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And we’re off!

Pack light! Pack light! Everyone has told me to pack light and that does not mean I should catch a sun beam in a jar and ferry it across the ocean with me. I have taken these warnings to heart, and disregarding any concern for stinkyness or being caught wearing the same pants twice, I have packed light. Laurie at Crazy Aunt Purl became my light packing hero after I read this post where she traveled to Madrid with two small bags.

It was there I first heard about packing cubes. I was perplexed by Laurie’s statement that she could pack more in her luggage with those little square bags. It seemed illogical because by bringing the cubes she was carrying even more stuff around, but then Rick Steves recommended it too. So I bought some packing cubes that were not technically cubes by the mathematical definition of the term, and what do you know?! They were right! It’s hard to explain why they work, but instead of trying to smoosh a lot of stuff into a big bag, you’re smooshing smaller amounts of stuff into smaller bags. So you get more efficient smooshing. Plus, if you want to grab a sock, you don’t have to upend every item of clothing in your bag to find it and then re-smoosh the whole suitcase again. You just re-smoosh the cube the sock is in.

All my stuff

Here is what I’m bringing to Europe, starting from the top left and going clockwise: Baby computer, book for plane (The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls), tour books concealed in homemade book covers so I’m not a completely obvious tourist, sweat-wicking jacket (good for rain), packing cube with 5 pair of socks and 5 pairs of underwear, a packing cube of toiletries and pills, packing cube of chargers and gadgets, folder containing my itinerary and reservations, money belt, a smart hat, a towel (I’m a hoopy frood who knows where her towel is), two tank tops for sleeping or layering, sweat pants for sleeping or lounging, 1 long-sleeved shirt, black pullover sweater, 3 t-shirts, and a day bag. Not pictured: my wallet, a credit card, a debit card, driver’s license, passport, digital camera, neck pillow for plane, ballet flats if I have to wear fancy shoes somewhere, travel journal, and copies of all my important papers concealed at the bottom of the suitcase. Oh, and some Trader Joe’s almond butter for a friend.

And look! It all fit in the suitcase, which itself fits in the overhead compartment of most airplanes. Plus, there is room in the top portion of the suitcase for souvenirs.

At the beginning of my list was a “baby computer,” which I bought this week for $240.

It fits in my daybag and has a wireless card and a webcam, which means I can get online and video chat with people. It also has a media card reader slot so I can easily upload my photos. It does not have a CD or DVD drive. It also doesn’t have that much hard drive space or a super-fast processor, but it gets the job done! I spent Saturday loading it up with all my stuff, so I will be able to blog and twitter on the road. It only weighs 2.5 pounds, and if it gets stolen I won’t cry salty tears over it. Again, I first saw this device mentioned on Crazy Aunt Purl’s site, and my brother mentioned it to me last week, so in the interest of packing light I decided to splurge.

The rest of my day Saturday was spent freaking out that my Internet kept blinking in and out, thanking Whole Foods for their free wi-fi, and completing last minute tasks, like compiling a Europeon playlist for my MP3 player to get me in the mood. It contains:

Heather Nova – London Rain

Sweeney Todd – No Place Like London

The Clash – London Calling

Tori Amos – London Girls

Warren Zevon – Werewolves of London (There are lot of songs that mention London, eh?)

Time Lords – Doctor Who Megamix

Abba – Waterloo

Kinks – Waterloo Sunset

Anastasia Movie Soundtrack – Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart

Beauty & The Beast – Belle (The opening track where they sing, “Bon Jour” over and over again.)

Jem & The Holograms – Twilight in Paris (from the TV show!)

Serge Gainsbourg et Jane Birkin – Je t’aime moi non plus

Tori Amos – Josephine (about Napoleon’s wife)

I’ll be traveling all Sunday and arriving early in the morning London time, which is the middle of the night PastaQueen time. I plan on jumping on a big red bus right away-my circadian rhythm be damned. I’ve researched the hell out of this trip and plan on having a jolly good time! The only real confusion is figuring out what time to take my pills.

Cheerio! I’ll be checking in with you chaps soon, and updating my Flickr stream, or Bob’s my uncle! (And of my 15 aunts and uncles not one of them is named Bob.)

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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kat • May 10, 2009 at 9:05 am

Well done! Hope you have a great time!


barbara • May 10, 2009 at 9:11 am

Have a fantastic time — and remember, the tip is usually already factored into the bill at most restaurants in Europe (but I’m sure Rick Steves has already mentioned that)! Looking forward to your Tweets!


Flora • May 10, 2009 at 9:33 am

Ooh, good choice of book for the plane.

