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How To Pack For UK Backpacking


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Tilda Horsley



Embarking on a backpacking adventure through the picturesque landscapes of Europe is an experience like no other. And when it comes to exploring the diverse countries of Europe, the United Kingdom is a must-visit destination. From the bustling streets of London to the serene Scottish Highlands, the UK offers something for every traveler. But before you set off on your backpacking journey, it’s crucial to pack wisely to ensure a comfortable and hassle-free trip.


In this article, we’ll guide you on how to pack efficiently for backpacking in the UK. Whether you’re planning a short summer getaway or a long-term exploration of the country, these packing tips will help you make the most of your adventure.


From essential clothing and shoes to weather-appropriate gear and practical accessories, we’ll cover all the essentials to ensure you’re well-prepared for your UK backpacking trip. So, let’s dive in and discover the ultimate packing checklist!


Essential Clothing and Shoes

When it comes to selecting clothing and shoes for your UK backpacking trip, comfort and versatility should be your top priorities. The unpredictable British weather calls for layers and adaptable clothing options. Here are some essential items to include in your backpack:

  • Comfortable walking shoes: Invest in a sturdy pair of hiking boots or walking shoes to navigate the diverse terrain of the UK. Make sure they are broken-in before your trip to avoid blisters.
  • Waterproof jacket: The UK is notorious for its rain showers, so pack a waterproof jacket or a raincoat to stay dry during wet weather. Look for a lightweight and breathable option.
  • Layering clothes: Pack a variety of clothing options that can be layered for different weather conditions. Bring t-shirts, long-sleeved tops, sweaters, and a lightweight jacket. This way, you can easily adjust your attire as the temperature fluctuates.
  • Trousers and shorts: Opt for quick-drying trousers or convertible pants that can be zipped off into shorts. This will provide flexibility for both warm and cool weather.
  • Swimsuit: If you plan on visiting coastal areas or enjoying swimming activities, don’t forget to pack a swimsuit.
  • Socks and underwear: Carry enough pairs of socks and underwear to last for your entire trip. Choose moisture-wicking fabrics that are comfortable for long days of walking.

Remember to pack clothing items that align with your personal style and preferences. Don’t forget to consider the dress code of any specific places you plan to visit, such as churches or upscale restaurants.


In addition to clothing, it’s essential to pack a few pairs of comfortable shoes. Apart from your walking shoes, consider including casual sneakers or sandals for everyday exploring, and a pair of dressier shoes for any special occasions or nights out.


By packing a well-rounded selection of clothing and shoes, you’ll be prepared for the ever-changing weather and various activities that the UK has to offer.


Weather-Appropriate Gear

The UK is known for its unpredictable weather patterns, so it’s crucial to be prepared for all types of conditions. Here are some essential weather-appropriate gear items to pack for your backpacking trip:

  • Umbrella: Invest in a compact and sturdy umbrella to protect yourself from rain showers. It’s a handy item that will keep you dry during unexpected downpours.
  • Waterproof backpack cover: Keep your belongings dry by using a waterproof cover for your backpack. This will ensure that your clothes, electronics, and other essentials stay protected from rain.
  • Warm layers: Even in the summer months, the UK can experience chilly temperatures, especially in the evenings. Pack a lightweight but warm jacket or fleece to layer over your clothing when needed.
  • Hat and gloves: It’s a good idea to carry a hat and gloves, especially if you plan on visiting the higher elevations of the UK or during cooler seasons. They will provide additional warmth during outdoor activities.
  • Sun protection: While the UK might not be known for its scorching summers, it’s still important to protect yourself from the sun. Pack a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to shield yourself from harmful UV rays.

By including these weather-appropriate gear items, you’ll be prepared for any weather conditions that come your way, be it rain, wind, or unexpected chilliness.


It’s also worth mentioning that it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast before you set off each day during your backpacking trip. This will allow you to adjust your clothing and gear accordingly and plan your activities in the most favorable conditions.


With the right weather-appropriate gear, you’ll be ready to embrace whatever the UK’s climate throws at you and enjoy your backpacking adventure to the fullest.


