How and what to pack for a vacation is one of the more challenging yet fun aspects of traveling. Each destination and season has its own nuances. Some people use packing lists for a vacation, while others wing it.
After more than a half-dozen trips to the Caribbean, I have a pretty good idea of what I’ll take along. The following list will help you as you pack for your next vacation. Some items are better suited to sunny climes, but you probably can use them sometime.
1. Wide-brimmed hat – Your nose and ears really take a beating in the sun. Many people wear baseball caps, but those don’t cover the ears. While in Puerto Vallarta in 2010 I saw a lot of people sporting a straw-type cowboy hat. Guess it was the fad then, but more importantly, those hats cover the face, neck and ears well. You can also use a “boonie” hat, or the Gilligan’s Island/fisherman’s cap.
2. Comfortable pair of casual shoes – You’ll be walking on the beach and along the pool a lot, so pack a pair of cheap but comfortable shoes. Make sure they’re made of synthetic fabric, as they will be damp the entire week. Nothing dries out in those humid environments, even if you bring the item indoors. Shoes made of natural fabric, such as canvas, begin to stink after a few days. If need be, you can toss them at the end of the week, leaving no major dent in your budget.
Proper vacation planning and packing are critical
Packing for a vacation can be a maddening experience. You spend hours digging through your closets, chests of drawers, and other storage spaces looking for all the right clothes. Then comes the fun part: Trying to pack it all into a suitcase while staying under the weight limit. You surely don’t want to get socked with a surcharge once you arrive at the airline ticket counter.
Throughout that maddening exercise, it’s easy to overlook some very important steps that can help make your vacation go smoother, especially if you suffer a loss. Create a vacation plan along with your checklist. Here are some suggestions for your list. Note that I include both items and actions.
1. Buy a backpack. Talk about versatile baggage. Forget that small piece of luggage that comes snuggled inside your main suitcase. A backpack has multiple storage compartments that secure with a zipper, and it easily stores in the overhead bins. Best of all, you can sling it over your shoulder for easy transport.
2. Store valuables in the backpack for flight. This will keep them in sight, but also protects them. A 35mm camera and a handheld transceiver (H-T, to you ham radio ops out there), bit the dust on separate trips because I stashed them in the suitcase. Even though I wrapped them in clothing, they still got jostled enough to break. A very costly learning experience, indeed!
And a bit of advice from a travel agent: Place a book or other thick object at the bottom of your backpack. That will stymie thieves who try to slice open the backpack while walking behind you. Some thieves are smooth enough to pull that off without the tourist knowing it.