17 Top London & UK Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2018)

What should I bring on my London or UK trip?

London is where old world charm and modern lifestyles live side by side. Some of the most incredible sights can be enjoyed in almost every part of the city.

To help you pack, my wife and I (pictured) created the below list of must-have items for anyone traveling to London and the UK.

You’ll also find a list of what NOT to bring to London, along with what to wear and some expert tips and guidance from my own experiences. Cheers!


1) Windproof travel umbrella – From light drizzles to hardy rains, the UK certainly necessitates an umbrella. Be sure to pack one that’s wind-resistant and compacts down so that you can carry it easily when you’re not using it. If you bring a full-sized umbrella or even a less compact travel umbrella, you may end up regretting the bulk. This umbrella does a great job and is windproof, plus it comes with a cover that keeps it safe and packable.
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2) UK Power Adapter – UK outlets and American electronics are a bad combination unless you’re using an adapter. Britain uses a higher voltage than the States, which can easily fry your devices such as hair dryers if you mistakenly plug them into an active power outlet. Another thing to be aware of is that in London and other parts of the UK you might have to flip a switch in order to get the power outlet to actually work. They aren’t automatically on like they are in the States. Still, never assume that the power is off!
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3) Universal Waterproof Phone Case – Traveling London and the UK doesn’t seem like a very risky activity, and for the most part it’s not. There’s always a chance that your phone will be exposed to damaging conditions while you’re traveling, though, and it doesn’t pay to risk your expensive electronics. This case is a great solution since it’s easy on your budget, it protects your phone from impacts, water, and dirt, and it still allows you to use your phone’s touchscreen and camera.
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4) Travel insurance – While it’s not the most exciting part of trip planning, travel insurance is definitely one of the most important. Problems aren’t common when traveling to London and the UK, but they can happen and you should be prepared. You’ll want to look into plans that can cover your physical health and also your belongings in the event of emergency. Some examples of urgent situations that insurance might cover include emergency trips home, medical issues while abroad, theft, or catastrophe. This is one of those times when planning ahead is the best option – you don’t want to be stuck out of luck in a bad situation!
View their plans at WorldNomads.com ➜

5) Attractive walking shoes – Since you’ll be navigating a mix of newer pavement and traditional brick or cobblestone depending on the neighborhood, you won’t want to risk wearing heels or uncomfortable shoes. A pair of cute flats or otherwise attractive walking shoes are a great idea. This way you’ll preserve the style of your outfit while also ensuring your safety and comfort.
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6) Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger – It’s never a bad idea to bring a portable charger with you, whether you’ll have access to outlets during the day or not. A portable charger can carry multiple charges so that you can recharge several times before having to replenish its power supply. That way you’re able to power up your devices while you’re out for the day instead of having to return to your accommodation and wait for your phone or camera to be fully charged.
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7) Passport pouch – I often recommend bringing a passport pouch, even when traveling to relatively safe places like the UK. I don’t take chances with my most valuable items, and I like that a passport pouch can be hidden securely under my shirt but it’s still easy to get to when I need to get something out of it. I also try not to stick out as a tourist when I travel, and the fact that this stays hidden makes that much easier.
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8) Stylish raincoat: Women’s and Men’s – The United Kingdom is a rainy place, with rains occurring year-round. It’s also a stylish place, and an overly-casual rain jacket is not ideal if you’re trying to blend in. These trenchcoat-style rain jackets are attractive, and get good reviews for comfort and rain protection, as well as warmth.
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9) Packing cubes – Organization is the key to effectively packing for international trips. These packing cubes make life easier by compressing bulky items into smaller sizes. They have mesh tops so you can easily see what’s inside each one, and their various sizes mean that you can move the smaller ones in between your suitcase and your daybag if needed.
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packing-cubes

10) Small Tote Bag – I recommend a nice-looking tote to carry some of your belongings with you while you venture out during the day. You’ll be carrying what you need with you, plus any items you purchase while you’re out, and it would be a pain to try to fit all of that into a small purse or your pockets. This is a stylish and convenient alternative.
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11) Jet Lag relief – Time change and a long journey to London put most people into a fog of jet lag. I like this natural remedy since it works proactively to prevent that exhaustion and discomfort, and treats it after the fact if you don’t use the tablets beforehand. Anything that may prevent jet lag from ruining valuable sight-seeing days is worth a try!
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12) Activated Charcoal – Digestive ailments are extremely common among travelers due to the exposure to new foods and drinks, and the stress of traveling itself. I love how easily activated charcoal can handle traveler’s diarrhea and stomach upset. It works by absorbing toxins that may be in your system and calming your digestive tract so that you can return to normal as quickly as possible.
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13) Virtual Private Network (VPN) – I now use this everywhere I travel, and any time I connect to unfamiliar wifi. A VPN is designed to remove restrictions to your internet access in places where browsing may be censored, monitored, or limited. Obviously this isn’t a common issue in London, but VPNs have another advantage that keeps you much safer: they add a layer of encryption between your data and any potential hackers so that your information is protected and private. This is something that I learned the hard way is absolutely essential – I had my credit card information stolen while my family was traveling in Paris, and I’ll never leave my data vulenerable to hackers again.
View NordVPN.com Plans ➜


