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Items to make SURE to pack instead of purchasing in London because expensive

My 2 teenage boys, teenaged girl, and I (51YO female) will be traveling to several European countries soon, and we will be spending a week in London to kickstart everything. :-)

My husband works in Edinburgh a lot and tends to purchase a lot of his personal items after he arrives there, instead of packing and bringing them from home.

Excuse me if my ignorance makes this an especially stupid question… LOL!…
But, I wanted to know if there's anything particularly expensive in Great Britain, specifically London, that I should MAKE SURE to pack (besides clothes & shoes obviously) to avoid purchasing in London.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
908 posts

I am trying to think of what you'd need that would be that different in price. Travel size toothpaste (one per person) will last you a week. If you run out of something, step into a Boots or ofher pharmacy and you can find it there. I always pack one of everything in toiletries and a have a kit with ibuprofen, Band-Aids, basic fem hygiene just in case, etc. Only one of you needs to carry those "just in case" items.

I live in a high cost area of the U.S. You may live someplace where things cost less. It's all relative. Lodging and food will cost you in London--travel supplies not so much.

Posted by
324 posts

I would take OTC meds that you use at home. I use Aleve/ naproxen, but it's prescription only in the UK, or at least it was a year ago. I also have sinus problems and so I take what I know works for me, instead of chancing that I will find what I need, or needing it at 3 am. I can fit everything in a zipper sandwich bag, but for your family, it might be a quart bag.

Posted by
351 posts

Original Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is not available OTC in the UK.

Otherwise, I don't really recall toiletry things being noticeably more expensive. Head for Boots - their store brand products are a very good value, IMO.

Posted by
5360 posts

Yeah, I guess to add on to others comments, is there something you use (Deodorant, shampoo, skin care) that the brand you use is important? If so you might want to bring that, no guarantee that the same brands will be available. You don't mention curling irons, hair dryers, and other high current devices that some people can't live without, unless you have a dual voltage device, it might make sense to buy sometjing there that is compatible with the electrical system.

Posted by
2834 posts

For your teenaged girl, any time the parents go to London without the college girl, we have to stock up on Boots stuff for her because she says they're a lot cheaper there than in US.

Posted by
623 posts

I agree about OTC medications. Some of them that I'm used to, are available OTC at a chemist in the UK. Other things aren't. Either they require a prescription, or they just don't sell that medication at all. So take along a reasonable amount of whatever OTC meds you might need, and don't assume you can just buy one of those meds in the UK if you need it.

Posted by
2710 posts

Agree about taking your usual OTC meds with you.

During our last trip to England, I was surprised to find that I was allergic to several plants growing there. I encountered fields of yellow flowers--called Rapeseed--on our way from Salisbury out to Stonehenge. Made me sneeze and cough!! Tried several remedies bought at the chemist (drugstore) in England to no avail!! So take a couple of allergy remedies with you. When I go back to England, I will take Zyrtec with me and maybe another name brand to try. I was told by a UK resident that even people who aren't allergic to anything else are allergic to Rapeseed. They grow it there to make canola oil.

I would also take motion sickness relief pills. You never know when it will strike. Speaking of you never know when it's going to strike......do take a remedy for diarrhea (Pepto tablets maybe) and for the opposite; Miralax.

Also know they do not call them allergy meds in England, but "hay fever" meds. I took some of these. They must be like Benadryl or similar because I slept like a baby...all day long. Not what you want when you'd rather be out sightseeing. So get non-drowsy Benadryl to take with you.

Posted by
4536 posts

Allergies I know a lot about through experience ...

Most common non-drowsy antihistamine sold in the UK is Loratadine. This time of the year it is about £2 for 30 tablets (generic). This is a 3rd gen antihistamine whereas cetirizine (Zyrtec or UK formula of Benadryl) is 2nd. I guess you must have bought a 1st gen of some type.

Beclometasone nasal sprays are much cheaper than they are in the USA and are available OTC. Again they go on offer this time of the year for around £6 for 2.

Posted by
623 posts

Most common non-drowsy antihistamine sold in the UK is Loratadine.
This time of the year it is about £2 for 30 tablets (generic).

