Smart Packing Tips for Your Next Exotic Vacation

Never mind exotic vacations, many of just spent a year in yoga pants, barely venturing farther than our front stoop. Picking out basic office outfits for going back to work was already a challenge. If you don’t travel frequently, figuring out what to bring can put a real damper on the excitement. Determining what you need is one thing, and fitting it into your bags is another — and then there are all the cute accessories like drop earrings that you’ll need to complete the look. But don’t worry. Following are tons of smart packing tips for your next exotic vacation.

Consider Your Itinerary

Whether you’re doing a group tour or heading out solo, when packing for an exotic trip, take a close look at your travel itinerary as your first step to helping you determine what sort of clothing you’ll need. For example, if you’re hitting a laidback beach in Bali, it isn’t likely that you’ll need a formal gown and stilettos. And if you’re going on a cultural jaunt to Scotland, your tank tops and shorts can probably stay at home. Also consider how long your trip will be. If it is an extended stay, plan on wearing items more than once. To make your clothes last longer, invest in quick-dry socks and underwear so you can wash them out in the sink at night and they’ll be ready to wear the next morning.

Top Down

This isn’t about convertible cars, but if you’ll be taking one, lucky you! Bring tops in lightweight knits that can be layered. It gets cool even in balmy locations like Hawaii so you’ll want to be prepared. A long-sleeve shirt can come in handy for unexpectedly cool weather. Ditto for a sweater or fleece for chilly airplanes and restaurants with the A/C cranked to the max. If you plan to have fancy dinners out, bring a dress, ideally one that can go formal or casual depending on which accessories you choose.

Bottoms Up

For your bottom half, be sure to pack practically. If you’re a pants person, don’t waste space on a bunch of skirts that won’t get worn. If you’re going somewhere warm, bring shorts, but don’t go overboard. A few pairs will do. One thing to keep in mind for breezy tropical destinations: don’t go too short on your mini skirts and dresses or you may end up flashing a bunch of strangers! Another item you’ll want to bring is a spare bathing suit because nothing is worse than having to squeeze into cold, damp spandex. Don’t forget a complementary sarong or coverup so you always look stylish.

Toes Out

For truly relaxed destinations, heels won’t be necessary. Wedges will work just fine, and are much more practical for terrain like sand. Definitely bring flip-flops because they can do double duty and be worn to the beach and in the shower. Planning on logging a lot of miles? Wear your hiking boots on the plane to save precious space inside your luggage.

Think Like a Swiss Army Knife 

Unless your trip is very short, you won’t want to bring a different outfit for each day of your stay. Instead, choose pieces that can be mixed and matched. Hang your clothes up at the end of the day to air them out. And while you’re looking over your collection, be highly selective. Go with the ones that can stand being folded and mashed and come out with the fewest wrinkles because no one wants to spend a single minute of their vacation on chores like ironing.

Maximize Your Accessories

Sunglasses are a must-have no matter where you’re headed. Ditto for a scarf that can jazz up an outfit and double as a head or face covering. If a hat is a needed, pick a packable one. There’s lots of smart designs out there that can withstand crushing. Some people consider a sleep mask a necessity; others can make do with a scarf or bandana. A microfiber towel is always a smart pick. It dries quickly and folds down to nothing. Do you need an umbrella? Maybe, or maybe you can get by with a waterproof jacket. 

Make Your Luggage Work for You

There are endless options when it comes to luggage. Two wheels, four wheels, duffles, backpacks, backpacks with wheels…Whatever you do, resist the temptation to overpack and only use luggage that you can comfortably carry. Even if your bag has wheels, you may find yourself facing a flight of stairs or some other situation in which you must carry it. A travel pack is a smart option to free up your hands, and bags that can be folded flat are also a good idea for those planning on bringing back lots of souvenirs. You also have options when it comes to packing methods. Some prefer to roll; some use tissue paper; some swear by packing cubes. There is no right or wrong way; it comes down to what works best for you. To save space, wear your heaviest, bulkiest items on the plane to save valuable space inside your luggage. This is especially true if you’re only bringing a carry-on. Speaking of, whenever possible, opt for carry-on luggage only. It’ll save you time in the airport and guarantee your belongings won’t be lost, cutting down significantly on stress.

Check the Weather Report

In your mind’s eye, the weather will likely be sunny and warm for the entire duration of your trip, but it’s always better to be realistic. Don’t let rain or chilly temps ruin your precious time abroad. Be prepared mentally and fashion-wise so you get to enjoy every minute of it. 

When in Doubt, Leave It Out…

When it comes to packing clothes for your trip, it’s always okay to leave stuff behind. Worst case scenario, you’ll have to do a little shopping on your trip. Big sacrifice. (Not.) Toiletries like soap, toothpaste, and shampoo can all be found at your destination, and are likely offered free by the hotel. With airline restrictions these days, it’s best to skip any liquids that’ll get you flagged at security, and likely taken away to boot. No one wants the extra stress of watching their favorite shampoo get dumped into the trash. 

…Except for Essentials

Of course there are certain items you absolutely cannot travel without. When it comes to packing must-haves like your itinerary, phone, money, ID, etc., be smart. Carry photocopies of your passport, bring cash as well as cards, and take an extra phone charger and adaptor if you’re leaving the country. More smart picks for your carry-on: snacks, a mini first aid kit, and a pen to speed things along at customs.

Packing can be one of the best ways to increase the thrill of your upcoming trip. Be practical, but have fun too! You only live once. Enjoy every minute.


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