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London, one of my favorite cities, was one of the first major stops on my ‘after university backpacking trip’ to Europe. When the husband lived there, I visited often. With a handful of close friends living in the region, I continue to return. London is special. The cosmopolitan urban hub welcomes all. When standing in the center of the city, it often feels like you’re truly in the center of the world; although you have to go to Greenwich to make it official.

If we’re headed somewhere else in Europe, we try to grab a few days in London which we hope provides enough of that ‘fix’ we need to get us to the next time we can return. Regardless of how many times you visit, there’s an ever-changing list of ‘what to pack for London’.

Travel breeds familiarity amidst the new. Each time I return to London, there’s something new to see, some place new to eat, and something new to learn. But, like any location to which you return, there are things that I can’t wait to have again. My must haves include, a pasty from the West Cornwall Pasty Shop, a trip to Borough Market, a walk by the river and a drink of lemon squash at a pub. The husband gets his fill of Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts and a pint of cask ale at the pub, we pay a visit to the South African shop near Embankment tube station and if time allows, we try to grab a show in the West End. My first time felt like the Griswold’s list of Big Ben and Parliament; now as the visits continue, although there’s always some of the same, we try to fit in something new.

What to Pack for London: The Necessities

If you travel often, you can probably make your ‘what I take with me’ list in under a few minutes. Perhaps you have all of this stashed at the ready, just in case an adventure emergency comes along. Whether it’s your first trip or your two-hundredth one, there are a few things that will always come along for the ride.

These most significant items are the ones to never leave your side; they remind you who you are, who to contact in a ‘situation’ and how you can pay for all of your excitement.

  • Wallet: Photo ID, passport & an extra copy of the front page of your passport
  • Travel documents: Travel insurance, visa documents (if you need them), extra copies of passport photos
  • Medications: All necessary and allergy – carry extras & copies of prescriptions (it always helps to know the generic name of your medications as all brands differ between regions), tell your traveling companions your allergies or carry a language specific card with them listed
  • Necessary tech: Chargers & converters – double check compatibility; bring power strip or extra converters if you have a lot to recharge at once

Personal Item: Hang on Tight

When you find yourself in Europe, take the time to visit London. If your travel adventures stop in Heathrow for a change of flights, take some time to see the city. Whether you’re driving in, taking the train or the ferry, passing through, or flying into the thriving urban hub, you’ll need that personal item in tow.

The Outbreaker daypack is the perfect personal item to pack for London. With plenty of room for all of your essentials and your laptop on the plane, the waterproof sailcloth performs like a dream in London’s erratic (and often wet!) weather.

We all do our best to be sure to have ‘what we think we might need’ on hand both in flight and on the ground. If you find yourself out of something or need to restock before you head to your next destination, swing by a Boots drug store for all of your personal item needs.

  • Mini first aid kit
  • Headphones (many people swear by the noise canceling ones)
  • Sunscreen (if you’re going in spring or summer)
  • Gum or mints
  • Make up (if necessary)
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip balm
  • Change of clothes (don’t forget that extra underwear)
  • Unscented lotion
  • Antibacterial (unscented) or baby wipes
  • Liquids bag
  • Fuzzy socks or flip flops (no one wants to be barefoot in airplane bathrooms)
  • Scarf, pashmina, or travel blanket (it’s rare to find these provided on flights anymore)
  • Mini flash light (hook to backpack with a carabiner clip)
  • Feminine hygiene products (if necessary)
  • Contact lenses & travel size solution, or glasses
  • Tissues
  • (tightly closed) Essential oils (if this is your thing)

Toiletries: Stench Free & Sitting Pretty

For the carry-on travelers, this is the most sensitive category. How can we be mindful of the travel rules and restrictions while still having what we need? Be savvy, think like a minimalist, and remember you can always purchase what you need upon arrival.

