Are you planning a trip to Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean? Whether you’re traveling for a business, a solo yoga retreat, a romantic weekend getaway, or a glorious three-week family vacation, you’re going to need to pack. If you’re like us here at Latitude21 Resorts, then before every trip you say to yourself: “this time will be the time I pack the perfect suitcase”. And without fail, you’ll open your bag when you arrive at your destination to discover that you’ve forgotten something, you’ve brought far too many bikinis, or you haven’t left enough room to bring any souvenirs back with you. We understand. There is no exact science to packing for a vacation. However, there is certainly a lot of helpful advice we can give you to try and make that process just that little bit simpler. And maybe even a little less stressful.
First, consider the factors affecting your trip
Where are you going? How long are you going for? What will the weather be like? What plans do you have for while you’re there? Will you need to make multiple outfit changes? What are the baggage size and weight restrictions of the airline you’re traveling with? Are there any cultural dress codes where you’re going that you will need to adhere to? Try and answer these questions at least two weeks before your trip so you have time to purchase new items if necessary. We suggest starting a casual list a few weeks or months before your vacation. That way, every time you find yourself daydreaming about slurping down margaritas on the beach, you can jot down a few more essentials.
Have a list of ‘essentials’ for every time you travel
This list is strictly for things you’re going to need every single time. Such as your passport, your sunglasses, a comfy pair of pants, your swimsuit, your purse, medication, and/or essential toiletries. Many experienced travelers keep their toiletries kit packed at all times. They tend to be so small that there really isn’t a need to unpack them. This ‘essentials’ list will act as a packing base for all your vacations. This means you can include all the things you absolutely cannot live without for each holiday.
One item that should be on EVERY traveler’s ‘essential’ list is a Visa or a MasterCard. We can’t tell you how many travelers Latitude21 has helped over the years who have made the mistake of traveling with just one credit or debit card. This could be a disastrous mistake. Always, always, always, travel with at least one card and a backup card. Visa and MasterCard are readily accepted in any Latitude21 destination. Amex is accepted, but not as widely as Visa or MasterCard. If there is an emergency of some kind, you will need a credit card. If you don’t have two credit cards, then please consider getting some before you go on vacation.
Lay out everything you want to take
Start the process by getting out all the items you want to take with you. Begin sorting out items which suit your destination and itinerary and then begin organising them into outfits. Packing by outfit is efficient because you can avoid packing items you don’t need. But remember, you can mix and match and reuse certain pieces for different outfits. Try not to pack items that don’t go with anything else you are taking. Avoid heels unless you’re going somewhere particularly fancy. If you’re struggling, we at Latitude21 use an app called Packpoint. With it you can create a full, and free, packing list tailor-made for your destination and itinerary.
Once you’ve chosen what you want, it’s time to figure out what you need. Be ruthless in the editing process! Remember that you likely don’t need more than one outfit for each day, plus bikinis, active wear, or any other itinerary-specific clothing. You don’t want to spend your entire holiday ironing, so take out anything that creases easily. Eliminate the ‘just in case’ mentality – if it’s not absolutely necessary, don’t bring it. You can survive on a lot less than you think. If you run out of something while you’re on vacation, you can always run to the store.
Separate your items
Do this as soon as you’ve downsized. Remember that most airlines allow different items, such as liquids larger than 3 ounces, to be packed in your big suitcase. This big suitcase is the one you’re going to check at the airport. Your carry-on should contain basic (and smaller than 3 ounce) toiletries, a swimsuit, and any essential medications. You may also want at least one change of clothes just in case your big bag gets lost in transit.
Have a toiletries bag just for travelling
This way, you can have all your essentials ready to go at a moment’s notice – from shower gel and spare contact lenses, to mascara and hair ties. Find the perfect one for you. Remember to bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent when traveling to sunny destinations like Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Girls, you’re going to be in the water a lot, so we also highly recommend packing waterproof eyeliner and mascara.
Keep a small first-aid kit
This is a must when packing for any trip. You can just use another toiletries bag or buy an actual mini first aid kit. Always carry the basics such as bandages and painkillers, and make sure it is stocked up with anything else you may personally need. For example don’t forget your allergy relief, diabetes medication, or etc.
A word on your shoes
Your shoes are your bulkiest and weightiest items. They also have the potential to make or break your vacation. So here is some advice on the shoe situation for Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean. First of all, it’s all about flip-flops! Who needs real shoes when you’re vacationing on the beach? Besides, it’s way too hot for socks and seriously, heels at the beach? Just say N-O, no. Generally the humidity will make your feet swell up anyway, so trust us on the flip-flops. The closest you’re going to want to get to a pair of heels is maybe (and we really mean MAYBE) some cute little wedges with WIDE heels and lots of room for swelling in that nice balmy air.
