Big bags? Where we’re going, we don’t need big bags…

So, how big a bag do you need for a couple of nights away?

If your accommodation is a hostel, guest house or a hotel, then the answer is definitely a small one, even when your chosen transport is a five door small hatchback that can take enough stuff for a week’s camping in the boot area alone.

Last weekend wasn’t the warmest one or the driest one that Caroline and I have encountered over the last six weeks.

It was also a weekend of two halves – one night and some time on the Northumbrian coast and then one night and some time in one of my old stamping grounds for both work and play. Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The whole trip was a bit of a mad idea really that was formulated at very short notice – i.e. last Thursday. The initial idea was a one night only hit and run exercise to the Northumbrian coast to see whether we could see The Northern Lights. Things changed though on Friday when Caroline’s schedule unexpectedly changed and we could have another night away – hence the visit to Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

As the dress code for the weekend was destined to be a relaxed casual one, there was no need for either of us to have a big bag full of clothes to cover all eventualities.

In Caroline’s case, her bag was a large size Healthy Back Bag (15 litre) whilst mine was a 10 litre man bag bought when I was staying at Imperial College in London back in August.

Were they the right bags given that we were in was to be a reasonably posh guest house in Seahouses and a Hampton by Hilton hotel in Newcastle-upon-Tyne? Oh, yes, they were right.

As ever, the heaviest stuff was worn. The Peter Storm soft shell trousers that were too warm for storms in Portugal were perfect for daytime and nighttime (we spent around 3 hours outside on Saturday night waiting for those pesky Northern Lights to appear) as were the t-shirt, Craghoppers Corvus zip neck fleece and The North Face Nuptse Vest (down filled).

Caroline’s weapons of choice included a Rohan Ultra Silver Camisole, a Rohan Stria crew neck long sleeved shirt, a Rohan Pathway Cardi fleece cardigan, a Tog 24 down vest and a pair of Rohan Troggings.

Respective footwear choices? Salomon ventilated approach shoes in my case and a pair of The North Face Hedgehog GTX approach shoes in Caroline’s.

And in the bags? Rohan Progress polo and the wardrobe’s latest addition (a Rohan Stratum Polo Long Sleeve) plus a pair of Rohan Goa trousers, a couple of pairs of Rohan Cool Silver Trunks, a couple of pairs of M&S trainer socks plus the usual wash kit and a Snugpak travel towel, just in case.

Caroline’s bag was also Rohan filled – couple of long sleeved tops, another Ultra Silver Camisole plus her wash kit and her Ecco Blom Lite Ballerina Pump shoes.

Did everything work? Yes, it did. Not everything was from Rohan this time around, but the items that didn’t carry that brand name were chosen because we know they work and they have been repeatedly used over the last five years or so.

The choices were also useful in both the coastal and urban situations and allowed us to layer according to the prevailing weather conditions, so whilst some items have been used out in warm climes, they also proved their worth as part of a subtle layering system for a couple of Autumn days out.

Had we used public transport as we do on some of our travels, the choices of clothing, shoes and bags would have been ideal.

Did we need anything else? Well Caroline had her umbrella with her to combat the rain showers on Monday morning.

As my pound shop umbrella had popped its clogs in Portugal, it was time to head into Poundstretcher and bite the bullet as the replacement brolly cost the princely sum of £1.99.

Did packing light work once more? Oh yes and it was worth it to see the look on the face of the receptionist at Hampton by Hilton in Newcastle-upon-Tyne when we checked out and I said ‘Yes, this is all of my luggage…’.

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now firmly based in't Yorkshire...
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