Whether you’re planning to visit London for the shopping, food, culture, nightlife, or for work, you should plan your packing carefully. Having a well-considered packing list to follow will make sure you have all essentials and enough stylish and comfortable clothing, without having to drag a huge heavy suitcase around because you’ve over-packed.
To help you out, we’ve teamed up with TUMI to bring you this guide on what to pack when you’re visiting London for work or play.
1. Choose your luggage carefully
You should choose a bag that has enough room for your clothing and other items, as well as some spare space to bring home souvenirs (if you’re coming on a shopping trip you might just want to bring an extra bag!)
If you’re flying you’ll need to check the baggage restrictions in terms of weight and dimensions for your airline. If you’re just away for the weekend, a cabin bag should be big enough – avoid taking very big bags if possible as London is very busy and it is difficult to get around when you’re weighed down by lots of bulky luggage.
2. Pack mix and match outfits
To keep the number of clothing items you take with you down, it’s wise to curate yourself a mini capsule wardrobe and choose simple and classic pieces in complementary colours that you can layer.
London weather can be very changeable and the best way to prepare for this is to dress in layers – don’t rely on the weather forecast! However if you have been optimistic about the weather and the British summer lets you down, there are of course plenty of shops to help you top-up your outfit selection.
A light, waterproof jacket is a good idea, and definitely bring a warm coat if you’re visiting in the winter.
Don’t go overboard with shoes – one pair of comfortable shoes (think sneakers) for walking and exploring, and one fun of dressier shoes for evenings out is enough.
If you’re planning a long trip, why not follow this list as a guide:
- 2 pairs of jeans
- 3-5 T-shirts or tops depending on your plans
- 1 cardigan or jumper
- 1-2 skirts or dresses
- 1 outfit designated for going out
- Jewellery and accessories can help to dress up simpler outfits for nights out, so pack a that pair of statement earrings or belt that go with all your outfit options.
3. Electronics and Gadgets
If you’re travelling from outside the UK you’ll need a plug convertor for your electronics.
Check if your electronic equipment is dual-voltage. The UK runs on a 240V system, which is more than twice the 110V standard in the US. A plug adaptor will not change this voltage and you’re likely to fry your equipment if you plug it in! Most computers, hair dryers and other gadgets are dual-voltage these days but check your items before you bother packing them.
If you’re bringing a lot of electronics, it’s worth packing a power strip so that you don’t have to hunt for multiple plug sockets. An external power bank can also be handy for charging your phone or tablet when there’s no power source handy.
Make sure to bring extra memory cards and batteries for your camera and an external hard drive for backup purposes is a good investment. Frequent travellers often keep smaller electronic items in Ziploc bags to find them easily and keep them safe from moisture.
Pay-as-you go SIM cards with data allowance are widely available so you can pick one up on arrival.
Of course there are a few things that you should take on every trip. However important these things are, it’s still easy to forget them, so it’s worth making a list.
- Passports, tickets, and travel documents
- Wallet and money (there are plenty of standalone currency exchanges and the banks will change currency for you too)
- Medications and extra prescriptions if necessary (double-check the medication you need is available in the UK – it might be sold under a different name)
- Toiletries and makeup – you’ll obviously be able to buy toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and the like in London but if your time in the capital is short, tracking down your favourite niche brands will take up precious travel time
- Sunscreen – you’ll need it if you’re outside for most of the day, even if it’s not hot, as British weather is deceptive
- Contact lenses and solution
- Travel wash for laundering clothes in your hotel sink. There aren’t many laundries in central London and hotel services tend to be expensive
- First aid kit
- Reusable water bottle
- Notebook or travel journal and pen
5. Bonus: London travel apps
Before you set off on your trip, load up your phone with some useful apps to help you explore London:
- Citymapper – better than Google Maps for London and includes public transport routes
- London’s Best Coffee – find some of the best independent cafes around the city
- Visit London City Guide – see what’s on while you’re there
- Santander Cycles – hire bikes to cycle around the city from £2
- Uber – cheap taxis
- OpenTable – make reservations at restaurants
- Oyster – the Oyster card is the cheapest way of using public transport in London and the app lets you top up online and see how much credit you have.