Toiletries and Personal Care Items

When packing for your UK backpacking trip, it’s essential to include a selection of toiletries and personal care items to keep you refreshed and feeling your best throughout your adventure. Here are some key items to consider:

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss: Maintain your oral hygiene by packing these essentials. Opt for travel-sized options to save space in your backpack.
  • Shampoo and conditioner: Most accommodations in the UK will provide these, but if you prefer using your own, invest in travel-sized bottles or opt for solid shampoo and conditioner bars to save on space and reduce waste.
  • Body wash or soap: Carry a small bottle of body wash or a bar of soap for your shower needs. Again, consider using solid options if possible.
  • Deodorant: Stay fresh and odor-free by packing your preferred deodorant. Opt for roll-on or solid deodorants to comply with airline travel restrictions.
  • Moisturizer: The UK’s weather can sometimes be harsh on the skin, so bring a moisturizer suited to your skin type to keep it hydrated.
  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, especially during the summer months or when engaging in outdoor activities. Choose a sunscreen with SPF appropriate for your skin type.
  • Personal medications: If you take any prescription medications or require specific over-the-counter medications, be sure to pack an adequate supply for the duration of your trip.
  • Feminine hygiene products: For those who menstruate, pack an ample supply of sanitary products or consider using a reusable menstrual cup.
  • Razors and shaving cream: If you prefer to shave, ensure you have razors and shaving cream or any other preferred shaving products.

Remember to pack your toiletries in travel-sized containers to comply with TSA regulations for carry-on luggage if you’re flying to the UK. Additionally, consider using travel-friendly toiletry bags to keep everything organized and easily accessible in your backpack.


By including these toiletries and personal care items, you’ll have everything you need to maintain a fresh and clean routine while backpacking through the UK.


Travel Documents and Money

When preparing for your backpacking adventure in the UK, it’s crucial to ensure you have all the necessary travel documents and finances in order. Here’s a checklist of what you should include:

  • Passport: Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date from the UK. Carry a photocopy or a digital copy of your passport as a backup.
  • Visa: Check if you require a visa to enter the UK and ensure you have obtained the necessary visa before your trip.
  • Driver’s license or ID card: If you plan on renting a car or need additional identification, carry your driver’s license or ID card.
  • Travel insurance: It’s highly recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellation, and loss or theft of personal belongings. Keep a copy of your insurance policy and emergency contact details within reach.
  • Flight/train tickets: Print out or have digital copies of your flight or train tickets readily available for easy access.
  • Accommodation details: Carry a copy or have access to your accommodation reservations, including addresses and contact information.
  • Credit cards and cash: Bring at least one credit card that is widely accepted in the UK and carry a small amount of local currency for immediate expenses upon arrival.
  • ATM and bank cards: Check with your bank about withdrawal fees and inform them about your travel plans to avoid any issues with your cards while abroad.
  • Emergency contact information: Write down the contact details of your emergency contacts and keep them in a safe place.

It’s wise to make both physical and digital copies of all your travel documents, including passports, visas, and important contact information. Store these copies separately from the originals in case of loss or theft.


Consider using a money belt or a secure travel wallet to keep your essential documents and cash safe while exploring the UK. Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings to minimize the risk of theft or pickpocketing.


By ensuring you have all the necessary travel documents and money in order, you’ll have peace of mind and can fully enjoy your backpacking adventure in the UK.


Electronics and Gadgets

In this digital age, it’s hard to imagine traveling without our trusty electronics and gadgets. To make the most of your backpacking trip in the UK, here are some essential electronics to consider packing:

  • Smartphone: Your smartphone is a versatile tool that can serve multiple purposes, from navigating and communicating to capturing memories through photos and videos.
  • Power bank: To keep your electronics powered up on the go, invest in a portable power bank. This way, you won’t have to worry about running out of battery during long days of exploration.
  • Adapter and converters: The UK uses a different plug type and voltage than some other countries. Make sure to bring the appropriate adapters and converters to charge your devices safely.
  • Camera: If you’re a photography enthusiast, consider bringing a dedicated camera to capture high-quality images of your UK adventures. Alternatively, a good smartphone camera can also suffice.
  • Ebook reader or tablet: If you enjoy reading or want to have easy access to travel guides and maps, consider bringing an ebook reader or a tablet.
  • Headphones: Block out noise and keep yourself entertained during long journeys with a pair of headphones. Wireless headphones are especially convenient for hassle-free use.
  • Portable speaker: If you plan on spending time outdoors or want to have mini gatherings with fellow travelers, a portable Bluetooth speaker can enhance the ambiance.
  • Laptop or tablet: If you rely on a laptop or tablet for work or want to stay connected during your trip, consider bringing a lightweight and compact device.

Remember to pack any necessary charging cables and adapters for your devices. Store them in a convenient and easily accessible pocket or organizer within your backpack to avoid tangled cables and to keep everything neat and organized.


While electronics can greatly enhance your travel experience, it’s important to strike a balance and be present in the moment. Don’t forget to take time to disconnect, appreciate the beauty around you, and interact with the locals and fellow travelers.


With these essential electronics in your backpack, you’ll be able to stay connected, capture memories, and make the most of your UK backpacking adventure.


Practical Accessories

When backpacking in the UK, there are a few practical accessories that can greatly enhance your travel experience and make your journey more convenient. Here are some essential practical accessories to consider packing:

  • Reusable water bottle: Stay hydrated during your explorations by carrying a reusable water bottle. The tap water in the UK is safe to drink, so you can refill it whenever needed.
  • Travel towel: A lightweight and quick-drying travel towel is a must-have accessory. It takes up minimal space in your backpack and comes in handy for drying off after a swim or shower.
  • Travel pillow and eye mask: For long journeys and overnight transportation, a comfortable travel pillow and eye mask can help you get some rest and arrive feeling refreshed.
  • Locks: Ensure the security of your belongings by packing TSA-approved locks. This will come in handy when securing your backpack at airports, train stations, or shared accommodations.
  • Earplugs and sleep mask: Get a good night’s sleep or block out noise during transit with a pair of earplugs and a sleep mask.
  • Portable laundry kit: If you’re on an extended backpacking trip, a portable laundry kit with laundry detergent and a sink stopper can be useful for washing clothes on the go.
  • Travel-sized sewing kit: Repairing minor clothing mishaps is made easy with a compact sewing kit. It can save you from any unexpected wardrobe malfunctions.
  • Travel adapter: Alongside the electronic adapters, consider bringing a universal travel adapter that can accommodate multiple plug types.
  • Travel-sized multi-tool: A compact multi-tool with features like a knife, bottle opener, and screwdriver can be handy for various situations during your journey.
  • Reusable tote bag: A foldable and reusable tote bag is perfect for grocery shopping or carrying any extra items you acquire during your travels.

These practical accessories can add convenience and functionality to your backpacking trip in the UK. Keep in mind the weight and size of each item to ensure they don’t add unnecessary bulk to your backpack.


Remember that ultimately, it’s about striking a balance between having the essential accessories while keeping your backpack lightweight and manageable throughout your journey.


With these practical accessories in your backpack, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle any situation that may arise during your backpacking adventure in the UK.


First Aid Kit

Carrying a well-stocked first aid kit is essential during any backpacking trip, and the UK is no exception. While you hope for a safe and incident-free journey, it’s always better to be prepared for any minor injuries or ailments that might occur. Here’s a list of items to include in your first aid kit:

  • Adhesive bandages: Pack a variety of sizes to cover cuts, blisters, or any small wounds.
  • Antiseptic wipes or solution: Use these to clean wounds and prevent infection.
  • Gauze pads and adhesive tape: These are useful for dressing larger wounds or cuts.
  • Antibacterial ointment: Apply this to prevent infection on minor cuts and scrapes.
  • Pain relievers: Include pain relief medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for headaches, muscle aches, or other minor pains.
  • Antihistamines: These can help alleviate allergic reactions or insect bites.
  • Anti-diarrheal medication: Useful in case of an upset stomach or diarrhea.
  • Motion sickness medication: If you’re prone to motion sickness, pack medication to ease any discomfort while traveling.
  • Tweezers and small scissors: These are handy for removing splinters, cutting bandages, or trimming nails.
  • Hand sanitizer: Keep your hands clean and hygienic during your travels.
  • Medical prescriptions: If you require any specific medication, make sure to pack an adequate supply for the duration of your trip.
  • Emergency contact information: Include a list of emergency contact numbers, including local emergency services and your travel insurance provider.