What, no “Holiday Road” on the soundtrack?


nicky1234 • May 10, 2009 at 9:35 am

I couldn’t help but notice that you are only bringing one pair of pants–a pair of sweatpants. I am guessing you are wearing a pair on the plane, but I might bring one more pair if I were you. If anything, skip the sweats and bring another pair of jeans, unless you want to tour Europe in sweatpants. Just a helpful suggestion. When I went to France and Italy, I brought two pairs of jeans, and I was pretty stinky by the end of the trip. It would have been nice to have another pair of pants.


Ane • May 10, 2009 at 9:52 am

Seems to me you’ve got what you need. If not there’s a lot of great shopping to be had both in London and Paris. Camden Lock in London (the underground part especially) has a LOT of great stuff. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures! :)


Mara @ What's For Dinner? • May 10, 2009 at 10:01 am

Have a wonderful time!!!


msmezzo • May 10, 2009 at 10:14 am

You did REALLY WELL! You will never want to see these clothes again at the end of the trip, but who cares? You will be happy with just one carry on! Have a great time!


MB • May 10, 2009 at 10:47 am

I want to go too! Great job packing. I can’t wait to hear all about your travels. Be sure to take plenty of pictures. Have a safe trip.


Lori • May 10, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Have a fabulous time!


itchy • May 10, 2009 at 12:20 pm

This was really helpful. I’m heading to Scotland for two weeks this fall and am trying to figure out how to pack the essentials. I’ll have to give packing cubes a try!


Isabelle • May 10, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Well, you’re in the air. Hope the flight’s going well and you have a lovely time on your holiday.


anji • May 10, 2009 at 1:38 pm

happy travels!


Lee • May 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Your trip inspired us to take a trip to London. We’re going with my parents – yikes. We leave on May 26 for 7 days. It’ll be great to hear about what you did in London on your trip. I hear layering is the way to go in May.

Have a great flight!


Merry • May 10, 2009 at 1:56 pm


Okay, I’ll calm down. (Hey, that up-and-down jumping just expended an extra few calories; don’t knock it.)

After I read the Glass Castle, the person who gave me the book asked one question: were the girl’s parents sane or not? Not an easy question to answer, methinks. Would be interested to hear your take on it.

But who cares about that now? YOU’RE GOING TO EUROPE!!!


Rebecca Hoover • May 10, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Oh my Gosh, I pack more for a weekend at my mother-in-laws. Maybe I’m not ready for Europe. Wow. Can’t wait to see the pics.


Rebecca Hoover • May 10, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Oh and you’re going to get to visit DG, you are so lucky. I’m soooo jealous.


maris • May 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Have a great time! Packing is always the hardest part.


dietgirl • May 10, 2009 at 3:23 pm

happy travels PQ :)


Rach • May 10, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Been lurking as a follower of this blog for a while now, and thought I’d come out to say, have a brilliant time! I love both London and Paris (I’m from the West Country in the UK, myself) – hope you enjoy them both too!


dietgirl • May 10, 2009 at 3:47 pm

PS thank you again for your almond butter smuggling :) :) :)


AquaMarine • May 10, 2009 at 4:20 pm

I can’t wait to hear stories from your travels. In about 5 weeks I too will be going to London and Paris, only my trip is with a tour group. I’m dying to hear what tips you’ve got to share.

I have a set of those packers (LL Bean is where I got mine). I love them. So convenient. You can just take out a packer and put it in the drawer at your hotel. No more going in and out of your suitcase until you’re ready to leave that stop.

Hope you’re having a wonderful time!


Heather • May 10, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Boy you did a great job of packing. Just one thing though, you will have to check your luggage. You can’t have any liquids in carry on luggage. I’m sure you must have some shampoo and moisturizers in your bag. I also think you need another pair of pants unless you have a place to do laundry. Have a blast … can’t wait to hear about your trip. Be safe!


Jacquie • May 10, 2009 at 7:46 pm

You are one lucky girl. Enjoy your well deserved vacation. Take lots of photos.

Have Fun!


Ang • May 10, 2009 at 7:58 pm

I loved The Glass Castle. I’m glad you chose comfortable shoes. When I think of my trip to France, Spain and Portugal, my memory of aching feet is almost as vivid as my memory of the amazing things we saw!


kristisummer • May 10, 2009 at 9:52 pm

have a safe and relaxing trip.


Rina • May 11, 2009 at 2:41 am

I just read The Glass Castle and was thinking of you, because of the author’s name, not the subject matter :) . It is a good book, but it reads fast. You have 8 hours on the plane each way plus time in the airports – take another book with you, or you might end up buying one in the airport, where it will cost more than you’d want to pay. Or take a ball of yarn and a crochet hook :)


Pauline • May 11, 2009 at 5:50 am

Hi PastaQueen, wish you lots of fun in Europe!! Just wanted to tell you that I already read “The Glass Castle” and it is SO great! Some precious books/stories stay with me for a long time after, lingering somewhere in my mind and my heart and this one definitely belongs to those!!!


