What to pack

What to pack

Pare down, pare down, pare down!

Try to pack lightly as you could buy extra clothing at stores such as H&M, Primark or TK Maxx. Before you come, take a look at Temperatures across the country: Edinburgh gets quite a bit chillier than London, for example, so don’t get taken by surprise. Layers are key, allowing you to adapt to whatever the British weather throws at you next.

      Put in your carry-on:

  • Passport
  • Offer/admission letter from UK university [this should travel with you whenever you leave the country]
  • US university letter about tuition
  • Documents on your finances
  • £40-80 cash
  • The address of your university and accommodation and written instructions of how to get to your university
  • any medications you use, clearly marked as prescription drugs, and your prescriptions themselves, with generic names for the drugs.


Do not mail prescription drugs. If you plan on having anything shipped to you in the UK, schedule this so that it arrives after you are already settled in your residences; if boxes or cases arrive before you do, they could be returned. Make sure boxes are clearly marked as “personal used items” with a value of $0 so that you don’t pay customs duties.


Do not assume that you will be able to get online the moment you arrive in the UK or be able to charge your phone. Any information you need immediately, you should write down.

  • Comfortable, water-resistant shoes
  • Waterproof coat with a hood
  • One formal outfit (jacket and tie for men) for dinners (especially Oxford/Cambridge) and for the Cornell Alumni Club’s Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Pain-relievers and cold/cough medicines that you typically use.
  • Contact lens supplies, extra glasses
  • Put any liquids you are packing in a Ziploc bag and bring a few extra for when you travel.
  • A towel 
  • Plug adapters (US 2 Pin→ UK 3 Pin and US 2 Pin→ European 2 Pin) .Voltage in the UK is different from the US (230v/50 Hz)  and the rest of Europe.
  • Chargers. If you are coming for one year buy a UK-type here.
  • Converters or transformers but take the time to research this.
  • Photocopies and scans of your passport

      Do not bring:

  •  Bed linen or pillows. Get them through the university or buy them here.
  • School supplies
  • Anything that will distress you if you lose it.
  • Hairdryers & Straighteners. They don’t work, even with converters, and you will blow up the appliance and blow fuses. Buy one when you get here.

Make sure you have insurance for any digital cameras, laptops, etc. that you bring.

Check out this post for a method to pack a lot into a carry-on.

When it comes to packing, be the Clooney. George Clooney in Up in the Air

from The Guardian. George Clooney and Anna Kendrick compare luggage in Up In The Air. Photograph: Dale Robinette Photography by: Dale Robinette/Dale Robinette