London is truly one of the worlds great cities and attracts millions of visitors each and every year. Not only is it a global mecca for culture, history, fashion and music – it’s got an incredible scene for nightlife, live theatre, and world-renowned cuisine.
Whether you are headed to London for a weekend trip or as part of a UK tour, packing for London takes a little bit of planning and forward thinking.
Lucky for you – we’ve put together a step-by-step London survival guide that’ll take the guesswork out of your packing strategy. Our goal is to make your prep as stress-free as possible so you can concentrate on the fun stuff – like the actual travel part!
So, let’s get on with it, shall we?
The Ultimate London Packing List
In this list, we are going to help you choose what to bring to London and what to wear in London.
The Backpack and Luggage: Nomatic Travel Bag
Before you even take on the task of figuring out what to pack for London, you’ll need an amazing backpack to pack it all into. For all types of travelers and destinations, our number one recommendation is the Nomatic Travel Bag.
The Nomatic travel bag covers every detail to make backpacking travel the best experience. Because of its smart design, it manages to provide loads of packing space in a convenient, carry-on size package! Its handy built-in pockets make plenty of room for all the necessities on your what to pack for London checklist – you’ll find separate compartments for important items like shoes, water bottle, electronics, underwear and socks. As an added bonus, there’s also an RFID-safe and cord management pocket.
You have a choice between backpack or duffel bag carry, and extra carrying comfort for your back thanks to its innovative strap system and detachable sternum strap. And its black, waterproof material is every bit sleek and modern as it is durable and tough. There is a reason why most Broke Backpacker staff swear by this backpack.
Alternative Luggage: AER Travel Pack 2
Our number two selection for an epic travel backpack is the AER Travel Pack 2. Like the Nomatic Travel Bag, this AER backpack is fully featured, big enough to hold an extended weekend of clothing, and tough enough to last years of travel abuse.
I have taken the AER Travel Pack 2 on multiple trips and since then it has risen has in the ranks of my go-to travel backpacks. If you are packing light then this is a great bag and will be a lot easier to carry on and off busy tube trains and busses.
Check out our AER Travel Pack 2 review to learn more.
A Suitcase: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? That’s ok. Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase. Packing a carry on bag will also allow you to take full advantage of the budget flights to London from the rest of Europe.
Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase.
The Camera: GoPro Hero9 Black
For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning photo capabilities.
But… if you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos and video beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with an action camera like the GoPro Hero9 Black.
It does deliver pro-quality video and gives you a bunch of a different angle options and shooting speeds to work with for photos (including a selfie-mode).
Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you capturing epic shots well beyond your time exploring here.
If you are looking for something cheaper for video specifically, check out these epic GoPro Alternatives.
What To Pack For London: Personal Gear
Word up – it rain a lot in the UK. Even in summer, rain is never too far away. However, the temperature does vary quite a lot between seasons. Summer’s can get sweltering hot (but generally stay mild) whereas winter nights regularly plummet below freezing.
Packing and dressing for London is therefore, an art form you need to master to get the most from your trip.
The other thing to bear in mind is that Londoner’s are stylish. It is therefore worth making a bit of effort and maybe leaving those cargo shorts at home for this one eh?
Good Rain Jacket – Arcteryx Beta AR
Did you know that the surface of the earth is over 70% covered in water? And you know how that water got there? Yep because it tends to here rain here on planet earth quite a lot! It rains a lot in London and you would be a fool to come here without a raincoat.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wing gear for it. Don’t let a bit (of a lot) of rain ruin your trip and make sure you are ready with some top notch rain gear.
This is our pick of the many rain jackets we have tried. It’s reliable & stylish and looks good worn out in the mountains or in city bars – and believe us, Londoner’s take fashion very seriously.
Travel First Aid Kit
You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine.
You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.
Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
London is a pretty safe city and the British healthcare system is “free at the point of service”. Still, in case you are pickpocketed or lose your passport, it pays to have good travel insurance just in case.
I admit I traveled for many years without having travel insurance. Because of it, I paid the price a few times in foreign hospitals. For the sake of a few bucks, travel insurance will give you peace of mind for your London trip.
We use either World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did if the time comes to use it.
One of the best investments you can make is a worldwide travel adapter that will work anywhere! The one featured here is tough, reliable and a solid buy – Don’t leave home without one.
Buy your travel adapter on Amazon now.
Another backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
The UK has now left the EU and was never part of the Schengen area. The upshot of this is that from now on, everybody needs a passport to enter.
Whilst the UK isn’t a “ID” culture, you may be asked to provide ID when buying alcohol in a shop or bar on account of the balmy “Think 25” policy.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
Whilst London is not particularly dangerous, crime can still happen and tourists are sometimes targeted.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
Let’s face it; for the foreseeable future, COVID 19 hysteria is just going to be a part of travel. How do we do our best to mitigate the risk while still traveling and experience life’s pleasures? Pack the right PPE gear.
London was badly hit by COVID and remains under social distancing and anti-COVID rules. You WILL need a mask on public transport, in museums and in shops until further notice.
Failure to comply will result in the dreaded British “tut and eye roll” or even a fine (our Government needs to raise cash). So;
Waterbottle – Hydroflask Vacuum Bottle 32 oz.
Packing a reusable water bottle is probably the best thing you can personally do to combat single-use plastic bottle use whilst traveling. There is simply zero need to buy plastic water bottles. Everywhere in London the water is safe to drink. Fill up your bottle each time and carry it with you when you go out in order to avoid buying water throughout your day.
We love the Hydroflask Vacum Bottle for its quality and because it keeps cold water cold for many hours and vice versa for hot beverages. This bottle is the ideal water bottle to get not just for your London trip but for daily use. Please don’t be that person buying plastic water bottles. We are all judging you…especially mother earth.
If you go with the Hydroflask, you’ll probably never need to buy another waterbottle again.
A Good Daypack for Hiking – Osprey Daylite Plus
If you intend on doing any hiking, doing a London city tour or bussing around the country then you will need a daypack. They are great for carrying water, hat’s and gloves and for packing sandwiches for lunch. We love Osprey products and this daypack is our personal pick.
The Osprey Daylite Plus has a mesh-covered panel to keep your back cool and fresh by minimizing contact with the back of the pack itself and allowing air to get between you and the pack.
Additionally, you can attach it to other Osprey packs in case you want to add more capacity and carry just one piece of luggage… but the reviews on this feature are mixed.
The key to staying warm is to keep our extremities warm. This means a good hat for the head, gloves for the hands and some decent thick wool socks to wear under your boots. If you are visiting London in Autumn or Winter, I recommend getting some of these. I own 6 pairs of these and wear them between October and February in my home city of Liverpool.
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for London
And there it is! Your complete London survival guide for what to pack for London with our practical 22-needs packing checklist, the city’s seasonal breakdown and how to pack for the weather, and specific tips for guys and gals. We also included what not to pack and the best backpack to carry all the gear you do pack.
Remember to focus on a select choice of classic items that you can easily layer and mix and match – with a stylish edge. And, more importantly, include those things that will make your travels comfortable and safe!
And now comes the fun part – get yourself to London and have an amazing time. Big Ben and the world’s best fish and chips await!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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