London is an amazing city to visit with lots going on whatever time of year you plan to go. Whether you are looking to attend one of the open air concerts at the height of summer or visit the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park during December, it pays to be properly prepared for your trip.
Weather in the capital city can be very interchangeable; although the stereotypical idea of British weather is that it rains the majority of the time it can also be incredibly hot, and also incredibly cold. Make sure you pack clothing and items suitable for the season you are visiting in. This is particularly pertinent in summer when it can be very wet but also very warm at the same time. In this instance you would need lightweight clothing to help you remain cool but also waterproofs to help keep you dry.
It is worth bearing in mind that extreme weathers such as snow are quite rare in the city although if you are planning on venturing further afield then you may need to take that into consideration. The countryside tends to get more variable weather than London but this shouldn’t be an issue unless you specifically want to visit more of the UK than just the capital.
A quick online search should indicate typical weather patterns for the time of year you are planning to visit which should, in turn, help give you some idea of the kind of items you need to pack.
As mentioned above, the clothing you should bring will largely be determined by the type of weather you can expect and the time of year you will be visiting. Our top tip is to consider layering lighter clothes rather than bringing bulky items. This means you won’t end up carrying around a heavy coat if the weather turns out warmer than you were expecting or having to stop off and buy a jacket if the opposite is the case and so on.
Packing lightweight clothes will also make it easier for you to wash and dry items if your stay is longer. It might be worth checking if your hotel offers a laundry service if you know that you will want your clothes washing or you prefer to travel with only a small case to make it easier to navigate around the airport or on the train etc. The better hotels in London such as the Lancaster Gate Hotel London will offer a same day dry cleaning and laundry service ideal for those who don’t want to pack and transport a large suitcase.
Bring a backpack to carry around and use throughout the day. This can be the place to store your waterproofs or discarded layers, without forcing a return to your hotel or a trip to the shops to buy something you came without. You might want to use this as your hand luggage on the plane or simply stow it empty in your suitcase.
Knowing which shoes to bring can be tricky. If you are planning on doing a lot of exploring then you need to make sure that your shoes can comfortably be worn and walked in for a number of hours. You also want to make sure that they are suitable for the weather i.e. canvas shoes may look nice but if there is a torrential downpour then they may end up ruined. Our advice would be to pack no more than two pairs of shoes and make sure that both of them have been well worn in to avoid sore spots or blisters after a day’s adventuring around the capital.
The majority of places in London accept credit cards so you may want to consider not carrying or exchanging your local currency for pound sterling but instead sticking to cards. That said, bringing some cash will be beneficial, especially if you are planning on visiting more independent stores or the markets. As with any currency exchange, you will likely get the best rates if you exchange before you reach the airport or London.
If you do decide to stick to plastic, make sure you tell your provider and/or bank that you will be travelling to the UK so that they don’t put a stop on your account due to suspicious activity.
There are lots of places which offer tourist maps and tube station maps so navigating your way around shouldn’t prove too tricky. You might want to purchase a guide in advance so you can plan out your visit properly or simply spend some time in your hotel marking the best routes to your chosen attractions before you head out for the day.
Lots of London’s most popular attractions are grouped together in places around the city so taking some time to plan out what you want to see and when ahead of your trip could save you time and money. There’s nothing worse than travelling on a busy tube train to one end of the city and then back again only to have to do the same journey again to reach a third attraction.
Transport for London, who are in charge of the majority of London’s public transport systems also offer something known as a Visitor Oyster Card. This can be purchased in advance and posted out to your home address. It is a prepaid card which you swipe to access the tube, the trains and the bus system and will not only save you money giving you the best rates but can also make travelling much easier. For example, you can’t pay with cash on buses so an Oyster card is the only way to pay. The great thing about getting this card in advance is that you can use it straight off the aeroplane which should make getting to your Central London hotel quick, simple and cost-effective.
At the end of the day, if there is anything that you do forget you can always purchase it in London so don’t despair. Whilst that might not make the most financial sense, at least you don’t need to worry that all your preparations for a great trip are going to go out of the window because you forget one small detail.