Put your large scale supplies into travel size bottles (you can pick these up at any local travel/outdoors shop or places like the Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond or any local drug store). Keep in mind the TSA 3-1-1 rule as you pack your toiletries.

You might consider trying dry toiletries if you feel you need to make more room in your quart sized ziplock bag.

  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • Hair products
  • Travel size shampoo, conditioner, body soap
  • Razor & grooming kit
  • Travel towel/washcloth (depending on your type of travel/accommodations)

Weather: Beware of Delightful, Damp, Drizzle

London can pose a packing challenge. On any day of the year – you may need layers, sunscreen, a raincoat and hat, galoshes, bug spray, or closed-toed shoes. There is a certain possibility of rain each and every day.

The weather is part of London’s charm and griping about it is part of the culture. Wear whatever you can on the flight so as to not have to find room in your luggage. Remember to put gloves and hat in your jacket pockets, hook the umbrella to the outside of your carry on and hit the runway. Regardless of weather, London is always a good time! No matter the season, bring at least one of something that can keep you warm, dry, cool, and comfortable. If all else fails, head to the pub.

  • A sturdy raincoat
  • Closed-toed shoes (consider hiking shoes over sneakers/comfortable walking shoes)
  • One extra pair of shoes (in summer, comfortable/durable sandals are a great option)
  • Umbrella
  • Extra layers (wool is a good choice)
  • Warm jacket with a hood (especially in winter)
  • Hat, scarf, gloves, & Buff
  • In winter (since I’m freezing all the time): I pack hand/feet warmers to pop in gloves/socks
  • In summer: Bathing suit, beach cover up (if you plan on heading towards the water)
  • Two tank tops (they can always act as an under layer if it’s not warm enough outside)

Pack Your Tech

If you’re touching down (from abroad) on the European continent, you are likely to need a travel power adapter for all of your electronic concerns. Keep in mind that if your travels take you throughout the continent, the converters for the UK are different than those of the rest of Western Europe.

Be considerate and disciplined when packing your cords and extra tech gear. Store your cords safely and keep them with you. If you’re traveling with a lot of necessary rechargeable equipment, consider a power strip to utilize in hostel lobbies or a local coffee shop.

  • Power adapter & power strip (the strip works great in airports/hostel lobbies)
  • Necessary converters (bring more than one if you have many items to recharge)
  • Portable charger & cords (keep cords wrapped well)
  • Camera, lens, batteries, card reader, memory cards, & chargers
  • Tablet, phone, computer, & necessary chargers
  • External hard drive to back up your photos (not necessary if camera is wifi operated)

Clothes: Stay Warm & Dry

Casual dress will often do, but keep in mind that London is an international and cosmopolitan city. You won’t be wandering the city center in sweats (I hope!) and with wacky weather, you’re going to want to be ready for anything that comes your way. Unless you’re headed away for a special celebration, there’s no need to bring your fancy clothes.

Comfortable shoes are a must and layers will always be your friends. If you’re on a travel adventure where nightlife might be a part of the story, throw in something that can work for a fun, festive atmosphere for a night on the town.

  • Light cardigan or sweater
  • Layers (wool base layers are the best/cold gear items are also helpful in winter temps)
  • 4-7 pair underwear
  • 4-7 pair socks
  • 1-2 jeans or pants
  • 3-5 t-shirts (lightweight and great for layering)
  • 2 long sleeve outer layer tops (sweaters or sweatshirts are great)
  • 1-2 skirts or dresses (depending on the season)
  • 1 evening or nightlife outfit (you can always borrow or purchase abroad)


Years pass, trends come and go, and travel styles change. What I brought as my ‘extras’ for my first trip abroad aren’t exactly the same now. Although your list may ebb and flow and will most likely be different from your friend’s, depending on your choice of luggage and type of travel, there are some items that might make your ‘possible’ list.

