Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Checklist)

packing list for London and UK

What do you pack for London and UK? This is no easy task since we’re talking about a place where you can get sunshine, rain, wind, sleet and even snow, all in a single day! 

Yes that has happened here a few times before, which is why the weather is so unpredictable. 

As someone born and bred in the UK, I’m all too familiar with this strangeness and know full-well what you need to wear to be prepared for the ever-changing weather.

For tourists – it can be daunting trying to make sure you’ve packed everything you absolutely need without  going over the luggage limit, and you don’t want to miss anything important out.

So, what’s the secret? Pack for the season you visit – if it’s winter, make sure you bring the warm essentials like a winter coat, gloves, scarf, hat etc. For the summer – bring shorts, dress, and a light jacket. And for spring and autumn (fall) – just layer up, bring a waterproof jacket. There are more items you need for each season and I’ll go through it all in this packing guide, so you won’t have to worry!

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Table of Contents

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Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Cheatsheet)

Travel Documents

Firstly, here’s a list of important documents you absolutely must bring on your London and UK vacation:

 

1. Passport and Itineraries

Take a photo of the photo page (2nd page) of your passport and save it on your camera roll. Get a photocopy made and bring it with you. Store this and all your important travel documents in one secure place, such as this travel wallet for women | men which will hold your passport and all your documents.

2. Travel Debit Cards

Bring at least a couple of travel-friendly debit or credit cards so that you always have access to cash. I always bring 3 cards just to be safe, they are:
The above three come with super useful banking apps that are very user-friendly and easy to use, as well as packed with features, as well as being extremely secure.

3. Driver License

If you’re planning to rent a car in the UK, you can use your driver license (if you’re from the US, UK, EU or have an international licence). It also doubles as a valid ID, so you can leave your passport at your hotel/Airbnb.

4. Travel Insurance 

For added security and peace of mind, don’t leave home without good travel insurance by World Nomads. Take it from me – what’s the worst that could happen? Well, I once got electrocuted in a Mexican hostel (yes, seriously). I flicked a light switch in a dark bathroom and felt a sharp burn travel from my finger all the way up my arm, as if it caught fire (you can read about that in this post).

Bathroom electrocutions are unlikely to happen in the UK, but what happens if you’re out in London and your appendix suddenly bursts? I cannot stress enough how important travel insurance is.

Travel Gadgets & Electronics

These are more travel essentials to ensure you’re connected to power and have access to the internet and to contacts during your trip, as well as gadgets to keep you entertained on long journeys – you won’t want to leave home without these:

 

1. A Pre-paid SIM Card

Three is one of the biggest phone networks in the UK and the great thing about a Three SIM Card is that it can be used all over Europe as well as in the UK. Choose from either 12GB package (+ 3000 mins, 3000 texts, free roaming), or the 25GB package if you require more data.
Travel tip: be sure to keep your original SIM card in a secure place such as the Passport Travel Wallet (it has a SIM card pocket designed specifically for this purpose).
12gb sim
Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Checklist) 1

2. Multi Plug Outlet / Universal Travel Plug

The UK uses a type G plug (3-pin), so this All-In-One Universal Travel Plug is super useful. It comes with several USB ports and plenty of space to charge all your travel gadgets.
universal_travel_adaptor

3. 10-Foot Charging Cable

In my experience many places I’ve stayed at had power outlets that were a little too far from the bed. So it’s always best to bring an extra long charging cable, like this one for iPhone, or this one for Android. 
Travel Tip: bring a second, shorter cable, like this one (iPhone) or this one (Android), that’s more convenient for charging from your power bank on the plane.

4. External Battery (Power Bank)

One of the most essential travel gadgets, an external battery (also called a power bank, portable battery charger or portable charger), can be a lifesaver when you cell phone battery is about to die on a long flight. Plus, there’s no guarantee you’ll find an outlet in a lot of places (or at least a reliable outlet). This 26,800mAh Conxwan PowerBank is reliable and affordable whilst packing a lot of power.
If you prefer a smaller model, the Keymox PowerBank is lighter and more compact whilst still packing plenty of juice.
external_battery_power_bank

5. Wireless Noise-canceling Earbuds

For comfort and convenience, you’ll want to grab yourself a pair of these Wireless Noise-Canceling Earbuds w/Bluetooth for traveling by air or on the road. Not only are they pretty decent with rave reviews on Amazon, they’re quite affordable too. Bonus!

