Packing is an arduous task at the best of times, trying to squeeze in everything you think you will need for an extended stay or a working holiday in London and the UK can be a challenge. I know, when I went to London on a working holiday I didn’t know what to take. I ended up taking two big bags full of clothes and other stuff with me which I thought I might need. What I discovered was that I didn’t need to take all the things I took, yeah sure, a lot of things I wore and or used but I also discovered that the UK has shops where I could easily buy things. So here are my suggestions of what to pack for a working holiday to London and UK.
The following suggestions are just that, suggestions. A lot of things, pretty much everything really, can be bought in the UK so you need to decide to take things with you or buy them as you need them in the UK. My following suggestions have been categorised into clothes, toiletries, documents and useful items.
I believe there are four quite distinct seasons in the UK and not temperate like I had heard. Because of the varying weather the clothes you will need to take can range from t-shirts for the summer months to thermals for the winter months. Wearing layers will be your best bet. I suggest you predominantly take clothes for the season you are arriving in, then budget to purchase clothes as the weather changes.
Thermals For extremely cold weather thermals will keep you warm. There are various styles ranging from singlets to long-sleeve tops to leggings.
Shorts One or two pairs.
Swimwear For warmer months.
Pants/Trousers/Jeans One or two pairs that you can dress up or down.
Track pants/leggings One or two pairs.
Jumpers One or two; try to avoid bulky ones as they can be cumbersome.
Coat A good, light waterproof (then you don’t need a raincoat) and/or windproof jacket (preferably with a hood).
Gloves A necessity in the winter months.
Beanie A beanie will keep your head and ears warm on those bitterly cold winter days.
Thongs/jandals/flip-flops or sandals Very useful to wear to shower blocks in camping grounds and for walking in hot weather.
Joggers/hiking boots/walking shoes One pair with good thick soles. Wear them in before you leave home so you don’t get blisters. If travelling in cold weather, you will be wearing them every day, and you need to be comfortable.
‘Going out’ shoes One pair.
Comfy walking shoes One pair is a definite so you can walk around and be a tourist.
Work clothes Adapt these to the type of work you hope to be doing ie. suit, shirt and tie for office work, casual clothes for childcare, gardening, etc. What you wear in your home country is pretty much the same as what they wear in the UK.
Here are some of my favourite and essential clothes for a working holiday in London and the UK. My thermal underwear, my beanie, by waterproof jacket, my comfy walking shoes and t-shirts.
Passport with visa/s.
Bank statements (showing balance if on a working holiday to show immigration officials at your UK point of entry).
Airline ticket if you are looking for a great deal on your airfare check out Skyscanner.
Driving license home country and international.
Spare passport photos for student identification cards, bus/rail passes and other purposes.
Medical prescription details if required.
Travel Insurance Don’t leave home without travel insurance. Definitely get a couple of quotes before you decide on a policy. I recommend World Nomads. I have taken out World Nomads Travel Insurance a number of times.
Bank reference You may need one of these to open a bank account if you didn’t do it from home. Many are opening a ‘Monzo’ account rather than the traditional bank account.
Personal references Some landlords require them for long-term accommodation.
Police clearance: Anyone planning on doing any sort of care work including childcare, teaching, aged care, etc. in the UK is required to have a Police clearance. Obtain from your local Police station. It can take a few weeks to obtain.
CV and references An updated, typed CV (maximum two pages) with at least two current work references is a must for obtaining work. Agencies check these things. Suggest you take an electronic copy.
Address book/electronic To keep in contact with friends and to add new ones.
Document organiser/Travel Wallet To keep all your documents in the one convenient place.
I like to keep all my important documents in a Travel Wallet. This way I know where my important documents are.
Toiletries Take enough to get you to your destination then purchase more.
Toilet roll Don’t laugh, you will find a lot of countries do not supply toilet paper in public toilets.
Condoms Better to be safe than sorry.
Medicines Brands can differ in the UK so obtain a supply – take a written authority from your doctor with you explaining why you need such medication.
First aid kit Constipation, diarrhea and upset tummy tablets, bandaids (plasters), headache tablets, travel sickness tablets, eye drops, nasal spray, medicated ointment, etc.
