I have wanted to travel to England since I was six years old.
My babysitter’s mother, Barbara, was from England, Wimbledon, I believe, but I can’t quite remember. She was a maid at the Main House of the farm I grew up on, and in the afternoons, my babysitter and I would walk over to the Main House and have afternoon tea. I was very much a girly girl, and loved the idea of having a “tea party” every day.
While we had our English tea, as I called it, Barbara and her friend Wendy – who was also from the UK – would tell me about England and I soaked it in. I still have a postcard Kimmie, my babysitter, sent me while on a family trip there, as well as the figurines she brought back for me.
My love of London has always been strong, but lately, I have had a strong urge to just GO. Because, why not? Why not book a flight and just go, before someday, I have a husband and kids and packing up and taking off to a foreign land for a week or two at a time isn’t as simple as merely buying a ticket?
It’s funny, how things work out.
Last week, my mom stopped by my apartment. She had bought me a poster of London while in Richmond and joked “that may be as close as you get!” Then, over the weekend, my cousin, who is moving to London for an incredible job opportunity, sent me photos of her new flat, the most perfectly British flat there is, and offered her guest room, should I decide to visit.
The wheels were started turning. With a place to stay, there was little holding me back. And so, I pulled the trigger yesterday morning and will be headed across the pond in late April.
In a funny little turn, I bought a 2016 Rifle Paper Co. calendar yesterday, themed Cities of the World. The city for April? London. Perhaps my When God Winks is playing with my mind, but I took that as a sign – get to London.
And now, I need your help.
This will be my first experience with international travel. I have mastered the art of domestic travel. Print out a boarding pass, navigate security, find coffee, get on plane, read a book until landing, call a cab or an Uber to take me to my destination.
But, international travel? That feels like a whole new ballgame. I’m applying for my passport on Thursday, but I spent a half hour debating on whether I needed the passport card, too. Everything from boarding the plane to customs to packing feels different.
So, those of you with international travel experience, help me. Give me your tips and tricks. What do I need to know? What specific things should I pack for Europe? I will be in London and Paris, so any thoughts you have for those cities will also be appreciated.
Where should I go? What should I eat? Is there a friendly neighborhood pub I should visit? Literary sites I simply must see? Favorite guide books or travel blogs? Tell me all the things!
And accept my apologies in advance. I have a feeling there will be a lot of London and Paris-themed blog posts to come.