Made It!

All packed and ready to go.

Over the last week, I got all my errands run and all my packing done. My luggage choice this trip is the Hero’s Journey from Tom Bihn. It’s a backpack with a detachable shoulder bag – the main backpack is about the size of my beloved Aeronaut, but is designed kind of from the other direction, as a backpack that can be converted to a shoulder bag or duffel, rather than a duffel that can be used as a backpack. The backpack is about the maximum size allowed by most airlines for carry-on, and the detached shoulder bag is about the perfect size for your personal item. Once off the plane, I was able to zip the two together, and wear it as a large backpack.

So, I managed to get everything for three weeks packed, and still was able to lift it. And wear it that way for an extended time1.

And then, yesterday morning, I got into the taxi to the airport, and the adventure began!

Of course, the flight to Toronto was delayed, but only by about 20 minutes. Headwinds, apparently. I believe that, because even though we left 20 minutes late, we were only 4 minutes late getting into Toronto.

And that’s when I realized how spoiled I’ve become with online check-in for flights. Instead of just heading right for security, I got to try and find the Aer Lingus counter, and then wait for two hours before the counter opened. And there were maybe five whole chairs in the entire check-in area. The hate for the backpack weight started then.

But, I made it through that, made it through security, and made it to the lounge, where I planned to wait for the flight to Dublin.

Unfortunately, there were several people in the lounge who seemed to be competing in the Loud Important Business Person of the Year Award, in about three different, braggadocio-laden conversations. After about an hour and a half, I decided to go down to the gate to get away from it, and found that the flight had been delayed by an hour.

Sitting down there, surrounded by other loud people, including what seemed to be a class tour of very excited teenagers. And I still preferred the noise they made.

Reflective Rick in business class.

But we got on the plane at last, and off we went. And I had a nice dinner, and got about three hours of sleep2. For those of you trying to do the math at home, we landed at what for me was around 1:30 am.

And then we sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes, because we were late leaving Toronto. I didn’t mind it all that much, but I had a comfy business-class seat and no connecting flight to catch. Other passengers3 were not as sanguine about it all.

Of course, we made it in to the airport, and I took advantage of the Revival Lounge to have a shower and some orange juice.

A little perk of flying business class. I like business class.

Then I caught the Airlink bus into central Dublin. I wanted to get some stuff at the Lush store there, and get a local sim card for my phone. The helpful fellow who sold me my ticket told me that the bus would drop me off on College Green, just around the corner from Grafton Street, where Lush and the phone shop I wanted were.

He was right, but my memory of Dublin is not what I thought it was. While Grafton Street was literally right around the corner, I turned the wrong corner getting off the bus. And spent over an hour wandering around, failing to find any of the landmarks I remembered. When I found that I had inadvertently circled right back to where I started, I realized that I needed help, so I went in to the tourist office there and asked for directions.

And they told me that Grafton Street was literally right around the corner. The moral of this story is that I shouldn’t trust my brain.

So, I got the stuff I wanted, and took a cab to Heuston Station to catch the train to Kilkenny. By the time I got on the train, I was starting to fade. I spent the train ride nodding off, trying not to sleep through my stop.

Being so sleepy, when I say we were going through Athy, I got the song Lanigan’s Ball stuck in my head. Right up until we went through Carlow, and I got Follow Me Up To Carlow stuck in my head. But all I could think about when we got to Kilkenny was the Cats of Kilkenny rhyme.

I planned to take a cab to the hotel, but there wasn’t a cab at the train station, so I walked. Every step of the way, I kept telling myself that this was how I got lost in Dublin. And I told myself that right up to the moment I got to the hotel

The moral of this story is that I should trust my brain.

Checked in, and got to my room, and there was no electricity. Tried all the outlets and all the switches, then went down to the desk to tell them. And learned about this:

This is what the concierge called the electricity box. You need to put your key card in it for the room to have power. And leave the card there. “It’s pretty much a European thing,” said this nice lady so that I didn’t feel like too much of an idiot.

And now I’ve done up this little blog post, and haven’t fallen asleep, so I win. I don’t want to go to sleep too early, because I need to get on the local schedule, so I’m going out to a pub tonight for some dinner and music. Matt the Millers is nearby, and apparently has live traditional music starting in about half an hour.

I made it to Ireland!

  1. Though, even with the planning and testing, I knew that I’d be hating the weight of the thing by the end of the first day. Spoiler: I was right! []
  2. Flight was about six and a half hours, and take-off and dinner service took about two hours, then they woke us up about an hour before landing for breakfast. []
  3. And, indeed, the flight crew, who were understandably ready for their day to be over. []

Tapping My Foot Impatiently

Okay, so I thought I was all done with booking stuff for the trip. Then I found out that York is hosting an international Shakespeare festival while I’m there, so I went to take a look at what was playing. I was very pleased to find that there’s a performance of King Lear while I’m in the city1, and I nabbed a ticket for that.

I was really hoping that there would be something fun playing at Stratford-Upon-Avon that I could see, but I’m in the area at a time when there’s nothing that interests me2. I may even skip taking the train out there from Oxford to see the place; it’s going to depend on how I’m feeling and what there I still have left to see in Oxford on the day I have free. We’ll see.

Anyway, I had some free time today, so I started packing. Actually, I’m almost finished packing. And laying out my travel clothes for when I head to the plane. Yes, I realize that it’s still almost two weeks before I leave, but I wanted to start figuring out what I’m taking and how I’m carrying it, so I started fitting things into bags, and one thing led to another…

My trips to Ireland have really encouraged me to pack light. I carried less on my second trip than I did on my first, and I’m carrying less on this trip than I did on either of the first two. Part of that is that I went from an iPad and laptop electronics loadout to a Surface Pro 3. The Surface does everything that I need a laptop for3 in the convenient form-factor of a tablet. So, only one device. Well, two, counting my iPhone.

