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If you are traveling to the UK in winter you may be wondering what sort of clothes and accessories you will need to pack. This post will focus on my top packing tips and an essential packing list for the UK to ensure you have what you need to keep you warm and cosy during your visit.
If you are visiting the capital this is also a packing list for London in winter. It is worth remembering that temperatures are generally milder the further south you are in the UK so if you are traveling to Scotland for example you may find it is a few degrees cooler.
In this post you will find out everything you need to pack for your trip (and what not to bring too) I have learnt over the years to pack what I need and avoid overpacking however tempted I am to just add the extra outfit or two in!
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN LONDON AND THE UK IN THE WINTER?
If you are expecting snow you may be disappointed as it is not as common as many American movies set in the UK would suggest (as seen in Bridget Jones or The Holiday). Although there are on average 23.7 days of snow or sleet a year it rarely settles. (Source metoffice.gov.uk) Inevitably snow is most likely on higher ground or in Scotland where temperatures are cooler.
If snow does fall (and settle) it is more likely in January or February however you never know so it pays to be prepared just in case!
During the winter months of December, January and February temperatures dip and frost is common on the ground first thing in the morning. The best weather during these months is typified by cold, crisp, dry days with blue skies. However wet and windy conditions are also common and the weather can change rapidly. If the forecast is good make sure to get out and about and make the most of it!
The days are short too and by the end of December (the shortest day is on the 21st December) there can be as little as 8 hours of daylight. If you are heading north daylight hours are reduced further with for example Inverness having only 6 1/2 hours of sunlight on the shortest day.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR UK AND LONDON WINTER PACKING LIST
Ensure that you have at least 6 months remaining on your passport (from your departure date). I always keep a printed copy with our documents and we also have scanned copies in our Dropbox accounts.
Check before you travel the visa requirements for the UK depending on your nationality.
The UK is NOT part of the Schengen Visa zone so if you are planning to travel onto mainland Europe or Southern Ireland from the UK also check your visa requirements. If you are a national of Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand visitor visas are issued on arrival in the Schengen Zone for 90 days.
- TICKETS AND DOCUMENTS
We keep copies of all tickets and documentation on us in plastic wallets as I like to have paper copies of our itinerary organised day by day. I also keep scanned copies of important documentation and e mails in my Dropbox account.
We love spreadsheets and organise our itinerary using them for every trip we take. We find this particularly handy when traveling by train as we keep a record of train times/train numbers/seat numbers/stations/platforms etc.
Copies of our planning spreadsheets along with other useful travel planning resources to help plan your trip to the UK can be found in my travel resource library which can be accessed via the box below. These resources will save you time and are available free. Subscribers will also receive practical tips, advice and other helpful information in my monthly UK travel chat newsletter.
I have a travel wallet that I use when I am overseas. It contains all the essential items I need and I leave everything else at home. I highly recommend taking some cash and one or two credit cards to use during your holiday.
I also make a currency convertor card to take with me whenever I travel which ensures I am able to work out immediately what the cost of anything is in my own currency. If you need one for your UK trip the templates are available in my travel resource library. Full instructions for making your card are also included.
I use a RFID blocking purse to ensure that my cards can not be scanned by thieves. I also always take my some of my pickpocket proof bags with me when I travel. After an unpleasant experience with pickpockets in Paris I do not take any chances with my belongings. On that occasion it was my theft proof bag that prevented the loss of my cash and valuables. I have a backpack, day bag, cross body bag and even a mini theft proof bag that I use when I travel.
- PORTABLE WIFI OR INTERNATIONAL SIM
If you do not want to depend on finding free WiFi connections when you are traveling in the UK you have a number of alternative options. You can buy or rent a portable Wifi device or purchase an international SIM to use in the UK.
I find that staying connected is vital (especially when using public transport or driving) and would recommend that you don’t depend or expect free WiFi in the UK. Trains and buses do not generally have WiFi and we have found that even when traveling in the First Class compartments on trains the complimentary WiFi hardly ever works.