14) London Guidebook – Guidebooks are usually a good idea when a destination boasts a lot of attractions and places to navigate. This guidebook is up-to-date and provides a ton of useful information to help you choose which attractions matter most to you. It also offers an impressive number of insider tips and ideas to help you make the most of your trip.
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15) Scarf or shawl – It’s a good idea to bring a scarf with you so that you always have an extra layer if you need one. It’s a fashionable way to ward off a chill or cover your shoulders when visiting a more conservative attraction, and it’s easy to carry with you or wear as an accessory.
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16) Hanging toiletry bag – All of your toiletries will, of course, need to be stored appropriately for traveling and packing. What makes this toiletry bag so convenient is that it allows you to use and store your cosmetics, lotions, and other toiletries without having to empty it and re-pack it each time. It acts like a hanging “shelf” to keep your items accessible and out of the way.
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17) Nice pants or skirt: Women’s and Men’s – Looking nice and being comfortable are top priorities when traveling in the UK, so packing nicer clothes that you can wear all day is important. Bring along pants and/or skirts that can be mixed and matched with other items in your wardrobe so that you can take fewer items and still have the same number of outfits.
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Other items you may need in London and the UK


 

What to wear in London


UK fashion tends to be a bit dressier in most areas – London is a good example of this. Most places you’ll visit will be ones in which you’ll want to look nice. Think business casual or at least nice casual – no ripped or torn jeans, bare midriffs, or gawdy apparel.

You will absolutely want rain gear, and it should be nice-looking – opt for a more stylish option if at all possible. Also remember that layers are key – you can shed them or add them as needed to stay comfortable.

SPRING – March, April, May: Spring is a season of great variation in weather in Great Britain. One day may be warmer and sunny, while the next could be rainy and overcast. Tourism is light during this season, so if you can handle the weather it’s a great time to visit.

Plan to be prepared for anything with regard to your wardrobe: cute layers (think nice cardigans and shirts) and a dependable rain coat, just in case rains interrupt your day. Temperatures average around 45°F to 60°F (7°C to 15°C).

SUMMER – June, July, August: Summers are delightfully mild in London. Rains can happen so it’s still best to plan accordingly. For the most part, summer travelers will enjoy easy conditions, which is why this is also the height of tourist season.

Summer in London is similar to spring in many parts of the US – you’ll want a light jacket and clothes that can keep you comfortable regardless of temperature. Bring lightweight pants or skirts and tops, and a scarf or pashmina or two. Temperatures average around 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C).

FALL – September, October, November: This is the rainiest part of the year in London. Tourists during this time of year will enjoy smaller crowds, but will need to pack for a wet trip!

Umbrella, scarves, fashionable raincoat, and boots are a good idea. Temperatures average around 55°F to 65°F (12°C to 18°C).

WINTER – December, January, February: Temperatures are milder here in the winter than in many parts of the world, and rain is also common in this season.

Snow is not unheard of, so be sure to pack warm clothes such as: heavier waterproof coats, hats and gloves, and scarves if you’ll be traveling during this time!

Temperatures average around 40°F to 50°F (4°C to 10°C).

 

What NOT to take to London and the U.K.


1) 🚫 DON’T PACK lots of electronics:
I recommend packing a camera and a Kindle, and maybe your laptop, but don’t bring much more than that. Unless you have other electronics you’ll really need on your trip, it’s just not worth the risk of them being lost or stolen.
2) 🚫 DON’T BRING too many/heavy items: This includes things that will weigh down your luggage such as excessive clothes/shoes, heavy books, and so on. The one exception here is winter clothes. If you’re going during the colder months, you will definitely need them. Otherwise, save yourself the luggage fees – and the back pain!
 
3) 🚫 DON’T TAKE hiking-style gear: Heavy duty boots, zip-off pants, and so on. While this stuff is certainly appropriate for outdoor sports in the UK and you may need it if you’re on a more extensive trip that includes hiking, it’s otherwise pointless to have on hand in London, and you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
4) 🚫 DON’T PACK anything that screams “hapless tourist!”: Please leave your fanny packs, money belts, and I love New York t-shirts at home. Likewise, decking yourself out in Union Jack or American flag paraphernalia is just not done here. They’re not as obsessed with either flag as we seem to be.
 
5) 🚫 DON’T TAKE hairdryers: These eat up a good deal of space in your luggage and most hostels/hotels have them on hand for guests anyway.
6) 🚫 DON’T BRING valuable or irreplaceable items: This is a no-brainer. Leave your expensive and irreplaceable things at home to avoid the risk of loss, theft, or damage.
 

FAQs about London Travel


1) What is a good basic daily budget for London?

