The Ins and Outs of moving to study in the UK

International students, property rental expert Ian Muir is back! Space in a suitcase is precious when it comes to moving to another country, and this time Ian gives his advice on what and what not to pack.

In my previous “Don’t forget your toothbrush” article we highlighted the essentials of what you need to prepare, and to use a spreadsheet for managing the “project” of moving to the UK and deadlines. As a reminder, you can download a FREE copy of the Smart Student Guides packing spreadsheet here.

This article is about what you should pack,the Ins, and help you decide what you should NOT pack, the Outs. This may be somewhat different to what your parents may suggest – it isn’t practical to bring everything in your bedroom and kitchen (!!), and most consumer items can be bought easily and quickly, usually at a good price, in the UK.

I know it’s obvious, but before you start packing remember that each airline has different restrictions on weights and the size of cabin baggage, so it’s worth reading these BEFORE you buy your ticket to make sure that you will not incur additional costs. Then print out the details once you’ve booked.

Remember to pack…

  • Essential personal belongings e.g. passport,ID, wallet/purse, keys 
  • Essential documents e.g. travel tickets, university paperwork, tenancy agreement
  • Details of your accommodation, address and phone number
  • Laptop, with all your files backed up into the cloud
  • Plug adaptor(s) for the UK
  • Electrical charger leads
  • Mobile phone (it may be cheaper to buy one here in the UK)
  • Some cash in £ sterling for trains, buses, taxis, food
  • A prepaid cash card or credit card and bank details including phone numbers
  • List of important phone numbers on paper and/or saved online in case you lose your phone
  • A notepad and paper for any emergency notes 
  • Essential cosmetics and prescriptions
  • Some tissues and toilet paper for your hand luggage, just in case!
  • A few mementos from home, such as a family photos, favourite cuddly toy or recipes


It’s likely that the weather in the UK will be wetter and colder than you are used to, so if you can fit them in, bring the following. If your suitcase is getting a bit full though, you can always buy them here!

  • A raincoat (preferably with a hood)
  • A scarf
  • Gloves
  • Warm sweaters
  • Flip flops to use as slippers (they are lightweight and take up little space)

Also, you might want to bring:

  • Snack food that you can’t buy in the UK (when English people emigrate they miss things like tea, biscuits and tomato ketchup, so I am sure you will have some of your own favourites)
  • Travel size shampoo, soap and other toiletries as they are readily available and inexpensive in the UK
  • A small torch, especially if your mobile phone doesn’t have one. These are particularly helpful at night if you are trying to read documentation or find doorbells and locks
  • A Kindle or similar reader as it may save you carrying a number of heavy books


Once you have all these items packed, see what space you have left. You can then start thinking about what you’re going to have to leave behind. If you feel you have too many clothes, and especially for ladies, too many shoes that take up a lot of space, do some research on “capsule wardrobes”. I was introduced to the concept by a couple of stylish ladies who travelled a lot with their jobs and packed the minimum amount of clothes for a journey.  They also applied the principles to their wardrobes and the same principles could help you choose the essentials that you can build around.

I hope now you are prepared to get packing! Here are a few final pointers I hope will help:

  • Pack the (non-restricted) items you’ll need on your journey in your cabin baggage.
  • Give your friends and relatives your address in the UK and send them a message once you arrive at your destination.
  • Change the settings on your world clock so it also shows the time back home as well as in the UK – you don’t want to be phoning or texting people when they are asleep!


Have a safe journey to the UK and I wish you fun, excitement and a lifelong education beyond your academic studies.


Ian Muir is a property refurbisher, landlord, ex corporate trainer and author of ‘Smart Students Guides: Renting Property’. He wants to pass on his extensive knowledge so students save money, avoid the rogues and pitfalls and get their deposit refunded when renting property in the UK. His book will be on Amazon shortly; until then if you’d like a copy, send him an email at . 🙂




For more great information on how to have a happier and more successful time as a student sign up for our free guide about the most common student mistakes to avoid and how here !  🙂


Share this page on...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *