During our UK honeymoon, Frank and I had many a moment where we said “I wish I had not… ” or “I wish I had brought with me…”. Knowing what to pack when travelling to the UK can mean a smooth, stress-free trip or one where you are scrambling to find that one thing that you really need.
Prior to our wedding and honeymoon, we quickly packed what we thought would be needed. Being rushed, stressed and in some cases, not thinking too clearly, we were missing items that could have made things easier and had also packed others that should have been left behind.
I’ve always been the type to pack everything and anything that may possibly be needed on a trip, but even I made a few omissions that could have been useful and packed one thing too many that weighted us down.
So in retrospect, here is a list of five things to take with you when travelling in the UK, based on our experiences:
Footwear is Important
If planning to stay at a five-star hotel, leave your sneakers/hiking shoes at home and invest in more stylish black or brown walking shoes that look like you’ve got money. While you can get away with the sneakers/hiking shoes or boots if you plan to stay in hostels or 2-, 3-or 4-star hotels, some fancier, stuffier luxury hotels may have security and staff that may think you don’t own a dime unless you are wearing what may seem to be a luxury brand. So if you want respect, remember that style is important and pack appropriately. Or just book yourself into hotels known to be accepting of tourists that dress for the role.
Take your camera
You are bound to take photos. Extra memory cards are a must if you plan to shoot anything and everything you see. One thing to note – leave the tripod at home unless you know for sure that you’ll be braving an evening/night walk in a foreign city to take night photos. A tripod adds extra weight to your suitcase, and could easily be replaced during your trip with a bottle or two of good Scotch whiskey.
Remember the little things
Don’t forget to bring your pre-paid rail passes or other tourist deal coupons/passes. Paying full price for train tickets can get super expensive, particularly if you travel first class to accommodate your luggage. Tourist city passes can help shave off a few pounds that can total enough for a nice meal and beverage.
An umbrella is a must
Bring a mini-umbrella or a waterproof jacket with you. After a two year period of drought, the UK has been seeing high amounts of rain in 2012. During our spring visit we had the joy of escaping torrential rain storms that left some parts of England flooded.
Plan to layer
Bring sweaters and long sleeved tops for layering. It’s approximately 330 miles (530 km) between London and Edinburgh. The more north you go, the chillier it can get. Heading into the Highlands you also have to deal with cooler temperatures due to elevation, so bringing along sweaters and long-sleeve tops is a MUST, unless you plan to catch a chill heading up Aonoch Mor (by Ben Nevis, and 4,006 ft above sea level). It can be chilly even in London in the summer time. You may be leaving behind 25 C weather in Canada, heading into 15 C weather in London.
See how bundled up I am? It was a slightly breezy, very chilly morning on Loch Ness in Scotland – 10 C. In this photo I have a long sleeve top, snug Roots zip up hoodie and a windbreaker on and I was still cold! Layering is a must in the UK.
The most important thing to bring with you is a good attitude – you are on vacation and exploring a different country. Yes, the language spoken is English but the traditions and ways of doing things (like driving on the opposite side of the road) are different. Enjoy and bring back memories!
In your opinion what should you pack for a trip to the UK?