Even budget travelers will easily find themselves coming in at over $100 per day. All those Tube rides add up and it’s hard to find a hostel dorm bed in a central spot for less than $30. If you plan on staying in a private hotel room, expect to pay a lot more for the privilege. Admissions to popular attractions like the Tower of London can also be pretty pricey. The good news here is that most of the local parks, some of them famous in their own right, are free to the public. So are the major museums in town, such as the British Museum.

2) Do I need to tip in London restaurants?

When purchasing takeaway or drinks at the pubs, you aren’t expected to leave a tip. The rules are slightly different in sit-down restaurants. It’s becoming standard practice to leave 10% of your total bill or just the change if you didn’t order much.

Wait staff in most of Europe, including Britain, are paid minimum wage by law so they’re not completely dependent on tips like their American counterparts. However, don’t let your generosity run away with you. Check your bill first. Some places will automatically put a so-called service charge on your tab. This is the equivalent of a prepaid tip, but you don’t have to pay it if your service was bad or you feel it’s unfairly high.

Of course, feel free to leave as much as you like for excellent service. Just keep in mind that American sized tips of 20% or more are considered exorbitant in England. Likewise, if you want to make sure the waiters keep the money for themselves, it is best to hand them cash even if you’re paying with a card.

3) When’s the best time to visit London?

In general, the spring is a great time to visit most of Europe. This includes London, particularly if you were planning on stopping at places like Kew Gardens to see the flowers in full bloom. Although warmer and drier weather is far more likely in the summer, you’re going to pay for it with higher prices and larger crowds in popular spots. I hate cold weather so I’d probably never come to England in the depths of winter. But I definitely think that it’s worth dealing with a few overcast days to have relatively quiet travel conditions. Of course, your own thoughts may vary on that score.

4) What are my transportation options for getting to/from London from the nearby airports?

Where it is possible to use either the Tube or the Express Trains, those are your best options. If you’re not in a hurry or money is tight, taking the bus is also perfectly fine. However, taxis aren’t recommended because they’re both expensive and time-consuming.

5) What if I don’t particularly like fish and chips, can I still find decent food to eat?

Yes! Although I personally wouldn’t skip that particular dish, English food has changed a lot in recent years and become more than just your typical pub grub. There are plenty of different cuisine styles available in London and many of them are even at reasonable prices.

However, if you’re pressed for cash, try the French chain Pret-a-Manger. It’s basically like the European version of Panera Bread. I am now hooked on their pickle sandwiches (about £3).

6) Can you suggest some good day trips from London?

Oxford, Bath, Cambridge, and Brighton seem to be the ones most commonly mentioned. I personally enjoyed Bath a great deal. It’s a beautiful spa town that dates back to Roman times but was particularly popular during the 1800s. It also makes a good base for visiting nearby places such as Glastonbury, Wells, and Stonehenge. Brighton is another popular day trip from London. It was a favorite beach destination for the Crown Prince in the early part of the 19th century but really gained steam four decades later when the rail lines came into town. Now it’s a bit faded but is nonetheless known for its antiques and bohemian vibe.

Oxford and Cambridge are famous college towns with lengthy histories. Students of both are known to enjoy spending their free time punting on the nearby rivers. Oxford most notably served as a filming location for the Harry Potter movies and there’s plenty for fans of the series to see.

Meanwhile, Cambridge makes a good base for visiting the rest of East Anglia including the nearby countryside towns of Ely and Peterborough, which are both home to ancient cathedrals and other interesting sites.

7) Are there any areas of London that I should avoid?

Like any major city, London has its fair share of petty crime but the city center is generally considered a very safe place to visit. Just hold on to your belongings and make sure your luggage is secure at all times (even in your hostel room) to avoid any issues.

Likewise, familiarize yourself with common scams that might be used against you to avoid becoming a victim. Just use the same caution you would exercise in any city and you should be just fine, even at night. I went as a solo traveler and ended up coming back from the theatre rather late but I didn’t have any problems at all. Then again, I don’t look too much different from the locals so your own results may vary.

8) What should I do if my clothing or luggage vanished or was forgotten en route?

While second-hand shops can be found in England if you’re willing to hunt for them, there aren’t any major ones like there are in the United States. Your best bet for finding clothes at affordable prices are nationally recognized discount chains like Primark.

9) Do I need to buy a map of the Tube before I go?

Not at all! There are perfectly good pocket-sized Tube maps that are available for free at most stations. There are also large city maps on the station walls by the outside doors. These can help you figure out which way to go in order to reach your destination after you depart the premises.

10) What’s the deal with the Oyster Card?

The Oyster Card is a good way to save money on public transport in London because tickets for bus and Tube rides are considerably cheaper if they’re not bought individually. If you plan on using or needing a lot of rides in a 24 hour period, using the card means that transportation will never cost you more than a set amount. Oyster Cards can be bought at any Tube station for a £5 deposit as well as how much you want to put on the card. You fill up the card on the machine readers when you enter the Tube or bus and again when you exit. Once you’re done with it, you can cash it out at one of the machines and get your £5 back as well as any money that’s left on it.


 

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