That brought back memories! Back in the 1990's I was delighted to find Claritin (brand name of the drug Loratadine) available OTC in London. It wasn't yet available OTC in the US and, at least for me, it was a huge step forward in allergy symptom relief. It was a bit expensive at that time, as OTC meds go, but I happily bought a few packets of it to take home with me. Now it's not only available OTC in the US, it's gone generic.

Posted by
2907 posts

If your teens have and use a favorite brand of antiperspirant I would bring that rather than buy something with a different formula in the U.K. Our teen had to have a family member bring more over during one of our long stays when we discovered that deodorants/antiperspirants weren't formulated the same way in Europe as American antiperspirants. It isn't a matter of expense but available formula.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks so much, everyone!

(as I just posted on another thread)

I personally have a lot of products/supplements/etc that help me with my health and wellness that I’m really struggling with what to cut. I don’t want to get sick during the 5 weeks we are gone.

I did get an Amazon UK account. My AirBnB host was happy to let me ship to him. So, I’m going to get a few things that way (and use up most during our week in London) without needing to pack as much! ;-D

Posted by
3319 posts

This is such a specific, silly thing but I find that sunscreen ("sun cream" in the UK) is much more expensive in Europe. I usually bring my own from home.

Posted by
4867 posts

Superdrug is much better value than Boots and has great own brand ranges, although their stores are not as widespread as Boots. Branches include Oxford Street and Strand near Charing Cross. Their own brand sun tan lotion is excellent and is far cheaper than most places in Europe.

Posted by
4536 posts

Another shop to add into that regard is Wilko.

Posted by
3547 posts

Bring your own washcloths. Many hotels in Europe do not supply facecloths with the towels. Carry yours in Ziplock for transport when damp.
For common toiletries, those small sample-sized portions are fairly expensive everywhere. Just plan ahead and when the product you are using is half empty, pop it into a suitcase and open a new one to use back home. Imodium (or generic equivalent) is the instant cork when struck by diarrhea and easily available. One of you could carry a small amount at all times since that particular complaint can rush upon you with appalling speed.
Marks and Spencer, C&A, and H&M stores sell good quality socks and underwear at reasonable prices, also providing a souvenir value when you wear the stuff back home.

Posted by
206 posts

Awww...I remember C&A! But they haven't been around for years, so your best bet for good underthings will be Marks & Spencers. There's the flagship M&S on Oxford Street; good stuff there.

Posted by
19161 posts

European trips are a great way to get rid of almost-worn-out washcloths. The thinner the better, because they'll dry faster, and washcloths packed while wet can get funky fast. But not white washcloths--too great a chance that hotel staff will grab them along with the usually-white towels to be laundered.

Posted by
1063 posts

"Awww...I remember C&A! But they haven't been around for years"

They're still around in Spain and maybe a few other European countries.

Posted by
8889 posts

And Germany and Switzerland. C&A is actually a Dutch company. German C&A was never the total bargain basement that British C&A was, but it is still cheap for basic clothes.

Washclothes (or "flannels" as they are called in English) are regarded as a personal item, like toothbrushes. I would never use somebody else's, I know where mine has been :-). But you can buy them cheap at Boots etc.

Posted by
697 posts

There's a C&A in Paris near Galleries Lafayette. I go into Galeries Lafayette & Printemps to drool but I go into C&A to actually buy stuff. LOL

Posted by
285 posts

Boots is a great source for toiletries, cosmetics, non-prescription meds, etc. On my last trip to the UK as I was chatting with the cashier while my purchases were being rung up, she told me that Boots was part of the U.S. Walgreen's chain. I forgot which company bought the other, but that the two companies would continue to function under their different names in their respective "home" countries.

Posted by
288 posts

I didn't buy it in England, but did in Portugal. I was shocked at the price of contact lens solution. And I agree with the sunscreen comment. In general we have found medications reasonable, but vitamins can be higher.

Posted by
4536 posts

Walgreens bought Alliance Boots in two stages, the latter being a previous merger of Alliance Unichem and the Boots Group. The top level company is Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.