It’s also wise to familiarize yourself with basic first aid procedures before your trip. Consider taking a first aid course or familiarizing yourself with online resources that provide guidance on handling common injuries or medical emergencies.


Ensure that your first aid kit is easily accessible in your backpack. Additionally, check expiration dates of medications and replace any items that have expired.


By having a well-equipped first aid kit, you’ll be prepared to handle minor injuries or illnesses and can address any unexpected medical situations during your backpacking adventure in the UK.


Snacks and Food

While exploring the UK, having some snacks and food on hand can be a lifesaver, especially during long journeys, hikes, or when you’re in need of a quick energy boost. Here are some ideas for snacks and food items to consider packing for your backpacking trip:

  • Granola bars or energy bars: These compact and nutrient-dense snacks are perfect for a quick pick-me-up during your travels.
  • Dried fruits and nuts: Grab a variety of dried fruits like raisins, apricots, or cranberries, and a selection of nuts such as almonds, cashews, or walnuts. They provide a healthy source of energy and are easy to carry.
  • Crackers or rice cakes: Pack some lightweight crackers or rice cakes to accompany your snacks. They can be topped with spreads or enjoyed on their own.
  • Instant noodles or dehydrated meals: If you have access to boiling water, instant noodles or dehydrated meals can be a cost-effective and convenient option for a quick and filling meal.
  • Canned tuna or chicken: These protein-packed options can be easily mixed with crackers or bread for a satisfying snack or meal.
  • Snack-sized chocolate bars or candies: Treat yourself with some delicious chocolate bars or candies for an indulgent snack during your travels.
  • Reusable food containers and utensils: Consider packing a collapsible food container and a set of reusable utensils to reduce waste and allow you to store leftover food or enjoy meals on the go.
  • Tea bags or instant coffee: If you’re a tea or coffee lover, having your preferred tea bags or instant coffee packets will allow you to enjoy a comforting cup during your travels.
  • Water purification tablets or filter: Having water purification tablets or a portable water filter can be useful for purifying water from natural sources if you need a refill on the go.

While it’s exciting to explore the local cuisine of the UK, having snacks and food on hand ensures that you’re prepared for situations where food options may be limited or when you simply want a quick snack during your journey.


Keep in mind any restrictions or limitations when it comes to food items if you’re traveling by plane or intend to bring fresh produce. Always adhere to food safety guidelines and be mindful of proper waste disposal.


With these snacks and food items packed in your backpack, you’ll have a ready supply of sustenance to keep you energized and satisfied throughout your UK backpacking adventure.


Entertainment and Leisure Items

While the beauty of backpacking is immersing yourself in the natural and cultural wonders of the UK, it’s also important to have some entertainment and leisure items to keep you entertained during downtime or long journeys. Here are some ideas for entertainment and leisure items to consider packing:

  • Books or e-books: Whether you prefer physical books or e-books, having a good read can be a delightful way to relax and pass the time, especially during long train rides or evenings spent at your accommodation.
  • Playing cards or travel-sized games: Compact and lightweight, playing cards or travel-sized games can provide hours of entertainment with fellow travelers or new friends you meet along the way.
  • Portable speakers: If you enjoy listening to music or podcasts, a portable Bluetooth speaker can enhance your music experience and set the mood during your travels.
  • Sketchbook and pencils: Unleash your creativity by packing a small sketchbook and a set of pencils. It’s a great way to capture your surroundings or simply doodle during moments of relaxation.
  • Journal or travel diary: Document your journey and preserve your memories by writing in a journal or travel diary. Reflect on your experiences and note down memorable moments.
  • Binoculars: If you’re planning on birdwatching or enjoying scenic landscapes, pack a pair of lightweight binoculars to enhance your viewing experience.
  • Inflatable travel pillow or hammock: To maximize your comfort during breaks or relaxation sessions, consider packing an inflatable travel pillow or a lightweight hammock.
  • Portable board games: If you’re a fan of board games, look for travel-sized versions of your favorites to enjoy with your travel companions.
  • Musical instruments: If you play a portable musical instrument like a ukulele or harmonica, bringing it along can provide endless entertainment and even create opportunities for musical collaborations.

