There’s so much to consider. You’ll want to pack the essential documents, clothing, camera’s etc. One thing you don’t want to do, is overpack on unnecessary things. And you won’t with this Packing essentials for UK.
If you haven’t experienced this already, but some airlines are so strict with their weight policy, so keeping things as minimal as possible to stay within your limit will only benefit you.
If you are travelling with a European budget airline, their baggage policy is crazy. We have travelled with Ryanair for our European trips and you can either travel with just a backpack for no extra cost. OR you have to pay £20+ for a 10kg bag. Just insane, especially when you want to travel on a budget.
If you are travelling outside Europe and visiting the UK and other European countries, you will need to take into account the weight limit and the cost for any additional bags you intend to take.
We would always recommend doing your research before purchasing any flights and check baggage size and weight restrictions, before you start to pack.
But don’t worry, we will cover everything you need for a UK holiday, including a packing list for your ultimate trip, we will also include a few simple tips on how to pack less.
Packing essentials for the UK
We have included everything you’ll need in this essential packing for the UK:
International travelers will require certain documents to cross the border. Here are the essential documents you will need to pack for your short holiday to UK. Pack these in your hand luggage, as you don’t want to lose them.
As an international traveler, you will require a passport to gain entry to the UK. Since Brexit, EU, EEA and Swiss National ID Cards are no longer permitted, to gain entry into the UK. Unless you have settlement status, or other authorised permission. You can find out more on the UK Gov Website.
Do not forget to check the expiry date of your passport.
Many tourists, pack the passport but forget to check its expiry date. Most airlines will not accept passengers with less than 6 months remaining on the passport, even if you are visiting the UK for a couple of weeks and returning before it expires.
Frequent flyers, will need to make sure you have one spare page in your passport.
Tip: If your passport is due to expire, or doesn’t have any spare pages in the passport, then make sure you apply for a new passport in time for your intended travel.
All non-European passport holders, will require a visa before entering the UK.
You will need to apply for a visa prior to departure and must be applied for online.
To check if you need a visa to enter the UK, then you can visit the Gov.uk Website, enter some details such as nationality and purpose of travel and it will tell you if you need a visa or not. You can check if you need a visa here.
The maximum permitted stay on a holiday visa is 6 months. You can apply for a working holiday visa to UK, which permits you to work while travelling for a period of 24 months.
You can apply for the visa, by visiting the official UK visa service here.
Simply follow the instructions online, complete the relevant details, pay the fee and then you will get a notification to confirm you have been granted a visa, or reasons why your application failed.
It’s definitely recommended to have a mixture of cash, debit and credit cards available, should you need to use them. Make sure you have actually packed enough money for your trip and some for emergencies.
The currency in the UK is the £ GBP.
So how much money should you actually pack for a trip to the UK?
This is where you’ll need to research and set a budget for your holiday and stick to it. The UK is one of the most expensive countries to visit. But if you plan your holiday well, it really doesn’t have to be as expensive.
For example, London is an expensive city to visit. The entrance fee to many of the top tourist attractions are eye watering. But there are some brilliant places you can visit for free in London. We fell in love with the lesser known but free St Martins in the Field, right in the heart of the City of London.
While it might be expensive to visit the UK, it doesn’t have to be with these simple tips on how to travel on a budget. We share great, but easy tips to set a budget and find ways to save money even while you travel.
As long as you plan and research your trip, you’ll not only travel to the UK on a budget, but you’ll also pack enough money, to cover your entire trip.
Tip: Some banks will charge for the use of debit/credit cards on foreign transactions. Check this before you travel. If it’s too expensive to use the debit/credit card in UK, then take more cash and only use the cards in an emergency.
To help you plan and research your trip, why not download you FREE Travel Planner today!
Driving license/International Driver Permit
One of the best ways to see the UK, is with a road trip. Explore some quaint little village, large cities, take on an exhilarating hike and so much more.
But some of these places are remote and the only way to get to them is by car.
You will therefore need to pack your driving license and international driver permit. You may need to produce these to the authorities and the hire company may take a copy if you’re hiring a vehicle.
If you haven’t purchased an international driver permit yet ready for your trip, then you will need to before you travel.
You can find out more about how to apply for an international driver permit.
European driving license holders, can drive in the UK, but should carry with them an insurance green card and other proof of insurance.
