Packing tips for a tropical vacation

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Every great vacation starts with some smart packing. What to take? What to leave behind? Well, the second one is not too tough. In the tropics, you will not need your snow shoes or your winter coat. Actually, the questions are probably not about what to take but about how much.

Be concerned about what will be forgotten.


While you can often pick up something that was left behind after you arrive, this may take time away from your fun. After all, tropical vacations have one thing in common. They are always too short. To lessen the odds of leaving something important behind, make a list. Many people are opposed to this. However, when you are traveling a thousand miles or more from home, making a list seems like a small price to pay to be able to pack your essential items.

Start the list a month or so before you are scheduled to leave.


Put everything on it that you believe you might need. It is easier to remove an item from the list than to try and remember what you thought that you might need later. As you pack, cross off items as you pack them. If you pack something not on the list, add it on. This will keep you from having to unpack just before you leave to see if you packed the camera.

As you pack, remember it is hot some days and hotter on others in the tropics.


It is highly unlikely that you will need anything with long sleeves except for perhaps some of your formal wear during cooler evenings. Shorts and short sleeves or sleeveless are usually the best clothing items to pack for your day to day wear. If you have some type of adventure planned, you may need to pack special clothing for that day. Pack sandals rather than shoes for most daily wearing. If you are not used to sandals, you can go for athletic shoes instead. Do not forget the deodorant.

Plan for water.


You will need more than one bathing suit for most tropical vacations. The humidity in many areas slows down the drying process. Unless you really like putting on a wet bathing suit, take two or three. A beach towel or two is a good idea. Most tropical resorts and cruise ships furnish hair dryers, but take a small along just in case. If snorkeling is allowed, you may want to pack your own gear for this. It can be rented cheaply in some places, but the sanitation is questionable. An inexpensive pair of water shoes will be helpful if you are going anywhere other than the pool to get wet.

Take protection from the sun.


If you live in the temperate zone or above you rarely get to experience the sun in the way that it shines down everyday in the tropics. Even in winter, the tropical sun can give you a nasty burn. Pack sunscreen that is at least 45+. You need a couple of pair of sunglasses in case you lose one. Pack a hat with a brim to protect your ears and neck if you will be out in the sun for extended periods.

Carry some over the counter medicines with you.


Take along some type of pain reliever just in case you overdo the adventure side of the trip. You need something to prevent various stomach disorders from cropping up or staying around. If you are subject to motion sickness you may want to get a prescription for a patch. At the same time, get fresh refills on all prescription drugs so that you will not run out of a necessary medication.

Pack all of your travel documents in a carry on bag.


Your passport, tickets, boarding passes, and any other needed travel documents need to be packed. It is a good idea to make some photocopies of some of these documents. Leave a copy with a friend or family member and pack a copy into your suitcase that you will not be using for carry on.

Do not concentrate on packing lightly unless you are trying to avoid paying luggage charges to an airline.


Most tropical trips are a long enough for you to need more than you might think. Packing in a few potential necessities can be a plus. Generally, you will be able to get by with a very large suit case and a travel bag. You may need an additional bag for your laptop and other small items. Pack plenty of batteries for any gadgets that are travelling with you. This is especially true for you camera. If it is not digital, pack a lot of film.


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