uk packing list and travel essentials

The Ultimate UK Packing List – 10 Travel Essentials

Are you coming to the United Kingdom for the first time? Whether you are or you failed packing last time, you need this UK packing list.

The first time I came to the UK was in the summer of 2012, a while ago, and I had no idea what to expect. I had heard that the UK is rainy, but I only realised until I was there.

Two years later, I travelled to Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, in the summer and I stayed there for a month. Before travelling, I thought it was going to be warm with some rainy days as I had experienced in London before.

However, I did need some autumnal clothes and it rained more than expected. I couldn’t believe seeing locals getting into the cold sea, I did not swim at all nor sunbathe as I thought I would.

The longer I have been living in the UK, the sooner I realise you can experience four seasons in the same day. It can rain, be sunny/windy/cloudy, and this especially happens even more during the transition between spring and summer.

I currently live in the north and it can snow in March or a heatwave can come all of a sudden and it can be very warm.

I believe that global warming and pollution are contributing to this unstable weather as well.

I now feel confident to tell you exactly what you need so you don’t end up spending your money on things you could have packed. 

Here is a list of things you must pack or consider when you travel to the UK.

What to Pack for the UK

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The Ultimate UK Packing List

Convertor socket

Sockets in the UK are different from European ones found in Spain, France, etc., so it’s very important you bring one because otherwise, you won’t be able to charge simple things like your phone until you buy one.

Also, due to the demand, you’ll pay more money than if you buy it in your country. 

If you’re a frequent traveller, you should buy a multi-socket which includes sockets for many countries! This way you don’t need to worry about buying a new one every time you go to a different country.

Important note: be careful with the sockets in the bathrooms! For safety reasons, you cannot plug big devices like hairdryers, phones, etc. These sockets are only prepared for some beard shavers!

The Ultimate UK Packing List - 10 Travel Essentials The Ultimate UK Packing List - 10 Travel Essentials

Umbrella

Imagine a bright and beautiful sunny day in the UK, it’s basically what many locals dream of! However, you can never trust the weather in the UK because it could start raining soon.

I always take an umbrella with me just in case. I remember the first time I visited Leeds in the summer and I forgot to take an umbrella because anyway it was such a warm and lovely day! After a couple of hours being inside the pub, I got outside and it was pouring…

I ran quickly to the bus stop but I was soaked and when I got to the hotel room, I had to change straight away. 

Don’t make the same mistake as me! Take an umbrella with you at all times, and also get a good umbrella. The ones from Poundland (the one pound shop) are quite cheap, but they won’t last long.

uk packing list and travel essentials

Raincoat

Having an umbrella isn’t always the best solution to keep your clothes dry. This is why wearing a raincoat becomes so useful.

They won’t only protect you from the rain, but from the wind too. Since I’ve been living in the UK, raincoats have become one of my most useful and worn clothes.

They aren’t only for winter or autumn so you can use them all year round in England. This is so extremely helpful because they aren’t fluffy like normal coats or make you warm.

Boots

Wearing the right shoes makes a big difference when you travel. I think most of us love shoes and we want to take them all. Or you may want to wear the perfect outfit and your shoes are the cherry on top!

However, it’s better to think sensibly and get only two pairs of shoes with you. In the UK, you must wear shoes that will protect your feet from the rain. So, avoid flats, sandals and heels.

The perfect option is wearing a quality pair of boots! They’ll keep your feet warm and dry from the rain and you can wear them with casual or classy clothes.

I remember travelling from Leeds to London for a day and wearing beautiful pink pastel heels. When I arrived in London, it seemed cloudy but alright. However, it started raining when I was walking to Buckingham Palace. The rain was heavier and heavier, it was windy and I was getting soaked.

After a couple of hours of attending a make-up event, I removed my heels, I had blood and I wasn’t able to walk with them anymore. But, luckily, my boyfriend went to Primark and got me some socks and cheap trainers for the day.

From that moment, I make sure that I pack/wear comfy and appropriate footwear.

Hard suitcase 

This depends on your preferences and the type of suitcases you have available at home. If you have a hard suitcase, you better take that to pack your things for your trip to the UK. Similarly, if you’re thinking of buying a suitcase, get a hard suitcase.

Here is why:

  • Durability. They tend to last longer than soft suitcases.
  • Security. They are more secure and there are fewer chances other people may steal your belongings.
  • Resistance. They are more resistant to weather conditions such as rain and wind.
The Ultimate UK Packing List - 10 Travel Essentials The Ultimate UK Packing List - 10 Travel Essentials

Reusable bottle

It’s so important that we take care of the planet and minimize the amount of plastic we use daily. There are many containers, tubes, etc. that cannot and aren’t recycled. 

But it isn’t only that because even recyclable items such as plastic bottles aren’t always recycled. I am not going to give you numbers because different online sources say different numbers, but it’s for certain that not even half of the items you put in your green bin will be recycled and will end up in landfills. So, you must avoid buying more plastic.

In the UK, there are many cafes, airports and restaurants that won’t mind filling your bottle or cup up. You’ll save money and you’ll be more sustainable.

I love 720DGREE bottles because they are BPA free, stylish and light.

