Weather in the UK is unpredictable to say the least. And although we don’t get the extreme heat or cold you find in other places, it’s not uncommon to go through some sun, rain and 10 degree temperature changes in the same day. So layering is the key when packing for a trip to the UK, whether in summer or winter. Yes, despite popular opinion, there is a different between the two here!
This packing list would suit someone who is going to be travelling through a mixture of towns and cities and more rural areas – doing a lot of walking around but no hardcore hiking, and going for casual nights out rather than partying in London’s high-end bars and clubs. It should last you around a week without having to do any laundry – most hostels have a laundry room or otherwise there are launderettes in larger towns and cities.
>> Read more in What You Should Really Pack for a London Getaway
>> Check out some tips for after packing: Getting Your Trip to London Underway
1 pair of jeans – although some travellers are anti-jeans, I like to have mine as they are so comfortable and they’re useful if it’s cold. Plus they can be dressed up with a nice top for nights out.
1 pair of non-denim trousers – jeans aren’t so great in the rain so it’s good to have another option which will dry out more quickly.
2 long-sleeved t-shirts – keep you warm in winter and keep the sun off in summer.
2 tank tops – for layering under the long-sleeved tops in winter and wearing on their own in summer.
2 everyday t-shirts
1 fleece – good for colder days or evenings.
1 smarter top – if you’re going to be in cities, it’s nice to be able to dress up a bit for a night out.
7 pairs of underwear and 2 bras (black and flesh-coloured) – so you only need to do laundry once a week.
3-7 pairs of socks – more during winter than summer.
Waterproof jacket – a lightweight or fold-up one is good so it doesn’t take up much room and can be stashed in your day bag in case of one of those unexpected showers.
And in winter add:
1 pair of leggings – comfortable for long bus or train journeys, to sleep in or as an extra layer under trousers if it gets really cold.
1 long-sleeved dress – smarter than jeans and a fleece, this is good teamed with leggings when exploring cities.
1 jumper (aka sweater)
Scarf and gloves
Or in summer add:
1 pair of walking shoes/trainers
1 pair of flat ballet pumps – for smarter evenings
Plus in winter add a pair of flat boots (keep the rain and cold off and look a bit smarter than trainers) and in summer add a pair of flip-flops/sandals.
It’s easy to buy toiletries in the UK – both in chemists (pharmacies) and supermarkets. Most places offer their own-brand generic versions of things like shampoo, conditioner and medicines, which are cheaper. Obviously everyone has their own must-haves, but to start you off:
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Hairbrush and hairbands
Sunscreen (more in summer, in winter you might be able to get away with a moisturiser with SPF)
Basic medical kit (painkillers, plasters, etc.)
Insect repellent if you are going to Scotland, the midges can be a nightmare!
This depends on how connected you want to be – travel bloggers end up carrying around laptops and portable hard drives but most people won’t need them.
Adapter plugs – the UK has its own 3-pin plugs so an adapter from the rest of Europe won’t work here, and you may need a voltage converter for electronics from the US.
iPod/other music player for long journeys
Camera – I like to bring a download cable and memory stick to back up when I get chance, using hostel computers if I don’t have my laptop.
Smartphone – if you don’t want to pay roaming charges you can get free wifi in a lot of cafes.
Umbrella – to be carried around at all times, just in case!
Hairdryer – a compact hairdryer is a good idea in winter if you’ve got long hair as there’s nothing worse than wandering around in the cold with wet hair.
Oyster card and Tube map – if you’re visiting London, get an Oyster card to save on travel costs. You can buy them and pick up Tube maps in any underground station.
Earplugs – useful if you’re staying in city centre/party hostels.