5 Packing Tips For Every Season in London

July 27, 2017

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If a Londoner were to see this article, they might laugh and reply, “Seasons in London?” They would follow with, “Every season happens every day in London.” And so it is from my experience. So instead of focusing on each season, let’s look at what you need to know in general while traveling to London and you will tweak your packing list accordingly for drastic temperatures, ok?

When traveling to London, there are few tips that will help you have a more enjoyable time.

1. Don’t Dress Sloppy

You need to know that throughout Europe, especially in London, that people are more dressy than in the U.S. All of the London Connection properties are located in the best neighborhoods. You can watch the Londoners as they travel to work each morning and feel as though it is a fashion parade. Unless you will be attending business meetings or formal events, you probably won’t need your suit. However, you may want to bring some clothing other than jeans and T-shirts. In order to fit in, you want to look nice.

2. Packing the Basics

No matter which time of year you will be visiting the royal city you need to bring a few essentials. What you choose to pack or leave home will make a huge difference. The key to enjoying every moment is to have four necessary items. Take these with you every day…everywhere!

  • Boots and shoes that are waterproof: Depending on the season, they may be ankle height or taller. Make sure they are broken in and comfortable. NEVER, EVER take new shoes on vacation. Blisters are not fun! Take two pair and trade off between the two every other day. Want to ruin your trip in a hurry? Sprain your ankle on the second day. With cobblestone streets throughout most of the neighborhoods, you want to wear flats rather than heels. Trust me, reserve your fancy shoes for an evening out that you will spend indoors and arrive by taxi.
  • Rainproof Jacket/Trench coat: Women usually like a longer jacket than men; be sure to find one that can roll up and tuck into your bag on warmer days, but keeps you protected when the sun sets or the clouds get dark. In the winter you will want a jacket with a liner, or a warmer coat. You will see your coat in almost every picture of you — so make sure you like it!
  • Scarf or shawl: Have a heavy wool scarf in the winter or a lightweight scarf or shawl the other seasons. I like a thin pashmina shawl to wrap around my shoulders when the air conditioning in the summer seems uncomfortably cool. It can make the difference of enjoying that special dinner in London.
  • Umbrella that is strong and compact: Tuck it in your day bag and you needn’t worry about the weather if you are prepared. Or do like some travelers and buy a cheap one if you happen to be outdoors during the rain. If it gets damaged in the wind, buy another for less than £2. Umbrellas can be found on every corner (unless you are outside out of the city, like a day trip to Stonehenge).

3. Pack Light

There is nothing more cumbersome than hauling numerous suitcases through the airport and train station. With the extra cost of additional bags, when in doubt-leave it at home! When my husband and I travel together we share one large suitcase that is checked. In the checked bag, you can include any liquids and your razor. Then we each take a carry-on and that is it!

Wait and buy your shampoo and hair spray once you are there instead of taking valuable luggage space. And don’t forget to take your medications with you in your purse or carry-on. I have seen horrible experiences when traveling with a group and some had lost luggage that included necessary prescriptions. It got ugly!

You only need 2-3 pair of pants and one skirt or dress for the ladies. Take half as many shirts, socks, and underwear as the number of days you will be traveling. London Connection vacation rentals have a washer/dryer in each flat; you can do laundry halfway through your trip. Keep the colors basic so you can mix and match. Just for fun, have one or two items with a splash of color.

Even when traveling for more than two weeks, you can make it with less. Just do laundry two or three times if you need. And remember, London is such a fun place to shop. If you forgot something, you can find it there.

4. Plan for Changes in Weather by Dressing in Layers

On a summer day in London you may feel like you also experience spring, autumn, and winter. It can rain any day of the year so plan accordingly. Because the weather changes throughout the day, plan for the different temperatures.

While sitting in Trafalgar Square on a sunny day I will be in short sleeves and sunglasses. Later in the evening, a fabulous sunset in the same place will require a sweater or jacket. Pack with layers in mind. It is much better to have two or three layers and be adaptable than to have one bulky coat that is too hot in the daytime.

5. How to Pack for Whenever and Wherever

ROLL IT: My secret to fitting all I need in my bag is to roll my clothing. Underwear, jackets, pants — everything that can be rolled! I keep items together by category. Shirts go in one area, socks in another. It is so convenient when arriving at my destination to find what I need quickly. I have also started using packing cubes. You may want to try them, it sure makes opening your suitcase more attractive. If I am staying longer than four nights in the same accommodation I like to unpack and get settled in the closet and drawers. It just feels more like home that way.

MASTER LIST: I have created a packing list document that I tweak according to my destination. Included on my list is a second pair of glasses. Since I am dependent on them to see, a broken pair of glasses and my trip would be over! Before I close up my suitcase I make sure everything is checked off the list. No worries or forgotten toothbrushes.

HOW MUCH: Just to review, limit your luggage to one checked bag and one carry-on. It just makes moving through the airport and into a taxi so much easier. Of course, where I travel will make the main difference in how I pack. Will I need clothing for the beach or the ski slopes? Swimming suits take much less space than a parka. The next consideration is how many nights I will be away. If laundry facilities are included in the accommodations, taking half as much is a great option for long trips. So in essence, I usually pack for short trips (one week or less) and just wash it all as needed.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL: I get at least $100 worth of the country’s currency before I leave home. My bank can order the foreign cash for me with 2 days notice. Most countries will accept my CHIP card for most purchases and cash will only be needed for street vendors, etc. I have a passport holder that goes around my neck that is RIFD protected. My credit card wallet fits inside. It can be tucked safely inside my shirt once I get on the plane. Some areas of the world one might be targeted as a tourist so being prepared can keep you safe. Don’t flash your cash! I keep a copy of my passport in my wallet and leave my actual passport back in my room safe. But to make sure I don’t forget it, that is on my “Going Home” checklist.

NO EXTRA LUGGAGE FEES: There is nothing quite as stressful as finding out at the airport counter that your luggage is too heavy. Dodge that $75 fee or the embarrassment of re-packing on the spot. I purchased an inexpensive hand held scale that straps to the handle. It is so easy to zip that inside my suitcase and be able to check that my souvenir purchases don’t cause an issue when it’s time to return home. Some new luggage pieces now have the scales built into the handle — a nice feature to watch for. I always carry a collapsible third bag inside my luggage that can become an extra carry-on for souvenirs on the return home.

EXTRA TIPS: I have a small folder where I place all my receipts each night. There are many apps that now make it so convenient to keep track of business expenses without the paper trail. Choose whatever system works best for you. And don’t forget adapters. Check your electronics (near where the cord connects to it) to make sure even with the adapters that they will adjust to the electric currency. I have known women that have ruined their hair blowers and curling irons in foreign countries. Some extra tips about traveling in London can be found here: 13 London FAQs.

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Most important, by being organized and packing light you can relax and make new memories. Enjoy London whatever season you choose to visit by being prepared. Feel free to contact me with questions about London at sheilaf@connectionsmg.com. HAPPY PACKING!