|Epilogue: ...Of course, I only slept two hours the night we returned. It took a while for my sleep cycle to get readjusted again. When I unpacked my suitcase, it was a surprise to find all the stuff I'd so carefully packed turned upside-down. They searched my luggage! Our first day back, after eating British food for almost two weeks, Donna said, "I don't know what's for supper, but it's gonna be spicy!"
|Stuff I was glad I brought:
Plastic bags (for dirty laundry)
Extra batteries. My digital camera ran through about 2 batteries a day.
Extra film. I carried the digital camera with me, but I also had the 35mm camera for detailed shots.
Windbreaker. It kept me dry and warm, and when I wasn't wearing it, I could stuff it in my carry-on.
Stuff we didn't need to bring:
Robe. I had this idea we might be staying in places where the bathroom might be down the hall or something, but it was just in the way. A comfortable sweatsuit would've been more practical.
Dress shoes. The comfortable pair of shoes would've been fine.
First aid kits. It was recommended by the travel agent that we bring a first aid kit, just in case, so we both brought one. A couple of bandages would've done the job. If something came up that needed more than that, we'd just just call the hotel. In any case, we didn't need more than one first aid kit.
Dress clothes. The only night we dressed up, we were so packed into the room nobody could see them. I should've just put my trust in comfortable, casual clothes.
Raincoat. I packed a raincoat and an umbrella, and that turned out to be redundant. One or the other would've been enough.
Business cards. I printed up some cards to give out to people, but the sign-in sheet took care of that.
|Stuff I should've brought (more of):
Socks (1 pair per day)
Polo shirts (combined with sweatshirt and/or jacket makes several outfits)
Backpack (folded-up, for bringing stuff back)
Correct electrical converter (need to research first)
Sandals (to wear on the plane, plus they pack easily)
Cars I'd Never Seen Before:
|Going on a group tour is kind of a trade-off. You get to see lots of
places in a minimum amount of time. You get around having to stand in line.
You can pick and choose the places you want to see. On the other hand,
you're always on a timetable. As soon as you get to some really cool place,
you've only got a certain amount of time before you have to leave for the
next really cool place. Every minute is planned-out and managed. Some people
prefer things that way, and while it makes things more efficient it can
also get tiring. We researched our trip, but a person could take a group
tour like that without knowing anything about your destination and probably
still have a good time. Trafalgar Tours was very good to us. They seemed
to have things down pat, and did a good job "tourist wrangling." I would
book with them again.
No tour can take you everywhere, but it can give you an idea of where
you'd like to go next time. Once you've been someplace, you have
an idea of the language, the currency, what the food tastes like. You can
make plans for future trips. The next time you travel, you have a better
idea of where you want to go, and what you want to do.
|We saw a lot of Britain, but there's so much more I'd like to see and
do-- and not just the touristy stuff, either. For instance, everyone wants
to see Stonehenge at sunrise, or sunset, or during a lunar eclipse... Me,
I'd love to see it during a thunderstorm, with lightning crashing
across the sky and the wind howling over Salisbury Plain all the way from
the North Sea. I want to stand at Land's End and feel raindrops on
my cheek. I want to sit in a Welsh train station and talk to people as
they pass through. I want to sample fresh fruit at some little Scottish
county fair, buy a round of drinks in an Irish pub, or just spend a day
browsing through dusty old London bookstores.
I find myself looking through books about the Pyramids, or watching documentaries about the construction of the Panama Canal, or listening to people talk about helping rebuild homes after an Indonesian typhoon, and I imagine myself there... That's what travel does to you: it opens up your imagination to the places you'd most like to visit, the things you'd most like to do ... and ultimately, of being the person you'd most like to be. Travel is essentially a personal experience.
If I make it back it back to Britain, however, I'll let somebody else drive. Those roads scare me.