It's that time of year were we are all ready for a bit of sunshine in our life, and a tropical vacation is a great way to escape the cold winter weather. But before you can enjoy those sunny beaches, you need to pack your bags!
You are in the right place because we are sharing a tropical vacation packing list of essential items you need to bring with you on your trip. From sunscreen to insect repellent, we have got you covered!
What to pack for a tropical vacation: Clothing & Accessories
When planning your tropical vacation packing list, you want to make sure you are packing clothing that is appropriate for the location you are visiting and comfortable.
No one wants to spend a week wearing uncomfortable clothing, and here are some essentials you should be sure to include in your packing list.
Dresses and skirts
Dresses and skirts are fabulous for tropical settings! Not only are they light and airy, but they also allow you to dress up or dress down depending on the occasion.
Shorts and t-shirts
Shorts and t-shirts are a tropical vacation packing list essential. These pieces of clothing can be worn during the day while exploring, at the beach, or even out to dinner. Just remember if you stay at a resort or plan to go to a fancy dinner, make sure you know the dress code beforehand.
While many tropical locations are casual, some may require men to wear long pants for dinner, for example. Either way, pack lightweight fabrics that won't leave you feeling hot and sticky in the warm, humid air.
Wide Brimmed Hat
A wide-brimmed hat is a must-bring item when packing for a tropical vacation. Not only will it help keep you cool, but it will also protect your face from potential sunburns. A cute floppy or fedora-style hat can be the perfect finishing touch to any tropical outfit!
Remember to add a beach bag to your tropical vacation packing list. A beach bag is essential for carrying all your belongings to the beach and keeping them safe from sand and water. Opt for a waterproof bag.
Bikinis & Swimsuits
No tropical vacation packing list is complete without packing your favorite swimsuits. Pack at least two to three different styles, so you can switch them up if desired.
A cover-up is a must-have item for your tropical destination. It provides extra coverage at the beach and can also be used as a stylish accessory when walking around town. Pick one that matches your swimwear, and you will be all set!
Sunglasses are a must-have item for tropical vacation destinations. Invest in a good pair that will protect your eyes from the sun and make you look stylish!
Leave your sneakers at home and go for sandals instead. Sandals are perfect for tropical settings because they allow your feet to breathe while being supportive. Make sure to choose a pair that is comfortable but stylish so you can wear them during the day and in the evening.
Small clutch purse or Bumbag
You will also want to pack a small clutch purse or Bumbag for your tropical vacation. This can be used as a wallet when out and about. It is also great for carrying items such as hand sanitizer and other essentials in the evening when you don't want to carry a large bag around.
Be sure to pack at least one pair of flip-flops that you can be worn at the beach or around the pool during the day.
I know we said to leave the sneakers at home; however, depending on the activities you have planned while on vacation, you should pack a pair of sneakers. For example, if you plan on going hiking or going for a jog in the morning, you want to ensure you have a good pair of sneakers for those activities.
The evenings can get slightly cool depending on the time of year you visit a tropical destination. Also, many resorts pump the air conditioning, so if you are dining indoors in the evening, you may want a light sweater to keep you comfortable.
During the winter time, even the tropics can have a bit of a chill in the air during the evenings. If you are visiting during the winter months, pack a light jacket just in case. While your days will be warm in the winter, the nights can get chilly, so you want to be prepared just in case.
Pack a pair of water shoes if you plan on doing any water activities or exploring tropical reefs. These protect your feet from sharp rocks and other hazards in tropical waters.
Bonus Tip: Before packing your clothing for your tropical vacation, consider treating them with Permethrin. This is an excellent alternative to body-worn insect repellent. Ranger Ready's Permethrin 0.5% is a great option, lasting up to 40 days or 5 washes.
Before packing you can also treat your suitcase as well. Spray your suitcase and clothing and let it all air dry for about 2 hours. Once your clothes are treated you are ready to pack them away and be protected from bugs such as mosquitos, ticks and even bed bugs during your entire trip.
What to pack for a tropical vacation: The Essentials
Now that we have all the clothing and accessories out of the way let's talk about the travel essentials you will need for your tropical vacation.
Packing cubes are a lifesaver when packing for a tropical vacation. They allow you to organize your clothing and make packing and unpacking much more manageable.