Although travel insurance isn’t a legal requirement, it is highly recommended.
Travel insurance is there to protect you against most eventualities.
What happens if your flight was cancelled, delayed, or your luggage got lost of delayed? If the worst happened and you became ill while travelling, how will you pay for the treatment? All of this and more is covered under your travel insurance. They will pay out for any financial loss you may have incurred.
All you have to do is pay a premium to be covered and if you need to claim, either abroad or when you return home, you contact the insurance company and they will explain the rest of the process with you.
You can find out if it is really worth purchasing travel insurance or not here.
If you’re hiring a vehicle, then you’ll need car insurance. This is normally included within the hire purchase, but always check with the hire company prior to travel.
Related post: Things to do in Eastbourne
Medical supplies to pack for UK
Here are just some of the medical supplies you’ll need in your UK packing list.
Sun tan lotion
You’ll only need this, when visiting the UK during the spring, summer and autumn.
Even on a cloudy day in summer you can still burn, so make sure the sun protection is applied before being exposed to the sun and throughout the day.
We have got burnt by the sun and trust us, it is very painful and uncomfortable. It could also lead to more serious ill health, such as skin cancer, which you really don’t want.
Tip: During the shoulder months and summer, sun protection is sold in all super stores, pharmacy’s, souvenir shops and pretty much everywhere. The cost of a medium sized sun cream at factor 30, starts at £4.00 ($5.00, €4.76).
This may sound obvious, but it isn’t uncommon for travelers to forget to pack their medication, or pack it in their main luggage, which they can’t get hold of while on the flight.
Always pack enough for the trip and some in the event of an emergency.
Tip: Pack 4-5 days of medication in your hand luggage. If the airline loses your main luggage, or it’s delayed, you have enough to cover you for at least 4-5 days.
Keep all packaging for the medication with you, should security or the authorities stop you.
In our experience, we have never been bitten by mosquitos in the UK, but this doesn’t mean to say you won’t.
It is a good idea to pack a small hand luggage size repellent just in case you do need it.
We swear by Jungle Formula roll on mosquito repellent. It’s great, just simply roll it on your skin that isn’t covered, it dries quickly and there’s no smell. Unlike other products we have used.
This is pretty self-explanatory.
For women, your essentials are a small travel size toothbrush and toothpaste, make up (just the basics, not all of it), shaving products, feminine products, soap and shampoo.
The men, you will need a small toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving products, soap and shampoo.
Have you ever considered packing environmentally friendly toiletries. If not, it is something we all should be thinking about. You can purchase environmentally friendly soaps and shampoos from Lush. They are a little more expensive, but the environments just as important as travelling.
To help prevent the spread of germs and diseases, have a small pocket size pack of tissues with you.
You can purchase small packets of tissues in the local high street shops, or you can buy cheap boxes of tissue for about 50 pence ($0.62, €0.59) in the local convenience store.
First aid kit
This is great to have with you, should you fall ill or injure yourself that doesn’t require further medical treatment.
We have our small first aid kit packed with all our essentials including:
- Painkillers (with any medication, it is always a good idea to keep the box or instruction, in the event you need to provide these to authorities).
- Antibacterial hand sanitizer
For a full list, check out our post on what to pack in your first aid kit.
Note: We have never encountered any problems with taking over the counter medication away on holiday with us. However there have been reported cases of travelers, jailed for taking over the counter medication into a country, that do not legalize that substance within the medication.
If you have any concerns about that type of medication you’ll be carrying, always consult with the relevant agency or government website to get clarity.
These essentials will keep you in touch with family, friends and to take some of the best images:
A good camera is an essential to pack for the UK. Take some stunning picture and keep them as memories of your adventures.
With new technology, camera equipment no longer costs the earth.
You could easily pick up a good compact camera, that takes some incredible images for around £100.00, although in our opinion, you should spend a little more on a decent camera that will last longer.
Not only do we have a large DSLR camera, but we also have a small compact camera.
Check out our post on Travel essentials, in which we include some of the best camera’s that we use. We include a wide range from budget friendly to expensive depending on your budget.
This handy gadget, will keep you in touch with family and friends, help you navigate from point A to point B, with maps/GPS, camera functions and many more uses.
Download maps for use, when you’re out of signal.