  • Packable duffle (perfect for market shopping, stops at Sainsburys and treats at Harrods)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Extra poncho
  • Bug spray (depending on the season)
  • Jewelry
  • Journal & pens or coloring book & pencils
  • Work out gear & lightweight yoga towel/mat

Pack in a Weather-Proof Bag

While a truly waterproof (welded seam) bag is definitely overkill for London, a bag made with waterproof materials, like the Outbreaker, is perfect for the quickly changing and often wet weather the city is known for. The low profile, sleek design is a bonus, you won’t stand out like the tourists dragging gigantic bags in and out of the tube station. And a backpack is far more convenient than a roller bag on those long escalators, trust us.

London Bucket List: What to See

Home to Queen Elizabeth, Elton John and the brilliant mind behind a magical wizarding world, England’s capital city is one to put on your list. Grab a picnic, punt along the Thames or throw back a pint at the pub – London is calling! A blend of cultures, accents, trends and talents, London provides action in the city and access to the goodness beyond.

Big City Sights

Although there’s much to experience in England, London is most often the starting point. Some of the best things to see are outside of the city center and there are endless options that don’t fall on the first page of the latest travel guidebook.

Whether you spend your day watching the water in South Bank, tasting treats at Borough Market, eating your fill of naan in Brick Lane, or traversing the treasures of the many museums, London has something for everyone.

Charming Neighborhoods

London is filled with small neighborhoods and areas that distinguish themselves from the next. Each boasting it’s own image and flair, markets and stalls, restaurants and vistas – these neighborhoods are ones that invite you in and entice with their ‘come stay awhile’ attitude.

Whether you visit the market on a Sunday afternoon, wander the sights, stand where time starts, breathe deeply by the riverside or wile away the hours at the local pub – neighborhoods remind us all to embrace community.

Beyond Urban

London is a fabulous starting point. Whether you’re living abroad for months, passing through, visiting friends or lucky enough to manage a few days stopover – beyond the borders of the city, there’s more to enjoy. Sport the football team colors in Manchester, check out the countryside cottages in the Cotswolds, get your Shakespeare on in Stratford-upon-Avon or taste the goodness of Bath’s own Sally Lunn’s buns. You’ll find beaches and royalty, monuments and markets, literary madness and pubs aplenty.

Hop on the tube, jump on a train, rent a car, take the bus or whatever you need – remember to step outside the city limits… there’s more!


During good times and bad, with political madness and peaceful celebration, London sees thousands, if not millions, of visitors annually. With it’s multicultural population, epic royals and endless flair, London invites guests from all parts of the globe to see the city, experience the culture and make special memories.

Whether it’s theater in the West End, delicious eats on Brick Lane, shopping on Portobello Road or having a pint at the pub  – London doesn’t disappoint. Pack for all seasons, keep your rain gear on hand, be sure to try one of those West Cornwall pasties and get ready for adventures across the pond.


Do you have a favorite city to which you continue to return? What’s in your packing list?

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Showing up at a business meeting or a fancy wedding in clothing that looks like crushed tissue paper is embarrasing. You end up looking like you slept for 30 hours, then fell down a hill, executed a highspeed car chase that James Bond would be jealous of… all in your dress clothes.

And let’s be honest. Even when James Bond does all that, his suit remains pressed and mostly wrinkle-free. No wrinkled clothes while traveling for Mr. Bond, thank you very much.

No matter how you feel about ironing, packing clothes so they emerge at your destination wrinkle-free is tricky.

Especially if you’re on a business trip and wrinkles are frowned upon.

Does rolling clothes prevent wrinkles? How can you keep clothes from wrinkling in a backpack?

I’ll answer those burning questions — and more. Just keep reading. Click to continue…

Has the game of travel essentials changed much in the last few decades? For instance, do you think your grandpa’s packing list for his 1965 expedition to China would feel unusual to you today? I venture to say no.