We definitely suggest packing at least two pairs of flip-flops. Because yeah, we cannot tell you how many times we’ve had a flip-flop failure on vacation. Once they break, it’s almost impossible to put them back together again, so yes, at least two pairs. And if you INSIST on heels, you can find some cute little flip-flop style heels. Your feet will thank us here at Latitude21 later.
Unless you’re planning on doing some serious hiking on vacation, let’s say to see some isolated waterfalls or lava fields in Hawaii, leave the big hiking boots at home. They weigh a ton and you’re not going to need them. If you’re one of those fanatics who insists on exercising on vacation (we hate you, btw), then, fine, bring one pair of tennis shoes. But at least stuff them with underwear and socks when packing to take up the empty space.
Place heavier items at the bottom of your suitcase
And by ‘bottom’, we mean the end with the wheels. This will keep your suitcase balanced, preventing it from toppling over or zig-zagging when you’re wheeling it. However, plan on the items at the bottom of your bag to be crushed in transit. Put the more delicate breakable items in your carry-on. Remember, no liquids in your carry-on! Or you’ll end up giving it away to your friendly TSA agent at a security check-point.
Try packing cubes
Packing cubes slot together neatly in your suitcase and divide your clothes into sections. For instance; one cube for tops, one for shorts or skirts, and so on. This is good because it limits how much you can take for each section, but also feels more organised because when you arrive at your destination, you’ll already know what’s what. You can also keep all of your dirty washing in one cube for the way back! We love packing cubes because it prevents your suitcase from becoming one giant pile of clothes by the end of your vacation. Latitude21 also suggests labeling each cube with a sharpie before you pack. This way getting ready is an easier task each day.
Roll, don’t fold
Ah, the golden packing rule. Rolling your clothes will keep them from creasing too badly in your suitcase, and is also a huge space saver. It’s also easier to keep your items organized. Because you see them without having to lift up other items to get to the things on the bottom.
Separate your jewelry
No one likes having to untangle all their jewelry when they’re on vacation. If you don’t have a travel jewelry box, you can always use a daily pill dispenser. We also suggest keeping your more valuable items with you in your carry-on.
When traveling to beach destinations such as Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean, we suggest packing 2-3 swimsuits, cover-ups and flip-flop combinations, a couple of summer dresses or nicer shorts outfits for men. For going out in the evenings or for dinners, a couple of short and shirt combinations. Don’t forget a comfy outfit for laying around the hotel, and one good beach bag that can do double duty as a purse for your nights out on the town. Linen is a nice cool beach fabric, but it wrinkles something awful. Rayon and cotton are great hot weather fabrics. And they are less likely to wrinkle the second you slide into the back seat of a taxi cab.
Don’t under pack, but don’t over pack either
With the exception of Hawaii, the shopping in most Latitude21 destinations is pretty limited. In Mexican and Caribbean destinations, you’ll be able to find the basics (swimsuits, flip-flops, t-shirts, and summer dresses). But you’re really not going to have the variety that you’re used to back at home. So don’t under pack. Bring the items that will make you feel comfortable and confident. Do bring what you need, but the other extreme, over packing, is equally a bummer. The extra weight charges at the airport are just a waste of money. So don’t forget to weigh your bag before you leave for the airport. Save that money for mojitos on the beach.
Items you absolutely won’t need
There are some items you can find in any Latitude21 destination. Beach towels, for example, are in ample supply no matter where you go in Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Most hotels offer these to their guests, usually free of charge. And if you’re staying somewhere that doesn’t, you can find them in any tourist shop. And if you do, they will double as a great souvenir when you return home! Aloe, sunscreen, shampoo, and conditioner are available everywhere, so just bring a small amount to get your vacation started.
Warm coats are not really needed. But do remember that light, short rain falls are fairly common in most Latitude21 destinations. So you might want to consider packing a windbreaker or other very lightweight jacket. Leave the sweaters and long pants at home; you’re not going to use them where you’re traveling. If you are bringing tennis shoes with you, then you will need socks, otherwise leave those behind too. Travelers’ checks are completely outdated. Just advise your favorite Visa or MasterCard that you will be traveling out of the country and use those instead.
In conclusion… don’t worry, be happy
If you’re a normal human like the rest of us, you’re going to forget something or you’re going to pack at least one outfit that you never use. That’s okay. Just remember to pack the absolute essentials (passport, medication, and at least two credit cards) and the rest will take care of itself. Just relax and enjoy your sunny Latitude21 Resorts.com trip!