A London Study Abroad Packing List

When I was getting ready to go abroad I had a lot of questions. What do I pack? What can I afford to leave at home? How much should I bring? How much is too much? If you aren’t sure and you can buy one across the pond, you should just leave it at home. Read on!
  • OTC cold medicine. Meds are different and you’ll never understand what you’re buying. And you’ll probably, no you will, get sick.
  • Get any prescriptions filled for the entire three months beforehand so you don’t run out of anything you need.
  • Ladies: Invest in a cross body purse. It’s easier to keep track of in crowds. Keep your guard up though, always.
  • Start out with travel size toiletries and buy normal sized toiletries when you get there. It’s not worth lugging heavy shampoo across the ocean. Trust me. I did it. It was a waste of luggage weight and space.
  • Buy a suitcase lock. Just in case. I used mine on my purse in Paris.
  • A backpack. Good for bringing groceries home, hauling laundry around, and traveling.
  • One or two reusable grocery bags. Also good for groceries. Or, makeshift laundry bags in a pinch. I ended up buying some when I already had a ton at home.
  • A reusable water bottle. Bottled water can get expensive.
  • A fleece blanket. Good for plane/train/bus rides and cozying up on the couch in the flat.
  • A laundry bag. You definitely will have to haul your laundry to the washing machine.
  • Batteries. They’re the same everywhere!
  • Towels. Don’t wait until you’re there to get some. An overseas flight will have you feeling grimy and a towel is necessary.
  • Ear plugs. So your roommates don’t disturb your slumber.
  • A few Command hooks. Instant purse/towel/coat/hat/bag/clothing storage.
  • Headphones (for Skyping, at least).
  • Comfortable shoes. I can’t say this enough. Your feet, legs, and back will thank you. You’ll do lots of walking no matter what.
  • A power adapter – don’t go cheap though. I spent 4 months getting shocked in my ear canals using headphones on my computer to Skype, plugged in with my crappy adapter.
  • A battery powered alarm clock. Don’t bring one from the US to plug into your adapter. It’ll blow. Literally.
  • A nice umbrella. It’s worth the investment. Galleria makes really nice umbrellas for $20-$30.
  • Rain boots. Because rain. And puddles.
  • Sunglasses. The sun does come out.
  • 3 pairs of jeans MAXIMUM. Wash them every second or third wear, and rotate pairs.
  • Clothes you can layer. Short sleeved shirts, cardigans, long sleeved shirts, a hoodie or two. Don’t be afraid to be caught wearing the same outfit twice! Plus, you’ll most likely buy a few things at Primark while you’re there…
  • Enough underwear and socks to last two-three weeks, depending on how often you’ll do laundry.

Feel free to leave any questions/additions to this list in the comments! If you like this post, make sure to check out My London Study Abroad Advice as well.

A London Study Abroad Packing List - JSeeksJoy.com


16 thoughts on “A London Study Abroad Packing List

  1. honestsherl says:

    Temple U <33 I love this blog
    I have a couple of questions
    1. how was the schooling over there
    2. how long did it take you to get to Paris from London
    3. how did america or london give you the best percent for your current change
    4. would it be smart to change all your american dollars into british money ?
    5. how much would you say is enough pocket/spending money?


    • Jessica Philo says:

      Aw, thank you so much!
      1. The courses were communications classes through what’s now the school of media and communication and they were excellent. They use faculty from the UK rather than Temple professors (besides the one faculty member that goes with you) and they were all wonderful. We had no complaints about any of the professors or the content of the courses. They were interesting and we got to go on a ton of class field trips around the city which was a lot of fun.
      2. I took the Eurostar from London to Paris and it was around 2 hours. It’s definitely the easiest way to get there, because flying is always a hassle and taking the bus takes forevvvvvver.
      3/4. As far as currency goes, I used Bank of America which allows you to use Barclay’s ATMs which are everywhere in London. I’m not 100% clear on the details of the exchange rates or fees but I do remember that it was cost efficient to go to the ATM and take out around £200 at once rather than going more often. There were currency exchange shops all over, if you go to Marks & Spencer they do good exchanges without hitting you with a ton of bogus fees. I would recommend looking into a Travelex chip and pin card though. I wish I’d had one when I was there as it’s really easy to use and works just like a UK bank card. I wouldn’t recommend carrying around a ton of cash. It’s never really a good idea, just in case you lose it, misplace it, or god forbid it gets stolen!
      5. I had around $4000 in my back account when I left and I didn’t travel extensively. I took two trips, one to Paris and one to Glasgow. I was most interested in experiencing London, so I stayed local most of the time. I didn’t eat out at pub excessively, I shopped a bit but not too much, and I went to the pub for a pint pretty regularly. I would say $4000 is the minimum you should take with you. Having more money in your bank account can only be beneficial to you. Depending on what you want to do, your budget could limit you so I urge you to start saving ASAP, if not sooner.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to help :)


