There are several factors to consider before you visit England, most importantly, the weather! The temperamental nature of the climate here means you need to come prepared for any eventuality!
You need to allow for frequent changes in the weather when planning your packing list for England.
Whatever time of year you visit, layering is key for every season. Centre your vacation wardrobe around items that mix and match. That way you ensure that you can add or remove clothing as things heat up or cool down.
Disclaimer: Hi! this post may contain affiliate links which will take you to online retailers that sell products and services. If you click on one and buy something, I may earn a commission, see my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.
It must have been a Brit who said:
There is no such thing as bad weather just inappropriate clothing.
Whatever else you neglect to take a thin waterproof coat or umbrella is essential. It’s very rare that you will get perfect weather here but sometimes England likes to surprise us like in Sept 2020 with 10 days of beautiful 25 C degrees. Here is a look at the other most important things to take with you on your exciting trip to England.
Essential Travel Item
Important travel documents are essential for any trip, some to consider when packing:
- Passport: The most important item on the list (unless you live in the UK).
- Driving License: Your driving license will be useful as well, even if you are not planning to hire a car as you can use it as an ID in most cases.
- Visa (if required): Make sure you read the entry requirements to the UK. Some countries need a visa and others will need 6-month validity in their passport.
- Tickets and documents: These are generally kept electronically but having a folder ready with everything handy will save you any stress. I always create Google maps with the places I’m staying and want to visit, an excel spreadsheet of all the places I’m staying and travel information. Keeping electronic versions of your passport and license will also help if anything happens to them. This will also be handy if you are flying into the UK as immigration may ask where you are staying.
- Money: Card payments are widely accepted in England. In some cases, places won’t accept cash or card so it’s good to have a mix of both. I keep most of my money on a card and have about £40 in cash for the odd thing that requires it. Wise offers multi-currency cards which are perfect for travelling and have been my go-to card company for my business.
- Credit Card (optional): Credit cards are great for backup or if you’re like me and like to gain points! MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in England. American Express is not as widely accepted but has been growing over the past few years.
- Travel Insurance: It’s not often something you have to use while travelling but if anything goes wrong on your travels you will be thankful you do. World Nomads offer travel insurance online and you can get a quote here.
Essential Travel Clothing
I would recommend 2-3 tops, that can be re-worn a few times.
- T-Shirts: Pack a couple of t-shirts that can be worn alone or when layering if the weather is changeable or turns cold. I go for more vest top style but whatever works great for layers and adding with bottom outfit.
- Collared Shirts: These can look great! I love pairing mine with a dress or use as a light jacket. For men, these are great for pairing with cinos and it will give you the flexibility to go out to nicer places or just look snazzy for photos.
- Long Sleeve Tops: These are great when you are layering your wardrobe to accommodate changing weather.
Trousers, Jeans, Shorts and Skirts
I would recommend 2 pairs of pants/bottom layers.
- Jeans: personally I like wearing jeans and these work in most weather conditions so pack at least one pair.
- Lightweight trousers: not only will they save weight in your luggage but if you do get wet they dry out quickly.
- Chinos (men): are a great choice for smart casual or daytime wearing.
- Skirts (women): are a good option for all weather types, in the summer it’s nice and cool, in the winter pair with some warm tights.
- Shorts: Warm weather is ideal for having a pair of shorts.
- Active Wear (if outdoor-based holiday): England has a lot of great walks and hikes available which a good pair of outdoor trousers will come in use.
I love taking dresses on trips, something that can be both casual and dressed up. Add some stockings just in case it gets cold.
Coat or Jacket
A good coat or jacket is a must for the trip. In the summer bring a lighter jacket and for the winter, a winter coat.
Jumper, Sweater or Cardigan
A jumper or sweater that will go with most of the clothes you have brought with you will hopefully be something you don’t need, but it doesn’t take up much room in your case if you do need one.
Cardigan is a surprisingly versatile item to take on vacation to England. Ideal when the English wheater is warm, but not quite warm enough, they work as a halfway house between nothing over your top and a jumper.
A raincoat can be a better option than an umbrella depending on the weather and generally made of light material that it’s a nice addition to pack. Something like this Blacks Waterproof Jacket which comes in various colours!
A scarf is a great item, it adds warmth when it’s cold or be an easy item to use over a jacket in the summer.
Consider bringing a pashmina scarf. “Pashmina” is a general term for a large scarf; it’s a style of scarf rather than a brand name or material type. Modern Pashmina’s come in every possible colour and lots of different materials. If you don’t have one choose one bright and bold or to complement the capsule wardrobe you are taking on vacation.
