerBook, so that's all set. Though I can't get it working right now, I'll probably bring my iSight with me as well - that'll go in the checked luggage probably... unless I really feel like impressing my fellow travellers in the airport with a last-minute WiFi-enabled iChat conversation, I'm sure they've seen it enough. No WiFi on my Virgin-Atlantic flight either, so no need there.

Now, I am forcing myself to bring just one portable gaming system. A PSP with an extra battery might get me through the 10 hour flight without problems, but my Gameboy Micro is much more compact and the games are more compelling, except for Lumines, which I can stay up late playing for hours. Not sure which. I could rip a movie today too and pop it on my Memory Stick just in case. Hmm. Decisions.

My phone is a Nokia 6680, which should work without problems in the UK. I may find myself buying another SIM so I can try out some 3G goodness... though it'll be an interesting test to see how 3G roaming works. Will I get off the plane and be able to send MMS? Will I be able to check my email, etc. Using Cingular's gateway settings and which-ever carrier in the U.K. snagged my phone first at Heathrow? I'm not sure. I'm going to leave the rest of the gadgets here I think. Books are dead weight, and I never seem to be able to read them when I'm in the air. It doesn't ever stop me from bringing one, but I never end up even looking at it for the entire flight.

By the way, I'm flying Virgin Premium Economy which is why you're not hearing me bitch and moan this time about uncomfortable seats, etc. I haven't flown that way before, but the seats look pretty big in the picture on the website (though the woman is probably a 90-pound midget or something...) From the seat map, it looks like I'll be in the upper deck? That's pretty cool, I've never been in that section of a plane before. Also, the flight is only 10 hours with no connections. Compared to the marathon trips to Spain (16 hours mimimum with connections) the flight to the UK is going to zip. Anyways, being sure that I'm not going to be stuck way back in steerage next to the bathrooms slammed between a screaming baby and two drunk backpackers is making the anticipation of this flight much nicer. I just wish I hadn't seen so many episodes of Lost recently...

Back to the clothes thing... It's going to be London in November, and I've heard that it's turned chilly already. My brain has turned to mush being in California about what exactly "chilly" means in real terms, so I'm going to bring my wool jacket just in case. And sweaters. I'm always freakin' cold in the U.K. - I think it's the humidity or something.

Anyways, with my new boss being HQed in London, I'm going to be doing this trip regularly it seems, so I want to try to get it down the first time, so the next time instead of thinking about this stuff 24 hours beforehand and blogging about it, it'll be more like "Oh, hey, my flight to the UK is in a few hours, I better get ready." :-)

Anyone got tips for the trip? Leaving from SF tomorrow afternoon, arriving at Heathrow terminal 3 at 11 a.m. on Sunday and I'm staying near Convent gardens. Thoughts?


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