Looking forward to that first trip to London Town? Why ever wouldn’t you be! One thing you may not be relishing, though, is facing up to packing for your trip. What on earth to take to a mega-city you’ve never visited before in a country you’ve maybe never travelled to before? And what effect does the time of year of your trip have on what you should be packing?
Yes, packing for a London visit as a first-timer can be a little daunting, so here’s our collection of heartily good packing hacks…
Seasonal weather in London
- Summer – the UK’s peak season, summer brings warm, sunny days and temperatures ranging from 18-30°C; that said, it can definitely rain, too (so, do check the forecast before you step out the door of where you’re staying, say, Park Grand hotel Hyde Park)
- Autumn – temperatures start to fall in, er, fall, ranging from 7-18°C and, in particular, get colder in late October/ November; it also tends to get rainier across the UK as the year wends its way towards December 31st
- Winter – traditionally, London’s coldest season but now also its rainiest, winter is when to wear warm clothes and try to, well, keep dry; the temperature ranges from 0-12°C but you may experience minus temperatures and even snow
- Spring – occurring in mid- to late March through to mid- to late May or June, spring brings temperatures of around 10-20°C, as well as showers; potentially, lots of rainy showers.
So, then, what to pack for a London city-break?
Comfortable walking shoes
If you really commit yourself to sightseeing in London, you’re inevitably going to do a fair bit or, even, a lot of walking. This may pose something of an issue because looking fashionable as you swan about a very fashionable city may be high on your list of desires; yet, truly, packing a pair of properly comfortable, dependable walking shoes (and actually wearing them on days you know will involve a good deal of walking) is a must.
As established already, it can rain in London… a lot. Footwear-wise, then, some days your best bet may well be to pop on some rainboots or, rather, Wellington boots – as they refer to them in the UK (when in Rome and all that). Supposedly named after the Duke of Wellington, the legendary British military hero, these boots are designed to cover your feet and thighs in bad weather, not least rain, and are a British footwear favourite in the autumn and winter months. They’re available in stylish designs, too, especially in London itself.
Londoners are generally split on umbrellas – some never use one; others swear by them. This blogger, though, strongly advises carrying a small one with you everywhere, unless you’re making the most of Hyde Park hotel deals in a heatwave. That said, remember to be mindful when out walking with your umbrella up; it doesn’t mean you own the pavement (translation: sidewalk).
A real raincoat
Concluding the ready-for-all-weathers theme, unless it’s the height of summer (or even if it is), you may feel obliged to wear atop your outfit for that day of London sightseeing a light yet genuinely water-resistant raincoat. Truly, a good raincoat can go a long way in Blighty. You won’t need to splurge on top-of-the-range designer efforts, the likes of which Burberry sells in their Regent Street store; simply packing for your trip a decent raincoat may just prove a godsend.
A wallet for your Oyster card
Sure, you may feel your own wallet or purse is the ideal place to keep your Oyster card – the credit-card-like payment card for use on London transport, which you tap on barriers on your way in and out the Tube and on and off buses. Yet, for convenience, there’s nothing like keeping yours in its own dinky plastic wallet that you can keep in a pocket and whip out whenever you need to.
Such a wallet’s free when you pick up a pre-ordered Oyster card (you usually collect the card at a major train station on your arrival in the city), but if you really want to blend in with the locals around you, how about getting your mitts on a nicely designed, patterned wallet? Where to get one of these? Google’s your friend, as the saying goes.
A universal adaptor
Obviously, our lives today, whether we’re simply at home or enjoying a trip to the glamorous UK capital with sightseeing-galore and dining at restaurants near Hyde Park, revolves around being switched on via our electronic gadgets. And what do you need to keep your Smartphone, Kindle and digital camera running wherever you may be in the world?
That’s right, a universal travel adaptor that’ll ensure, whatever the local electricity voltage, you can keep the batteries of your gizmos charged and ready for use. Needless to say, before your trip, you’ll need to pick up one that complies with the UK electricity voltage, which is why a clever-clever universal adaptor’s a particularly good option.
Additional points to remember:
- What you end up packing for your trip will be, to an extent, defined by which season you’re visiting London; remember, though, trying to be smart by packing according to the weather forecast for your planned time there may not prove so smart – London’s weather can be (and usually is) unpredictable!
- A good tip when packing is to pack according to the duration of your time away; that’s to say, if you’ll be checking-in to one of those romantic hotels in London for only a weekend away, you’re not going to have to pack the whole kit and kaboodle – you may want to follow the rule of thumb of packing one top for every two days of your trip and one pair of trousers (translation: pants) for every two days
- While London’s undoubtedly a very fashionable place (hello, London Fashion Week!), it’s also a *very* diverse city where it can appear everybody – literally, everybody – dresses according to their own style, taste and sense of fashion; that said, like anywhere cosmopolitan, clothes trends in London can be very on point, so if you want to follow them, by all means gen up on them before you arrive (tip: generally, you can’t go wrong wearing blacks, neutrals and solid colours).