Words by Allison Adams, a CAPA London alumna from Saint Ambrose University.
I have an extreme love of packing, extreme love. Whenever I go on vacations I make packing lists and figure out what is the most efficient way to save space. Studying abroad was no exception. I started making a packing list months in advance for my semester.
But, even an over-obsessed packing freak like me made some mistakes. So I’m here to make it a little easier for all of you with what you should and should not pack and what you can buy in London.
What you HAVE to bring:
- Important documents – Make copies of your passport, visa, license, etc. and carry them in a separate bag in case of theft.
- Layers – London’s weather can be very unpredictable! Make sure you are prepared. I recommend having a versatile fall jacket that you’ll wear for most of the semester and a heavier coat for the colder weeks.
- Water-proof shoes – I found this out the hard way. When it rains in London (which is often) you don’t want to have to trek through the streets with water soaking into your shoes.
- Umbrella – Never leave the flat without this precious item. You never know when a torrential downpour is in your future.
- Journal – I journaled some of my experience, but not nearly enough. You’ll be amazed at how much you forget very quickly.
- Multiple adapters – I brought two and that was perfect for me to charge my laptop and phone at the same time.
What you can buy in London:
- Towels – You can buy them cheaply at stores like Marks & Spencer’s. Bonus tip: Buy a fuzzy blanket at Primark your first week to make you feel more at home.
- Hairdryers, straighteners, curling irons – Your American ones will burn out on the different electricity.
- Cell phone – If you don’t plan on getting a sim card, you can easily buy an inexpensive UK phone at Carphone Warhouse.
- Toiletries – Don’t bother bringing bulky shampoo and conditioner; you can buy them easily at Boots or Superdrug.
What to leave at home:
- Excess clothes – Not only did I overpack clothes, I overpacked jewelry, scarves and other accessories. I ended up having to buy another suitcase to get all my stuff home, which made for an interesting airport trek. Learn from my mistakes; you need a lot less than you think!
- Heels – I understand wanting to look cute for a night out, but sometimes you have to walk a long ways to get there. Opt for flats and I promise you’ll enjoy the night so much more.
- Summer clothing – I didn’t even end up traveling anywhere warm. The few summer pieces I brought just in case ended up just talking up space. If you do book an weekend an Italy, what a great excuse to stop by Primark?
There you have it, lovelies. I hope this blog helps you a little when you start packing for your fall semester in London! Enjoy every nanosecond of your time abroad because it will honestly fly right past you. Eat new food, see cool sights, and meet some of the best people in the world!