City Break Packing List
The ultimate UK city break packing list
Whether you’re taking short break in a small city by the sea or heading to the capital for a long weekend, this city break packing list is intended to help take the headache out of preparing that bag. I’ve been travelling the world since my student days in Manchester, when I often popped to Sheffield to see a school friend studying there, to Wigan to stay with my former partner’s folks or even home to Northumberland, near Newcastle, to catch up with my own family.
My gap year
After that I went to Australia for a year, and have been all over the planet since. Not least during my travel agent days, when I took freebie fam trips (familiarisation trips, also known as educationals) to India, Scotland, South Africa, Amsterdam, Malaysia and Singapore. I also took a second round-the-world trip a few years after my first.
We still travel, although nowadays its as a family. So I’m responsible for a young child’s luggage as well as my own. (Being well-travelled himself, Mister can look after his own). As our families live in Kent, Cumbria, Devon, Newcastle and even Turkey, we’re well used to throwing it all in a bag before heading off somewhere new or familiar.
Being owners of a classic VW camper van also means we are well used to packing out bags for a last-minute weekend getaway. I also head off without Mister and Missy at times, when work or friends take me off to London or elsewhere.
Where to start on a city break packing list
What do you take when heading off for a UK city break? I’ve lived in Newcastle, Manchester, Edinburgh and Liverpool as well as London, so why not check out my ultimate packing list? I have a lot of experience in creating packing lists for UK travels – in all seasons. When I worked as a travel consultant in London, I even advised others regarding what to pack for a weekend break in the UK.
The starting point for me has to be the bag. What sort of bag to pack for a city break? A hand luggage sized case or backpack is plenty for a short city trip. Carrying or pulling something relatively light means you can easily walk from train station to hotel, if that’s an option. Most people tend to pack far too much. Some say you should lay out all the clothes you think you’ll need, then halve them.
Clothes and shoes
I think the best tactic is to pack a clean top, socks and underwear for each day. If you’ll be out each evening and want a change of clothes, pack extra for that too. Be realistic – will you be out every night? Pack for where you’ll be going, whether that’s a cosy pub, an upmarket restaurant or a night out bar-hopping and clubbing. I take one extra lightweight top and set of underwear, just in case. One jacket or coat, two pairs of shorts, jeans or leggings and a couple of pairs of shoes. There’s more on the latter later.
Accessories are perfect as you can dress an outfit up without changing your clothes completely. So think earrings, scarves and perhaps a thin cardigan -to smarten up for evening while adding an extra layer. I always take a plastic bag or two for wrapping up dirty clothes or shoes too. A scarf makes a great accessory for warmth, dressing up an outfit or for protective purposes.
So what are you planning to pack your clothes into? I always use a backpack, but many people do prefer a small, wheeled suitcase instead. That just comes down to personal choice.
Hand luggage case
If you prefer a suitcase, then the Aerolite lightweight case is cabin baggage approved by the likes of BA, Ryanair, Virgin and EasyJet. It will easily hold everything you want for a weekend. There are 7 colours to choose from.
My 35-litre Karrimor backpack can actually last me for a week, let alone a weekend trip!
If you’re capable of packing light, then a smaller 25-litre backpack might suffice. If you really want to minimise what you take away, this could also double as a day bag.
For those who wish to take a small, very portable day bag around the city, a cross body bag is a secure and ergonomic option. I love the Kipling option, that comes in your choice of 30 colour and pattern combinations!
The Great British weather
There’s no denying that in Britain your packing list will be determined by the season. The UK’s coastal, maritime climate can mean sub-zero temperatures in winter and heatwaves in summer when extremes hit. The climate is generally pretty mild, however. The old saying ‘four seasons in one day’ applies here, when a range of weather types can occur during any 24-hour period. It’s therefore best to be as prepared as possible.
Raining cats and dogs
Don’t go away without packing an umbrella. This YumSur Travel Umbrella is great as it is available in seven different options, from plain shades to bold, bright designs. It is also windproof.
Personally I’m not keen on umbrellas, as I prefer to keep my hands free. Therefore I take a lightweight rain jacket like this that rolls up into its own bag. Just make sure you buy one with a hood!
Don’t leave for the day without…
No one goes anywhere these days without their smartphone, and this is especially true when travelling. I’ve had Samsung Galaxy phones since the S1 first came out, and the S20 is my current phone.
I always take a smaller purse when travelling. What’s the point in taking all my library, loyalty and other cards when I will only use a maximum of two – my credit and debit cards? The keys for my home stay in the hotel safe, so all I take on a daily basis is the room key or keycard. Often you can leave that at the front desk. A compact purse is thus perfect for city trips away. This great value leather one comes in 8 colour options too.
Yep, it’s the new must-have – stay clean and safe while away with a mini bottle of hand sanitiser. Who wants to take home even a cold or tummy bug, anyway?
Many moons ago, I bought my Denman Pop Up Brush for a few quid – and it’s still going strong. I take it everywhere when at home, as well as when going away. This item is one of my all-time top travel tips.
Maybe it’s just my fine, flyaway hair that gets in a mess, but I can’t go far without some sort of hair tie. I know that silk scrunchies seem expensive, but they’re well made and last forever. Even my hairdresser has commented on the difference – no more do I have the band of split ends where the scrunchie sits.
Just in case
There are more ways to ensure you have all you need – as well as saving space – when it comes to packing your main backpack, compact rucksack or case. A first aid kit is a highly advisable inclusion on your city break holiday checklist. Especially if you’re travelling with children. I never leave without a pair of Skechers memory foam trainers – or FitFlop sandals in summer. Nor do I go away without my set of travel bottles and containers – they save so much space and weight!
A compact first aid kit can cost very little and could really save the day – especially if kids fall over and scrape their knees. Or perhaps when adults do the same after one too many on a night out…
I love Fitflops and own about 7 pairs now. They are SO comfortable to walk or stand in – my hairdresser is a convert. If I was going for a city break in summer I would pack two pairs of these – one sparkly for evenings and a plainer pair for day. It’s really all you need.
There are no shoes more comfortable, in my eyes, than these Skechers. I now have 3 pairs and am looking for my 4th… So easy to walk around in, even when you’re out sightseeing, exploring or shopping all day long.
A set of travel bottles and tubs will often last a lifetime, saving you many pounds over the years as compared to buying travel size shampoo and so on. I love this set, as you can even put some face cream into a dinky pot. Perfect!
I’m a big fan of the traditional guidebook, and Lonely Planet is my go-to brand (and has been for 24 years now). It depends where you’re going, of course – New York, Ireland, South America, Paris, London? Berlin and Prague city break, or are you packing for Spain in June? Whichever it is they produce guides for cities all over the world, and I never go anywhere without one.
Your city break packing list
So that’s it, my city break packing check list. What to bring on a weekend city trip. Which of these items will go into yours? And into which type of bag? This is just a guide, so no doubt your packing list for a weekend away will differ a little. A top tip of mine is to think about what you do from morning to evening, and where you plan to go. Then, what to take should follow quite naturally from there.
- Guide to the top wheeled duffel bags
- Top women’s shoes for travellers
- Best back support backpacks
- London 2 day itinerary
- What to do in Manchester
- Edinburgh 2 day itinerary
- Newcastle nightlife
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