- Bra (women): Comfortable, sexy, sports bra or whatever type fits your style and holiday.
- Socks: Even if you are going in the height of the English summer take a pair of comfy socks, they’ll double up as slippers on cold mornings.
- Boxers (men): Add a pair for each day you’re travelling.
- Underwear (women): If you’re anything like me then you’ll have a pair for each day and a few just-in-case spares.
No matter what you sleep in, a set of PJ’s will serve you well. Just get changed when chilling with a glass of wine after an exhausting day of sightseeing. Ahh, Bliss!
Planning on visiting the English Seaside or enjoying a swim in your hotel pool then bringing a swim suite is worth it.
Comfortable footwear is a must, whatever you think you are going to be doing; you are bound to visit some historical sites, museums and the like. For long walking days, I always pack trainers and then during the evening switch to comfy ballet flats or boots for the evening.
If you are planning on hiking or exploring any of the outdoor areas then either good waterproof walking shoes or rain boots (wellington boots as we like to say!) are a must. I wear Brashers Walking Boots for the days I go hiking.
There are lots of city and town areas in England that have cobbled streets which are not great for high heels or inappropriate shoes (at least in my opinion). Thicker heels like wedges or boots will be more appropriate.
I’d add some flip flops if visiting in the summer or staying in a hostel (makes me feel better about using shared bathrooms).
This is where I tend to pack the most stuff! My camera bag is always extremely full and it’s a battle between clothes and this!
Most of us won’t forget our phone when travel but the plugs to charge our phones can often be forgotten. Make sure you add these to your list!
I suggest also downloading some apps to make your trip easier:
- Google Maps – offline maps so you will be able to find your way around England without the internet. I also create maps of all the places I want to travel so that I have it handy when I land and can easily see whats in the area.
- Trainline App – this will allow you to buy tickets for trains across Great Britain and it saves all your mobile tickets to the app when you register (great for not losing your tickets.
- City Mapper – this is great for telling you all the routes available from buses to trains. It will even do things like show you the best carriage on the tube for your exit!
- WhatsApp – I’d like to think most of us use WhatsApp these days but it’s the number one app people message each other in England on
- Get Your Guide – This is great for booking attractions and will save your tickets on your phone.
- Tiqets – Another great ticket company to use for booking attractions in England.
- The National Trust – You can either get a membership or pay for sites individually. Discover what Britians countryside has to offer with over 585 places you can see.
- Wise – I use this for checking the exchange rates but also it’s a great travel card. You can also download xe.com app if you prefer for exchange rates.
Portable Travel Charger
Running out of phone battery is frustrating when you’re out so having a portable charger will save you in those moments! I recommend the Anker range, they are always reliable. Check out the latest prices on Amazon here.
An absolute must is a travel charger for your phones, camera and any other electrical or chargeable items from home. I have a multi-country use one so that I’m not needing one for every country I visit.
I use this Worldwide Travel Adapter, you can find the latest prices on Amazon. The adapter covers most countries and has 3 USB ports that become so handy when you have loads of devices to charge.
There are going to be times you want some peace and quiet or to listen to some music on your phone. Don’t forget your headphones!
I recently bought the Sennheiser Wireless Headphones, not only do they have great sound but the noise cancelling is brilliant! The only negative is that my hair occasionally gets caught in the headphones.
Most of us have cameras on our phones, but for the best possible shots, you cannot beat your standalone purpose-made camera. So, for the best possible photographs while in England take a camera and snap away.
Currently, I use a Sony to shoot all the videos and photos you find on my website. I have the crop framed mirrorless camera and I love it because it is compact. The only negative is you don’t get the full range on the lenses. Check out the latest prices for Sony A6600 on Amazon.
For longer trips, I do bring portable hard drives and my laptop to transfer all my photos across. If you are bringing just your phone then look at online storage to backup all the photos.
Adjust to your preferences, I try and keep this as light as possible. It’s generally where all the additional weight is added in!
- Eye Mask & Ear Plugs – Depending on the time difference and the type of accommodation you have and maybe whilst getting about on public transport, these may prove invaluable items that don’t take up much room.
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Medication – Please don’t forget any prescribed medicines or meds that you use that may not be readily available. You will be able to get generic medication like panadol or ibuprofen over the counter here.
- Face Wash: A must-have to wash off the dirt and days outing.
- Moisturiser: bring a good moisturiser as our skin does take a beating when travelling. I find the cold weather cracks my skin and then in the summer it gets the sun.
