Wondering what to pack for London and the UK in general?
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, and will happen again, 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.
Table of Contents
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!
Don’t forget to download your free packing list for London PDF checklist near the bottom of this post!
The Complete Packing Guide for London and UK
Your complete packing list for London trip, as well as things to pack when traveling to UK, what to wear in London today and during winter, summer, spring and fall.
Firstly, here’s a list of important documents you absolutely must bring on your London and UK vacation:
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.
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.
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.
For added security and peace of mind, don’t leave home without good travel insurance by SafetyWing. 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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
➤ Read more: Here’s my guide to all the top day trips from London
Trtl Travel Neck Pillow
One of my favorite 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.
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.
Bendy Tripod Phone Holder
No doubt you’ll be planning to take some fantastic photos on your London 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.
A 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.
A 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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
Water-to-Go Filter Water Bottle
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Hangover Cure Tablets
Planning to party hard? Bring some hangover cure pills with you and take one before you hit the bars. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
☀️ 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 is your summer packing list for London (and the UK in general):
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 are a few important pieces of clothing you absolutely need for your UK and London packing list winter:
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.
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.
Thick Woolly Socks
🍁 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.
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.
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.
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 colors, it’s a hugely popular option loved by backpackers and travel bloggers alike.
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.
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 Mexican souvenirs and new attire.
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!
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.
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.
Download your FREE 20-page Travel Planner Guide
And get access to all my best budget travel tips, checklists, additional freebies, and more.
What to pack for London FAQs:
Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions about your packing list for London vacation:
What do I need to pack to travel to London?
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.
How to pack for 3 days in London?
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
An umbrella – it rains a lot in the UK
Wear black or gray – they are neutral and fashionable colors 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 London to not look like a tourist?
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.
What should I pack for a day in London?
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.
What should I pack for 5 days in London?
When packing for 5 days in London, be sure to bring versatile clothing for layering, as the weather can be unpredictable. Pack comfortable walking shoes, an umbrella or raincoat, a few outfits suitable for both casual and formal occasions, and essentials like toiletries, adapters, and a travel guide.
🎈Click here to book your stay at The Mad Hatter Hotel today!
So there you have it – the only travel packing list for London trip you need.
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.
London & UK Travel Guides:
For more essential UK travel guide information, check out these articles:
✪ 28 Memorable Things to Do in the West Midlands
✪ 47 Interesting Facts About London You Probably Didn’t Know
✪ 10 Best Things to Do in Bath, England
✪ Cockney Rhyming Slang: A Traveler’s Guide
✪ How to Visit Stonehenge for Free in 2023
✪ 27 Fun Things to Do in Brixton, London
Looking for things to do in London? Here’s my London Maps guide with free downloadable PDF maps to help you navigate the city. Be sure to visit the popular London Dungeons while you’re here, and if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, this post’s got you covered.
- 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
Thanks for reading my post: Ultimate Packing List for UK and London Vacation (+ FREE Travel Checklist)
Enjoyed this post? share it on Pinterest so your followers can enjoy it too!