Thankfully, help is on hand: Muireann O’Dwyer from Aer Lingus shares her tips with us on what to bring, how to pack and what to wear at the airport…
What to bring
• Dressing for the weather
London enjoys fantastic summers with temperatures ranging from about 22-32°C. But the British weather is known for being a little bit unpredictable — you could be topping up your tan in Hyde Park one minute and sheltering from the rain in a café the next.
The solution? Layers, and lots of them. And ladies may want to bring a few pairs of light tights for the evenings too.
• Get sporty
If you like to stay active, bring some swimwear and a pair of lightweight trainers with you. London is full of fantastic jogging and cycling routes (you can easily hop on a Boris Bike when you get here) and whizz past major sights like Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London.
London has a great underground and bus network but you’ll probably get the most out of walking around the centre, so pack sensible, worn-in shoes.
• Evening elegance
You will also want to pack something dressy to wear in the evenings to dine out at the city’s finest restaurants or take in a show at Theatreland.
A linen suit looks very stylish and is lightweight enough for swanning around London in the summer. For ladies, pack at least one cocktail dress and try to rationalise how many shoes to take.
• Less is more
The biggest packing mistake you can make is taking too much, not too little.
London has been voted the shopping capital of the world for good reason. I challenge anyone to spend time in its department stores like Selfridges and Liberty, vintage markets in Camden or quirky boutiques and not leave laden with purchases. Pack one or two extra bags just in case.
Once you’ve laid out everything you want to take, edit heavily. And don’t forget that most good hotels will be able to provide you with things like shampoo and irons (hint: Guoman Hotels give you complimentary Elemis to pamper yourself with) so don’t bring your entire toiletry cabinet. If they don’t have what you need, most concierges will be happy to help you find it.
Leave maps, books and travel guides at home: modern technology means all you need is an app on your phone and perhaps a tablet or e-reader. But there’s so much to see in London that I doubt you’ll have much time to catch up on your reading.
Pack clothes within the same colour scheme. Even better, go for the Karl Lagerfeld monochrome look and just jazz the outfit up with some well-chosen accessories for a pop of colour. If you have a rough idea of what your itinerary will look like, try to think in terms of outfits rather than individual pieces.
Packing like a pro
Assembling everything you’re taking in your suitcase is a fine art that only few have mastered. Without order, you’ll be confronted with a heap of creased clothes, shampoo spillages and broken jewellery when you arrive.
This is how savvy frequent flyers do it:
• Line your suitcase with scented drawer liners to keep things smelling fresh
• Shoes and heavy things go in first to form a base layer
• The Guardian’s fashion writer Jess Crater-Morley suggests putting dresses and outfits on a hanger and slipping a garment bag over them to keep them protected
• Fold as little as possible (especially silks) and roll non-delicates
• Put any toiletries in sealed plastic bags
• Squish tissue paper, socks or t-shirts into gaps so everything doesn’t jiggle around, undoing all your hard work
What to wear on the plane
We’re used to seeing celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Miranda Kerr float through airports looking amazing, even after a long-haul flight. So the pressure is on for the rest of us.
Planes can get cold, so a pair of cashmere socks or a pashmina is worth the investment if you fly often.
Rather than packing them in your suitcase, wear your jeans on the plane and take your mac with you for extra warmth. But don’t go overboard like the gentleman who turned up at Guanzhou Baiyun International Airport in China wearing 60 shirts and nine pairs of jeans to avoid paying for extra luggage.
If you’re taking a jacket or a linen suit (which tends to crease just at the thought of being worn), wear it on board to minimise creasing. A smart jacket thrown over a plain t-shirt as you hop off the plane can instantly inject some style into an otherwise casual outfit.
Muireann O’Dwyer works at Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national airline.