So about now the students (and professor) have begun packing in earnest. What to bring, what not to bring; these are the questions that they are struggling with. Add to this the course requirement set by the professor- carry-on luggage ONLY. Students are welcome to check bags on the way home (which is still free by the way-at least at this moment) but on our way over it's only what they can take in the cabin with them. There are several reasons for this. The first, though minor reason, is it speeds our way through customs once we reach the UK as we do not have to wait for our luggage to appear (or not appear). The main reason however, is that we will be constantly on the move and carrying anything more than carry-on luggage will decrease our mobility. Some of the places we are staying are on the outskirts of towns. Would you what to lug a 40 pound suitcase 2 miles and then up 4 flights of stairs? The answer is most likely no. Several students have opted for backpacks which are great for getting on and off of trains with, as they keep your hands free. Others are using wheeled bags that often weight twice as much as a backpack, and then others have chosen duffel bags.
Of course, it is not really the bag that matters, but what is in it. We will be staying mostly in youth hostels. In addition to kitchens, these facilities also have laundry rooms. So students do not have to pack enough clothing for 27 days; a week or less worth of garments will do. They are also packing items like travel towels (the small but mighty absorbent towels that one usually uses for hiking), shower shoes, and umbrellas- the last should be an obvious choice to any of our readers given our destination. Since most of our time will be spent visiting ruins out of doors or inside drafty large buildings, most should be packing items that keep them warm and dry and wash up well; hiking pants are particularly useful. And sturdy footwear is a must with all the walking we will do. Most will probably bring one nicer outfit (or at least top) as we have tickets to see a performance of As You Like It in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Near the end of the last term, students brought in their bags packed as if they were leaving the next day. Everyone weighed theirs and we talked about the items they packed. Adam won the honor of having the lightest bags; his carry-on bag and personal item came to about 17 pounds together. I won't say whose was the heaviest, although it may have been mine as I also had to pack course materials and other necessities for an extended stay. I am curious to see how many students changed their minds about what to bring, and how many have regrets about what they forgot to pack or what they wish they had left at home.