Things to buy before you travel to the UK

Shopping before travelling to a foreign country will be confusing especially if you are doing it for the first time. You might tend to buy a lot of things and not able to carry them with you, or buy only less stuff and spend more money on your first few days abroad. This guide helps you to buy the important things you would need to buy before travelling to the UK. This guide is mostly intended for people from India, but can be used by other citizens as per your needs.

As a general rule of thumb, the idea I use is to buy more things that costs less than 1 pound (INR 100 from your country) and are lightweight, or special foods that are available only in your country. Goal is to maximise cost:weight ratio. However, please note that the lesser the weight, the more easier for you.

  1. Universal travel adapters - Buy these as many as you need because UK houses have square plugs and not the round ones. Check for Ampere rating while buying. Recommended to buy 4 nos.

  2. Extension cord - You can use it with your travel adapter to increase the number of plug points available.

  3. Vapouriser - Steam vapouriser you use when you are suffering from fever or cold.

  4. Jackets - Buy a summer jacket or winter jacket based on the time you are travelling. Recommended to buy 2.

  5. Vacuum bags - Resealable vacuum bags which allows you to compress your clothes and put in suitcases. Make sure you carry the vacuum pumps that came with it because you can use the same to pack clothes back on your return journey. Recommended to buy only 1 packet with 1 large, 1 medium and 1 small vacuum bag.

  6. Suitcase with TSA Lock - TSA Locks can be opened by custom officials without you requiring to open it for them. You can either buy suitcase and separate TSA Lock (cheaper), or suitcases with inbuilt TSA Locks. It is recommended to buy coloured suitcases because mainstream or black suitcases will be harder to spot from the pile of luggages in the airport while collection. Also check the dimensions allowed by your airlines before you purchase this. Buy as per the weight and dimensions your airlines allow you to carry.

  7. Thermals - Buy inner thermals from Jockey or Decathlon because these are essential in winter and is cheaper. It is recommended to buy atleast 3 of them.

  8. Pressure cookers - Eventhough these are bulky, buying this is recommended because it is expensive and hard to find in the UK (available in Indian stores). Buy spare washers and safety plugs also.

  9. Travel Accessory Bag - A small bag to keep your electronics items (all your chargers, wires, pendrives, accessories) which can be carried in luggage, and can be easily seperated during airport entry clearance.

  10. Mixer Grinder - Better to take it if you want to grind urad or consume more Indian food. You will get mixers in the UK but they are mostly blenders used to prepare fruit juices and not manufactured to perform heavy grinding.

  11. Hair Combs - Just because it is way cheaper in India and lightweight to carry. Buy 5-10 of them because these can be easily lost or misplaced.

  12. Spectacles - Have an eye test and buy spectacles if you need it. Also carry a spare spectacles because a good one will cost much than in India.

  13. Tablets and medications - Buy tablets/medications you consume regularly. If they are antibiotics, make sure you carry the prescription with you.

  14. Utensils - Specially made utensils to prepare foods that you like to have, tea strainers, or utensils that help you prepare essential foods for the initial days you are in the UK.

  15. Slippers - It is hard to spot slippers in the stores here.

  16. Shoes - Buy a good clean pair of shoes because sandals are not normally used outside. You need not buy more than a pair because anyway you would be buying shoes as per the season in the country you are travelling to (to use in snow, or rain).

  17. Spices - Pepper, cardamom, Garam masala.

  18. Chips and savouries those are available only in your country.

  19. Your local language books - if you have any in your reading list. You can carry it in your hands so that it is not accounted while weighing your luggage.

  20. Playing cards - if you are interested in playing UNO, Monopoly Deal, etc - just because they are way cheaper, not because they are unavailable in the UK.

  21. Ball point pens - because most of the pens in the UK are 1.0 mm, while the pens from India have good points (0.5 mm - 0.7mm) and are cheaper.

  22. Nail cutters, safety pins, needle and threads for stitching, staplers - just because they are cheap, and might turn useful.

  23. Photocopies of your important documents.

  24. File organiser for your documents.

  25. An international roaming plan for your SIM

Recommended not to buy

  1. Electronic items - Laptops and Mobiles - They are cheaper in the UK and Canada than that in India.

  2. Rice - not worth to carry it because these are heavy and does not give considerable cost:weight advantage.

  3. White powders - especially if they are unlabelled, just to avoid any inconvenience.

  4. Oils - All sorts of oils are available in the UK, and carrying them poses unnecessary risk of inflammation, or spilling over your stuff.