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The Ultimate Female Travel Packing List for the UK (Winter and Summer)

This packing list is brought to you by Lucy Dodsworth. See all packing list posts here.

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!

UK Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach in the UK

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

Clothes:

1 pair of jeansalthough 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 trousersjeans 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-shirtskeep you warm in winter and keep the sun off in summer.
2 tank topsfor layering under the long-sleeved tops in winter and wearing on their own in summer.
2 everyday t-shirts
1 fleecegood for colder days or evenings.
1 smarter topif 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 socksmore during winter than summer.
Waterproof jacketa 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 leggingscomfortable for long bus or train journeys, to sleep in or as an extra layer under trousers if it gets really cold.
1 long-sleeved dresssmarter 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 shortsfor exploring by day.
1 summer dresscan be dressed up in the evenings.
1 cardiganto cover up on cool nights.

Shoes:

1 pair of walking shoes/trainers
1 pair of flat ballet pumpsfor 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.

UK Tower Bridge

UK Tower Bridge

Toiletries:

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:

Shampoo/conditioner
Soap/shower gel
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Moisturiser
Deodorant
Razor
Hairbrush and hairbands
Contraception/sanitary products
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!

Tech stuff

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.
Adaptor plugsthe UK has its own 3-pin plugs so an adaptor from the rest of Europe won’t work here, and you may need a voltage adaptor for electricals from the US.
iPod/other music player for long journeys
CameraI 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.
Smartphoneif you don’t want to pay roaming charges you can get free wifi in a lot of cafes.

Other:

Umbrellato be carried around at all times, just in case!
Hairdryera compact hairdryer’s 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 mapif 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.
Earplugsuseful if you’re staying in city centre/party hostels.

Find out more about Lucy’s travels on her blog ontheluce.com or you can follow her on Twitter @lucydodsworth or on Facebook.

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14 Responses to The Ultimate Female Travel Packing List for the UK (Winter and Summer)

  1. Michelle June 7, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    I have been waiting for this! Thank you so much! You always have the best packing lists!

  2. Heather October 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Plan on it being cold no matter what time of year you are there. I’ve been in July and had to buy a coat! Think layers.

  3. K October 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    One thing I don’t recommend taking is a hairdryer unless you buy one that is the correct voltage specifically for non-US travel. Even with a voltage converter, you’ll likely blow a fuse if you have one with US voltage. Hostels usually have hairdryers, as do all hotels in the UK. I have long hair and never take one when I travel. I have never had a problem – and I do budget/backpacking holidays frequently.

    Layering is a great tip. I’ve lived here for the past ten years, and you can never predict the weather. Sometimes in August it’s cold (55F), but sometimes it’s scorching (90F). Dressing is far smarter here than the US, so you may feel out of place and be a very obvious tourist if you’re too casual (jeans, t-shirts, trainers, fleece). In summer, I’d recommend something like a nice looking maxi dress that packs well.

    Definitely take a brollie (umbrella) that works well in wind. Even if it seems like a nice day, it could start raining at any minute!

    • Britt March 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      Going to the UK for the first time later this month, what is the weather like this time of year there? I tend to play into those “what if’s” when packing and over pack! HELP!

      • Melissa March 8, 2013 at 12:48 am #

        I go all the time in the winter. In my experience, it’s only really really cold when the wind is blowing. It also rains randomly for 20 minutes and then stops. I’d recommend a thin rain coat and layers under that, and a small umbrella to whip out when it starts raining.

    • Sarah March 10, 2013 at 3:24 am #

      I traveled through the UK last summer, and brought a hair dryer with me because I was staying mostly in inns and pubs and didn’t expect there to be any provided. I was right, only one hotel had a hair dryer, but my hair dryer didn’t really work even with a voltage converter. It was a waste of space in my suitcase and a waste of money. If drying your hair is a dealbreaker when traveling, I say ask before you book your room.

      • Brooke March 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

        Good feedback, Sarah. That’s unfortunate that you had to carry that extra weight in your bag!

  4. bookmole January 23, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    Don’t forget a brollie is also good to keep the sun off if you need to be walking around at midday. You will burn if it is hot – and we do get good weather here honest!

  5. Abigail September 22, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    Hi! I am going to the UK in late October/November, and am really having difficulty deciding on shoes. I already have a pair of good trainers and flats, but boots have me stumped. Any recommendations for good, fairly affordable boots that are good for a lot of walking?

  6. Priscilla March 5, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    What is a smarter top? I’m leaving for the uk in about a month and want to make sure I have everything I need, or will need to buy, before I leave

  7. Jenny May 13, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    As someone who lives in England (in the North but there isn’t a huge difference on temp between the two) just worth bearing in mind that you might not be quite warm enough in all the above in winter. I’d recommend a good down jacket because that’ll pack small and squish under your waterproof if needed!

  8. Tenae May 25, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    This is so helpful – I’ve been to London before but never packed specifically just for an English summer so this will be a huge help on my upcoming trip!

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