So you’re coming to London. You have your passport ready, your flights booked, and your hotel sorted. You’re excited to touch down and start exploring the UK capital. But first you have to pack. And while that might be easy for some, it could be daunting for you. If it is, today I bring you A Lady in London’s guide to how to pack for London. Wherever you’re traveling from and however long you’re staying, it can help.
How to Pack for London
First things first: you need something to pack in. Whether you’re planning to pack a suitcase or a shoulder bag, I recommend traveling as light as possible. London is big and crowded, so being burdened with bulky luggage can be a pain. I’ve written previously about how to pack with just a carry-on, and also about my favorite suitcase, so if you’re in need of luggage and packing tips, I suggest checking out those posts before you start.
Clothing to Pack for London
Once you have the right bag for your trip, it’s time to fill it up. What clothing to pack for London depends on when you’re visiting, but no matter what time of year you travel I advise dressing in layers. London’s weather is unpredictable, so it’s good to be prepared. My seasonal packing list blog posts offer specific tips on how to pack for London in winter, spring, summer, and autumn.
Accessories to Pack for London
Accessories can be seasonal, too. Right now bobble hats are all the rage (see my aforementioned winter packing list post), and every woman in London seems to own at least three. Come spring the trend will change, so stay tuned for what’s in style if you want to dress like a local when you’re in town.
Gadgets to Pack for London
As far as gadgets go, there are a few things I suggest bringing. I swear by my Bose in-ear noise-canceling headphones, whether to keep me entertained on the tube or to help me survive a long-haul flight to London. They are the single most important thing I travel with (including my passport. I would rather stay home than travel without these headphones). If you’re in the UK, get a pair here. If you’re in the US, get them here.
My eBook reader is another lifesaver on long tube journeys, train rides, and sunny days in London’s parks. And when it comes to my phone, I’m never without a portable charger, as a day out in London can drain my battery like nothing else.
As far as my phone itself, there are a few apps I always use to help me navigate London. Google Maps is a must, especially in the maze of streets in Soho and Covent Garden. Beyond that, pretty much everyone I know swears by Citymapper to get around on foot, tube, or other transport.
Books to Pack for London
Whether in physical or eBook form, there are a few books I recommend packing for London. I’ve mentioned before that Watching the English is the expat bible. It offers crucial cultural advice for visitors and locals alike. When I moved to the UK, I also relied heavily on a book about the best day trips from London.
As for London literary highlights, I always reach for Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway for inspiration. It’s beautifully written and its pages take me on a virtual tour of London. If you’re in the UK, get a copy here. If you’re in the US, get one here.
Necessities to Pack for London
For basics, there are a few necessities I rely on in London, and you might too. Beyond the usual toiletries, I always have moisturizer to keep my face hydrated during the dry winter months and sunscreen to keep me from looking like a lobster in the summer (yep, you can get sunburned in London).
Earplugs are also a staple, especially when trying to fall asleep in central London. In my last flat I slept with earplugs every night for five years. An eye mask is also a lifesaver during the summer, when it gets light around 4am.
Beyond these things, a sense of adventure and a lot of energy for exploring are essential. It’s an amazing city, and there’s enough to see and do here that after 9 years of living in London I’m still not done discovering it.
How about you? What are your tips for how to pack for London?
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