Please do not forget to sort out insurance for your UK vacation. I never travel without insurance. Although I have been lucky and have never had to use it I include the cost of travel insurance in my budget and consider it an essential. You just never know when you may need it.
I use World Nomads for my travel insurance. It is easy to organise and you can make any claims online. You can get a quote from World Nomads by clicking here.
When putting together your packing list consider taking items that you can mix and match. I would recommend sticking to darker or more neutral colours. You will find that most Brits wear black clothes and accessorise with brighter colours.
I would also recommend packing clothes that you can layer. It can be very hot in department stores/shops and on the underground so ensure that you have layers you can removed easily. I prefer to wear a warm coat with long sleeved cotton tops or a vest top plus polo neck underneath.
It can also be very wet in the winter in the UK with an average of 13 days of rain or snow across the country in December so a waterproof of some kind is vital.
LONG SLEEVED TEE
THERMAL TOP AND LEGGINGS
This is perfect to wear with thick tights (pantihose) and long boots and is both stylish and practical.
I recommend packing waterproof boots and shoes like these to keep your feet warm and dry.
Don”t forget warm socks.
A perfect set – a hat/scarf and matching gloves set such as this is perfect to pack.
Also include the following items
- 2/3 pairs of trousers/jeans
- Accessories – earrings/necklaces etc
Also don’t forget …..
- An Umbrella
- Travel adaptor – this one includes USB ports
- Portable power bank
- Guide book (I love Rick Steves)
TIP – guide books are heavy so my top tip is to purchase the book (and any other reading materials) on your Kindle! More ideas can be found in my article about the top 10 recommended travel guide books for England.
I recommend only bringing mini versions of toiletry items. I have 2 excellent posts with lots of great suggestions of mini travel toiletries and mini travel beauty products which will help reduce the weight of your luggage but will ensure you have everything you need.
- Dental floss
- Make-up items
- Hair brush
- Feminine hygiene products
- Nail file
- Nail scissors
I am married to a nurse and he always sorts out our first aid kit before we travel. He also checks we have enough medication and that he has copies of our prescriptions with us.
- WHAT LUGGAGE DO WE RECOMMEND FOR YOUR UK TRIP?
I recommend buying luggage that is easy to move around especially if you are planning to travel around the UK via car or train. I recently purchased an orange set and I love them – light, strong and very very bright! We do not have any problems locating my luggage on the carousel!
Also consider if you are traveling by train that you may have to carry it up and down stairs as well as actually onto the train itself.
- USE PACKING CUBES
I am a recent convert to packing cubes but now have no idea how I managed to pack without them. It makes organisation much easier and as we each have a set each we are able to unpack our own clothes quickly and easily when we arrive.
- DON’T PACK THESE THINGS!
Large bottles of toiletries/shampoo/conditioner
A hairdryer (most hotels supply one)
Heavy books (unless you are my husband…) but put any guide books/reading material on your Kindle.
Hopefully this article will have you feeling fully prepared for packing for your UK winter trip. If you are visiting the UK during the spring, summer or autumn I have a packing post which covers those seasons too – The Ultimate UK packing guide.
If you are still planning your trip take a look at my essential UK travel planning guide.
You may also enjoy these posts about the UK
- The Ultimate UK Bucket List – 100 things to do and see!
- Top tips for first time visitors to the UK
- 20 traditional English foods to tempt your tastebuds
If you are looking for more help, tips, advise and more why not join my free UK TRAVEL PLANNING GROUP on Facebook? CLICK HERE TO JOIN!
PIN FOR LATER – PACKING LIST FOR LONDON IN WINTER (AND THE UK TOO!)
Over the last 50 years I have lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to many more. I enjoy exploring and learning about new places and meeting people on my travels. History, reading, photography, nature and wildlife are my interests and I am ALWAYS researching and planning my next trip (preferably by train)
With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, I share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help YOU travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!
This post may contain compensated links. Please read our disclaimer for additional information.