6. Trtl Travel Neck Pillow

One of my favourite carry on essential items, these are not only perfect for flights, but for traveling around the UK too. Those car and bus journeys will be a lot more relaxing when wearing the Trtl neck pillow, especially if you’re planning on visiting the far corners of Britain that entail long journeys.
trtl travel pillow

7. Windproof Travel Umbrella

Since the UK is famous for its endless rainy weather and windy days, this is one of the most essential items you’ll need, especially when there’s a combination of cold, rain and wind! The RainMate Compact Umbrella is a very lightweight option that will keep you dry in the rain and protected from the chilly wind.

8. Bendy Tripod Phone Holder

 

bendable_tripod

No doubt you’ll be planning to take some great photos on your UK trip, and this bendable tripod phone holder is the easiest way to capture stunning and insta-worthy snaps. It’s small and compact, lightweight enough to carry around all day, and fits into your daypack neatly with minimal space.
Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Checklist) 2

9. Compact Digital Camera

For the avid photographer and those looking to take superb quality pics, a decent compact digital camera is an absolute must. My favorite over the years is the Ricoh GRIII ultracompact camera, which features 24MP, 28mm F2.8 Lens and a touch-screen LCD display. It has remarkable image-stabilization which makes it perfect for whipping out and snapping pics while on the go. You can even attach external lenses for zooming in, as well as an external flash gun.
ricoh_griii_camera

10. VPN (Virtual Private Network) 

A Virtual Private Network (aka VPN) is quickly becoming an important travel essential these days. What are they? VPNs allow you to establish a secure connection over a shared connection. So when you’re using free WiFi (eg. in a coffee shop), you’re connected to all the other people in that cafe, on that same network.
The problem with being on the same open network as others is that you’re exposed to potential hackers who have easy access to your information – such as your login credentials, bank card info, and other private things on the device you connect from – whether that’s your phone, tablet or laptop.
Enter the NordVPN – it disguises your connection, so your precious information is invisible to anyone looking to hack an unsuspecting user’s device.

UK Travel Safety Items

Occasionally someone will ask: is the UK safe to travel? And as a UK citizen, it would be easy for me to say yes of course. However, for foreign visitors, there will always be pickpockets in tourist hotspots, especially in London, ready to target unsuspecting tourists . The following list has everything you need to ensure you don’t encounter those situations:

 

1. Travel Money Belt

This is super handy when you’re walking around larger cities with cash and other small valuables – I recommend keeping these either stashed away in your hotel/airbnb, or stored securely on your body in a money belt.

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2. Anti-Theft Book Bag

These have similar features as the anti-theft purses, the main zipper on these is in the back, making them impossible to open when you wear it on your back. Whether you decide on the cross-body bag or the backpack, it makes your daypack in the city slash-proof. This is really an extra-precautionary option, but will deter pickpockets and is great for peace of mind.

3. Anti-Theft Travel Purse

If you’re after the ultimate theft-proof purse, I highly recommend the Anti-Theft Travel Purse – it consists of five measures of theft prevention including:

  • Slash-resistant straps: straps with stainless steel wire inside, protects against grab-and-go thieves
  • Slash resistant fabric: the whole bag is made with a slash-resistant mesh barrier inside for extra layers of protection
  • Lockdown straps: the strap lock secures bag to a stationary object, protecting against grab-and-go thieves
  • Locking compartments: locking zipper pulls that prevent pickpockets from getting into your bag
  • RFID blocking pockets: protects against electronic identity theft with RFID blocking card slots and pockets
cross_body_bag

4. Small Lock

Be sure to bring a small lock for any hostel stays in the UK, so you can securely store your valuables in the lockers provided.

5. Security Travel Scarf

This stylish Security Scarf features a hidden zipper and pocket for that extra layer of security. With this security scarf, you can store some cash, a credit card, your cell phone, and even your wireless earbuds inside the hidden compartment of the scarf and nobody would be any the wiser!
Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Checklist) 4
thick_security_scarf

6. PacSafe Bag Protector

Another great security option for wherever you travel, the PacSafe bag protector will store all your valuables and secure it to a stationary item in your hotel/airbnb.
Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Checklist) 5

Eco-Friendly Travel Packing Essentials

These days most of us try to do our bit for the world around us, and with air travel, we become more conscious of our carbon footprint. So with the items below, you’ll be making a difference in protecting wildlife, nature and the environment.