Remember to pack these entertainment and leisure items based on your personal interests and preferences. Keep in mind the weight and space limitations of your backpack, and choose items that will bring you joy and relaxation during your UK backpacking adventure.


While the main focus of your trip is the exploration and immersion in the UK’s beauty, these entertainment and leisure items can add a touch of fun and relaxation to your downtime, ensuring a well-rounded and enjoyable backpacking experience.


Miscellaneous Items and Extras

Aside from the essentials, there are a few miscellaneous items and extras that can come in handy during your backpacking adventure in the UK. While these items may vary depending on personal preferences, here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Travel pillowcase and sleep sheet: In shared accommodations or for added comfort during overnight transportation, a travel pillowcase and sleep sheet can provide a hygienic and comfortable sleeping environment.
  • Microfiber towel: A lightweight and absorbent microfiber towel can be useful for drying off after showers, beach visits, or outdoor activities.
  • Plastic bags or packing cubes: Keep your backpack organized and your belongings protected by using plastic bags or packing cubes to separate different items and prevent spills or leaks.
  • Identification tags: Attach identification tags to your backpack and other belongings to easily spot them and ensure they don’t get mixed up with others.
  • Portable laundry detergent: If you plan on doing laundry during your trip, having a small bottle of portable laundry detergent can be convenient for washing your clothes in sinks or laundromats.
  • Ziplock bags: Versatile and handy, ziplock bags can be used for storing snacks, keeping electronics or documents dry, or organizing small items in your backpack.
  • Travel sewing kit: A compact travel sewing kit with threads, needles, and safety pins can be a lifesaver for mending clothes or fixing any minor fabric mishaps.
  • Travel-sized umbrella: Besides a waterproof jacket, carrying a small travel-sized umbrella can provide extra protection during sudden showers or to shield yourself from the sun.
  • Reusable water filter bottle: If you’re planning on exploring remote areas or hiking trails, a reusable water filter bottle can help purify water from natural sources, allowing you to stay hydrated.
  • City maps and guidebooks: While smartphones are convenient, having physical city maps or guidebooks can provide a different perspective and make it easier to navigate the streets of unknown cities.

These miscellaneous items and extras can enhance your overall backpacking experience, offering convenience, organization, and peace of mind throughout your UK adventure.


Remember to pack these extras based on your specific needs and preferences. Consider the activities you’ll be engaging in and the duration of your trip to determine which of these items will be most beneficial and practical for you.


With these miscellaneous items and extras in your backpack, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle any situation, stay organized, and make the most of your backpacking journey in the UK.



As you prepare for your backpacking adventure in the United Kingdom, packing strategically is key to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey. Consider the diverse landscapes, unpredictable weather, and the need for versatility as you pack your essentials.


From clothing and shoes suitable for various weather conditions to toiletries, travel documents, and money, these foundational items will set you up for a successful trip. Don’t forget to bring along your electronics, practical accessories, and a well-stocked first aid kit to address any unforeseen situations.


While practicalities are important, remember to include some items for leisure and entertainment. Snacks, books, and games can provide moments of relaxation and enjoyment during your downtime.


As you pack, keep in mind the weight and space limitations of your backpack. Be selective, focusing on items that bring value and enhance your travel experience. Consider the specific activities you plan to engage in and pack accordingly.


Lastly, always prioritize sustainability and responsibility. Use reusable products whenever possible, be conscious of waste, and show respect for the local environment and culture.


By following these packing tips and preparing adequately, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on an unforgettable backpacking journey through the stunning landscapes and vibrant cities of the United Kingdom. So, pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and create lasting memories in this enchanting destination.