If it doesn’t fit, you’re screwed
If you are traveling to a different country in a different climate, you want to make sure you take the right kind of gear. If you’re hiking, get hiking boots. If it’s cold, take a jacket that will work. But remember that you still have to pack everything. And then you have to check it.
I hate checking bags. I make use of hotel toiletries, so I don’t have to pack my own. If I can carry everything in my backpack, I will. But that sort of mentality won’t do for an international trip (generally speaking).
Now, if you’re going backpacking in the interior of Mexico, living out of a pack is a good idea. But in that instance, it really won’t matter that you smell bad and look worse. If you’re going to be wandering around in civilization, you probably want to get the knots out of your hair and wear a shirt that doesn’t smell like you’ve been sleeping in a cave for a week.
Fortunately, many major airlines allow you to check one bag for free if you’re on an international flight. So that’s nice. But in the past few weeks, I started to realize that even though I would be able to bring a checked bag for free, I didn’t have anything appropriate to pack in it.
I had one good pair of jeans and plenty of shirts, but I’d killed my best walking shoes during the trade show season at the beginning of the year. And I didn’t own a jacket that could be easily packed. And, of course, nothing was waterproof, and bringing waterproof gear when you’re traveling to the United Kingdom is kind of important. I learned that the hard way last year.
So, it was with great trepidation, but I agreed to go shopping for a jacket and for a new pair of shoes. And I’m really glad I did, because I ended up with some killer deals.
A light jacket for every climate
I don’t normally do name brands, especially not for everyday use. But in this instance, I had decided that shopping for an Eddie Bauer jacket was probably a good idea. I knew that their products were well liked for mountain hiking and biking and all sorts of outdoorsy stuff. But, my goodness … have you seen the prices? I about choked when I looked at their webpage.
But a very good friend told me they had a sale going on. So I went to the Eddie Bauer Outlet store in west Wichita, and I discovered that not only was everything in the store on sale for 40% off, if you signed up for a credit card, you could get an extra 25% off.
So I did it. I don’t intend to use the credit card for anything else at this point, but to get 65% off my purchase it was totally worth it. Plus, it’s one of those awesome all-weather type jackets with an awesome fleece lining. So I can wear it when it’s not too cold too. And it’s thin, so it can pack it easily if I don’t wear it.
But I still needed a good pair of shoes. So that’s what my dad and I did this past Wednesday.
Sturdy shoes for significant hiking
Shoe shopping. Ugh, gag me. He had a gift card, so he ended up at a high-end hiking shop at one of the swanky east-side shopping centers. He got a really awesome pair of hiking boots. But I didn’t see anything there I liked–or that I was willing to spend that kind of money on. So we went to Famous
Footwear instead (more my speed), and I found a pair I liked well enough. But they were sneakers. And they were going to get ruined if we ended up in mud puddles in the Scottish highlands.
So we ended up taking a peek at the shoes at Dillard’s, and guess what? I found a pair of hiking boots–Keens–for 50% off. Plus, they fit. And they had ankle support too.
So I snapped them up, even if they are pink. But the pink just proves that God has a sense of humor. (I despise the color pink.)
That plus an epic sale at Old Navy (jeans for $15 a pair) means I’ve got my whole wardrobe for my England and Scotland trip sorted. And for much, much less than I anticipated.
So now I’m in the process of breaking my new shoes in. I did half a mile in them last night (before the storms rolled in), and one of my feet kind of cramped up. So we’ll see if it happens again today when I go out to walk.
Being a tourist is fine, being touristy–not so much
I don’t usually go in for buying lots of clothing, but pretty much none of my existing wardrobe was in any state to be traveling to England. I could have gone over with what I had, but I think I would have been pretty uncomfortable. And I might have even had to buy things while I was there, which would cost money I didn’t really have to start with.
It’s really important to make sure you have good gear when you travel internationally. If you’re going to be in a place where there are stores, you can always purchase something, but it gets expensive. It’s much better to have it with you before you leave.
Being a tourist is fine. In most instances, it’s unavoidable. You’re going to look like a tourist whether you want to or not. But if you’re at least a little prepared, you can avoid frustration and spending extra cash when you don’t need to.