- Sunscreen: Much to everyone’s shock, England can get warm and you can get sunburnt. If you’re travelling here in the summer add this to your list.
- Travel-Friendly Makeup: I always bring foundation, mascara and a choice of my favourite lipsticks. As I travel with it in my hand luggage I make sure it’s travel-sized to go through security.
- Body Wash: Normally I leave this behind as accommodation comes with it or I can pick it up at the store but you may want to bring your favourite body wash.
- Chapstick – chapped lips is the worst! I recommend bringing some chapstick to avoid this. I love these handmade lip balm on Etsy, they are Organic Ingredients, Plastic-Free, Biodegradable, No Preservatives or Additives.
- Hairband: is handy to keep it back from your face if the wind gets up or when you don’t feel like washing your hair.
- Hair Product: I try and keep this as travel-sized as possible as it adds weight. If you are visiting for the weekend then try and wash your hair before you come so you don’t need to worry about it. Or consider buying products here to save on the weight.
Handy Items to Carry
- Umbrella – Whichever time of year you visit England you will be very lucky not to get some rain. Often it is the soft, gentle type that soon gets you soaked and an Umbrella is ideal for this type of rain. It can get windy here so I would make sure that it is a windy proof umbrella and something that won’t break.
- Tote bag – in the UK we charge to add bags to your shopping, having a tote bag is great to save on buying bags or if you have additional things you need to carry around. Something like this London Skyline tote bag on Etsy.
- Pen – Having a pen randomly comes in handy so I always have one in my bag.
- Sunglasses – for when the sun occasionally comes out.
- Reusable Water Bottle – You can drink the water in England so to save on money I bring on a reusable bottle like this Stainless Steel Water Bottle found on Amazon.
- Hand Sanitiser – I feel like this is a must now! Add a small bottle in your bag.
- Dry Bag – Dyneema Cuben Fiber DCF Ultralight Waterproof Roll Top Dry Bag (mouth full!) is perfect for keeping whatever you need dry! The Dyneema material is lightweight, had high tear resistance and 15x stronger than steel. You won’t find anything else like it on the market.
- Travel Towel (optional) – Microfiber towels are brilliant for travelling, they are ultra-compact/lightweight, fast-drying and super absorbent. These towels not only have antibacterial ions but come in cute patterns and can be found on Etsy.
- Laundry Bag – One of the worst things about any kind of holiday is the amount of dirty laundry that gradually piles up. Avoid getting dirty laundry mixed up with clean clothes by storing it in a laundry bag, such as this one reusable mesh laundry bag on Etsy.
- Lightweight Combination Locks – If you’re leaving your luggage in places or staying in a hostel having a lock is important! TSA locks scarily easy to get keys for so I recommend a combination padlock like this one on Amazon.
Chances are you’ll take a backpack on board as your hand luggage. They really are the easiest bags to carry and tend to be a free part of your luggage. Then, once you are in England they are a practical and easy bag to pack your daily needs into.
I personally rate Osprey bags, I’ve had mine for over five years and they are still going strong. They aren’t the trendiest items but they are extremely practical. Here’s their ultra-light backpack range on Amazon.
Things You Don’t Need to Take
Please don’t PACK anything that makes you look like a tourist! You will stick out and you want to blend in like a local.
Hairdryers are big bulky items to take in your luggage allowance but also they may not be compatible with the UK voltage. If your hairdryer isn’t compatible with 230 volts then it will risk causing a fire hazard and American hair dryers are a classic for not being compatible. Read the instruction manual first to ensure safety for us in the UK.
Generally, hotels and accommodation will have them.
- Full sized shampoo and conditioner – these add additional weight and take up space.
- Books – if you must bring 1 book but if you plan on lots of reading opt for a kindle or digital books.
- Valuable jewellery or items – there is no need for valuable items to be brought on holiday with you. It just adds additional stress.
Are You Reading this as a Resident in England?
Well then, you will know most of this already! Layers are key for clothes to take on vacation, pack light and dress for comfort and style. The advantage of being a local is you are not restricted to what you can fly with. So, you lucky people can take more.
Overseas or Staycationers:
All have fun; England is a beautiful place with lots of things to see and do.
How many you take of each item, is down to personal choice and how long your trip is for. Just to be sure though, for each day you will need a vest, top, jumper, trousers, skirt or shorts, shoes and underwear. Plus, the Pashmina and one of the coats to wear on top as well.
Just remember, you’ll want to dress and pack for all types of weather in one day! That’s easy enough – right!
Have an absolutely fabulous time in England and one more thing…
Don’t forget your travel insurance!
Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.