‘Travel light’ is both one of the most oft-repeated pieces of advice for tourists, and one of the hardest to follow. That’s particularly true of London, which has unpredictable weather at the best of times – but there are a few things you can do to make packing for your trip that bit easier.
•Layers: while London never gets extremely hot or cold, it can vary between temperatures and weather conditions quite considerably within the course of a day. Therefore, it’s important to take clothes which you can ‘layer up’, so you can shed a layer if the sun comes out or (more likely) add one when the temperature drops a little. For efficient packing, take versatile items of clothing which will go with whatever else you’re wearing, like white button down shirts, smart jeans and items in muted colours.
•Waterproofs: The stereotype isn’t without basis. It rains in the United Kingdom – a lot – and London, while not the wettest part of the country, is no exception. It’s important to bring waterproof clothes to protect you from the rain – a raincoat and an umbrella should suffice, as again it’s the frequency of rainfall rather than the amount which tends to be the problem. London doesn’t suffer from monsoon-style rains, but it rains throughout the year.
•General travel tips: These are a few things which aren’t specific to London but are worth bearing in mind wherever you’re travelling to. Firstly, if you’re travelling with someone else, mix up your suitcases – pack half your clothes in each other’s suitcases. This will ensure that, if the unthinkable happens and your luggage gets lost, you’ll still have some of your stuff. Also, keep your valuables with you! Things like cameras, laptops, phones and jewellery should be kept on your person or in your hand luggage. Make photocopies of your passport and birth certificate, and carry them with you at all times – you may well need them if you lose your passport. Finally: remember a plug adapter! These are so easy to forget, and while you can get them once you arrive, they’re always more expensive in airports and you don’t want to be spending any of your precious time looking for things like this. Your accommodation in London will use standard British plug sockets.
•Comfortable shoes: We’ll save the most important thing ‘til last: pack comfortable shoes! This should be a no-brainer regardless of where you’re going. But what with limited suitcase space, and the need to pack different styles of shoe for different occasions, a pair of good sturdy walking boots often gets neglected. But, trust us, you’ll be glad if to have packed them, particularly in London. You’ll find yourself walking a lot in the British capital for a variety of reasons: it’s huge; the best way to experience it is on foot; and there’s so much to do and see! Many of London’s museums and art galleries remain free, which is one of the greatest things about this great city. A pair of comfortable shoes will ensure you can make the most of this cultural treasure trove rather than complaining about your throbbing feet.