Tropical Vacation Packing List
Ladies, Prove You Can Pack Light!

We love to travel, and 2020 was supposed to be a big travel year for us. Like the rest of you, that didn't happen. 2021 hasn't been so good either!

We're still dreaming about travel, reading about new destinations, and making (tentative) plans for the future. We hope all of you are well and staying safe... and that you find some inspiration here for YOUR future travels.

Let's hope we can all be traveling again in 2022! 

Modify your basic packing list into a tropical vacation packing list...
It's easy!

My sister was helping to plan a convention in Hawaii for the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots....

...And she was saying that people need to know what to pack.  So we thought we would help.

The Ninety-Nines proved you could do it.... It's not hard... you really don't need much. 

Now ladies (and men) prove that you can do it too.

We're always amazed at the amount of luggage that some people take to Hawaii...

...or the Caribbean

...or Madagascar any tropical destination.

If a destination is tropical, it is, by definition, hot and humid... how many clothes do you really need?

Historic double canoe cruises in Hawaii
Fishermen return to Madagascar beach

Be Prepared For Strong Sun

You don't need lots of clothes for tropical vacations

Tropical destinations ring the earth around the equator where the sun is stronger, so be prepared for sun...

--take plenty of sunscreen.
--Take a broad brimmed hat.
--If you're sensitive to the sun, you might want to pack a lightweight long sleeved shirt and long pants....

There are some companies that make clothing with sun blocking material.

The dress in most tropical destinations is casual because of the heat and humidity, so that makes it easy to pack light.

Where Are You Going and What Are You Doing?

You need to take into consideration what kind of culture you will be visiting. We think travelers should always try to dress appropriately for the country they are visiting.

If you are going to Malaysia, remember it's predominately Muslim, and to be sensitive to their culture, you should dress conservatively. You'll want to cover up more than you will need to in Hawaii or the Caribbean.

Driving on a tropical vacation - at Bloody Bay Wall Little Cayman Island

Of course, what you include in that tropical vacation packing list will depend on what you plan to do on your vacation....

Will you be scuba diving?

Bicycling or sailing?

Hiking in rain forests?

Sitting on the beach all day?

This tropical vacation packing list is a little different from a "Hot Weather Packing List". Hot weather can be deserts.... as for Jordan, India, the Sahara.... Hot places are not necessarily places with beaches and tropical forests.

It's a good idea to get clothing that washes easily in your room and drip dries overnight. Hot and humid means you will be perspiring more than usual.

Pack light for Hawaii and other tropical destinations

Some of the articles on these tropical vacation packing lists will duplicate what we had on our other packing lists... there are just some things you need to take with you on every trip.

Those things pretty much never come out of our suitcases.

But for the sake of YOUR tropical vacation... we're including the whole list of what we would take.

As always, you have to modify it and make it your own.

Check our basic packing list too... It's where we always start.

This is for two to three week trips. We take less for shorter trips.

Double check our Basic Packing List for any tips we may have forgotten here.... that's what we do!

Tropical vacation packing list for Judy

I wear my "good stuff" on the plane.... slacks, a nice blouse and comfortable, nice looking shoes. This is what I pack....

  • 1-2 pairs of shorts or culottes
  • 3-4 T-shirts or cotton short sleeved shirts
  • 1 long sleeved blouse (this can serve as a suim suit cover up for the hotel lobby or outdoor restaurants... you just might need long sleeves at night. It can seem cool.
  • 1 pair long pants (in addition to what I wear on)
  • 1 dress for evenings... dresses can be cooler than pants during the day too.
  • 4-5 panties and a second bra
  • 2-3 pairs peds and 1-2 pairs light weight socks
  • 1 night gown (if you choose carefully, this could also be a beach cover up)
  • 2 swim suits (who wants to put on a wet suit?)
  • sandals ( I don't usually take flip flops too, but you could). Take sturdy sandals if you plan dive or walk on the reefs.
  • broad brimmed hat
  • light waterproof jacket.... it can rain in the tropics
  • 1 sweater for the evenings

Tropical vacation packing list for Mark

Mark wears slacks, a collared shirt and nice looking walking shoes on the plane. This is what he packs...

  • 2 pairs khaki slacks or denims (in addition to what he wears on the plane)
  • 3-4 collared shirts (usually good enough for dressier evenings).
  • 1-2 T-shirts (you can alter the mix of shirts and T-shirts depending on your style and destination)
  • 1- 2 pairs shorts
  • 4-5 pairs undies
  • 4-5 pairs socks - white or dark to go with street shoes or "tennis shoes"
  • 1 pair sandals or tennis shoes depending on our destination.
  • 2 bathing suits (Mark wears swimsuits that look like shorts, so a T-shirt will do for a coverup. He also sleeps in these.)
  • hat
  • 1 sweater for the evenings

And for both of us...

  • dark glasses
  • Sun lotion
  • insect repellant
  • camera and maybe a video camera
  • binoculars
  • mask and snorkel (we rent fins and scuba gear there, but if you're an avid diver, you know what you need to pack)
  • Light weight day pack that packs flat (or a beach bag)
  • small first aid kit

Special Considerations...

If you're going to climb a mountains... it can get cool... cold even at higher elevations. You'll be surprised how cool it feels in the evening too.

You'll need sturdier shoes if you're going to be hiking on rocky beaches or lava flows. Are you hiking in tropical forests as in Madagascar, or just doing beach time in Hawaii or the Caribbean? Modify this tropical vacation packing list to fit your vacation.

Everyone should take a light rain jacket or poncho... it rains in the tropics! Remember those sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat we lists are musts. You'll want sandals for beach wear... try to take something that you can wear off the beach too. Shoes for walking.

Besides the usual amenities of shampoo and toothpaste and cosmetics, you'll want sunscreen and insect repellant. You want a camera and any electronics you can't do without.

We shouldn't have to remind you to take an ample amount of any prescription medications you take on a routine basis.... And pack any medications you need for this trip... things like malaria pills as well as aspirin and a small first aid kit.

A tropical vacation should be light and fun... your tropical vacation packing list should reflect that. Pack light!

Happy travels... even if you don't travel the world... just remember that life is a journey... embrace and enjoy it! Judy and Mark

Curious about what else we've written about?  Search our site for a destination or travel tip.

But... We'd love to have you share this page or comment on it…
Thanks, Judy and Mark

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Timely Tips

Shoulder Season
We love travel during shoulder seasons.
September, October, November...
Well, usually we do, but COVID is still making things a little harder.

Even so...
They're all great for travel somewhere!
Sunny Fall days with colorful leaves in the north.
Spring is greening things up in the Southern Hemisphere.

Fall foliage in shoulder season

The weather can be changeable, so be sure to pack layers and some rain gear...

See all of our Packing Lists and Tips.

We have had a summer of home maintenance and sheltering in place... we're so dreaming of future travel!

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