The GoGlobal Blog

The London Packing List

The London Packing List

Keep Calm and Carry On signs and post cards can be found everywhere in London.
Keep Calm and Carry On signs and post cards can be found everywhere in London.

Anyone who has traveled to another country can explain the benefits of packing light. Most international airlines have baggage charges that can get pretty expensive. Normal struggles of getting through TSA and customs multiply when traveling with many, and often heavy, bags. Most importantly, though, you don’t want to have five bags worth of clothes and forget that you’ll probably bring home a number of souvenirs from the country you’re studying abroad in. How are you going to carry it all home? Shipping? Might as well study abroad twice in a row – because the pricing would be about the same.

A side note for my fellow shop-a-holics: We may have shopped in our home towns for this trip thinking this experience would be non-stop fulfillment and cultural exploration, as opposed to filling our closet with the local H&M market designs. Know that there is a high possibility of finding yourself in mall while roaming the city, then realizing you have time on your hands and money in your pocket. Prepare for the possibility that you won’t be able to resist! Leave some space in your suitcase for that dress unique and vintage figurine.

It’s nice to think that TSA, heavy lifting, and high prices are worth the pain. Moving from city to city is hard, and we want to bring the things we love with us. This applies to the move out of your parents’ house, into a college dorm, and especially into a a new country for study abroad ventures. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible.

My two, clothe-filled carry ons, which double as school bags and suitcases for weekend trips.
My two, clothe-filled carry ons, which double as school bags and suitcases for weekend trips.

By now I know all of this first hand. I’m originally from California and went to school over 2 thousand miles away to study at Loyola University Chicago. The summer after my sophomore year, I studied abroad in Córdoba, Spain. Now in my fourth year of university and studying abroad in London, I’ve made a number of trips where packing and moving items around the country was my sole concern.

In the past, though, all of my packing experience applied to long-term moves for full year trips. I hadn’t yet figured out how to get 3 months worth of clothes, shoes, accessories, and essential toiletries into one suitcase and two carry ons.

Of course the world is big and the internet is a savior so I did a little research on packing lists for studying abroad in London.

It seemed like all the blogs emphasized one thing.


The most common advice I saw was that students should bring one of each item, such as: one pair of walking shoes, one pair of heels, one weeks worth of underwear, one good tee-shirt, one sweater, one raincoat, one (maybe two) good pairs of jeans, one dress, ETC. WITH THE ONES.

Cue my anxiety, for real.

I’m a city girl moving from big city to big city with a decent level of observation skills and what I’m noticing is that this “one-item rule” isn’t going to work.

With the help of my mother, I created my own packing list of essentials. I needed more that one of many things, but have since learned that my idea of “essential products” may have been a bit excessive.

This is HALF of the pile of  the heels, flats, sneakers, and boots that I originally planned to bring with me to London
This is HALF of the pile of the heels, flats, sneakers, and boots that I originally planned to bring with me to London

Now, two weeks into living in my London dorm, settling, and reflection on the items that I brought, I feel I can create the ideal packing list for a one semester study abroad student!

*DISCLAIMER: Some of the items on the list apply specifically to London’s weather conditions. Please do not pack thermals if your trip is to Egypt.*

Underwear: You do not need all of the undies and bras, maybe a week and a half’s worth. This depends on the frequency of your laundry load

Socks: Bring a weeks worth, but bring the kind that fit in your shoes. Where you go may be cold but thick socks make fitting into your favorite boots impossible. Trust that there is no fun in getting blisters on rainy days

Tops: I have separated my shirts into sections – Fun/Going Out, Tank Tops, Everyday/Casual, and Long Sleeves

– I have 3 to 5 shirts per pile.

– Some of the shirts overlap groups but this keeps my closet organized and my             clothes easily tracked.

Jeans: 4 different pairs; I absolutely encourage this.

– Every one expects jeans to be re-worn for days or maybe weeks at a time, but spice up your life! Don’t  let a change of tops be the only thing to make your outfits interesting for few months

Tights: 4 pairs, 3 colo(u)rs, variety of styles and lengths

Leggings: 1 pair

– Works with jeans and tights to help with variety

Belts: THREE (3), various sizes, colors, and styles

Bags (in addition to suitcases): 1 tote, 1 purse, 1 backpack

¡This is important! I have packed too many purses myself and often find that I lose track of keys and lipsticks that are spread between them all

– Only bring a backpack if you dont have a carry-on sized back for weekend travels; everyone at school here uses totes

Pajamas: I love my pajama tops, but I dare say 2 were one too many. Tank tops and casual tee-shirts often become comfortable supplements for sleepware

Gym clothes: 1 pair of shoes, 2 tops, 2 bottoms

– I believe this will be perfect, but my work out attire has yet to be put to the test. The city of London encourages everyone to walk everywhere, thus replacing gym time.

Yes to thermals, it is so cold

– This also means bring at least 2 scarves and a good pair of gloves

Research the party scene before you arrive! I happily assumed everyone went to clubs all the time. Apparently that was common in secondary school (high school), not college. I have yet to need a club outfit, but a cute something something is good to have just in case

– The same applies to cocktail dresses and high heeled shoes. I brought three of each and could have stopped at two.

Toiletries: There are no guidelines for personal items like medicine, lady products, and makeup. Bring what you need

Nice to have: A cardigan and/or blazer, 2 casual skirts, and 1 or 2 casual dresses

– What you actually bring depends on your style, so bring 4 skirts/dresses and only one pair of jeans if that’s what you prefer. I find that what a person is wearing does not matter too much, but it has to fit in a suitcase!

Shoes …… I’m still figuring this one out myself. Gym shoes are essential, high heels probably will come in handy for some occasion along the way, boots (rain and regular) are a must. I bought a pair of Vans here for a more normal, comfortable walking situation, but locals seem to stick with sneakers or water-proofed boots with any sort of outfit.

*Warning: lots of cobblestones here – boots may fall apart and ankles may wobble as high heels get stuck in cracks [emoji], but such is the life.

So I’m hoping this helps any future Londoners! I’ll have some new posts coming up soon about having a new roommate, classes, and integrating into a new culture!


I have heard the term “fortnight,” or “two weeks,” when not quoting Shakespeare

“Starjump” – Jumping Jack

“Wellies” – Rainboots

“Crips” – Chips

“Chips” – French Fries


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