Welcome to apackedlife.com.

This blog launched in 2017 for people with a passion for travel, planning and getting the most out of life.

What brings you here?

Love travel, preparing to travel, and writing about your travels?

Have little and not so little stationery stashes all over the place, and love journals, planners, diaries, washi and stickers?

Have a desire to organise your world, discover life hacks and enjoy your leisure time more?

Then this is most definitely the place for you.

Well howdy, Y’all.

And forgive my broad Tennessee.  Since we got back from our road trip taking in Nashville, Memphis and the Mississippi Delta last year, I’ve loved the thought of Y’all.  To me it encompasses all that’s right about southern courtesy, and bringing people together.  Let me pour you an iced tea, and we’ll sit on the porch awhile.

Despite that introduction, I’m actually a Brit.  I live in Middle England, in a ramshackle old house which is home to me, my husband and a growing collection of books, stationery, planners, travel accessories and music.  Together we love travel, books and music.  Separately, I like stationery and bringing order to things.  He likes to create chaos.  So we were made to be together.  You’ll get to know us a bit better here.

When I’m not travelling, rustling papers or getting on with life in general, I have a property business and a little gluten free bakery.  After signing up for National Novel Writing Month last November I realised how much I like writing.  This blog was born out of that love, although I’ve been blogging elsewhere for more than ten years.

What you’ll find Here

I cover all kinds of travel: travelogues, planning for travel, equipment and luggage, packing and preparation, and a look at some favourite destinations.  I talk about my secret love for Belgium here, share misadventures aboard Juliet in St Petersburg, and encourage you to hit the road.

In a similar planning mode, we talk about stationery and planners, journaling and record keeping.  If you know what washi is, we may be part of your tribe.  And if not, hang around here and let us bring you over to the sticky patterned side.  We have bullet journals, confessions of a stationery addict and perhaps unsurprisingly, travel journals.

The lifestyle section covers life hacks, how to guides, including how to live your best life, healthy living, goals and self-development.  I share my old house blues, secrets of getting a good night’s sleep, and how to tame a wardrobe behaving badly.

Welcome, And Let me Show You Round

The headers will take you to the blog’s main topics: travel, planning and lifestyle.  The side bar breaks that down a bit more.  If you’ve come here for something specific like packing advice, or bullet journaling I’d suggest starting there.

Subscribe to stay up to date

I’d love you to stick around.  Why not subscribe, and I can let you know about new content on the blog.  And I’d love it if you told me what you’d like to see more of.

How can I help?


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So you’ve decided to plan a trip to the UK?  That’s a great choice, and we’ve got plenty of advice for you from a local’s perspective.  Whether this is a return trip or your first time in the lands of big coasts, verdant countryside and vibrant cities, we’ve got something here to help you.  Let’s start to get your trip planning UK underway.

Want to read this later?  Then why not pin it now! 

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If you’ve found yourself in the Lake District National Park, you’ll know that it’s full of superlatives.  Jaw-droppingly beautiful, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is packed with exceptional places, inspirations and spots that will simply take your breath away.  We’ve put together this collection of fascinating Lake District facts to encourage you to explore a little further in this gloriously wild and wonderful area of north west England.

Want to visit later? 

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Devon is one of England’s most rural counties.  It’s unique in having two coastlines, one north and one south.  There are also areas of moorland, making up two National Parks, and rolling verdant countryside.  No wonder this part of south west England has such beautiful villages.  “Proper job” is a Devon expression of delight for things done well. And I’d have to agree that Devon’s villages deserve this praise.   This is where I grew up –

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The UK’s second city with a population of just over a million, Birmingham is bursting with things to do and see.  Even better, a lot of them are free or nearly free.  From activities to culture and history to future possibilities, here’s your guide to the best free things to do in Birmingham.  Plus a few nearly-free things to enjoy too.

Want to enjoy free things in Birmingham later?  Why not pin it now!

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If you’ve been wondering when to book your trip to the United Kingdom, here are some suggestions to help you decide.  With the help of fellow travel writers, you have a glimpse of the UK in all four seasons.  Will you decide to visit in Spring, with lambs in the fields and blossom on the trees?  Or the lazy days of summer, with surfing, beach huts and more sunshine than you’d imagine?  Then there’s autumn,

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Every time I go to write something about the sea, my head is full of the chorus of descriptions writers have used for the fathomless deep bounty of the oceans.  If you, like me, are inspired by salt on your lips, azure in your eyes, and that relentless rhythm of the waves, here are my favourite quotes about the sea to reinvigorate your sea fever.  From classic tales of seafaring, to more recent takes on the majesty of the ocean,

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A crunchy collection of leaves underfoot, blackberries in the hedgerows, crops being harvested in the fields, and a faint crisp of cold in the morning air.  They’re all signs of autumn in England.  So now that summer has passed, what has England to offer the traveler in autumn?  Possibly more than you’d expect.  Here’s why I think you should consider visiting England in the autumn months of September to November.

Planning to see Autumn in England? 

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Finding reliable cruise tips for first timers can be a tricky business.  If you are taking your first trip afloat, there seem to be so many suggestions about what to do, pack and wear, and it can be confusing.  I’ve tried to narrow this down to the things that really matter to help you have your best trip afloat.

Want to save this for later?  Why not pin it now!

Insider Cruise Tips For First TimersInsider Cruise Tips For First Timers

What I’ve Learned About Cruise Tips For First Timers

As a former cruise agent,

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Long haul flight essentials can make all the difference to your trip.  If you’ve ever flown long haul, you’ll remember that spending 12 or more hours in the air can be a challenge.  There’s the unique atmosphere on the plane – dry, sometimes chilly and loud – the close proximity to a large number of strangers, and the need to remain still for long periods of time.  My own upcoming long haul journeys have sent me back to old travel journals and onwards to an intense scrutiny of other people’s long haul experiences. 

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One of the great joys of writing about travel is that you get to share some of the most beautiful destinations you’ve had the pleasure to experience.  Today I’m completing a trip around the United Kingdom that focuses on its best beaches.  We’ve already visited England, Wales and Scotland, so today I’m exploring Northern Ireland beaches.  If you’ve never had the chance to see this stunning part of the United Kingdom, it’s time to get booking. 

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