How and what to pack for a vacation is one of the more challenging yet fun aspects of traveling. Each destination and season has its own nuances. Some people use packing lists for a vacation, while others wing it.
After more than a half-dozen trips to the Caribbean, I have a pretty good idea of what I’ll take along. The following list will help you as you pack for your next vacation. Some items are better suited to sunny climes, but you probably can use them sometime.
1. Wide-brimmed hat – Your nose and ears can really take a beating in the sun. Many people wear baseball caps, but those don’t cover the ears. While in Puerto Vallarta in 2010 I saw a lot of people sporting a straw-type cowboy hat. Guess it was the fad then, but more importantly, those hats cover the face, neck and ears well. You can also use a “boonie” hat, or the Gilligan’s Island/fisherman’s cap.
2. Comfortable pair of casual shoes – You’ll be walking on the beach and along the pool a lot, so pack a pair of cheap but comfortable shoes. Make sure they’re made of synthetic fabric, as they will be damp the entire week. Nothing dries out in those humid environments, even if you bring the item indoors. Shoes made of natural fabric, such as canvas, begin to stink after a few days. If need be, you can toss them at the end of the week, leaving no major dent in your budget.
3. Sunscreen and sunglasses – Sunscreen should have a minimum SPF rating of 30, and the sunglasses should be coated to block UVA and UVB rays. Bring along a lot of sunscreen and at least one extra pair of sunglasses. The stores in the resorts charge ridiculous prices for many basic items.
4. Holder for towel card and other stuff – I use the type provided to exhibitors at trade shows. (Some conferences hand them out to the attendees, as well.) Made of plastic or nylon and carried on a lanyard, it has enough room for the towel card, a watch (cheap one, of course), and some tip money. They normally are not water tight. Keep that in mind as you hop in the pool.
These holders are also very useful for kids. Tuck a note in there with identifying information, the name of your hotel or resort, and a cell number. If you ever get separated from your little one, it will be easier for authorities to track you down.
5. Fanny pack – Great for storing additional items such as room key (yes, some resorts use metal keys), sunscreen, camera, and other small items. As with the card holder, fanny packs aren’t waterproof, so remove it before jumping in the pool.
6. Lots of white or light-colored t-shirts – Everyone has a drawer-full of junk t-shirts. Whether from charity events, booze promotions, or a myriad other reasons, we have “t’s” that can be used for the cause. The light-colored fabric keeps you cooler, and you can toss ’em if they get stained with sunscreen or food.
7. Several plastic bags – Great for bringing home the damp and dirty clothing. Also a good idea to pack your liquids in plastic bags. Even a plastic bottle can burst while in flight. You don’t need that shampoo or suntan lotion coating everything inside your suitcase.
Vacationing is all about escaping the daily grind and letting your stress melt away. These suggestions will help you pack for your vacation properly.
For related reading, see How to stay safe with traveling.