Packing all your worldly possessions in a suitcase isn’t possible, but packing your worthy possessions certainly is!
For some it might seem a Herculean task, for others no big deal. To me it was a chance to shed some layers and leave unnecessary “baggage” behind – much in-line with Scandinavian or Japanese minimalism ⚖️
This is a guide from one expat to another – if you’re flying solo into the unknown in your twenties or thirties, and moving abroad without the support of an employer covering the costs and logistics, then read on! 🧳
Trick post – this photo was taken in Malta, hence the shorts! And sunburn…
Back in the 70s it was actually a Londoner who came up with the perfect solution: the “capsule wardrobe“. Essentially, the essentials – a collection of timeless staples which can then be paired with seasonal pieces. For example:
👕 Tops: button down shirt, sleeveless top, T-shirt
🧣 Knits: jumper, cardigan
👖 Bottoms: pencil or A-line skirt, pants (*ahem* trousers), jeans
🧥 Outerwear: jacket, blazer, coat
🩲 Underwear: about 2 week’s worth of socks, undies and tights
👢 Shoes: flats, joggers (*trainers*), low heeled boots, high heels if you must (thicker the heel the better)
👟 Active wear
🛏️ Sleepwear: 2 sets.
Quality over quantity is key. Leave the Target bargains and synthetics back home and bring your best pieces made from cotton, linen, wool, denim, leather, and silk (you get the idea).
Versatility is also important. With limited real estate in your luggage, and pokey room space in London flat shares, each piece will need to earn it’s place. Opt for staples such as a midi dress which can be dressed up or down for different occasions, or even worn at work. You’ll need something to wear to all those interviews once you’re here!
Remember to practice some self love. If you own anything you haven’t worn in months because it’s uncomfortable or makes you feel uncomfortable about your body, ditch it. Donate it to charity if it makes you feel better about justifying the expense or wastefulness.
London is one of the fashion capitals of the world, so save your pennies and precious checked luggage allowance for the real necessities (keep reading).
Same rules apply as per the above – only the best quality, useful and most versatile items should make the cut so be ruthless!
🧣 Scarf – wool or silk
🧤 Gloves – wool or leather
👒 Hat: beanie or beret and a sunhat for holidays – besides, you never know
⌚ Watch or Fitbit
💎 Jewellery – a mix of the classics and truly unique pieces i.e. those rare boutique or vintage finds you won’t find on a messy Topshop stand.
A regret most expats have that I’ve noticed when chatting with friends or lurking in online forums is overdoing it on toiletries 🛀
Unless you have special skin or hair care needs due to an intolerance etc that aren’t aesthetic in nature, then I strongly suggest that you:
- Pack travel size toiletries to keep you going
- Stock up on the rest once you arrive! You’ll be surprised how cheap some basics are 🧴💄
With a new product or feature birthed out of the tech industry almost daily, I sense this section has potential to date fast – but I’ll do my best to keep it current.
📱 Mobile phone* – make sure the SIM card is unlocked!
💻 Laptop computer* – crucial, especially in those first few weeks getting your life sorted
🔋 Portable battery charger – lifesaver
🔌 Chargers – mobile, laptop, Kindle, Fitbit etc
🇬🇧 Adapters – AUS-UK plus a handy AUS-EU one for travelling
⚡ Australian power board – why carry a bunch of adaptors when you can use one for a whole board?
📁 USB stick – yes people still use them, just like you will in your first month. Especially useful for printing at an internet cafe or public library
📄 Digital documents – have all your important documents backed up and easily accessible on a cloud account and synced to your devices
*There is a case for buying a mobile and laptop over here – it’s highly unlikely your home warranty is valid overseas. True story – I bought my new mobile phone on the day I arrived, jetlag and all!
These really ought to be a no brainer but it does help to have everything in one place:
📄 Passport with visa vignette inside
📄 Other forms of ID e.g. drivers licence
📄 Visa approval letter
📄 Signed proof of funds document – maximum 3 months old
📄 University degree / qualification certificate.
As tempting as it might be, you’re very likely to find Australian confectionary in London! Simply look it up or search expat group forums and you’ll have TimTams in hand in no time. When in doubt, go to Clapham 🇦🇺
Visitors from Down Under are also great at topping up your stash! Why not ask them to pack an extra suitcase of BBQ Shapes then sell them on Facebook like everyone else does? 👛
There’s only one major craving you won’t be able to satisfy in this corner of the globe – Weis Bars. You could always have a go at making your own? 🍨
There’s also a fantastic selection of Aussie brunch spots – be sure to check out my top picks 🥑
Bits and bobs
In the unlikely event you have space left in your suitcase, you might consider packing:
🛏️ Pillow case – some hostels or AirBnbs might not supply them
🛁 Micro fibre towel – as per above
🔒 Travel locks – these come in handy not just for checked luggage but for storing your stuff with extra peace of mind in shared accommodation
👙 Swimwear – you never know, it was the middle of a heatwave when I landed and believe it or not they have swimming pools (Lidos) around.