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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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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If you’re ready for a short break somewhere quintessentially English and naturally beautiful, the Cotswolds has to be high on your list.  An area of outstanding natural beauty, the hills and valleys of this part of England’s heartland reward exploration.  With just two days, you won’t see everything that the Cotswolds has to offer.  But you’ll have an understanding of what makes this part of the country so very special.  I’m taking you on a Cotswold weekend break to remember.

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If you’ve not yet discovered the beauty of Wales, there’s no better way to embrace its charms than by exploring the Wales Coast Path.  The first country to create a path covering its entire coast, Wales has to be commended for its commitment to helping people enjoy the big outdoors. This epic journey taken as a whole covers 870 miles of cliffs, beaches, valleys and unexpected extras.  But of course you can enjoy just a fraction of this distance over a shorter period of time. 

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People ask what’s special about dolphins.  These intelligent and playful mammals demonstrate many attributes that we as humans value: communication skills, curiosity, social bonds, cooperation and altruism.  If you love these fascinating creatures, it’s certainly possible to see wild dolphins from a number of places around the UK coast.  We’ve investigated where to spot dolphins in the UK, and taken you along on our trip to meet the bottlenose dolphins of Cardigan Bay, Wales.

No time to read now?

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Heather and gorse moors.  Highland cows.  Mirror-like lochs.  Rugged mountains and swooping glens.  Castles and historic houses.  Warm welcomes.  It’s all part of exploring the Scottish Highlands.  Covering the very north west of Scotland, the Highlands is one of the most sparsely populated places in Europe.  The Highlands welcomes just over half a million visitors a year.  Those half a million are very lucky people indeed, and I’ve been privileged to be among them many times. 

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Ghent is a bustling medieval city which beautifully blends its stunning history with an arty, vibrant and fascinating present.  I’ve described Ghent before as the Game of Thrones counterpart to the more delicate courtly love of Bruges.  Also blessed with a spectacular network of canals and ancient streets, Ghent is still less visited than its Flemish sister Bruges.  But the word is out, so come and explore Ghent and see why visitors are increasingly attracted to this lively and splendid city. 

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London is one of the world’s leading tourist destinations, drawing more than 20 million international visitors each year.  Add 300 million more overnight visitors and daytrippers and you can see the enduring attraction of Britain’s capital.  Faced with all the charms of London, deciding what to do can be overwhelming.  So here’s our guide to the best things to see and do to make the most of your time in London.  This 4 day London itinerary takes you through the capital’s greatest hits,

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We’ve written before how to save money for travel by getting your pennies and cents in a line ready for your next adventure.  Now it’s time to turn our attention to how to save money on travel by giving each of those pennies and cents a run for their money.  So here you have the best of what we’ve learned in our 55 years of traveling to squeeze that travel cash as far as possible.

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There’s no doubt about the enduring popularity of Brussels, with more than 16 million of us arriving each year to stay in the city. So once you’ve explored some of what makes Brussels glorious, from the beauties of Grand Place to the art of the chocolate maker and brewer, you might consider exploring further afield. Here are our suggestions for the best day trip destinations accessible from Brussels by rail. We’ve got everything from vibrant cities to coastal charms in this list,

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With more than a million visitors making the trip to the Cotswolds each year, it’s easy to see how charming these towns and villages can be.  Full of honeyed stone cottages clustered in river valleys, the commanding hills or wolds create a rolling landscape.  Broadway is one of the most visited villages in the Cotswolds; in fact you could say that Broadway – known as the Jewel of the Cotswolds – is the epitome of Cotswold charm.

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