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!
Scroll on to read: Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Checklist)
Table of Contents
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Ultimate Packing List for London and UK (+ FREE Travel Cheatsheet)
Firstly, here’s a list of important documents you absolutely must bring on your London and UK vacation:
1. Passport and Itineraries
2. Travel Debit Cards
3. Driver License
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).
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
2. Multi Plug Outlet / Universal Travel Plug
4. External Battery (Power Bank)
5. Wireless Noise-canceling Earbuds
6. Trtl Travel Neck Pillow
7. Windproof Travel Umbrella
8. Bendy Tripod Phone Holder
9. Compact Digital Camera
10. VPN (Virtual Private Network)
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.
2. Anti-Theft Book Bag
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
5. Security Travel Scarf
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
2. Reusable Shopping Bag
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
2. Hand Sanitizer & Pouch
4. Hangover Cure Tablets
6. Massaging Shoe Gel Inserts
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
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:
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.
Summer is naturally the best opportunity to wear a casual summer dress in the UK, especially since it’s raining most of the year.
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
4. A Hat
5. A Scarf
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.
2. Hardside Suitcase (if not the backpack)
4. Travel Laundry Bag
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.
6. Hanging Toiletry Bag
7. Travel Medicine Kit
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.
- Going abroad soon? Check out my post: How To Plan For A Vacation (and download my FREE printable travel checklist)
- Read up on my Top 10 Ways To Save Money For Travel to learn how I saved over $1K in one month
Download your FREE 20-page Travel Planner Guide
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:
- 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.
- Winter accessories – be sure to bring your hat, scarf, gloves and even a pair of thermal socks.
- Comfortable walking or hiking shoes for lots of walking and treks
- Versatile clothing
- An umbrella – it rains a lot in the UK
- Wear black or gray – they are neutral and fashionable colours that go with anything
- Wear smart casual – very popular with the locals here
- 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
- There is no dress code in the UK as with most of Western Europe, so anything goes really.
- 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.
- Black is always a popular color, as are gray and white, which are neutral and go with anything.
- 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.
- Make use of your Oyster Card.
- Use the tube – but don’t overdo it.
- Avoid the tourist buses – use regular ones instead.
- Don’t take the Heathrow Express.
- Avoid Oxford Street and Trafalgar Square.
- Avoid Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
- Visit the museums in the evenings or at night.
- Use your phone.
Book Your Trip: Budget Tips & Tricks
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.
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.