Packing Light for a London Fall Vacation

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Dress stylish, dry and warm with just a few key ingredients!

Heading on a London fall vacation? Fall’s a great time to visit London, although the weather can pose some packing difficulties. Regular rain showers and temperatures in the 40s and 50s make fantastic museum weather… it’s just the walk between them that can be a bit damp.

Statistically, October is London’s rainiest month, with rain expected more than half the days of the month. But since London’s famous for its moody gray skies, that shouldn’t come as any surprise. With a little prep, you can add some rain- and wind-proofing layers to your luggage, and enjoy your London fall vacation even with a few showers.

Splish-splashing through your London fall vacation! Photo: Unsplash/anjana menon

Splish-splashing through your London fall vacation! Photo: Unsplash/anjana menon

The hard part is figuring out how to dress for comfortable travel in a stylish, but damp, city. Sneakers might be your go-to footwear for a city break with lots of walking, but what about wet feet? Jeans are probably the most common piece of clothing in the US, but wet denim might also be the heaviest, least-insulated fabric in the world if a cold rain storm whips through while you’re on the street.

The confusion is real! So we have some recommendations for both guys and gals heading to London this fall. Use these simple ingredients for a winning formula–practical and versatile clothing combinations you can use to pack lightly, and dress comfortably, throughout your London fall vacation. You don’t need a lot, just a few key items to stay comfy from head to toe.

Packing List: London Fall Vacation

Ankle boots: They’re the best and most stylish way to keep your feet warm and dry on rainy days. Leather or faux leather will keep you from getting too damp while splashing through puddles. Chelsea boots come in both male and female styles and make a great urban, waterproof look.

What about rain boots, you ask? Traditional Wellington boots are more of a country look. Instead, have a little fun with ankle-height rain boots you can pair with leggings, skirts, jeans or chinos. Bright colors, fun patterns or more understated twists on traditional boots are perfect for a London fall vacation.

Dress up for the rain and you'll be looking forward to London's puddles!

Dress up for the rain and you’ll be looking forward to London’s puddles!

Fall coat: A medium-weight coat for brisk days and chilly nights will be a must for most. If you’re used to colder temperatures, you might make do with a raincoat over a sweater and a camisole or t-shirt during the day. But anyone from a warm climate, or accustomed to spending most of their time in a heated office or house, will want a coat to keep out chilly, damp breezes.

As for raincoats, look for a packable version easily stuffed into a tote bag when not in use. You’ll find lots of fashionable answers to packable or reversible raincoats that are perfect for London. A raincoat designed for active wear or hiking might be a little casual for your city look.

Sweaters: While sweaters can be bulky in your luggage, you’ll want a few for your trip. Perfect for layering up on windy days, they’ll also keep you warm in chilly interiors after you’ve checked your coat. A nice sweater also looks more tidy than a hoodie, especially if you’re going to dinner or just want to look a little more put-together.

Layers, sweaters and scarfs: stay comfortable through fall's ups and downs of temperature.

Layers, sweaters and scarfs: stay comfortable through fall’s ups and downs of temperature.

Long-sleeved shirts: Button-ups shirts are always a good choice for men, since they travel nicely between casual and more dressed-up settings. Long-sleeve blouses are also perfect for women–with a blouse layered over a camisole and under a sweater, you’re ready for anything. Plus, if you want to rock your Hogwarts house colors for your Harry Potter tour of London, this is the perfect opportunity to pack appropriately. Just don’t forget your tie!

Jeans & Trousers: Bring a pair of jeans by all means, but grab some non-denim pants as well. Wet jeans are no fun, so if you’re caught outside on a windy, rainy day, you’ll want a change of fabrics. Fellas, pack a pair of wrinkle-free chinos for a good alternative. Ladies can go with the same, or you might want to grab a pair of leggings. If you’re going in late fall, bring a looser pair of trousers to wear over leggings for extra insulation on the coldest days.

Fall-weight scarf: Another good wind barrier, plus a nice accent to feel stylish even when you’re tired of your traveling clothes, scarves are a common accessory in Europe most of the year. Bring a couple in different patterns or bright colors to dress up dark coats or sweaters.

Travel Umbrella: City streets are no place for big golf umbrellas, and so while a tiny travel umbrella might not feel like it’s offering a ton of protection, at least there’s room for you to maneuver the sidewalks without taking someone’s head off. Slim, half-size umbrellas are also easy to pack into a messenger bag, tote or purse, meaning you can haul it around town without requiring too much storage room.

Of course, if you forget your umbrella, you can style one of these beauties. Photo: Flickr/garryknight

Of course, if you forget your umbrella, you can style one of these beauties. Photo: Flickr/garryknight

Hat: Is the forecast looking particularly chilly? Don’t forget a hat. Or maybe do. A nice new hat might be just the souvenir you’re looking for.

It might look like a long list, but by planning to dress in layers, you can pack fairly lightly for your London fall vacation, and still be ready for changeable weather conditions. A few long-sleeve shirts for a base, a few sweaters for a top, a couple of pairs of trousers, an extra pair of shoes and lots of socks… you’re ready to go!

If you read this list and got excited for fun scarves and styling some new boots, you’ve chosen the right time to visit London! On the other hand, if you’re worried about the chill, just remember: you’re going to a city with plenty of fascinating museums, cozy pubs and enchanting cafes. You’ll find plenty of reasons to fall in love with the city no matter what the weather during your London fall vacation!