What to Pack for the UK: the Top 7 Things You Can't Travel Without

Tips on what to pack for your trip to the UK


Open suitcase packed with items

The more we travel the lighter we like to pack here at Plum Guide, and we've developed a somewhat pathological hatred for unnecessary hand luggage. There is something quite liberating about striding onto a plane feeling contained and in control, with nothing more weighing you down than a stylish bag in one hand and your boarding pass in the other. When it comes to what to pack for the UK, travelling light requires a certain amount of planning and discipline seeing as all four seasons could present themselves during a visit, but at Plum Guide, we've done all that planning for you. So without further ado, here's our guide to what you need for a trip to the UK, and if you want this article summarised in bite-sized form, then our infographic was designed just for you.

Clothes: Layers are the new black

Women with back to camera wearing layers

The best tip on what to pack for the UK can be summed up in a single word – layer. Be prepared with options to layer up and build on or pare down – on a good day you can strip down to a t-shirt, and if the temperature plummets you can layer up with a jumper, a jacket and a scarf, and throw in a couple of pairs of tights for good measure. Also bear in mind, that no matter the season – spring, summer, fall or winter – you will need a coat. The only difference being the weight and warmth of said coat in accordance with the time of year.

A Headland Ramble, a Plum Guide home in Cornwall, UK

Shoes: Comfort is key

Shoes are always the killer when it comes to space in the suitcase, so wear your chunkiest boots on the flight and relegate the lighter items to the suitcase. Travel shoes invariably need to include some sensible, comfortable footwear; which of course you don’t want to look too sensible. Spending time in any UK city, especially as a visitor, will involve a certain amount of walking. Try to do as much as possible above ground in London rather than taking underground everywhere - take time to look up at the skyline and admire the architecture that your route takes you past. Often the distances are ridiculously small when you actually have a look beyond the tube map, and it gives you a much better sense of the city and where you are. While walking you are also far more likely to discover the perfect coffee shop, or that interesting little bookshop that you don’t get to see while sitting on a train underground! We use the app Citymapper which gives you walking, bus and train options in a range of cities. Stay in one of our central homes where you'll be in an ideal location for exploring.

Up on Cloud Nine, Plum Guide home in London

Scarves: The essential travel item

Rail of colourful scarves

We always recommend a few scarves, both practical and pretty, thrown into the mix when it comes to what to pack for the UK. Perfect for the plane when you seem to have a blast of arctic wind directed unnecessarily at your seat, perfect for arrival from a warm country to undoubtedly cooler cities to throw around your shoulders, and great for dressing up your basic black in the evenings without taking up much space.

Grange, a Plum Guide home in North Yorkshire, UK

Wellies: The countryside way

Pink striped wellies

The UK countryside tends to be a little more relaxed and informal than cities, with time spent in the Great Outdoors punctuated by frequent visits to pubs and other gastro eateries. Again, the best way to be prepared and well packed is to do it with layers. If you are unfortunate enough to hit a week of rain then head to the High Street in any village and find yourself a good pair of wellies – walking into a countryside restaurant or pub wearing some practical wellies and a waterproof coat is completely acceptable – even more so, it would seem, if you have a soggy dog in tow . . .but soggy dogs are definitely (and unfortunately) not on the capsule-wardrobe list.

Heathland Haze, a Plum Guide home in England, UK

Backpack: The traveller's best friend

Leave the luggage and put everything in a backpack, it will make your trip to England more comfortable and organized

The understated backpack - aside from the obvious practicalities while commuting - is in fact an essential item if you want to be taken seriously in the United Kingdom. And not just any old backpack, it should fit comfortably over a coat, be streamlined and non-lumpy, fit various communication essentials, have easy access to train cards and other travel paraphernalia. Strategic pouches and pockets in your bag or backpack are essential for panic-free travelling wherever you are – you know where your credit card, passport, wallet etc. are at any time and can avoid those awful moments of panic while scrabbling through your belongings trying to find whatever is hiding under the last month worth of receipts. So, with trainers on and backpack slung over your shoulder, you are finally looking like a local on a mission.

Books and music: Perfect for downtime

Suitcase packed with items including books

Aside from the more obvious jeans, tights and trainers, a good book or two is always on our essential 'what to pack for the UK' list. Thank goodness for the trusty Kindle which allows us to travel with several books without sending the scales skyrocketing at check-in. If you are one of those people who enjoy complete immersion on holiday, try reading Balthazar Jones and The Tower of London Zoo by Julia Stuart, Brick Lane by Monica Ali, or Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson. If music is more your medium, then create a playlist prior to your trip for easy listening.

An umbrella: The most important of all

And last but certainly not least, back to that suitcase and our last essential item when packing for your UK holiday . . . . It will inevitably rain at some point, so unless you want to arrive at that bijoux restaurant or broswe the Hampton Court Flower Showlooking decidedly damp, pack that umbrella!

So, you know what to pack for the UK – now to decide where to stay. Our dedicated team of Plum Experts are on hand to help you find the perfect home in the UK. There isn't a neighbourhood we haven't covered.

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