For example, you can use packing cubes to separate your outfits based on activity, or for a shorter trip, you can use packing cubes to keep your family's clothes separate. They are also a great space saver when packing for longer trips.
In tropical climates, mosquitoes and other insects can be a nuisance. Packing insect repellent is always a good idea. Ranger Ready's Picaridin 20% Body Worn repellent is the perfect travel accessory for your tropical beach vacation. Insect bites are no fun, and we don't want bugs to ruin your tropical holiday so make sure to grab a few travel-size bottles to have with you at all times.
Bonus Tip: In addition to protecting yourself from mosquito bites with bug repellent, you can also use Ranger Ready's Permethrin 0.5% to treat your luggage and surfaces in your hotel room, such as the bed and sofas, to prevent bed bugs.
Many tropical destinations are known for the warm weather and hot sun, so you want to wear sunscreen and not get burned. The tropical sun can be harsh and damaging to your skin, so protecting yourself with SPF 30 or higher reef-safe sunscreen is essential.
Reusable Water Bottle
The tropical climate can be scorching and humid so staying hydrated is essential. Pack an insulated reusable water bottle that you can use to keep your water cold and stay hydrated all day long while playing under the hot sun. There are even water bottles that come with a built-in filter, so you know that you will always have clean drinking water.
Microfiber Beach Towel
Beach towels can take up a lot of space in your luggage; however, microfiber beach towels are a great alternative. They only take up a little space and dry quickly after use, so you don't have to carry a soaking wet beach towel everywhere.
Another travel essential for your tropical trip is hand sanitizer. You want to protect yourself and stay as safe as possible when traveling. Pack a hand sanitizer like Ranger Ready's Alcohol 80% hand sanitizer spray to avoid getting sick from touching multiple surfaces.
What to pack for a tropical vacation: Toiletries
First Aid Kit
Packing a first aid kit when traveling, no matter where you go is always a good idea. In tropical climates, you can encounter cuts, scrapes, stings, and potential allergic reactions that need immediate attention.
Pack some essentials like bandages, antiseptic cream, and allergy medications, just in case. Also, pack some essential remedies for headaches or stomach issues.
Hairbrush & Hair Accessories
Bring a hairbrush and your favorite hair styling products. Also, remember to bring some hair ties, bobby pins, and clips to keep your hair off your face while out in the tropical heat.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Pack a toothbrush and toothpaste as part of your tropical vacation packing list. While you can pick up these items at your destination, it can get costly, and you want to avoid dealing with the extra cost.
Shampoo & Conditioner
Find travel-size bottles of your favorite shampoo and conditioner for your tropical vacation packing list. This will save you money rather than purchasing these items during your trip. Keep in mind that some hotels provide these amenities so if you want to save space in your luggage, be sure to check ahead of time.
Deodorant & Perfume/Cologne
Remember to pack a good deodorant or antiperspirant to stay fresh while on a tropical getaway. Also, don't forget to pack a small bottle of your favorite perfume or cologne in case you want to feel extra fancy.
Makeup & Beauty Products
Pack the basics like mascara, lip balm, and foundation if you wish. The tropical sun can be harsh so bring along some moisturizer with SPF for your face to keep it looking its best.
Nail Care Kit
One of the worse things is to get a hang nail or for your polish to chip while on vacation. It's a good idea to bring a nail care kit with you. Include some nail clippers, files, and a few of your favorite nail polishes to rock tropical nails all week long.
What to pack for a tropical vacation: Electronics
The goal is to unplug during your vacation; however, sometimes, you need some electronics to capture memories, stay connected to friends and family at home, and enhance your experience.
Bring a good camera to capture all the tropical beauty you will experience. A compact digital camera is perfect for a tropical vacation destination as it is light and easy to carry around; however, it still provides great-quality photos.
Waterproof phone case
If you plan to take photos with your phone, bring a waterproof phone case. This way, you can take photos at the beach or pool without worrying about damaging your phone.
Portable Charger and Power Bank
Bring a reliable and compact portable charger that can last through your tropical vacation. A power bank will prevent you from worrying about running out of battery while on the go.
Under Water Camera
If you plan on snorkeling or diving, an underwater camera is a significant investment to capture those tropical sea views.