The Ultimate UK Packing List - 10 Travel Essentials The Ultimate UK Packing List - 10 Travel Essentials

Scarf

This is one of my favourite clothes complements to use in spring and autumn because it doesn’t take you much space in your suitcase (you can even wear it when you’re flying). 

A light scarf is always great to wear in the UK during the spring. It may be spring but still chilly! Especially if you come in early spring (March-April) when the weather is even more unstable.

Also, they’re great to avoid any mild cold and you can match them with any outfit. 

Passport

Identity cards can be valid in many parts of Europe and in the UK. But, I personally found that showing my Passport or UK driving license was better than my ID.

There were some places like pubs that were a bit fussy with the identity card. If I was you, I’d take my passport with me too, but I’m talking from my experience.

passport travel essential

Sterling pounds 

The currency in the UK is sterling pounds, so don’t forget to change your money.

By changing money at the airport or abroad, you’ll receive less money for the amount you’re changing. 

If you forget to change money, I’d rather use my card or change a big amount, so you can benefit from the currency change. 

If you want to check the currency, check this website

Toiletries 

I get it, you like a particular brand and you don’t really like those cheap shampoos or shower gels that you find in your hotel. I feel much better by using my own toiletries and I believe you do too. However, you have to think about sustainability here too.

If you want to contribute to the planet, you should stop buying those toiletries every time you go on holidays. A better alternative is to buy reusable bottle plastics which you can fill up with your shower gel, shampoo, etc. that you have at home. 

This will reduce your costs and will help you avoid buying unnecessary plastic products.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can buy vegan products which aren’t wrapped in plastic but in a biodegradable package. 

Here is a list of things you need to take:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush 
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine hygiene products 
  • Make up
  • Hand sanitiser

Also, I like to take some basic medicines such as paracetamol so I don’t need to worry if I’m in pain. But you can easily purchase paracetamol in Boots, Superdrugs or any supermarket in the UK. For other sorts of medicines, you’d better take them from home!


Apart from these items that I’ve covered in this blog, do a list! Doing a list will help you remember everything you need to take and it will make your packing process much easier and faster.

I used to hate packing, but I love it now! It’s like counting down the days or hours to travel.

If you feel like you always overpack, check these tips to avoid overpacking.

Also, before I forget! You may want to pack swimwear if you go to the coast, but I haven’t been able to touch the sea in the UK yet. 

Love,

Cristina xx

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22 Comments

  1. This is a great packing guide Cristina! I was very thankful that I didn’t need an umbrella during my UK trip last fall. 🙂

    1. madhu sharma says:

      That’s a great packing guide.and very helpful too.hope to visit UK soon

      1. Cristina Reina says:

        Thank you! I hope you visit the UK soon too 🙂

    2. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Taylor! I’m happy to hear you were lucky to have a lovely UK weather during your trip 🙂

  2. I have definitely heard that London is very multi-seasonal! Haha!
    I live in Toronto and depending on the month, it can be the same! April is renowned for four seasons in one, the other day it was literally, sunny, the snowing so heavy then raining!
    It’s crazy so I definitely underhand the need fo be prepared! Like you, I learnt early on that high heals don’t fly.. I don’t think I’ve worn them in like 3 years! Haha
    When I first arrived here, I would take my passport everywhere (which made me nervous) but ever since I swapped my license over I just use that!

    Great article! I’m hoping to get to London one day soon! My boyfriend went solo earlier this year and I was super jealous! Lol

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Chelsea 🙂 I love Toronto, it was actually my first international trip and I loved it. I went in the summertime and the weather was quite good except a couple of days that it rained. I would love to go back to Toronto! Also, I hope that you visit London soon, I think that you’ll love it.

  3. Helpful tips! Yikes, I didn’t know about the bathroom socket, I’ll be extra careful when I visit in August. Thanks!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thanks! There’s always something new to learn 🙂

  4. UK-girl here, boots are a great shout! Especially because you can dress them up/down depending upon what the weather’s doing and where you’re going!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m glad you like the tip 🙂

  5. Great list. I never travel to the UK without an umbrella, boots, and a raincoat. I learned that the hard way. Lol. Great list.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thanks, Kelly! I learnt the same way too haha

  6. Alexandra Booze says:

    Great tips on what to pack for a trip to the UK! I agree with bringing a raincoat and an umbrella! Every time I go it rains haha

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Aww thanks 🙂 I know, the weather is so unpredictable!

  7. Zsuzsanna says:

    Such a great post! The UK is on our bucket list for a long time, hopefully we can visit this summer! 🙂 Thank you for the great tips!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you!! I hope you can visit it this summer 🙂 It’s one of the best times to go.

  8. Jill Robbins says:

    I lived in the UK for almost five years and there were a couple of summers I didn’t wear shorts one time – travelers definitely need to know that summer weather might not be what they expect it to be. Great packing tips!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Yes, summers in the UK are very different from European destinations like Spain, France, etc.

  9. Hahaha an umbrella – you are not wrong there! Especially true for where I come from up here in the Scottish Highlands.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I can imagine haha! Well, you sometimes need more than an umbrella. Many of my umbrellas broke because of the wind.

  10. Great list! I remember that I used to bring clothes for every weather every morning when I was leaving my apartment in London haha

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Maria! It’s all about layers haha

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