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When you’ve got a tropical vacation on the way, all of those dreadful Monday mornings at work tend to even out. You’re worry-free, have that pre-vacation glow everybody’s jealous at, and in your head, you’re already sipping that ice cold margarita you’ve been waiting for the whole month.

But, all good things come to an end and – the second you start thinking about packing – so will your vacation euphoria.

Seeing how the word ‘tropical’ implies beaches, heat, and humidity, it’s easy to assume your tropical vacation packing list will consist only of swimming suits and a pair of flip-flops.

However, the word ‘tropical’ also sometimes implies words like ‘unpredictable’ and ‘rainy,’ as well as occasions such as formal dinners. If you think you can handle the tropics in a skimpy swimsuit, then, by all means, go for it.

But, if you don’t want to put all your money on flip-flops, I suggest you consult with a professional. In this case the professional being – me.

It took me more than a fair share of holiday trips gone wrong to find the perfect formula for packing for a tropical vacation. Implying just a few subtle changes to your packing routine won’t make that much of a difference if everything goes well. However, even the slightest bumps and roadblocks you experience along the way will go much smoother if you’ve packed smart.

Before we get started, you should do a bit of research about your destination. The tropics are notorious for their unpredictable rainfalls and heavy winds – take a look at a forecast of the previous year to see what kind of weather you’ll be facing. You should also make sure you get to know the culture of the place you’ll be visiting, as some tropical countries require a more modest wardrobe.

Taking a tropical vacation usually implies long-haul flights. Therefore the weight limit on your luggage will be slightly looser than on regular flights. Use that to your advantage and don’t skimp on the medication and toiletries.

Whether you’re going away for a month-long adventure in the Carribean or a romantic week on the Maldives – never, ever forget your carry-on. The chances of your luggage getting lost are close to 50:50, so it would be a good idea not to pack all of your eggs into one single basket.

The packing list

  1. Carry-on

A well-packed carry-on on a tropical vacation is like a life jacket on a sinking ship. Use it to carry your valuables such as jewelry and electronics, but don’t forget to pack at least two days worth of clothes and underwear in case your flight gets delayed or your luggage lost.


  • Phone charger
  • E-reader or a tablet
  • Camera
  • Camera battery
  • Outlet adapter


  • Liquid soap
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Foldable toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hydrating face cream
  • Small detangling brush
  • Hair ties
  • Lip balm
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Manicure tools


  • BB cream with sun protection
  • Mascara
  • Blush


  • Two pairs of socks
  • Two pairs of underwear
  • A flowy dress
  • T-shirts
  • Swimwear
  • Linen shorts


  • Flip-flops


  1. Suitcase

When choosing a suitcase, bear in mind that most airlines have a 50-pound limit when it comes to weight. While it should be more than enough regarding volume, make sure you check the dimensions of your suitcase before you start packing. Any deviation from the airline sizing standard will cost you a fortune in fees and will take out all the joy from boarding a plane to the tropics.

Use this list as a guide to gather all of your things together, and then pack them in groups, putting the heaviest things at the bottom of the suitcase.


  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Shower gel
  • Body lotion
  • Face moisturizer
  • Razor
  • Q-tips
  • Face wash
  • Hair brush
  • Bobby pins
  • Dental floss

First aid and medications

  • Bug spray
  • Motion sickness medication
  • Mild pain reliever
  • Antacid
  • Probiotic
  • Moleskin
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Any prescription medication
  • Extra pair of contacts
  • Contact lens solution
  • Aloe

Sun protection

  • Sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection
  • UV hair protection
  • Face cream with 50SPF



  • A pair for each day plus two pairs extra
  • Socks
  • Unpadded, soft bras


  • T-shirts or tank tops
  • A dressy blouse or a tunic top
  • A light cardigan or a kimono


  • Linen shorts or Bermuda pants
  • A pair of capris
  • Flowy skirts


  • A little black dress
  • Long flowy dresses
  • Short casual dress

Beachwear and swimwear

  • Swimsuits or bikinis
  • Beach cover-up
  • Long, ankle-length kaftans


  • Flip-flops
  • Casual sandals
  • Dressy sandals
  • Heels (optional)
  • Canvas or mesh sneakers


  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Beach bag
  • Baseball cap
  • Colorful silk or satin scarf
  • Jewelry
  • A foldable umbrella
  • Light, packable mac





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