Make sure to pack a phone charger compatible with the outlets in the country you are visiting.
A travel adapter is a must for some tropical destinations. It will allow you to plug your electronics into different outlets. Keep in mind that voltage can vary depending on the location, so do your research to ensure that you have the proper adaptor for your electronics.
Headphones and Earbuds
For the flight, noise-canceling headphones are a must. Earbuds are also great, so you can enjoy your favorite music or podcasts on the beach or during your morning walks.
What to pack for a tropical vacation: Travel Documents
Your passport is an absolute necessity when traveling abroad to many Caribbean Islands. It may seem like an obvious thing to bring, but double-check—you don't want to miss this one! Your passport may be required to enter the country as well as even check into your hotel so it should be kept on your person during your trip. Also, be sure to double-check that the expiration date on your passport is still valid before packing it!
Travel Insurance Documents
It is always wise to purchase travel insurance before any vacation. Doing so will provide coverage if something goes wrong while abroad or at home during your trip. Make sure you keep all paperwork regarding your travel insurance with you and back home in case of emergency.
Visa (if required)
Depending on where you are going, some countries may require that visitors obtain a visa before entering their country. Thoroughly research what type of visa will be necessary for your destination.
This can be done online or at the embassy or consulate of the destination country in your home country. Make sure to apply for any necessary visas before departure day!
Boarding passes are another essential item that you should pack when going on a tropical vacation abroad. Most airline carriers allow you to check in ahead of time (usually 24-48 hours before your flight).
You'll need these printed out or stored digitally on your smartphone to board airplanes and other transportation throughout your journey. Have these ready before arriving at the airport so that boarding is easy and stress-free!
Credit and Debit Cards
Most places are not going cashless making credit cards an essential when going on a tropical vacation abroad. Just remember to alert your bank and credit card companies before leaving. This ensures uninterrupted service while away from home!
What not to pack for a tropical vacation
Your tropical vacation is a time to relax and unwind— so leave valuables such as jewelry, watches, or expensive items at home. Not only will this relieve you of worrying about the safety of your belongings, but it also eliminates extra packing!
Pack light and bring breathable fabrics— tropical vacations are hot and humid, so heavier fabrics should be avoided. Also pack light pieces that can easily be mixed and matched to create different looks for each day of your trip while still saving space in your luggage.
Too Much Cash
Only bring enough cash with you for incidentals such as food, transportation, and souvenirs on vacation. Bring only what you need— this will help limit the theft risk. Use credit/debit cards for larger purchases, and be sure to let your bank know that you are traveling abroad, so they don't freeze your card.
Keep in mind that most places are moving towards cashless systems so while cash is great for shopping locally you may start to find that a lot of establishments no longer take cash.
Too Many Electronics
There's no need to take everything with you on tropical vacations. Bring only what you'll actually use, and leave the rest behind. Additionally, be aware of the type of plug required to visit.
Creating a Tropical Vacation Checklist
Before you start packing, there are a few things you should think about to ensure that you are packing all the essentials for your tropical vacation.
Check the Weather
The weather in the tropics can be unpredictable—it can change quickly. It's essential to check the forecast ahead of time to know what to expect during your trip. This will also help you plan activities and choose clothing and sunscreen accordingly.
How Long is Your Trip?
Knowing how long your trip will be will help you decide which items should go on your checklist. For instance, if it's a short trip, then you won’t have to pack as much as if you were going for a longer trip.
What kind of Activities Will You Be Doing?
Are there any specific activities that you want to do while on vacation? Whether it's kayaking or snorkeling, ensure that these activities are accounted for on your checklist so that everything goes smoothly when it comes time for them. Additionally, if any of these activities require special gear or equipment, research whether you can rent this equipment instead of lugging your own.
What do you pack for a tropical vacation?
A tropical vacation checklist is essential to ensuring that you have everything you need while on vacation. By creating a checklist and packing accordingly, you can avoid any stressful moments during your trip.
Make sure to check the weather forecast and pack clothes and essentials such as insect repellent and sunscreen. Also be sure to bring along any necessary gear or equipment for specific activities that you plan on doing. Most importantly, relax and enjoy your tropical vacation!
*This post is sponsored by Ranger Ready. All opinions are our own.