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The Hip Life



UK + Ireland Road Trip

Courtenay Henderson

It was a Monday night in early fall that Norrie came bounding up the stairs to let me know WestJet started flying to London, Gatwick. I know it was Monday because we were watching the Bachelor- what else does one do on a Monday night?? I probably said something like, "That's cool babe." And continued to watch the most dramatic season of the Bachelor yet. He pretty much spent the entire episode on his phone and would throw out comments like, "Soo do you want to go?, Should we just book it?, We said we wanted to go when London was one..." 

I must have mumbled something like yes because by the time one sad weepy lady was riding away in a limo, we had return tickets for June.

I proceeded to have a minor panic attack. Who just books a random trip to the UK?! (We do). My panic quickly turned to the excitement of trip planning. This is one of my favourite things about going away, and this time (partly because it was so sporadic), the possibilities were endless! There was no place we had to go or time we needed to get there by. Adventure was just out there waiting for us.

We got a great deal on flights since WestJet had just started flying to the UK. The total for our two return tickets only cost us $1200 Canadian. Crazy! I paid $1400 return when I went in 2008.

Norrie basically let me have free reign when it came to planning and because we booked early I had time to think about where to go, what to see, and what baby paraphernalia to bring. We talked about spending time in London, (the city-- this could get confusing), and then heading south to Nice, France, or even back to Croatia. The more I thought about it though, the more I just wanted to stay in the UK. We had only really explored London and Bath (briefly) in our earlier travels. When I thought about this trip, I had a wonderful vision of the English country side, scones, B&B's, tea, and my little family adventuring and exploring new and beautiful places. I talked it over with Norrie and together we settled on a road trip and added in Scotland and Ireland. We have friends in both Scotland and Ireland that we hadn't seen in a long time, so that part of the trip was really special.

From there, Norrie booked us a car for the whole trip and our first few nights at a flat in Kensington. We really love that area, and it was a short walk from Hyde park and from Whole Foods... What more do you need? Veggie juice and some green space, I'm in! 

We decided not to book anything else so if we wanted to move on to the next city or stay longer somewhere, we could. This added an extra element of spontaneity, but we loved it. In hindsight, we're happy with how it all turned out, with the exception of one hotel.


Trip planning is super overwhelming, but so is packing, so here are a few tips. I think I packed and repacked about 4 times. We have done a lot of traveling together and individually, so I think I've got this packing thing narrowed down. 

Here are some of my tips for light bags and as many outfit options as possible:

  1.  Pack staple wardrobe items. Pieces that work with multiple outfits, like a button up long sleeve with jeans, over a dress as cardi, dressed up or dressed down. Dresses are great as well because they are one piece and take up a minimal amount of room.
  2.  Pack as LITTLE as possible. Every time I go away, I reduce the amount of clothing I bring. Bring your favourites, they're your go-to's at home, they'll be your go-to's away. There is no sense in taking up space with clothes you think you might wear. Plus you need room for souvenirs!!
  3.  Travel-sized toiletries! We were away for almost 3 weeks and did not need a full size of anything. Sometimes it's anxiety inducing thinking that you will run out of something but I mean, unless you're going into the jungle, chances are you will find whatever you ran out of at a local grocery store.
  4.  Shoes: 3 pairs max! I am a shoe queen, but ladies I am telling you 3 is the perfect number. This trip I brought runners, birks, and a nice pair of sandals (which I didn't get the pleasure of wearing). While we were out exploring, I added another pair of boots to my collection... Sorry not sorry.

I'm sure there are plenty more tips to consider, especially when traveling abroad, but those are the ones I find most helpful.

Happy weekend L O N G weekend!