Toiletry bag Preferably waterproof with a hook so you can hang it up in the shower.
I never leave home without my toiletry bag, it is one of the best items I have ever travelled with. I love it cause I can keep all my toiletries in the one place. I prefer one that is waterproof and has a handy hook to hang the bag up so I can easily reach my things while in the shower.
Sleeping bag Very handy for dossing on friends’ floors, travelling and staying at hostels (though most hostels provide sheets and blankets). It should withstand very cold weather and be light.
Sheets Most places to rent in the UK are full-furnished however, once you have found somewhere to live you might want to use your own bedding. You could take sheets with you but you might want to budget to buy some cause you don’t know what size bed you might have.
Money belt A safe way to carry money, credit/debit card, tickets and other valuables. I found these uncomfortable to wear which is why I prefer my Travel Wallet.
Torch You will be surprised at how often a small one comes in handy.
Travel clothes line and pegs It is hard to find a clothes hoist when you need one.
Washing powder Tubes of liquid wash are available from supermarkets and travel agents. Large hostels usually have washing facilities where you can purchase a cup of soap.
Plastic bags To hold dirty washing and stuff. Also for wearing over socks if ever caught without waterproof shoes.
Travel iron Handy if you take clothes that need ironing.
Coat hangers A couple will be useful. Not metal ones.
Camera or use your phone.
Travel clock You don’t want to be late for work do you? You can use the alarm on your electronic device.
Phone, Powerbank and/or other electronic devices and ear phones.
Travel Adapter Plug and Powerboard. If you are taking a number of electrical goods with you such as phone, laptop, hairdryer, electric shaver, Powerbank, etc. you will definitely need a travel adapter plug as the plugs are different in the UK from other countries. I have also found taking a power board very useful. UK standard plugs are 240 volts, 50 cycles (50Hz), three–pin (square-pin) plugs.
Neck/head pillow For those long journeys when you might need to sleep sitting up.
Towel/s A chamois towel rather than the traditional type may be useful and can take up less space.
Hand towel For long journeys when you need to freshen up. It feels much better than paper towelling or toilet paper.
Water bottle/water purifier/water purifying tablets Or drink bottled water.
Flag To take to sporting events.
Out of all of these useful items I would definitely invest in a power adapter, a power board and a Powerbank.
Be organised and be a savvy traveller
Call me crazy, and many people do, but I love being organised when I travel. Being organised to me means I keep all my items together and this makes it easier for me cause then I know where items are and I can easily find them. So to keep all my electronic devices, plugs and chords together I have an electronic device bag organiser. To keep all my toiletries together I have my toiletry bag. To keep all my documents together I have my travel wallet and to keep my clothes organised I have packing cubes. They are some of the best investments I have made and have made my travelling life a whole lot easier.
Now you must keep some items out to take on the plane in your hand luggage though what you take will depend on how long your flight or other transport is before you arrive in the UK. I suggest packing the following in your bag.
Documents all kept together in your Travel Wallet
Toiletries Some toiletries such as toothpaste and toothbrush, moisture wipes, brush and/or comb, etc. will come in handy to freshen up before your arrive
Food If you have a long trip ahead of you maybe some nibbles and a drink
Jumper as transport can become cold
Depending on the length of the travel I use different bags to carry my stuff. All keeping within any size limits of course. I love my messenger bag for short trips and my day pack with a USB port for longer trips.
So there you have it my list of suggested items to pack for your London and UK working holiday. Now I suggest you lay everything out on the floor to see what you have. Just one last thing before you pack, consider the best type of luggage you need and to work this out you need to ask yourself what type of travelling you will be doing. If you will be flying directly to the UK and maybe going on an organised tour then a bag on wheels will be fine. If however you will be doing lots of backpacking and will be needing to carry your luggage on different transport, then a good strong backpack will serve you well.
I use both types of luggage and adapt them to what kind of travelling I will be doing. For instance, when I went on a Contiki tour of Europe my suitcase was fine but when I would go backpacking with friends in Europe I took my backpack as this is far easier to carry around.
OK. Time to get packed for your working holiday to London and the UK.