I’m also only bringing clothes for about a week, expecting to wash things like socks, underwear, and t-shirts in my hotel sink, and get the more cumbersome items – pants, heavier shirts – washed in laundromats or by hotel laundry services.

Everything packs pretty neatly into my trusty Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 and my new(ish) Tom Bihn Pilot. I say new(ish) for the Pilot because I took it down to GenCon last year, but this is its first big trip. Aside from being a convenient personal item size carry on bag, it’ll make a very nice day pack as I wander the streets and byways of the UK. It’ll easily hold my Surface, my camera, a sweatshirt4, my rain shell, a bottle of water, and a few snacks. And the Surface can stay at the hotel most days, so it’ll have a little extra room for picking things up on my rambles.

And now, I sit, waiting to add the last couple of items to my bags on the day I leave.

Tapping my foot impatiently.

  1. I like King Lear more than I like Romeo and Juliet, which I’m seeing in London at the Globe. What was I really hoping for? The Tempest, or maybe MacbethJulius Caesar would have been good, too, or Much Ado About Nothing. Oh, well. []
  2. A week after I’m gone, the Royal Shakespeare Company puts on Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta. I would love to see that. []
  3. Processing and storing pictures, keeping the blog up to date, etc. []
  4. Well, really a long-sleeved, light-weight merino wool pullover. []


Tomorrow is the day!

Which means that today is the day that I finally have to finish up all the stuff I need to finish up before I can get on a plane. I’m almost there.

One of the things I have to get done is a post about my final packing arrangements1 – what bag(s) I’m bringing, and what I’m carrying in them. I started finalizing a packing list a few weeks back and did a test pack where I managed to fit everything I really needed into just my Tom Bihn Aeronaut, which is awesome. There were two minor problems:

  1. It was pretty full.Not a lot of room for bringing back souvenirs and such.
  2. It was about a pound too heavy for the carry-on baggage restrictions.

Now, the extra pound wasn’t such a big deal – odds are it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at the gate unless I looked like I was labouring under a terrible weight. And I had packed an extra bag2 to use as an everyday carry, so I could have slipped my iPad and some other stuff into the second bag at the gate and come in safely under the limit.

But I wasn’t all that happy with the Cafe Bag choice for an everyday carry on this trip. It’s a great bag, but it’s not quite as big as I wanted. I wanted something that would hold my iPad, camera, and a few other things, and the camera just didn’t fit into the Cafe Bag very elegantly. I’d settled on the Cafe Bag because it fit very easily into the Aeronaut with the rest of my stuff.

Most of my other Tom Bihn bags were just a little too large to qualify as a personal item as a second bag. So, I settled on my Red Oxx Gator Carry-On as a second bag. It fits the size requirements neatly, is big enough to carry the stuff I want with me during the day, and small enough that it doesn’t feel like I’m lugging around the world. My one worry is that, while it is water resistant, it is not waterproof. But I think a little common sense will overcome that limitation.

So, with that sorted out, here’s my packing list.


I’ve got most of my clothes in a large Aeronaut packing cube in the main central compartment: two pairs of cargo pants, three merino wool t-shirts, a long-sleeved button shirt, and a sweatshirt. The central pocket also holds my laptop in a sleeve, my Tilley hat and, in the mesh top pocket, my 3-1-1 kit for liquids. That way, I can just unzip the center compartment and pop out the laptop and 3-1-1 kit for airport security.

One of the end compartments holds my socks and underwear in an end pocket packing cube, and the other holds my toiletry Kit with toothbrush, tooth tablets, sink stopper, and clothesline. It also holds my travel towel and my rain jacket.

The slash pocket on one end is for my organizer pouch full of reservation papers and such, and the other is for my phone, keys, wallet, and travel tray.

Fully loaded, the Aeronaut comes in at just under 17 pounds.

Gator Carry-On

The central pocket is for my iPad, camera, and Snake Charmer with all my cords, chargers, adapters, and what not for my electronics. The snap pockets on the front hold my sunglasses, reading glasses, and regular glasses3. The gusseted end pockets hold my travel notebook and pen and a few Clif bars.

And the Gator weighs in at 11 pounds with this load.

What Else?

Well, I’m wearing one set of clothes, including a short-sleeved overshirt, a t-shirt, socks, underwear, cargo pants, and hiking shoes. And I have a really cool fold-up backpack from Sea to Summit. That’s the total of what I’m bringing to get me through a three-week journey all over Ireland. It’s significantly less and significantly lighter than what I carried last time, and that’s a good thing. Not only will it be easier to haul around, it will give me a little extra room to pack a few souvenirs – that was a pretty tight fit last time.


I added one last thing to the itinerary last night – I booked the Evening of Folklore and Storytelling dinner at the Brazen Head4 for the Friday night I’m in Dublin. It looks like fun. And with that, the itinerary is locked.

Which is a good thing, because I leave tomorrow.

And then I’ll finally start having some interesting things to post here.

  1. Some of you may be interested in this – or not – but the folks at Tom Bihn said they’d like to see my packing list and stuff. []
  2. A Tom Bihn Cafe Bag, if you’re curious. []
  3. Of which I generally use only my sunglasses, but I’ve been needing the reading glasses more and more, and the regular glasses might come in handy if I decide to, say, go see the opening of Man of Steel on my last weekend in Dublin. Just sayin’. []
  4. Ostensibly the oldest pub in Dublin. []