How to Pack for a Semester Abroad in London

Programs for this blog post

Semester in London

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College Study Abroad

@cieestudyabroad What to pack for a semester abroad in London #cieestudyabroad #studyabroad #packinglist #packingessentials #london #england #europe #travelessentials I Think I Like When It Rains - WILLIS

Heading to London for the study abroad adventure of a lifetime? Before your plane touches down at Heathrow Airport, you’ll want to follow our essential London study abroad packing list to ensure you have all your bases covered. Whether you're traveling to London in the winter, spring, summer, or fall, you'll want to ensure you pack the right items for your study abroad journey. 

London boasts a calm climate year-round, with mild winters, temperate summers, and roughly 150 days of rainfall each year. Additionally, England’s capital is modern and innovative, making it very tech-friendly, navigable, and walkable. 

With London’s weather and conveniences in mind, let’s dig into our packing list for a semester abroad in London, from must-have items to study abroad packing tips and more!   

*For more general study abroad packing tips, check out our Ultimate Guide to Your Study Abroad Packing List! 

Critical Must-Haves to Pack for London

Forget these items and you’ll never do it again. Better yet, don’t forget them in the first place. The critical essentials to pack for London study abroad programs include: 

  • Passport + a photocopy (just in case) 
  • Visa + a photocopy  
  • A second form of valid ID (e.g., driver’s license or government-issued ID) 
  • Cash (London uses the pound sterling £) and a credit card accepted in England 
  • Plane tickets  
  • Proof of health insurance 
  • Proof of CIEE enrollment 
  • Prescription medications (enough for the duration of your stay, if possible) 
  • Preferred over-the-counter medications 
  • Prescription eyewear 

study abroad in london students on plane

Carry-On Essentials 

Your carry-on shouldn’t replace your suitcase but should include those items you may need just in case your luggage is lost or delayed. Things such as: 

  • Easy access to all of your documents (listed above)
  • Essential medications 
  • Travel-size toiletries (stick to the basics: shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste) 
  • Your phone, laptop, and chargers  
  • Emergency outfit (just in case) 
  • A face mask 
  • Hand sanitizer or wipes 
  • Snacks 

Wardrobe Picks for Your Study Abroad Season 

When it comes to packing your clothes for London, pack based on the season(s) you’ll be abroad. And remember, it’s London’s weather you’ll be dressing for. Regardless of the time of year, there are key essentials you’ll want to pack. And we suggest at least a week’s worth or more (depending on your laundry habits) of: 

  • Pants, jeans, shorts, and/or skirts
  • Shirts  
  • Undergarments 
  • Socks 
  • Comfortable walking shoes 
  • A pair of waterproof (or water resistant) shoes/boots 
  • A pair of dress shoes 
  • A raincoat 
  • One or two formal outfits 
  • Workout clothes 
  • Pajamas 

Tempted as you may be, don’t pack your whole wardrobe. Rest assured there will be clean laundry facilities available to students either on or off campus, depending on where you’re staying.  

A reminder about London’s weather: London has a humid temperate climate, meaning that winters are usually colder and summers can be warm to hot. If you’re studying abroad in London during the winter, be sure to pack warmer clothes such as sweaters, sweatshirts, and a winter coat. If you’re studying abroad in London in the summer, you’ll want to pack cooler clothes such as t-shirts and shorts.  

Some semesters can go through multiple seasons, such as the fall semester, which begins in summer and ends in winter. In these cases, you may want to pack a couple of outfits for each season; two to three summer outfits and two to three winter outfits. London is also known to be rainy year-round, so be sure to pack for rainy weather, including a raincoat, an umbrella, and rainboots (or “wellies” as the British say!).  

london bridge student photo while studying abroad in london for a semester

Practical Toiletries 

When packing, avoid wasting too much space with unnecessary toiletries. Only pack the essentials because you will be able to buy more when you arrive in London. We promise!  

Pack only what you will use most of the time or what you will use immediately upon arrival. This includes: 

  • Soap 
  • Shampoo  
  • Conditioner 
  • Toothpaste  
  • Toothbrush 
  • Deodorant 
  • Hair brush or comb 
  • Hygiene products 

We recommend using travel-size toiletries whenever possible, as you probably want these in your carry-on just in case. Many supermarkets sell travel-size toiletries and containers that are TSA-safe.  

Tech Must-Haves 

With everything being electronic nowadays, it’s hard to think of what can be essential to bring with you. (Isn’t it all essential?) The most important electronics to bring are the ones you use the most, such as your: 

  • Cell phone 
  • Laptop or tablet 
  • Chargers  
  • Universal power adapter 

Not the hairdryer. Unless it’s dual voltage and essential to your hair care.  

This, however, brings us to a quick chat about adapters. We advise bringing along a universal power adapter. This allows you to use the outlets in London since they’re different from the ones in the U.S.  

We also see a lot of value in bringing a power block to help charge your devices. It will certainly make living life as an explorer easier while studying abroad in London.  

Bonus Suggestions 

A few more suggestions of things to pack for study abroad based on student experiences: 

  • Reusable water bottle
  • Camera and charger 
  • Journal and pens/pencils 
  • School supplies  

These items may not be essential in the technical sense, but they will likely make your trip more enjoyable. Having a reusable water bottle will be handy in the airports, as well as when you’re out and about in London. It will help you stay hydrated without costing a fortune.  

As far as the camera, sure phones can take great shots, but if you have a camera already, you won’t want to leave it behind. And we promise there will be plenty of sights and food you’ll want to post about on Instagram. 

And yes, the journal. London is sure to be an experience of a lifetime. A journal will help you hold onto memories of the little and big things you won’t want to forget. It’s also a great way for you to help process the myriad of emotions you might experience while living abroad for the first time. 

As for school supplies, just pack essentials, such as a notebook and a couple of pens and pencils. 

And, after all this talk of packing, the biggest piece of advice: Leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs. The return trip home is always heavier than the departure trip. 

Bon Voyage 

We hope this London study abroad packing list is helpful as you prepare for life abroad. If you’re still not sure which CIEE London study abroad program is right for you, explore all our London-based programs!