Britain is an amazing place to visit as a backpacker. Whether it’s the hustle and bustle of huge cities like London or Manchester, the beautiful mountains and deep blue tarns of the Lake District, or the wild coastline and breathtaking beaches of Cornwall — the British Isles have something for everyone.
And that’s without even taking into account the rich history and culture, including some of the world’s best restaurants, museums and art galleries, sports stadiums and a great music scene.
Unfortunately, with so much packed into this tiny island, it’s a bit of a nightmare to pack for a backpacking trip around Britain — especially as British weather can be so incredibly varied.
If you’re planning a trip to the UK, you’ve probably got most of your packing list written out. But there will almost definitely be some travel essentials for women that you’ve missed out.
In this post, I’ll be covering some travel essentials for women that you may have not considered; read on to get prepared for your British backpacking adventure.
A good pair of hiking boots or shoes
First things first: a good pair of hiking boots. This is the ever-damp UK you’re visiting, so any flip-flops and flimsy plimsolls you’re thinking of packing will not cut the mustard here (there might be two days in August where you’ll get the chance to wear these, but it’s still highly unlikely).
Your feet are going to take a real beating pretty much every day while you’re backpacking, so you need to make sure they’re comfortable, supported and dry. A good pair of comfy, waterproof boots (make sure you break them in first, of course) will have you prepared for anything — whether you’re hiking in the Highlands, or walking 20 miles through London trying to hit every tourist attraction.
If you don’t plan on visiting the countryside at all (spoiler: you definitely should) and want to stick to cities, then a decent pair of sneakers will do. Just make sure you can walk in them for multiple hours without getting sore.
And if you are going to Britain in the summer, then you can pack some lighter footwear for warmer weather too — smart open-toe sandals will give your feet a breather and dress up outfits if you’re going out for dinner or drinks.
A definite travel essential that you may not have considered for your list. Truly, no woman knows the importance of travel-friendly underwear until they have spent five hours on a Megabus from London to Manchester in itchy, sweaty, uncomfortable underwear, having to readjust themselves every 10 minutes.
Invest in some comfortable underwear for your backpacking adventure, especially for any long journeys you’re going to be taking.
Brands like Knix do a good range of comfortable underwear in various styles, made from a blend of manmade synthetics. This means that they’re breathable and moisture-wicking (drawing sweat away from your body so that it evaporates quickly) — great for long journeys when you can feel sticky and uncomfortable. Plus they dry quickly, so if you’re washing them at your hostel, you’ll be able to wear them the next day.
Of course, you’ll be bringing a plug adaptor already. But one travel essential you might not have thought about bringing with you to Britain is a power bank.
Yes, there is usually somewhere to charge your cell — and lots of trains and even national coaches like Megabus have sockets these days. And if you’re desperately low on battery when you’re out at a pub, then you can always ask if they can plug in your phone behind the bar (although make sure you buy a pint first!).
But to avoid the drama and stress of running out of battery when you’re in the middle of nowhere or you’ve just arrived at a new destination and you’re trying to find your hostel, then invest in a battery pack. They’ll help you out in tricky situations, and they’re a dream if you ever want to do any wild-camping and hiking adventures away from electricity.
You might be mistaken in thinking you can leave the sunscreen at home if you’re going to Britain on a backpacking trip. And yes, it’s not like heading to a hot Central American country where you’re likely to get guaranteed sunshine as you lie on a tropical beach with a coconut every day.
But if you’re going to visit in the British summertime, there is still a chance that you may burn if you’re out in the sun too long, especially if you’re sunbathing on a beach in the Gower or sitting in a park enjoying some tinnies. Those high hazy clouds are deceptive, and the sun can definitely burn through them.
If you’re going to spend any time by the sea or hiking, then it’s best to get a sunscreen that’s water-resistant and sweat-resistant.
Torches are ridiculously useful when you’re traveling, so why do so many of us forget them when we’re writing our packing lists?
You don’t have to be heading to the UK for an outdoor adventures-style trip full of camping, night hikes, and cave-exploring for a torch to come in handy (although if you are doing any of these, then I would definitely recommend bringing one).
No — even if you’re simply trying to make your way back from the pub at night and the country lanes aren’t lit, or you’re just trying to find something in your rucksack in a pitch-black dorm room, a torch is great. Trust me, that torch is your new best friend when you’re trying to climb up a triple bunk-bed in a 20-bed hostel dorm and you don’t want to make lots of enemies.
My top tip? Head torches are a great shout, keeping your hands free if you’re trying to find something in your bag or climb up a bunk.
Backpacking around Britain is one of the best things you can do — but deciding on what to pack in your rucksack can be a bit of a nightmare. The items above are travel essentials for women you may not have considered when planning your trip; pack them and your British backpacking adventure will go much, much smoother.