Whether you’re a first-timer or a globetrotter, packing for a trip is always a little daunting. Few things are as frustrating as realizing you forgot to pack your swimsuit, walking shoes, or favorite beach dress. While you can often buy essential pieces wherever you’re going, it’s always easier to be prepared and organized before your arrival.
So regardless of where you’re jetting off for your holiday, this list of vacation staples has some of the non-negotiables that you want to be sure are packed in your suitcase or women’s duffel bag before you hit the road.
You never know when you may need a swimsuit. If you’re headed somewhere where you know you will be swimming, be sure to pack at least two swimsuits so that you have options and something else to wear if one swimsuit is wet. If you’re traveling somewhere where you don’t anticipate swimming, pack one swimsuit to be safe. Even if you don’t use them, swimsuits are small, lightweight, and don’t take up lots of room in your suitcase. They’re worth bringing along just in case you find that your hotel has a lap pool or that your next-door neighbors have a hot tub, and they extend an invitation for “après ski.”
Like a swimsuit, you never know when you’re going to get invited to something special. Bringing along a couple of location-appropriate dresses is important, but so is bringing along one nicer women’s dress, just in case. When traveling, we tend to meet new people, which is often a part of what makes traveling exciting and special. You never know when you’re going to get invited to a Michelin-starred restaurant, a wedding reception, or a fancy cocktail soiree at someone’s villa. It’s always best to be prepared for anything. Choose a lightweight dress that’s easy to pack down so you can save space in your suitcase.
Most of us count the number of days we’ll be away and bring along a corresponding number of undergarments. This is usually fine, but we don’t want to find ourselves in a scenario where we have no clean underwear. While most hotels and rentals have laundry services, if you need some clean underwear pronto, you may not want to wait until you get your laundry back. You can always wash underwear yourself in the sink, but why worry about laundering while on vacation? Save yourself the trouble and pack at least a few pairs of extra underwear.
Even if you’re headed to a tropical island or the beach, you should always bring a sweater. Airports and planes tend to be cold, and air conditioners can also have you wishing you brought along something warmer. If you’re traveling to somewhere super hot, perhaps bring along a lightweight cotton sweater to have as another layer. Otherwise, you may want to pack something even warmer. Cashmere is great because it packs down super well and is very light to carry. Wherever you’re headed on your vacation, an extra sweater in your bag is a travel essential you will be glad to have.
Sleepwear is often overlooked when packing because vacationers are busy deciding on their outfits for all of the social activities they have planned. (We’ve been there!) But packing comfy items to sleep in is important. Just make sure to pack the right sleepwear for wherever you’re headed. For example, a cotton sleep shirt may be best for a warmer destination, while a flannel pajama set may be better for a cold-weather vacation. Depending on how long you’ll be away, you may need to bring just one set. But if you have the space, it never hurts to pack an extra pair.
What you choose to take on vacation with you is, of course, dependent on where you’re going. If you’re off to the Bahamas, think sarongs and beach dresses. Off to wander the streets of Rome? Bring your most stylish streetwear and comfortable walking shoes. Skiing in Lake Tahoe? Sweaters and gear. But, regardless of where you’re going, it’s good to bring at least one set of the basics. This means pants or shorts, a t-shirt or tank top, long sleeves, and a women’s skirt or dress. You’ll be able to fall back on these essentials when you’ve worn all the outfits that you’ve planned for your trip (or if disaster strikes in the form of spills, rips, or tears. They are also great for those moments when you need to be wearing something low-key and comfortable, like when going through airports.
A hat is definitely a travel essential. Whether you’re blocking rays on a sunny beach or keeping your head warm on some mountain top, don’t forget to bring a hat. Some hats are d to pack, so either plan to wear your hat while on airplanes and traveling or opt for packable styles that are easy to put in your suitcase.
Packing smart is key to bringing the essentials without overpacking. Plan ahead with a packing list that includes these vacation essentials, and you’ll be sure to be ready to hit the road for your holiday.