Jane • May 11, 2009 at 6:01 am

have a great trip. Both Paris and London are great cities. Good job on the packing light , although I’d be tempted to see if I could not squeeze in a dress or a skirt for more variety and for slightly more dressy occasion. Or do some shopping and get something over here- there are quite a few sales


Lirpa • May 11, 2009 at 6:20 am

Hope you have a fabulous amazing fun and safe trip! And I adore you even more after your HHGTTG reference! (o:


Tina • May 11, 2009 at 8:01 am

“tour books concealed in homemade book covers so I’m not a completely obvious tourist”



Pam • May 11, 2009 at 8:09 am

Bee-yoo-ti-full packing! I think if you want to take your bag as a carry-on you’ll need to pack your liquids in 3oz containers in a 1 quart plastic bag. Toothpaste goes in there too.


Jaime • May 11, 2009 at 8:51 am

i hope you have a ton of fun :)


Cathleen • May 11, 2009 at 9:01 am

Again, have a wonderful, wonderful time.

I’m intrigued by the packing cube, especially since I have a trip to Rome coming up. Did you find it on line, and if so, what website would you recommend?

Looking forward to your travel blog (trog?).


Cathleen • May 11, 2009 at 9:04 am

@Heather – Just for the record, and to save you time at the baggage carousel, you CAN carry liquids, as long as they’re in containers that hold no more than three ounces, and all the containers fit into one ziploc baggie (the 8″ by 7″ kind). Of course, I can never find the mini bottles of contact lens solution, so I end up checking the thing just for that.


Jess • May 11, 2009 at 9:16 am

I’ll be in Germany next week for my first trip to Europe. Thanks for the packing tips – I’m going to steal the idea for the covers for the tour books!

From one hoosier to another – I can’t wait to hear all about your travels!


Danielle • May 11, 2009 at 10:03 am

OK, so the advice to pack light is very good. However, my plan is usually to pack light *for the trip there*, with a half-full suitcase. The suitcase is usually a little more full for the return flight.

I don’t spend much time shopping at home even though I live in a big city that others come to for shopping, but shopping away from home is fun.


Anonymous • May 11, 2009 at 10:15 am

I have a little ASUS eeePC (you can buy them off the shelf at Target, also very, very cheap) that’s about the size of your new little laptop. It’s so small that it fits in my travel purse, so I take it everywhere, even on weekend trips. The convenience is fantastic!

I love those packing cubes, too. Mine are Eagle Creek, but I also have a couple from Target’s travel section, which offers slightly different sizes.

That you can pack more by adding stuff is totally counterintuitive, but it works. But being able to get to anything in your bag without unpacking everything is the real advantage of the packing cubes!

Bon Voyage! Have a fantastic time!


sue • May 11, 2009 at 10:49 am

I’m so thrilled for you; I’m sure you enjoyed your Big Red Bus tour! Have a lovely time in both cities.

Seriously? Strolling down the Champs Ellyses in spring? That’d be a great big check off my life list. Have a wonderful time.


Lydia • May 11, 2009 at 11:04 am

One of the best travel-reads I ever bought, I bought at the airport leaving London/England (can’t remember whether it was Heathrow or Gatwick) that I don’t think was ever published here in the States. So if you run out of “book,” get something published in Britain that you haven’t seen yet in the US — you might find something really, really great.

I’m glad you’ve done your research! I toured Wales by myself once after having done a lot of research, and my trip went great — it’s a great way to do what you want to do. I love traveling alone — you meet lots of people that way. Now that I’m married with three children, my days of doing that might be over, but we’ll see. For now I’ll live vicariously through people like you! Have fun. Cheers.


victoria • May 11, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I love how well prepared you are! Go Pasta Queen! Have a great, great time. I’d never heard of packing cubes, they sound great, I’ll definitely try them for my Europe trip this summer. Also, I loved The Glass Castle, it’s quite a page turner, but it’s the kind of book you can’t put down once you start reading it. Maybe also bring another book? Other great page turners that I couldn’t put down include “Genie: A Scientific Tragedy” (nonfiction); “The Secret History” (fiction); “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” (nonfiction).


cathy griffith • May 11, 2009 at 12:53 pm

FYI – – My almond butter was confiscated thru security… :(


PurpleGirl • May 11, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Have a wonderful time! Go to the National Gallery in London if you have time, it’s free, huge, and full of amazing art. Enjoy yourself!


Lynette • May 11, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Have a FABULOUS time and post many pictures…I am so missing London and I must live vicariously through you! :D


Kalyn • May 11, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Impressive packing job! I hope you have a fantastic time.


Sarah • May 11, 2009 at 10:07 pm

you ARE a hoopy frood!

I finally read HHGTTG this spring and I was so excited to see a reference since everyone told me that after I read it I would pick up on peoples references EVERYWHERE.


MissM • May 14, 2009 at 2:55 pm

I have that baby computer! It rocks and I actually call it The Baby. lol. Enjoy!


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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