Nevermind the Bollocks…Here’s the Savage Gentleman

by ahanagata

 

Flyin' High Over the British Empire

Flyin’ High Over the British Empire

What’s crackin’ Savages? Here I am back again to impart you with tale of my exploits. This is going to be a bit of a series, as I’ve just been on quite a journey and I’d like to share my high points (of which there are many). I’d like everything to have context so at times I might veer off the what has become the ‘bread and butter’ of this site. Never the less, you should still learn something, have a few laughs and be entertained. If not you can have your money back.

Obviously, the first thing you need to do in order to embark upon an international adventure is a passport. Get your passport early as it can take a while to arrive and you’ll want to avoid paying the fees to expedite the process. Turn around times I’m told are at an all time high because passports are necessary for travel to Canada and Mexico now. You’ll also need a ticket for a steam ship to get across the ocean. By steam ship I mean airplane, and by ticket I mean a pound of flesh. When you notice the shrinkage happening in your bank account, be sure to direct your rage at Uncle Sam and the TSA to whom half the price of said ticket will go in the form of taxes and fees. To be fair, I believe you get hit with a UK tax called ‘Air Passenger Duty’ as well that inflates the end price of your fare.

Fees paid, I was ready to embark on my international adventure. Well, maybe not…I had to pack first. Normally, I’d like to travel as light as possible and avoid the den of thievery, incompetence and disappearance that is the realm of ‘Checked Baggage.’ Unfortunately this time it was unavoidable. I tried to pare down my gear as much as possible, but the extent of my trip coupled with the type of gear I required forced me to check a bag.

On my agenda were camping and backpacking in Scotland as well as visiting friends and traipsing around London. Rather than overpack by taking two completely separate gear lists I attempted to choose items that could provide use both in the city and in the bush. Items like merino wool base-layers, merino wool socks, and patagonia capaliene underwear proved not only versatile, they also keep down pack size with quick dry time, ability to fight odor and kill bacteria. That means you can wash your base-layers in a sink, hang dry them in your room or off your pack, and most likely get more than one wearing per wash. With such items you don’t need a pair of underwear and socks per day. If you did take a pair a day, not only is it voluminous, but it pushes your bag further into the area of hefty monetary penalty when flying. For nights I might have wanted to clean up a little more I brought along my trusty adventure shirt that dries quick and looks sharp enough for a casual night out to the pub.

Of course, not everything lends itself to double or triple duties. Like the dark pair of jeans I brought that have no place on the trail or my fly fishing rod that is useless in the city. Such things I suppose are unavoidable. However, if you’re undertaking such a journey I suggest that you take a long hard look at everything you’re bringing and try to cut down on the amount of shit you bring. If anything, you’ll be doing your fellow tube riders a courtesy and saving yourself an achey back.

According to the TSA website, you should if at all possible carry-on delicate items such as fishing rod. However, British Airways insists that fishing rods are a security risk and must be checked in. I called British Airways and gave up on trying to talk and understand the guy whom I’m sure was sitting in Bombay somewhere giving no shits about my wants or needs. Aside from my rod, I had to check my trekking poles, swiss army knife, and stove anyway. The only thing I had to leave out completely were my fuel canisters, something easy enough to find in jolly old. Since I was going to be taking my Gregory Baltoro 75 instead of a suitcase, I picked up an Osprey Airporter LZ (a bag designed for backpacks) that I found on clearance somewhere. Why put a bag in a bag you ask? Because all those straps and buckles dangling about your favorite pack can get caught in conveyor belts and things. When those get stuck, they get ripped or cut. If you want your prize pack you spent hundreds of dollars on making it out the other side in usable conditions then you need to get a bag to put your bag in, redundant feelings or no. The Airporter set me back something like 10 bucks (non-clearance price is something like 25-30 bones), worked like a charm and provided me with some extra space for gifts/souvenirs. If that’s too rich for your blood, you can always tuck all your straps, make it as tight as possible and put it in a sturdy plastic bag like a contractor bag and tape it up. Though, you’re right to think that something like the Airporter or a duffle bag are far less hassle; plus you have an extra bag for shenanigans.

Speaking of an extra bag, I also packed a packable daypack like the ‘EMS packable pack’. Well under a pound in weight, folds into it’s own pocket and it’s super useful when you’re walking around a city without a car that you can visit to put away or get things from.

Finally, While you might be tempted to just leave something at home and buy it in “Englandia” (what the locals call Britain) think twice or pay twice. If it can be purchased stateside, buy it stateside if all possible. After import taxes, transport, and the exchange rate you’ll be paying far more for that piece of kit in the UK than you would if you brought it with you. Save all your money for things you can’t find in the U.S., like Scotchy Scotch, Haggis and Fancy Tweed.

Once I was all packed, I hopped on the Flying Machine of Destiny and embarked on a magically cramped journey at 36,000 feet. Next time, I’ll let you know what that was like and what it’s like to reverse-colonize the redcoats.

P.S.  the locals don’t really call it ‘Englandia’

 

Alright Savages, Til Next Time! 

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