New Students: Travelling and What to Pack

Are you a new student coming to Edinburgh this September? No doubt you will be very excited, but also a bit anxious about what lies ahead. At the International Student Advisory Service, we have detailed information on our website and blog to help you with travelling to the UK, choosing accommodation, local customs, visa matters and much more.

This blog provides information and guidance to help you plan your journey to Edinburgh and what you should pack in your suitcase(s) before you leave home.



By plane

The easiest and most direct way to reach Edinburgh is by flying to Edinburgh Airport. If there is no direct flight from your current location to Edinburgh Airport you could fly to another UK airport and then reach Edinburgh via connecting flight, train or bus.

It’s worth checking out flight comparison websites such as Skyscanner or Kayak to find the cheapest routes available to you.

If you are planning to get a connecting flight to Edinburgh from another airport in the UK, you will probably book with a budget airline. It is a good idea to check their policy about baggage allowance, as this is likely to be a lot more restrictive than an international flight (usually restricted to one case of 20 kilos, plus small hand luggage), and the airline will charge you a lot of money if your suitcase is over the weight restriction.

Airport Welcome

The University offers an Airport Welcome service for incoming international students. There will be a friendly team of Student Ambassadors to welcome you to Edinburgh and help direct you to your onward travel into the city. You can identify them easily by their hooded tops with the University logo. They will be based at Edinburgh Airport on Friday 8th, Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of September from 8am to 10pm.

By train or bus

You can search for connecting trains from other UK cities like London and Manchester using Trainline. The two main railway stations are Edinburgh Waverley and Edinburgh Haymarket. Both are well connected for further tram or bus travel. The main bus station is located at St Andrew’s Square, just a few minutes’ walk from Princes Street. Check out Megabus and National Express for bus offers.


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The first thing to remember when it comes to packing is that the more you pack, the more you will have to carry around with you! It is a good idea to pack as little as possible – you will be able to get everything you need when you are here.  There may be certain products or brands that you won’t be able to get here, but you will get used to the alternatives.

Clothes – September is the beginning of autumn in Scotland, so while it might not be very cold yet, you will still need to have some warm clothes, such as long trousers and jumpers.  Layers are useful as the Scottish weather is notoriously unpredictable!  You will be able to buy warm clothes in Edinburgh to get you through the winter, but it is important that you have something for the first few days.

Make sure you prepare with some sturdy shoes and a warm and waterproof jacket (a trench coat, for example), as it can rain quite a lot!

Toiletries –  You can buy toiletries cheaply in Edinburgh if you shop around, so you don’t need to bring a lot with you.  However, if you are on a long flight, or if you have to change flights a number of times, you might want to bring some toiletries in your hand luggage to freshen up while you are travelling, like your toothbrush and some toothpaste, or baby wipes.

Medicines – If you take regular medication, you have a few options available.

You could bring a sufficient amount with you without applying for a licence, provided what you have is not a controlled drug. Alternatively, you could consult with a doctor in the UK once you have registered with the National Health Service (NHS). They will be able to review the medication and, if possible, they may be able to switch your existing medication to a similar alternative which is licensed and available through the NHS.

Food – It’s not advisable to pack food as there are strict rules for importing food from overseas. Remember Edinburgh is a cosmopolitan city with many specialist and international shops and restaurants, so you might be able to find your favourite foods here. You might find it useful to take a look at our Food Shopping Guide.


Other items – You might find what to consider the following items:

  • Plug adaptors for electrical items (UK plug sockets take three rectangular pins – Type G)
  • Favourite photos of friends and family, posters and pictures – they will make you feel at home in your new room
  • Write down important names, addresses and phone numbers (for example, the number of the accommodation where you will stay for the first night)
  • It’s a good idea to keep a scanned copy of your passport, visa and any other documents in your email account.  This way you can access them at any time if your documents are lost or stolen.

Hand luggage – You should carry all of your valuable items in your hand luggage.  Never put cash or other valuables in your check-in luggage.

You should also pack:

  • Your passport and visa
  • Any cash / credit cards / travellers’ cheques (you are strongly advised not to carry large amounts of cash)
  • The original certificates of your academic qualifications that you used to apply for your visa
  • Your CAS statement (this is a print out of the email you have receive through MyEd) or student visitor invitation letter
  • Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK
  • Your student accommodation contract or evidence showing where you will stay when you arrive
  • Marriage and birth certificates (if you are travelling with your dependants)
  • Any essential medication
  • Your mobile phone / tablet
  • Printed confirmation of your travel tickets
  • A full list of the contents of your check-in luggage

There also some helpful hints on what to pack on the British Council website.




Remember that there are restrictions on what you are allowed to take on board a flight. Check each airline’s terms and conditions for full details.  There are also restrictions on what you can bring into the UK.  For example, some foods, drink and plants are restricted. Find full information about this on the HM Revenue and Customs website.


Make sure you check the maximum luggage weight and size limits with your airline to avoid excess charges. You should also be aware of airline security regulations as this will affect what you can carry in your hand luggage. Remember to pack all important documents in your carry-on bag.


It is important to remember safety when you are travelling, especially if you are travelling a long distance, or if you are alone.  Make sure to keep your valuables like your passport and money in a safe place on your person, such as in a money belt. Remember to watch your surroundings and stay in well-lit places where there are plenty of people.

There are lots of useful blogs and websites that give great information about booking travel, packing and travel safety, such as Skyscanner, Lonely Planet and the British Council.  Read as much as you can – the more prepared you are, the easier it will be.  And remember, you can ask the International Student Advisory Service anything by emailing us at

You can find further advice on living in Edinburgh on our website and information for new students on the University’s New Students website.


Categories: New Students, Practical Guides

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