Travelers, then and now, look for comfortable, reliable, and high-quality equipment to get them through the highs and lows that come with visiting new places. For that reason, the items listed below have truly earned the title of “travel essentials,” and why we felt so compelled to share them with our community of modern explorers.

While the travel essentials of today are certainly updated to meet the needs of us millennial and Gen Z travelers (headlamps trump flashlights every time…), many of these items will also seem familiar to the travelers who’ve laid footsteps before us. Even your intrepid grandma might have a story to share about when travel essentials like these saved the day.

So let’s jump in: Here is everything you need to know about THE travel essentials of 2018-2019.

Travel Essentials Checklist

Day Pack

Easily compressed and flung into your main backpack or additional packing capacity, daypacks are travel essentials for shorter-adventures within your grand one. Think daytrips, weekend getaways, or an overnight hike up that really big mountain. The key here is to find one that overlaps in style and functionality, boasting enough capacity to hold the necessities (and a little extra room for souvenirs).

We recommend: Outbreaker Travel Daypack


Don’t you *just hate* when an inconsiderate hostel dorm mate barges in after hours and flips the light switch on? Yeah, we do too, which is why we’re starting a movement — one where all “travel essentials” lists include a headlamp. Join us!

Bonus points if you pack an extra set of batteries or invest in a headlamp case to keep it extra safe.

We recommend: Petzl

Swiss Army Knife, or Multitool

A multitool is just that — a tool that can be used in multiple situations. Be warned that packing this means you’ll have to check your luggage, but having an instant cheese cutter-meets-nail clippers-meets pill remover-and more handy will ultimately prove its utility.

Note that if your blade is less than 2.36 inches long you should be able to carry it on.

We recommend: Vise Pocket Tool

Wet/Dry Bag

We’re just going to give it to you straight. You’re bound to have some waterborne adventures during your travels — or, even more likely, have moments where your clothes just aren’t quite dry enough, or your swimsuit is still soaking wet from that spur-of-the-moment cliff jump. Prepare for the inevitable with a wet/dry bag, and you’ll never have to worry about your fresh items (or electronics) shouldering up too close to those soggy ones.

We recommend: The Outbreaker Wet/Dry Bag

Sarong, Pashmina, or Scarf

Even for the gentlemen, scarves can be one of the most practical items you pack for your travels. Great for keeping you warm on drafty airplanes, functioning as a beach towel, giving you the go-ahead when visiting places where visible shoulders are not allowed — the list goes on. Dress it up, dress it down, crumple it into a pillow. A big scarf is basically your travel BFF.

We recommend: That favorite scarf you have lying around. If you’re in the market for a new one, check out Speakeasy’s Travel Scarf


From snorers, to crying babies, to rattling windows, and beyond, earplugs can double as the perfect escape from your less-than-pleasant surroundings. Bonus points if you invest in a hearty pair rather than the cheapy-throw-away ones (hint: they tend to last longer and do the job better).

We recommend: MyTravelUp High Fidelity Earplugs

Reusable Water Bottle

When we’re talking international travel essentials for 2018-2019, we’re talking reusable water bottles. Those one-off plastic sissies shouldn’t be your go-to when you’re traveling at length. Instead, invest upfront in a sturdy, reusable one.

Tip: consider purchasing one with a built in UV light water treatment, or other filtering system if you’ll be traveling in countries that lack potable water.

We recommend: Hydroflask or Grayl

Your Pertinent Travel Information

Create a single location where you store all of the international travel information for your trip. This means confirmation numbers, emergency numbers, rental car details, hotel or Airbnb addresses, your passport copies, and any other information you think you might like to have available offline with easy access. You can update this on-the-go, but the storage location should stay the same.

This may not land itself on a list of travel essentials for 2018-2019 that you can buy, but it remains absolutely essential nonetheless.

We recommend: Your smart phone’s “Notes” app.


