Cities Packing

What I Packed: Autumn in London

Associate Editor Shannon McMahon visited London for six days in October.

Associate Editor Shannon McMahon visited London for five days with Hilton Hotels.

Where: London’s South Bank and Kensington.

When: October

Packing Challenge: Checking a bag is always a challenge for me since it means prioritizing what’s important to have in my carry-on in case my checked luggage is lost. For this trip I definitely wanted to check a bag since I knew I’d be returning with more than I brought and would need warm sweaters, but didn’t want to bring too much bulky clothing. I also knew I would need outfits for both nightlife and walking around all day. Comfortable pieces that could be re-worn were key.

Weather: Rainy. London was such a cliche while I was there, with a lot of clouds, wind, and scattered showers. It never got too cold, but scarves and boots were required each day.

Type of Trip: I needed to pack for business dinners, exploring in the rain, an adventure travel activity at the O2 Arena, and two nights in a hostel on my own (lock, towel, shower shoes, etc.). Active clothing and comfortable flying clothes doubled as layers for colder days, and professional shirts and trousers were dressed up with jewelry for nightlife.

How Long: Five days on the ground, two days of traveling.

Mouse over the photos below for detailed explanations of the items I packed. Any time you see the Thinglink icon on a photo (bottom right), you can mouse over it to interact with the image.

What I Should Have Left Behind: I forgot that a standard adapter would be little help with an American curling iron, so couldn’t use it at all and wish I had left it at home. I also got little use out of the t shirts I brought, since long-sleeve shirts and sweaters worked better for layering. Between sleeping on my red-eye flights and working I didn’t get to read much, but having the option to open a paperback gave me some self-assurance in case my in-flight entertainment failed on the six hour flight.

What I Should Have Packed: I took a chance and didn’t bring an adapter with me since I knew the hotel would have them and that I could charge my iPhone via USB at the airport. This worked out great until I switched over to the hostel, and I finally gave in and bought one. I also found myself wishing I had a hat on windier days that kept pushing my winter coat’s hood off my head. I didn’t mind the excuse to buy one there, however.

More from SmarterTravel:

Shannon McMahon keeps track of travels trends and advice and is always planning her next trip. Follow her adventures on Twitter @shanmcmahon_.

(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

By Shannon McMahon

Editor Shannon McMahon is always planning her next trip and often writing in her travel journal. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_ and on Instagram @shanmcmahon.

Shannon joined SmarterTravel in 2015. A former news reporter, she's lived in the south of Spain, spotted elephants in Sri Lanka, gone spelunking in the Caribbean, hiked Jordan's Petra Basin, interviewed Sao Paulo's Michelin-Star chefs, and explored China via bullet train. Travel trends, news oddities, and her visits to up-and-coming destinations are some of her favorite things to write about.

Her stories have also appeared online on USA Today, The Sun, Huffington Post, Business Insider,,, and more. Her educational background is in journalism, art history, gender studies, Spanish, and film. She's been quoted as an expert travel source by CNBC,, MarketWatch, The Washington Post, USA Today, and more.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Plenty of extra thick hair elastics. They tame my frizzy curls and come in handy in a surprising number of packing and hotel dilemmas."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Climbing (yes, climbing, it's steep!) the Great Wall of China before it's gone."

Travel Motto: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window, of course."

Email Shannon at