Sorting out what to pack for London should be a fun way to start preparing for your trip. Wherever you’re coming from and however long you’re staying in this great city, there are a few essentials you really shouldn’t forget. Use this handy guide and get your packing right!
Everything you’ve heard about London rain is true and there’s no way of predicting when the next shower will strike. Avoid the rush to Tesco when the rain clouds start gathering and bring your own portable brolly, one you can slip into your day pack while you’re taking on the town. It’s not a question of if it’ll rain in London. It’s an inevitability.
There are so many amazing things to see in the city and don’t let a dead phone battery be the reason you can’t take the perfect shot. Invest in a portable charger and bring your relevant cables along, especially if you’re planning on being out the whole day.
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One thing that takes a lot of tourists by surprise is the fact that the London Underground has very few escalators. This means that if you’ve brought an incredibly heavy suitcase, you’re going to have to lug it up and down flights of stairs to get to your destination. Save yourself the stress and try to travel light.
If you’re travelling to London in the colder months, you’re definitely going to need to wrap up warm. In the winter, the temperature frequently drops to below ten degrees and the wind can be biting cold when you’re walking around the city.
Layers of clothing are also key. It might be chilly out on the street, but go down the escalator and step onto a Tube and you’ll be roasting in seconds. A quick-on, quick-off jacket with enough wiggle room for an extra jumper underneath should help keep you comfy above and below ground.
A lot of attractions are pretty close to each other in London, so sometimes it’s just easier to journey around on foot. For example, The Globe Theatre, Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge are all just minutes away from each other. A day spent pounding the pavement can wreck havoc on your feet however, so it’s best to leave the heels for another occasion.
Ok, this is an obvious one and should really be right at the top of your list. But we don’t just mean the camera on your phone. It might be fine for a selfie with a Beefeater, but London deserves better than that. The panorama from the top of The Shard, Tower Bridge at night, the Houses of Parliament… To really do justice to these iconic views you need a proper camera with good lenses and flash, a tripod if you can squeeze one in, and lots of memory.
If you want to learn more about the art form, the Photographs Gallery at the V&A has a brilliant collection chronicling the history from 1839 to the present day. Alternatively, the Michael Hoppen gallery in Chelsea nurtures and promotes new artists alongside exhibitions of past masters of the form.
The U.K. has a three pin 220 voltage system, so if you’re coming with electronics from the States or anywhere else, it’s worth investing in a travel adapter. Nowadays, there are multiple models that support various voltages which is a great choice for the constant jetsetter.
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London has some of the world’s best shopping, from the designers of Bond Street to the vintage market of Portobello and the hipster boutiques of Shoreditch. If fashion’s your thing, we suggest packing for London with as little as possible so you can shop, shop, shop and take your case home filled with new purchases. Or if your baggage allowance, well, allows, you could bring a whole separate, empty bag. Even if you just fancy browsing a few shops, a canvas shopping bag is still a good idea: a law passed in 2015 means that most large stores now charge a small fee for single-use plastic carrier bags.
There are hundreds of good guide books available to help you get the most out of your trip to London, including your free London Pass guidebook and it’s certainly worth doing a bit of homework before you arrive! But, it’s not all about planning and maps… Why not pack yourself a bit of London-based fiction to read when you get back to your hotel at night? With stacks to choose from, there’s something for every taste: Bleak House (Charles Dickens), Brick Lane (Monica Ali), Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf), Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) are just a few ideas. Don’t forget to check out some of the best literary landmarks around the city!