All this air travel can do a number on your peepers, so it’s best to stay ahead of the (dry, itchy, red-lined) curve and stow a tiny bottle of tears/eye drops in an easy-to-grab location. These can also be helpful if you’re traveling in a place with new flora and fauna (hello, allergies!) or when you’ve had a long day of sightseeing.

We recommend: Visine, baby!

Packing Cubes

Modern explorers know that international travel essentials include a set of packing cubes — vital for separating items (think shoes, socks, undies, or outfits) so that all of your items are clearly organized and easy-to-grab. It may seem to the untrained (and untraveled) eye that these are superfluous, but it just takes one full-dumping-of-all-of-your-bag’s-contents to understand the value of packing cubes’ inherent organization.

We recommend: Outbreaker Packing Cubes

Face Wipes

A quick bath in a pinch and the perfect solution to long airport layovers (or one-of-those-days where a simple face wipe feels like a trip to the spa), face wipes can end up serving multiple uses during your travels. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed these little babies can make you feel.

We recommend: Simple Skin-Cleansing Face Wipes

Universal Plug Adapter

Buying one plug adapter that can be used worldwide just makes sense — after all, no one wants their first stop in a new country to be the electronics store instead of the rooftop bar. Do yourself a favor and invest in a universal one up front rather than picking them up along the way.

We recommend: T Power’s Universal World Wide Travel Plug Adapter

Say “Sayonara” to Your Luggage and get a Backpack

Let’s face it. Suitcases are OUT. It’s time to maximize your mobility (and work those butt muscles!) by carrying your travel items on your back instead of dragging it behind or pushing it awkwardly (here’s looking at you, four-wheeled luggage). Your travel essentials must include a backpack that is not only dependable and spacious, but also looks pretty rad, too.

We recommend: Outbreaker 45 L

Carry On Travel Essentials

If you’re splitting your items between a main bag that you’re checking and a carry on pack, you’d be wise to consult our Definitive Carry On Packing List. If you’re an ultra light packer, you might even get away with only traveling with a carry on (you pro traveler, you!). When it comes to stuffing your stowaway-compliant-pack, you’ll want to consider five main categories of items:

  • Paperwork
  • Toiletries
  • Electronics
  • Gear
  • Clothes

It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but that handy packing resource will break it down step-by-step for you. The only difficult challenge that remains is picking a soundtrack to listen to while you pack!

Additional Travel Essentials for Men

Whether you’re bro-ing out for the weekend or rocking the digital nomad work-life balance for the foreseeable future, there are certain additional considerations our male friends must make when packing. Your favorite shaving cream and razor, condoms, foot powder, an extra pair of boxers, a baseball cap, and a durable belt all make our short list of additional travel essentials for men.

Check out the Dopp Kit Essentials: Dapper Dude Packing List for more.

Additional Travel Essentials for Women

Ladies are notorious for being a little more picky about our beauty products than our male-counterparts, but who knows if that’s really true. If that’s you, your list of travel essentials for women might be a little longer. At very least, women should consider packing for their period (pack tampons, a Diva Cup, or pads) and packing condoms, their preferred skincare regimen, any gotta-have-it hair products, and a razor.

Women might also consider packing additional items for safety, such as mace or an emergency bra (a sad but true reality for us).


The travel essentials of 2018-2019 aren’t necessarily ground breaking or a huge diversion from the norm. Both the travelers of yester-year and our contemporaries can all agree on the benefits of these seemingly simple, yet incredibly useful, items.

  • Adjust your list based on your travel details: If you’re planning to travel for six months in primarily developing countries, your travel essentials might look a little different than someone’s three month UK jaunt; adapt the list to meet your needs.
  • Add necessary medications on the list. These are just general life essentials, but you should make sure to pack them and plan in advance so your supply is sufficient.
  • We called these international travel essentials because they’re, well, essential: You might not agree in the here and now, but we guarantee that sarong is going to feel extra useful when you want to enter Angkor Wat but forgot to wear a shirt with sleeves.