Courtesy of Herschel Supply Company

Ah, vacation…..the excitement that builds when it’s time to start packing. You know your journey is just around the corner. But what to pack? Here are some tips to streamline the challenges of ‘not too much and not too little’.

Let’s start with the not so fun, but vitally important things:


  • Flight tickets or Confirmation #
  • Passport/Visa: IMPORTANT: Make sure your passport has at least six months left before you have to renew it. Most countries will not let you enter if it’s less than six months.
  • Phone and Skype numbers of loved ones
  • If you used a Travel Consultant, their contact information in case something goes sideways
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Cash/ Credit cards/ATM card/ Travelers checks
  • Driver’s license/ International driver’s license
  • Medical information/ Vaccination documents and copies of prescriptions
  • Itinerary

Not essential, but handy to have:

This should go without saying, but be sure to carry any and all valuables with you in your carry on bag. I remember hearing a story about a woman who flew home for her mother’s funeral. She packed up the family heirloom jewelry and put it in….her checked luggage. Yeah, you can guess where I’m going with this. She got home only to realize that all the jewelry was gone. What makes this story even worse is that the woman was a flight attendant, so she should have known better, but she just didn’t think it would happen to her. Learn from this lesson. It’s just not worth the risk.

Another handy tip I’ve learned from my travels is that you should try not to wear a belt or laced shoes on your plane ride. It’s seems simple, but I can tell you from first hand experience, that it will make going through security checkpoints that much quicker and easier.

Let’s move on to the actual packing:

On the plane:

  • Earbuds or headphones. You’ll either use them with your phone, or plug them into the armrest jack to listen to music or a movie.
  • A handkerchief or scarf. This isn’t essential to everyone, but if you’re a person who has a highly sensitive sense of smell, this can be important for blocking out any unwanted smells in a confined environment.
  • A good old fashioned paperback book. You’ll never have to worry about battery life.
  • Snacks: Even if you think you aren’t hungry, when you can smell the food everyone else is eating (but that they paid an arm and a leg for), you’ll be glad you packed a snack and saved yourself some money to spend at your destination instead.

The essentials for a warm vacation near the water:

  • Bathing suits – be sure to bring a suit that will stand up to strenuous water activities if you enjoy that.
  • Light cotton shirts – bring a long sleeved one for sun protection
  • For men: a collared shirt or two for dinner
  • Shorts
  • Water shoes
  • Flip flops
  • Deck shoes: there are all kinds of options available for deck shoes now. I prefer these over regular sneakers because they tend to be lighter and thinner for packing, and the soles will always grip.
  • One thin sweater = good for layering
  • One thin sweatshirt
  • A hat for sun protection – something that can be crushed and wrinkled is best
  • Sunglasses
  • Undergarments
  • Socks
  • Sunscreen
  • Cell phone charger
  • Electronic adapter if needed
  • Ziploc bags: they’re handy to keep toiletries in, but also wet swimsuits and random treasures
  • Camera and/or GoPro
  • Earplugs for sleeping

For the ladies:

  • Rubber bands if you have longer hair
  • Bras – make sure you bring a sports bra if you’re active
  • Tank tops – pack a couple that have built in shelf bras. One less piece of clothing to worry about
  • A lightweight dress or two for going out to dinner
  • Leave in conditioner – I buy the kind for after swimming. It will be a lifesaver for tangles or fixing bed head!
  • And the one of the little things that you may not think about beforehand: If you want to wear jewelry, I found that packing a couple pairs of stud earrings works just fine. You’ll still looked ‘dressed up’ when you go out, but you won’t have to hassle with a bunch of tangled jewelry.

Lastly, when your vacation is over, don’t forget to pack those memories!