Minay has just given you a good rundown of the items she packed in her suitcase, and I’m about to cover mine. Before I do, though, I should point out that her suitcase is considerably smaller than mine. Hers is 24 inches tall, 15 inches wide, and 10 inches deep. Mine is 28 inches tall, 20 inches wide, and 12 inches deep, so it was capable of carrying a lot more to begin with. The night before we left, I stepped onto our bathroom scale with both of the suitcases (one at a time), and subtracted my weight from the total, to see if they were going to come in under the fifty-pound weight limit for a checked bag (to avoid the extra baggage charge).
I remember removing a few items (some extra socks, underwear, a few t-shirts, a pair of jeans, etc.) after the first test run, because it weighed something like fifty-three pounds. After we did the final sort, Minay’s weighed forty-five pounds and mine weighed forty-nine. Apparently our scales weren’t completely accurate, because when we got to the airport, they had an open-topped box that would let you test the size of your bags, and they also had a scale. Our bags both passed the size test, but my bag weighed 50.4 pounds. We hastily moved a few things to Minay’s suitcase, and we were fine.
So, what did I have in my suitcase that weighed so much?
I wore a long-sleeved shirt, a pair of jeans, socks, underwear, a t-shirt, a belt, and my sneakers on the plane, and carried my lightweight, but well-insulated coat (in preparation for the huge temperature difference). The clothing I packed mirrored Minay’s for the most part (except for the bras and panties). I packed one pair of jeans, one long-sleeved shirt, one pair of good slacks, ten pair of underwear, two sweatshirts, ten t-shirts, ten pair of white socks, two ball caps (one Nike and one Rice University), two long-sleeved t-shirts, and an extra belt. We figured we would need to wash twice during the trip, so I wanted to have enough clothes to get me at least a third of the way.
The rest of my suitcase was filled with electronics, trip materials, and some other stuff.
Electronics: chargers (for camera batteries and my iPod), spare flash cards (for the cameras), card readers (to transfer pictures), a voltage converter (to plug into British 220 volt sockets and convert it to 120 volts), an extension cord (just in case), and a surge protector (to be the bridge between the convertor and all our devices).
Trip Materials: 2010 AA Road Atlas of Britain, materials that came with our London Cards and our Overseas Visitors Passes, some writing materials (pens, highlighters, a few legal pads, a writing journal), and a few folders (with information I had gathered about sights to visit, B&Bs, printouts of my spreadsheets for the trip, etc.).
Other Stuff: A Dopp kit (with toiletries, razor, deodorant, a small first-aid kit, nail clippers, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.), some books to read (a couple of Jane Austens, and some Ian Rankins), a small umbrella, and a compact monopod for the camera.
My backpack (during the flight) was also solidly packed. I kept the essential electronics in there so I would have physical control of them. The major items were my laptop, our Canon Rebel camera with an 18-55 mm lens (we brought it because my Canon 10D is a little heavier and is bulkier), and a Canon 55-200 mm lens, but I also had a laptop power cord, an inflatable neck pillow, a book to read on the plane, notebooks to write in, some manila folders with copies of our passports, flight documents, car reservation, and other travel info. I also had my iPod, some Koss noise-cancelling headphones, and a watch cap and gloves because of the over forty degree temperature change we expected (from 90° to 95° in Houston to somewhere between 45° and 50° in London). I’m pretty sure there also were a few miscellaneous items, ear plugs, calculator, etc. It was heavy.
I had to bring my laptop (for a variety of reasons). We planned to keep up with all our e-mail, plus send messages back home, and take a lot of pictures (which I wanted to preview during the trip, not after). Also, since many of the places we would be staying often advertised free wi-fi, I could use the laptop to search ahead for rooms we hadn’t booked yet. Minay and I have had cell phones (BrE – mobiles) since shortly after 9/11, but neither of us uses a smart phone, so the laptop was going to be our e-mailer, picture storage device, and room search mechanism.
Obviously, we were bringing too much stuff. We did use almost all of it (I think the monopod was the one thing I didn’t use), but I also think we could have managed with less.
Today, there are many easier communication options than those we used. What electronic devices have you found particularly useful when traveling?