Learn how to use your mobile camera to take epic pictures, that way you are versatile with your equipment.
Tip: Pack your mobile phone in your hand luggage, or you won’t be covered under your travel insurance if it is lost or stolen.
Now it would be pointless packing a camera or your phone on your trip to the UK if you don’t pack the chargers that goes with it.
The devices will lose battery and then it all becomes redundant.
Tip: Pack the chargers for all your electrical devices.
The UK uses type G plug, 230v/50hz, which is three-rectangle pins, in a triangle pattern.
Any traveler outside the UK, will require a travel adapter, to plug into the mains.
It is rare to find hotels, hostels or apartments that use USB sockets. From memory, we have probably stayed in 1 or 2 places with USB charging sockets.
Tip: Pack at least 2-3 adaptors, depending on the number of devices you are packing and how often they need charging.
This is a great back up in the event you’re on the road and you’re running low on battery for one of your devices.
You just plug in your device to the fully charged Battery Bank and the device will charge while on the road.
Of course, you need to make sure the battery bank is fully charged at all times and make sure you bring any charging cables for it, to charge at a charging point.
We never leave home without packing this.
Related post: Things to do in Dover
These are just some of the things you could pack to help you travel and plan your holiday to the UK. Although they are not essential things to include in your packing list.
The official language in the UK is English, although other languages such as Welsh and Gaelic are spoken in Wales and Scotland.
If you are not fluent in English, you may wish to pack a phrase book to help you speak with the locals.
Tip: Most phones have access to a translator app, or google translate. This would be a better alternative than a phrase book.
Guide books are great to help plan your upcoming holiday to the UK.
This might come in handy, as many guide books include a map of the large cities.
Notebook & Pens
Do you like to write a journal, or need to make notes along the way? Then you may wish to take pen and paper/notebook.
But what about saving paper?
We need to also think of the environment while travelling, instead of wasting paper and ink, why not use your phone to write notes. Most phones now include notes, or somewhere you can write notes down.
Not only will this save paper, but will save on space and weight as you pack for the UK.
Ditch the paper and pen, for the notes on your phone.
Reading a good book while travelling is a great way to pass the time.
BUT you no longer have to pack a physical book in your hand luggage. You can now pack a Kindle, AND it can store thousands of books on a small device.
You can now download as many books as you like, without taking space or weight in your backpack.
Physical books are lovely to read, but leave these at home and read when you return from your holiday.
Padlock and keys
It is recommended to secure any checked in bags and backpacks. You would do this with a padlock and key, or combination lock.
This should deter unwanted people from opening your luggage and stealing any items from your bag.
We literally can’t live without a bum bag.
There great to keep your personal belongings safe and can be discretely hidden under your clothing.
A bum bag should deter your belongings from being stolen.
What to store in your bum bag?
- Credit/debit cards
Food and drinks
This may sound a little strange to pack food and drink, but you must maintain hydration and fueled at all times.
And some travelers may prefer their home comforts.
But, of course, you can purchase food and drinks in the UK.
Snacks are a great source of fueling your body in between meals.
You might want to pack some in your hand luggage, to eat while on the flight, but you could also pack some for your day-to-day snacks.
To save space in your bags, you can purchase snacks in the UK.
Environmentally friendly water bottle
You must maintain hydration.
Pack an environmentally friendly water bottle that you can fill up once you have passed security and during the day in the UK.
Pack a couple of water bottles, or our go to is a water pouch.
Our water pouch is amazing. We have a 2ltr pouch that folds away when empty and is lightweight.
Once filled with water, it’s a great source of fluid during the day. It doesn’t take up much space and isn’t heavy, as the weight of the pouch is distributed across the back.
We never leave home without it.
Note: Water in the UK is perfectly safe to drink, save on the environment, by refilling your water bottle at your hotel/accommodation or water fountains around the country. Don’t buy plastic bottles, it just adds to the problem and it is far cheaper to bring your own water bottle than buying bottled water each day.
The UK is seasonal, but the weather is so changeable even in the summer. On some days, you can have all weather conditions in just the one day.
So, it will be a good idea to pack the right things from the onset. Don’t worry we have you covered, with this packing essentials for the UK in all seasons.
Winters are cold, so wrapping up warm is essential. If you are planning your trip to the UK in winter, here are some of the essential things to pack.