      • honestsherl says:

        you stayed over for a semester right ?
        but I would love to stay in contact with you outside your blog instead of commenting back and forth would you mind emailing me that way if i have any questions I can have a more reliable way to contact you because I can totally see myself freaking out as i get closer and closer to leaving lol.

        My email is sherlysmith@temple.edu


  2. theladywithquestions says:

    Hi! Did you pack any clubbing clothes? I have a few and dont know if i should take them with me, I dont think I should keep spending to buy new clothes (i’m an international student alraedy, and whatever I buy in London will have to be brought to the states)


    • Jess says:

      Thanks for your question! To be honest, I’m not the clubbing type. The only place I like to go is a pub which doesn’t really call for specific clothing… I would say that if you do plan on going out, bring pieces with you that can be worn casually during the day and can transition into night time with a change of pants/skirt and shoes. Accessories can really change an outfit’s feel! Sorry I couldn’t be of more help


      • theladywithquestions says:

        that’s alright. I’m not sure if you did this already but could you do a comprehensive post on budgeting in London? not just for food, but entertainment, books, etc (I know rent makes no sense because we would live in different areas) but I am afraid I will go overboard. Is 200 a month for food too little?


      • Jess says:

        A friend asked me about budgets a while back and this is what I wrote for her.

        This is a toughie, since it was hard to track what I was spending since I was using cash for almost everything. I tried to save my receipts but they all only add up to about $2400, and I had around $4000 to start with. It’s also confusing because all of my receipts are in pounds haha. However. I’d estimate I spent around $46-$60 a week on groceries and food, which is pretty generous. I ate in as much as I could, since it was easier and cheaper. I’ll break down the rest of what I figured out for you, and I’m attributing the lost $1600 on trips to the pub/dinners out and cell phone bills. From my receipts I have, this is what I’ve calculated overall for the 15 weeks I was there:

        Dining out: $221
        Shopping (for myself): $351
        Souvenirs/shipping: $231
        Groceries/Cheap Tesco meals: $862
        Travel (a day trip to Paris and a trip to Glasgow): $600
        Haircut!: $20
        2 Trips to the doctor: $80
        Concert ticket: $25

        You can definitely spend less (or more) than I did if need be, but I wasn’t too crazy with my spending. I hope this helps some! It’s confusing me, but I’ve also been looking at numbers for a good hour haha :)


    • Jess says:

      It sounds awful but it is so worth it to pack light. Jeans often aren’t dirty after one wear, and no one will fault you for ‘recycling’ as that’s very common in the UK. Jeans are heavy to pack and it’s only four months of your life, you know? I wouldn’t stress about the number of jeans you’ll pack. I would ask your study abroad office on campus what they recommend, and I’d ask other people who are going with you or have returned from studying abroad if you’re still on the fence about it. I hope this helps :)


    • Jess says:

      I only spent a few hours in Oxford but I would recommend Primark for buying clothing, so long as you make sure that the buttons aren’t falling off and there are no loose seams. It’s very cheap, and very trendy. As for shoes, I’m not as sure on that one but I wouldn’t recommend the shoes from Primark as they offer no support and can be uncomfortable (like cheap shoes usually are!) I always stuck with fashion-y sneakers and Birkenstocks which can be an initial investment but last forever and are good for your feet. And rainboots, of course! Everyone seems to like Hunter rain boots.


    • Jess Philo says:

      Hi Erin! I can’t say for sure how many tops and shirts I took with me, but I do know that I absolutely over packed. I ended up breaking my suitcase before I even got into the US airport to leave, and I paid the overweight luggage fee, something around $30 extra. Would not recommend doing that haha. I think packing light is best, I’d say around 20 shirts maximum. You don’t have to worry too much about keeping warm and layering tons, since the winters there are mild. So my recommendation is around 20 tops. I know it seems bizarre, but I was definitely kicking myself for over packing! I hope this helps :) Let me know if you have any other questions and good luck packing!


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