 

1. Water-to-Go Filter Waterbottle

Tap water in the UK is perfectly safe to drink, so it doesn’t make sense to buy over-priced bottled water every day, especially when you’re trying to do your bit in reducing plastic waste. 
Water-to-Go is an ethical water filter bottle company heavily invested in sustainable practices of reusing water and reducing waste. All bottles are BPA-free, and for every bottle sold, they donate to several charities, this is another reason I use a Water-to-Go bottle. Get 15% off your order using the code at checkout: GIVEME15
blue-50cl-new-lid-2

2. Reusable Shopping Bag

Like with many places worldwide, the UK banned single-use plastic bags in supermarkets since 2015. As such, you’ll want to make sure you have a couple of these reusable tote shopping bags that you can fold up into a tiny pouch, perfect for travel. Once folded, you can clip these little pouches onto the side of your purse or daypack, so it’s there ready to be filled with London souvenirs, groceries and/or crafts.
Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Checklist) 6

Toiletries & Medicines

This list features a cool travel hack as well as important travel essentials that you can’t leave home without. A popular question asked is: do I need medicine for the UK? Well, the weather can get cold, windy and rainy here which could induce a runny nose or a cold, something you don’t want hampering your trip.

 

1. Dry Shampoo

For those who don’t want to wash their hair on vacation, or looking to save luggage space, the Baptiste Dry Shampoo works a treat.

2. Hand Sanitizer & Pouch

This feels more like a mandatory essential item these days. To ensure you use it throughout the day, get a sanitizer pouch that clips onto the outside of your purse or day bag, so it’s within easy reach. Sanitizer Bottle Keychain Holder

3. Small Pack of Tissues

Ideal in case of a runny nose, plus it’s always a smart tip to carry a small pack of Travel Tissues with you on your person, and they’re handy for numerous things.

4. Hangover Cure Tablets

Planning to party hard? Bring some hangover cure pills with you and take one before you hit the clubs. The Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier contains antioxidants, herbs and homeopathic ingredients that ensure you won’t be hungover the following day, and missing out on precious vacation time. And don’t take my word for it either – it’s a bestseller on Amazon with over 96,000 positive reviews.

5. General Medications

You can easily get hold of medicine in the UK so don’t feel you have to pack the whole medicine cabinet. However its well worth bringing meds for headaches, cramps, allergies, as well as upset stomach meds like anti-diarrheal, Tums, and Pepto.

6. Massaging Shoe Gel Inserts

This is more of a travel hack – if your vacation will involve lots of walking and hiking like mine do, you may risk suffering aches and pains during your trip, especially if you do a lot of walking on day one of your trip. These super handy massaging gel inserts will keep your feet comfortable and protected from blisters, as well as from muscle pains and cramps in your legs.
Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Checklist) 7

Clothing / attire for the UK (all year round)

For the image conscious and those looking to save packing space, it’s well worth having a capsule wardrobe for your UK vacation so that you can interchange and mix up items of clothing, in order to wear a different look each day.

 

1. Hiking Boots

A strong and reliable pair of hiking boots will serve you well for all your trekking and walking activities in Britain and everywhere else, for years to come. These Columbia men’s and women’s hiking boots are some of the best around, though if you’re on a budget and don’t want to compromise on quality, you can get a pair of Quechua hiking shoes for men / women.

2. Flip Flops

An absolute must for beach vacations or even in case of a murky hostel shower. These trendy looking pair for women and men by Havaianas are popular.
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3. Swimsuits

The seas here may be chilly, but chances are you’ll need a swimsuit if you’re heading to a spa retreat, staying at an all-inclusive resort, or visiting Centerparcs water park. Bring at least a couple so that you always have a dry one ready. This women’s suit and these men’s trunks are tried and tested bestsellers.

5. Rain Jacket

The UK is known for rain and showers, and when it rains, this versatile North Face jacket (mens / womens) will not only keep you dry, but will also keep you insulated from the cold. If you’re doing mountain treks, you can wear this jacket over a fleece/warmer jacket.

What to wear in London summer

Just like the rest of the country, summer in London is frustrating for the locals as it can be nice and sunny with a few days of heatwave, or, a complete washout – although London and the southeast also tends to be warmer than the the north.

So, along with the recommendations above, here are some things you need for London (and the UK in general) during the summer:

 

1. Shorts

You’ll find most Brits wearing shorts on a hot summer day and when it does get hot – trust me, shorts are a better option than something full length. Opt for casual mens / womens shorts, or denim shorts for men / women go well with pretty much anything.