Jacket, waterproof clothing, fleece, thick jumper, thermal layers, T-shirt, smart tops, jeans, leggings, dresses, woolly hat, gloves.
Spring and autumn:
Spring and autumn should see milder conditions. But the UK is known to experience unpredictable conditions. We have experienced warm conditions with temperature at about 20 degrees Celsius, but the next day, its cold with temperatures not getting above 10 degrees Celsius.
You need to be prepared for conditions to change. You should consider packing these essentials for the UK in spring and autumn.
Jacket, waterproof clothing, jumper or fleece, T-shirts, smart tops, jeans, dresses, baseball cap, sun hat, sunglasses.
Summers are warm with temperatures averaging about 22 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius. Although it isn’t uncommon to experience four seasons in one day. So be prepared for sunshine one minute and the next it pouring with rain.
To avoid getting caught out with the random weather conditions, pack these essentials for travel to UK in summer:
Fleece or jumper (for the cool evenings), T-shirts, sleeveless tops, smart tops, jeans, jean shorts, shorts, dresses, swimsuit/bikini, baseball cap, sun hat, sunglasses.
What plans have you made for visiting the UK? What about visiting some of these amazing summer destinations in England that can be done by train?
You’ll need undies.
If you wear PJ’s (pajamas) at night, then you’ll want to pack these.
In the winter, you will want long sleeves and long trousers. Autumn and spring, pack a mixture of long and short tops and bottoms. In summer, the evenings will be hot, pack short tops and bottoms.
Only pack a few pairs of shoes, you don’t need your whole collection.
A good pair of trainers, are good for pounding the city streets.
The UK have some amazing hiking routes, so a good pair of hiking shoes should be packed if you are hiking while in the UK.
Sandals and flipflops will keep your feet cool during the summer months.
Only pack one smart pair of shoes, for a meal in a high-end restaurant or bar, that has a specific dress code.
It’s that simple, just pack what you need, not your whole wardrobe.
A good, lightweight backpack will keep your main belongings safe while you’re out sightseeing in the UK.
We would recommend Osprey; they have done us well over the years.
But for backpack options, check out the best backpacks to purchase on a budget.
Related post: Things to do in London with kids
What to pack in your day backpack
As you explore the UK, what essentials should you pack for the day in your backpack?
Whether you’re exploring a city or hiking in one of the National Parks in the UK, you’ll only need to pack a few things. Here are the essential things to pack for a day:
- First aid kit
- Layers should the weather turn cold
- Wet weather clothes (if it rains)
- Credit/debit card
- Battery bank
- Guide book
Short vacation or a weekend away packing list for UK
Whether you visiting the UK for a short holiday, or spending a few months in the country, the first thing to do when packing for the UK, is to lay out everything you plan to pack. Now you will only be taking about a ¼ of that away with you.
Let’s breakdown everything you will pack for a short vacation:
- Clothing – depending on the weather conditions these are the things to pack for a trip to the UK. – 1x Jacket, 1x waterproof clothing, 1x fleece, 1x thick jumper, 2x thermal layers, 5x T-shirts, 3x sleeveless tops, 2x smart tops, 2x jean shorts, 2x leggings, 3x shorts, 2x dresses, 2x swimsuit/bikini, 2x PJ’s, 1x hiking shoes, 1x trainers, 1x flipflops, 1x sandal, 1x smart shoes, 7x underwear, 1x baseball cap, 1x sun hat, 1x woolly hat, 1x gloves, 1x sunglasses, 1x ear plugs,
- Wash bag – to hold your toiletries
- Travel towel
- First aid kit
We must stress, that most of the above won’t need to be packed depending on the season. Only pack the essentials for your trip to the UK.
Conclusion on the Packing Essentials for the UK
This may seem like a lot of things to pack for UK, but these are the essential items that you can’t leave home without.
In most circumstances you won’t need to pack all of these things. Especially if you intend to visit the UK during a certain season, such as winter or summer. You could also get away with purchasing some of the things in the UK, such as snacks, sun cream, shampoo, soap, etc.
It’s about being sensible about what you pack for the UK.
What things can’t you leave home without? Is there something you pack that you swear by, that we haven’t included? Do you normally overpack or do you pack your luggage with plenty of space? Let us know in the comments below.
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