What to Pack for a Tropical Vacation

What to Pack for a Tropical Vacation

No matter what the weather is like where you live, there is no better feeling than packing up your suitcase and heading on an island getaway. The lack of responsibilities, the warm weather… There’s truly no better feeling than being somewhere tropical, even for a few days, for some R&R. No matter where your destination is, packing for most tropical vacations is quite similar. You’ll want protective pieces, breathable fabrics, neutral basics, and a lot of swimwear options!

What to Pack for a Tropical Vacation

When heading on a tropical vacation, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the sun so make sure you pack enough pieces that you can mix and match, where outside during the day and to dinner at night.

Essential Items

Sunscreen – Whether you’re planning to lay out in the sun or will be out exploring, protecting your skin is a must!

Sunglasses – This goes without saying! Always pack 2-3 pairs just in case you break or lose a pair while you’re away.

Tote Bag – When packing, always make sure your items have multiple purposes! Your travel bags should double as beach/pool bags and will help you avoid overpacking. Having a tote will make it easier to carry things from your room, will give you a bag for dinner, and help make travel easy. Straw tote bags are a great option – they go with everything! For our trip to the Bahamas, I packed this one.

Hat – Whether you’re a baseball hat or a sun hat kind of gal, packing a hat for your tropical vacation is absolutely necessary! It’ll help keep the sun off your face (especially if you’re reading!) and will keep your face and scalp protected from the UV rays.

Clothing Items

Remember, the best clothing pieces you can pack for a tropical getaway are ones that you can mix and match no matter what you have planned! 

Shorts – Whether you opt for denim shorts or a dressier option, like these shorts, having shorts in a tropical location are a must. Whether you wear them during the day with a cute blouse or just to the pool, you’ll want to pack at least two pairs so you can have options.

Pants – A lot of tropical locations can get cool at night, which means you’ll want to bring some sort of weather-appropriate bottoms. I always pack one pair of jeans and a dressier pant that I can pair with a sleeveless top or fun blouse for dinners. 

Sun Dresses – Warm weather means dress season! The great thing about loose-fitting summer dresses is that they can also double as a swim coverup. Depending on how long you’re away, pack 2-3 options that can be dressed up or down.

Blouses – Great to pair with pants or shorts, no matter what you have on your itinerary! My rule of thumb is to pack three options: one sleeveless, one short sleeve, and one long sleeve.

Jacket – I always opt for a denim jacket for vacation (can be worn with anything!) but if they aren’t your thing, make sure to pack some sort of light jacket that you can pair with dresses or shorts/pants when it gets chilly at night. 


High-Waisted Two-Piece – High-waisted bikinis are my favorite. They hold everything in but are still sexy, plus they’re great if you’re going to be spending the day lounging.

One-Piece – Always a must! No matter where you’re traveling to, always pack at least one one-piece swimsuit. They’re chic, provide more coverage, and are great for activity-heavy days.

Cover-Ups – While I love pairing my swimwear with denim shorts, you can never go wrong with a cover-up. They’re more comfortable, dry faster, and are easy to change in and out of before hopping into the pool!


When it comes to packing for a tropical vacation, you don’t need to pack a different shoe option for every outfit you pack. Remember, you’re packing neutrals and pieces that can be mixed and matched. I find that 3-4 pairs of shoes is your best bet!

Sandals – Opt for two pairs of sandals! One for the pool/beach and one dressier option for daytime activities or going out to dinner.

Sneakers – Whether you’re going to be participating in any activities, exploring new to you areas, or just hanging by the pool, having one pair of sneakers with you on your trip is a must! I always wear mine while traveling so they don’t take up valuable space in my suitcase.

Heeled Sandals – Always pack one pair of heeled sandals for dressier activities! Whether you opt for a heeled sandal or something dressier like a pump, always opt for a solid color or a pair that goes with everything.

Related Post: Where to Stay in the Bahamas

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J.Crew Floral One-Piece Swimsuit / MINKPINK Inglis Skirt / TKEES Flip Flops / KAYU Colbie Tote / Ray-Ban Original Aviators

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  1. 6.3.22
    Candace said:

    Thank you for sharing these useful tips with us. I remember, when I first went on a vacation, I packed my suitcase to the fullest. I bought so many extra things which occupied a larger portion of storage. All of the above mentioned things are necessary for a tropical vacation.