2. Dresses

Summer is naturally the best opportunity to wear a casual summer dress in the UK, especially since it’s raining most of the year.

3. Light Jacket

While the UK is known for rainy and chilly weather, a lightweight jacket is ideal worn under a thicker coat or for those sunny days when it’s milder. My favourite jacket is the trusted Columbia light jacket (mens / womens) which is comfy, light and always keeps me warm.

What to wear in London winter

Winter in London is all about layering up and thick clothing. Mind you, London tends to be slightly warmer in winter than the rest of the country thanks to the Gulf Stream – with average temperatures of 9C and lows of 4-5C between Dec-Feb (by comparison, it’s much colder up north, with sub-zero temperatures).

Here’s a few important pieces of clothing you absolutely need for winter in London and the UK:

1. A Winter Coat

This needs to be thick enough to keep you warm, but not too thick that you can’t layer up underneath. A cashmere wool coat for women / men is a classic look or the winter shell coat for women / men, is practical, snug and warm.

 

2. Thermal Top

Every once in a while London and the UK gets hit by a nasty blast of icy weather from Siberia known as the ‘beast from the east’, and for these situations you need a thermal top to keep warm outdoors. Although it’s not guaranteed to happen every year, it’s worth checking the forecast in advance before bringing one.

 

3. Thick Woolly Socks

A decent pair of woolly socks for women / men are another must – to go with your hiking shoes or trendy Timberland boots.

 

4. A Hat

A nice woolly hat or beanie for women / men is practical and fashionable and you can even pull your hood up over it like I do.

 

5. A Scarf

Whether it’s a thick scarf for women / men or a thin scarf for women / men, it does wonders for keeping you warm, seriously. And you’ll definitely need one when it’s windy.

 

6. Gloves

Depending on your preference, opt for fingerless gloves, gloves with pull-back mittens, or even smartphone-compatible gloves.

Tips for Autumn in London

Autumn in London is basically the transition period from summer to winter so it’s not too cold, but it’s still chilly. Layering up is a must, and you won’t need to wear a winter coat, gloves and scarf just yet, though I may sometimes wear a hat.

 

Tips for Spring in London

Spring time sees more daylight returning and the weather is a little bit warmer, but not that much warmer, so again, layering up is essential. It does get wet and windy, so a waterproof coat is a must, or a trench coat will do.

Luggage/Baggage and Packing Items for the UK

Finally, here’s a list of the packing items and baggage that I use to encase and carry all my stuff when I go on a backpacker type of trip. It’s well worth investing in a trusted brand to ensure you have reliable gear that will last you years of travel.

 

1. Backpack

In 9 years of travel I find the clamshell type of backpacks the most convenient for quick access to everything inside your bag. The Tortuga Setup Backpack (mens / womens) is one of the best out there. Not only is it affordable, its also very durable, weather-resistant, and comes in either 35L or 45L sizes.
tortuga_backpack

2. Hardside Suitcase (if not the backpack)

Prefer to wheel around a suitcase instead of wearing a backpack? Worry not – Amazon Basics does a 30-inch Hardside Spinner that fits neatly into the overhead and it’s got 36,000 reviews to boot. A suitcase is perfect if you plan to spend most of your trip in 1-2 places or on a resort.
amazon_basics_suitcase

3. Daypack

The daypack is super useful day-to-day on your vacation as you don’t really want to be wearing your larger backpack other than for flight days and traveling between cities and regions. You can’t go wrong with the Osprey Daylite Daypack, that comes in a range of colours, it’s a hugely popular option loved by backpackers and travel bloggers alike.
Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Checklist) 13

4. Travel Laundry Bag

This is a must-have item for keeping your packing organized and reducing risk of lost clothing on your travels. It’s always wise to keep your dirty laundry separate from your clean laundry, plus, you’ll need a laundry bag to hand over to the laundrette when you get your laundry done during your trip.

5. Space Saver Packing Cubes

Another must-have packing essential, these packing cubes are a smart way of keeping your clothes well organized in your backpack whilst also saving tons of space, and giving you peace of mind. The Space Save Packing Cubes come in three different sizes, so you can put your pants in one, and shirts in another etc. The double zipper design ensures the pack shrinks down as small as possible when filled, leaving you with plenty more bag space for all your British souvenirs and new attire.

Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Checklist) 14
Travel Tip: if you really want to save space in your backpack, use these compression bags. They suck the air out like a shrink-wrap, and you’ll be amazed by how much space is left!

6. Hanging Toiletry Bag

Another one of my fave travel hacks is this hanging toiletry bag. It’s really useful for storing your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo and conditioner, face wash, trimmer, bug spray and sunscreen, and it saves space in your backpack.
hanging_toiletry_bag

7. Travel Medicine Kit

Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry on your travels by planning ahead and bringing along basic medicines like paracetamol or ibuprofen, motion sickness pills and sleep aids. However, if you don’t want to buy those, the travel medicine kit packs them together neatly.

So there you have it – the ultimate travel packing list for London and the UK.

Take it from my 9+ years of travel around 47 countries, this list was created from trial and error, discovering the most reliable and trustworthy items that have served me well on my travels, as well as thousands of positive reviews that makes them reputable.

 

 

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UK Packing  Checklist

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Commonly Asked Questions

There are a few key items of clothing that are great to wear all year round, no matter what time of the year you are visiting London. Make sure you have a small umbrella, comfortable walking shoes, a hat, sunglasses, a crossover bag jeans, a light jacket, and layer up, and you can’t go wrong.

What to pack for the UK in winter:

  1. Warm, layered clothes – this is the most important thing as it gets really cold in winter. Wrap up warm with a thick winter coat, a jumper (or hoody), long length pants and top.
  2. Winter accessories – be sure to bring your hat, scarf, gloves and even a pair of thermal socks. 
  3. Comfortable walking or hiking shoes for lots of walking and treks
  4. Versatile clothing
  5. An umbrella – it rains a lot in the UK
  6. Wear black or gray – they are neutral and fashionable colours that go with anything
  7. Wear smart casual – very popular with the locals here
  8. Bring a security money back or anti-theft bag – since you’ll be identifiable as a tourist, beware of pickpockets in tourist hotspots around London

What to wear in the United Kingdom 

  1. There is no dress code in the UK as with most of Western Europe, so anything goes really.
  2. Dress according to the weather – a little tricky as the weather can be unpredictable, however rain is common so be prepared – bring an umbrella and a light jacket or raincoat. Make sure you are warm too, so layer up where necessary.
  3. Black is always a popular color, as are gray and white, which are neutral and go with anything.
  4. Smart casual clothes will help you fit right in with the locals of London and the UK.

You must have a valid passport to enter the UK and it should be valid for the entire duration of your stay. Depending on where you’re from, you may also need a visa. Travel must-have essentials for London include: jeans, raincoat, umbrella, security money bag, comfortable shoes.

Yes – jeans are totally acceptable in the UK, as in many other countries around the world. In fact, jeans are the default, go-to fashion item that goes well with anything.

  1. Make use of your Oyster Card.
  2. Use the tube – but don’t overdo it.
  3. Avoid the tourist buses – use regular ones instead.
  4. Don’t take the Heathrow Express.
  5. Avoid Oxford Street and Trafalgar Square.
  6. Avoid Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
  7. Visit the museums in the evenings or at night.
  8. Use your phone.

Book Your Trip: Budget Tips & Tricks

 

Flights: As always, I source the cheapest flights on the web from Skyscanner and Kiwi.com. They are considered the top flight search engines for the best deals.

Accommodation: I use Booking for the best hotel deals and HostelWorld for the cheapest stays. If you’re considering Airbnb, be sure to check Vrbo to find cheaper vacation stays. 

SIM cards: DrimSim is a universal SIM card that isn’t tied to an operator and works in any country/region.

Travel Insurance: Stay protected from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.

Tours & Excursions: I book all my fave activities and guided tours on Get Your Guide & Viator – they do superb deals whilst offering excellent customer support.

Renting a car? I always use DiscoverCars, make sure you book your car hire in advance. For airport transfers, I use KiwiTaxi for the best deals.

Need to store your luggage in a locker? Use Radical Storage to store your stuff in a locker in any city for just $5 per day.

Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.

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Billy

Billy

Lover of epic adventures, slow travel, and great coffee. When not travelling, Billy teaches dance, and creates performances on commissioned projects.

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Hey there! I’m Billy, the guy behind BRB | Gone Somewhere Epic. I’ve been travelling around the world for nine years, having an absolute blast going on epic adventures, without breaking the bank. Click here to read more about the art of budget travel.

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