Wanderlust is setting in. Our family rarely travels between September and February due to the insane schedule of the school year and kid’s activities. Yet it is right about now that I get antsy and I go into full trip planning mode for the upcoming months.
Being married to a pilot, we used to take better advantage of our travel benefits and traipse all over Europe when the kids were younger. Yet, it has been a long time since we last crossed the pond! And now that time is no longer on our side with the kids, I am desperate to squeeze it all in! One destination that has been high on our list is a trip to London.
So why London?
For one, we have not been there as a family. It is easy to get to out of Chicago with multiple flights a day. I think it is also one of those European cities that no matter what the age of your kids, it is a great choice because it offers so much! Taking day trips to the English countryside are also fairly seamless. I am dying to get to the Cotwolds and Bath! And finally, it is a city that you easily can tackle over a long weekend. So, the time has come to visit London!
I am just getting started on planning our itinerary for there. I poured over a guide book this weekend and noted a few things. No matter what time of year you visit London, the weather there will probably call for some rain! However, the time of year to expect the most rainfall is October and November. A good time of year to go then would be Spring, where the days get longer, the weather milder and the summer tourist season not quite in full swing!
In addition to best planning when to go and what to do when traveling to London, planning what to pack is an equally good idea!
What to Pack for London
London is a cosmopolitan city. Yet it is also a major tourist destination with lots of sights to see. So what does one wear in London? How do you as a tourist not stick out like a sore thumb? I think is it important to pack simple, chic pieces that are versatile and comfortable. Choosing classic pieces that can be layered and mixed and matched with one another. In other words, you should treat your packing list for London like a capsule wardrobe. It helps make deciding what to bring that much easier and the packing that much more efficient.
At the anchor of any packing list, especially in a place like London with so many tourist destinations to see, a comfortable pair of shoes are a must (Travel note: getting an Oyster card for the London public transportation is a great idea to help cut down on the walking!) Of course with the weather in London, it would be amiss to not pack a rain jacket. But before you pack an umbrella, check with your hotel to see if they provide them!
When it comes down to the other core clothing pieces, aim to pack natural fabrics such as silk, cashmere, wool and cotton. These fabrics transition well to keep you warm or cool, wick away moisture and are more breathable to wear.
Packing List for London
Obviously this is the first item you will want to pack when traveling to London. Even if you check the weather before your trip and London is not showing rain in the forecast, pack this piece! You will fit right into the London crowd with a Barbour jacket. They are an iconic style staple and I have had mine for close to twenty years! Yet beyond a London trip, this should be a rain jacket staple in your closet! Similar to Gortex, Barbour’s waxed jackets repel water and keep you protected in the harsher cold weather elements. Is absolutely worth the extra cost!
No city is immune to pick-pocketing or petty theft. Carrying a crossbody allows you to keep your bag in front of you and safe at all times. Plus it is the one of the most comfortable styles to wear as a day bag for touring around the city.
Yes it is one of my favorite accessories to wear but it is a lot easier (and safer!) to be checking a watch than a phone as you keep track of the time on your touring excursions!
There could not be a more perfect ankle boot for London then these. Ta da! Introducing the rain ankle boot from Everlane. Besides keeping your feet dry, these simple, comfortable and packable boots can be worn on your feet all day long! Note: these are made to be worn in your usual size with thick winter socks. Otherwise, size down. Half-sizes, size down from your usual size.
A cable knit sweater is an obvious choice and my go-to for one is always Everlane but I recently came across this style on H&M’s website and it screamed London to me. The neutral color makes it perfect for pairing with anything!
There is hardly a destination that doesn’t call for a great pair of denim and I prefer a clean, non distressed pair for London . The skinny fit is easy to pair with just about any shoe style.
There is something about a blazer that ties together a look perfectly. Throw it on with your jeans, a pair of slim pants or over a dress and it instantly adds a touch of classic chic. A blazer, cashmere scarf, denim and sneakers is one of my favorite everyday looks!
The foundation to any layered look, I have been all over this long sleeve turtleneck lately but whatever your favorite layering basics might be, make sure to pack them.
When you want to shed the clothes you have been walking around in all day, there is nothing else I would rather reach for then a dress. Heading to the theatre in London will be part of our itinerary and slipping on dress will be my item of choice. It still can be “dressed” down and worn during the day too with a pair of sneakers. I love that with this style, I could layer a turtleneck underneath it as well!
Keeping money, travel documents and identification organized is a must when traveling. I love the sleek and compact look of this travel wallet that fits seamlessly into your bag.
A comfortable walking shoe is an absolute necessity. How your feet feel can truly make or break your trip. I lean toward a street style sneaker to take me around town.
Heading to tea? I would shed the denim and instead opt for a slim pant. A slim pant, paired with a silk blouse, is another option to wear out to the theatre or out for a nice dinner.
Layer with a sweater or blazer or even tie it on over a dress. Opt for a silk fabric when traveling as it is a more breathable fabric.
This item should probably start as your airplane travel companion! From there, wrap it around your neck to ward off a chill or use it as a wrap in the evening. If it becomes too warm while wearing, simply tie it around your bag. A scarf always makes for a chic accessory!
I’m adding as asterik to this because while this is not a necessity, I like the thought of an additional shoe to be worn at night. This oxford shoe style might not be for everyone but I think it is so sharp (and so London). It goes well with a dress, denim or slim pant. Alternatives include packing a ballet flat, comfortable pump or suede ankle boot.
Between the Barbour and the blazer you are absolutely set on jackets but again having a trench coat is an added bonus. A trench of course is in line with London fashion staples but also a fundamental wardrobe piece.
Other Travel Tips for International Travel
As mentioned, it has been awhile since we have last traveled abroad. And I will admit, I get a little anxious heading to a country I am not that familiar with. There are other measures to take beyond your itinerary and packing list to help ease any stress, worries or mishaps that can occur. Two travel tips immediately come into mind.
One, pack an aid kit. We often take for granted that we can just run into a big box Pharmacy or grab emergency items like band-aids and Advil. Packing an aid kit that includes
- Hydrocortisone cream, for rashes and bug bites
- Pain and fever reducer, such as Tylenol or Advil
- Antihistamines for allergic reactions
- Small scissors
- Adhesive tape
- Alcohol wipes
- Emergency Contraception
- Rehydration Powder/Pedialyte
- Antibiotic Cream
Two, consider purchasing travel insurance to protect yourself against anything unpredictable that can occur before or during your trip. Companies like World Nomads specialize in simple and flexible travel insurance to fulfill your needs. Travel & Leisure also has a great article here breaking down how to decide if you need it and how to find the right plan for your trip!
This packing list makes up the core of what to bring and wear while in London. I plan to round-up and list my favorite traveling accessories in a future post that will include things like luggage items, packing cubes, etc. It will also incorporate a “don’t forget list” of useful gadgets and items such as power adapters, portable chargers, etc.
You might also like…What to Wear for International Travel How to Minimize Your Wardrobe and Create a Capsule Wardrobe, Capsule Wardrobe Key Pieces: Additional Items and Chicago Weekend: Packing Essentials and Exploring West Town.
Photos by Jules Kennedy
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