How to Pack for a Tropical Holiday Getaway

How to Pack for a Tropical Holiday Getaway

Every year, when December rolls around, out comes the Christmas and winter holiday music. And even though “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” may be playing in the background as you do your grocery or present shopping, the reality is that in many parts of the country, not to mention the world, Christmas is anything but white. It’s equally true that for many people who live in the northern parts of the country or at higher elevations, snow may be present but not desirable. So if you are planning on spending your winter holiday break sipping drinks by a hotel pool in the Caribbean instead of shoveling snow from the steps or driveway, you’re not alone. Read on for some tips on how to pack for a holiday getaway.


Whether you’re going to be sipping drinks by the pool with other grownups or digging sandcastles at the beach with your kids, packing at least two bathing suits is a must. If you’re planning on purchasing new swimwear, you won’t even have to prowl through the sales racks in hopes of finding something decent from the summer offerings. Manufacturers are well aware that winter is high travel season for tropical destinations, so whether your tastes run to skimpy bikinis or modest one-piece suits, you’re sure to find lots of options. Given that you’ll be close to the equator, sunscreen is an absolute necessity, but you may also want to consider sun protection swimwear as well. Look for bathing suits with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50 or higher. UPF 50 swimwear will protect your skin even when your bathing suit is wet. You’ll still need to apply (and reapply) sunscreen to the exposed parts of your body, though.

Be sure to pack one swimsuit and your sunscreen, as well as a beach cover-up, flip-flops, sunhat, sunglasses, and a crushable beach tote, in your carry-on bag. This way, if you want to go straight to the pool or beach once you check in to your hotel or resort, you won’t have to wait for the rest of your luggage to follow you up to your room and then dig through the suitcase to find your swimwear.

Tops and Bottoms

You’ll want to pack a few T-shirts and maybe a couple of cute tank tops. Look for clothing made from natural fibers—cotton, bamboo, hemp, and linen—that breathe and allow air to flow, thus keeping you cooler. It’s also not a bad idea to bring a classic long-sleeve white shirt you can wear alone or layered over a tank top. Depending on whether you leave the sleeves rolled up or down, the shirt or shirttails tucked in or not, you can create multiple looks with this one item of clothing.

Add a couple of pairs of shorts and at least one pair of capri pants; the latter will be perfect for evenings when you want to dress up without donning a dress. If you have room, also pack a dressy but casual top, such as a flowy tunic top. To minimize the amount of clothing you have to bring, your pants and most of your tops should be in neutral hues but include a couple of colorful tops to relieve the monotony of wearing only neutrals.


Be sure to pack one or two dresses for your getaway, but to maximize your clothes’ versatility, your dress should be able to double as a cover-up and take you from the beach or pool to a restaurant or souvenir shop. A maxi dress is a great option because you can change your look from super casual to super chic simply by swapping out your shoes and accessories. It’s also a good idea to throw a coordinating scarf or cardigan into your carry-on bag. Not only will one come in handy during breezy tropical evenings, but it will also be useful should you feel chilly during the flight to your destination.


Although you don’t want to fill your suitcase with shoes, you’ll need to bring a minimum of three pairs. First, you’ll need flip-flops or water shoes for taking you to the beach or pool. Water shoes are handy if you’re planning on going in the ocean because they will help protect your feet from unexpected encounters with sea urchins, eels, and fish with venomous spines—not to mention the rocks! A pair of sandals will dress up any outfit while still being suitable for dining out or strolling down a street while window shopping. Finally, if you’re planning on doing a lot of walking, a pair of sneakers or walking shoes are an absolute necessity.

By carefully planning out what you need to pack, you’ll be prepared for your tropical holiday getaway. With a little luck, you’ll be able to get everything into your carry-on bag and won’t have to check your luggage, so you’ll be able to avoid the baggage claim and get started on your vacation right away.


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