My Peregrinations

Winging my way through life

Category: Travel skills

Packing for a wet London summer.

I’m an overthinker by nature. I tend to work myself into a tizzy before every trip trying to figure out what to pack to ensure that I’m fully prepared for my destination. Packing for a London summer has been a bit anxiety-inducing.

I’ve been obsessively checking weather forecasts, and asking people who have lived in London how I should be packing to stay warm and dry.

London is only just now coming out of a wet spell. Accuweather predicts that there will be at least two rainy days while I’m there at the end of this month. I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination, so my packing list looks like this:

  • Six 3/4- or long-sleeved shirts
  • Two cardigans
  • Two jackets for layering
  • Two pairs of jeans/chinos
  • Rainproof outer shell
  • Doc Martens and a pair of kicks
  • Essentials

Everything is going to be in neutral colours so I don’t have to think about matching. The Tripadvisor London Forum and my Fodor’s guidebook advises that I bring an umbrella. But it’ll be cumbersome to manage one, so I’m going with a rain shell.  Anything that I sorely need, I’ll just buy when I’m there.

Figuring out currency exchange for a trip

I’d always been a traveller who’d been more focused on convenience than value when it came to currency exchange. It was a function of having to pay more attention to my tiny fellow travellers’ needs than how much I was economising on each trip. I would simply walk to the nearest moneychanger at the airport, hand over my cash and state which currency I wanted. That was the easiest thing to do right after we’d checked our bags, and right before we walked into the departure area. The husband or I would rarely, if ever, go to The Arcade to get a better currency exchange rate. We’ve lost quite a bit of money over the years because we hadn’t had the time, energy, or inclination to hike to a money changer with a good rate.

Every dollar counts now that I’m travelling on my own. I’m mindful that money saved is money available for future trips. But I have a naturally poor head for figures and can’t understand abstract concepts very well. It’s been a struggle for me to understand where to look when checking out rates at a money changer. For instance, if I’m changing Singapore Dollars to US Dollars, do I look at the “We Buy” or “We Sell” column? Figuring out this very basic lifeskill has been enlightening, to say the least.

Now I know that I need to look at “We Sell” if I’m changing money from local currency to a foreign currency. The lower the price under “We Sell”, the more foreign currency I’m getting for my Singapore Dollar. If I want to change foreign currency back to Singapore Dollars, I should look at “We Buy”, and look for the highest price.

With my upcoming trip to London at the end of the month, currency exchange has been on my mind a lot. This will be my first trip to Europe so I don’t know much about travelling there, but I do know that things are very expensive. It makes sense for me to get the best rate possible for dollar to pound. I’ve been watching the pound closely to make the most out of the SGD400 I’ve set aside to exchange. Since I currently work near The Arcade, it’s easy to stroll to the money changers there and have a look at the rate. The best rate I’ve found is 1.81, which is some ways off the 1.79 mark as of yesterday. I have no idea how to predict which way the rate is going to go, since the situation in the UK now is so volatile, so I will probably change money once it goes below 1.8.

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