what to pack for a tropical vacation.

Thanks for all of your sweet comments on my Bahamas vacation recap post. I want to plan a return trip, especially now I know what to pack and what to leave behind. I didn't wear over half of the stuff I lugged on vacation with me (uggh) and if I could do it over again I'd pack a lot less.
DRESSES: Bring a few light dresses that you can wear to dinner depending on how smancy you want to get. I wore one of my tube-top coverups as a dress one night and a simple stripe tank dress another night. I'd skip the maxi dresses because all that extra length just traps in the heat (but if you are determined to wear one,save it for night time when it's a little cooler). I typically wear shorts + tanks but dresses are so much easier and they take up less room in your suitcase. I also like the patterned strapless dress + coral dress above for a pop of color. 

SHORTS: Bring them but make sure they are versatile -- crochetembroidered and ruffled shorts can be worn with a bathing suit or a tank. 

FLIP FLOPS: I don't care what anyone says flip flops are the best shoes for the beach. I wore my black reef pair all week (so comfy!) and dressed things up in my sunkissed tkees flip flops. You can bring along a pair of nice sandals too - just keep them neutral, that way they will match everything.

SUNSCREEN: After multiple mole removals (6!) in the past few years I am serious about skin care, so I didn't want to skimp on suntan lotion. I talked to one of h's friends (who is a dermatologist) and he recommends Neutrogena Helioplex Ultra Sheer Sunscreen with UVA/ UVB sun protection. The dermatologist I usually see also recommends that line and warned me to avoid spray suntan lotion unless it's being used for your hair part (the spray typically doesn't cover as well as lotion). I also love Aquaphor Lip Repair Lip Balm with UVA/UVB SPF30 sunscreen (nothing worse than blistered lips!) Remember to bring a straw hat for extra protection for your face.

leave it at home...
DITCH THE DENIM: Leave the jean shorts at home. Seriously don't bring any! I brought two pairs and when I wore a pair on the last day (which consisted of walking to town to the ferry and waiting for my ride) they were sooo uncomfortable (can you say swass?!) Denim doesn't breathe so my jean shorts got hot fast and then promptly started to sag and loose all of their shape - not cute. 

Don't bring long jeans either! This should be pretty obvious because you are going to a tropical island... but I'll admit I was contemplating bringing a pair -- ya know, "in case it got cold at night." nope. likely you'll be sunburnt and maybe a little buzzed (hello, pina coladas) so you won't need anything else keeping you warm. On that note, I did bring a light stripe hoodie that i wore when it rained and at night to combat the high AC temps (it was also great to wear on the plane).

JEWELRY: After lugging around heavy jewelry all around Europe, I finally learned my lesson and packed just one long pendant starfish necklace. And guess what, it was perfect. It was simple enough to go with almost everything I packed and I didn't have to worry about getting necklace tan lines or losing my favorite jewelry. 

What's on your tropical packing list?


  1. Great advice! I'm always so much happier when I pack less (plus -- it saves me a lot of time unpacking upon my return!)

  2. So true about the jeans. I always want to pack them but I know I probably won't wear them, way too hot!!

    Best, Mree

  3. Perfect tips! We are headed the Turks and Caicos next month and I will def be taking your advice!

  4. Yes! Totally agree! Sundresses and flip flops are my jam! Next time take me with you pretty please! Your vaca looked perfect!

  5. Sun dresses all day, every day! I have a maxi dress I really want to bring to Charleston to wear out to dinner.. it's really light fabric but do you think it'll be too hot?!

  6. I love those little dresses and sandals:) Thanks for all the great tips and have a beautiful day, xo

  7. Light dresses, shorts and sandals are all I wore my vacation. And Ofcourse sunscreen is a must!

  8. Great tips! I did Italy one summer I learned the same thing, dresses, skirts, and tops you can swap out. And amen to the sunblock. After using spray for years I'm finally learning that you need lotion with zinc to really cover.

  9. What a great list. Thanks for sharing. I've started skipping jean shorts for anything but camping lately. They're getting on my nerves so much. Lol.

  10. Maxi's, cover ups, bathing suits and sandals are definitely my go to picks for sure!

  11. Yep, this is pretty much what I'd say too. I always bring some workout clothes, because we go for walks or play tennis in the morning when we go to all-inclusive resorts, but pretty much other than that you just need bathing suits, sunscreen, and a dress or two - dinner's the only time I end up wearing "real" clothes, and getting dressed up for dinner, while it sounds fun when I'm packing, really isn't something I end up doing given the heat and given that the places really aren't all that fancy anyway...

  12. I love the idea of doing a what not to pack post after the vacation! Brilliant way to have a reminder for the next trip!

  13. YES!! I've wanted a sun hat for the longest time!! That one is great..sounds like you had a great vacation!

  14. Great tips - especially on which sunscreen to pack! Now if only I had a beach vacation planned!

    xo, Jen

  15. Thanks for advices, always very helpful. I just want to ask you if you have a need of pest repellent? I don't want to have bites from mosquitoes or something else all over my body :(
    Steam Carpet cleaning Twickenham

  16. I did pack a pair of white denim shorts that got decent mileage on our recent trip, but I was definitely wishing for something lighter whenever I wore them!


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