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Smart Packing Tips for a Tropical Vacation

Do you have plans to escape the winter weather? Make the most of a tropical vacation by packing strategically to enhance your enjoyment and eliminate fashion frustration. Your suitcase should contain everything you need to function and look great no matter the activity.

Suitcase Smarts

Before you start putting stuff in your suitcase, be sure you have the right suitcase. Check your airline rules to be sure your carry on will fit in the overhead bin and be sure your checked bag is not too big or heavy. Strategically located pockets can be your best friend when navigating airport security lines and juggling documents.

Bring a bag to keep your phone and other devices dry and protected from sand, whether it’s a specially designed waterproof smartphone pouch or just a Ziplock bag. Also, bring a bag to carry to the pool or beach. Maybe the personal item you stow under the seat in front of you on the plane can do double duty as your pool bag. A lightweight, quick-dry draw-string backpack will also work.

Don’t forget an umbrella. Many tropical locations get a daily brief blast of rain. Choose a super-compact style that won’t take up much room in your bag. When selecting sunscreen, look for organic or biodegradable brands that are formulated without oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have been found to be harmful to coral reefs and other marine life. In case of lost or delayed luggage, or if you arrive earlier than check-in time, tuck a swimsuit and coverup in your carry-on so you can enjoy the pool even if there are less-than-ideal logistics.

Nifty Neutrals

As for your actual outfits, think neutral (but not just beige). Metallics are neutral, too, so those cute silver kitten-heel pumps will be perfect, especially since you may be doing too much walking for stilettos to be practical. Dressy flats, or stylish wedges or block heels are great, too. Don’t forget water shoes if you’ll be walking on coral or rocks at the beach.

Try a neutral palate for your base pieces, such as white capris, shorts or skinny ankle pants, a black T-shirt dress, or dramatic wide-leg pants in ivory or other soft pastel. Then, mix and match tops or shorts in bright tropical colors for a versatile look that combines comfort, style and practicality. Big, colorful costume jewelry is another fabulous way to change-up the look of any outfit.

Ready for Anything

Pack at least two swim suits so they each have time to dry on their off days. Retro swim-suit styles are currently very chic, including two-piece numbers with high-waisted bottoms, and one-pieces that recall old-timey Hollywood glam. Just pull on a pair of shorts over the suit, and you’re ready for a nice lunch.  

Pack a sweater, shawl, hoodie, or light jacket for chilly evenings and over air-conditioned dining rooms. A denim jacket is a good choice but otherwise, leave the denim at home since it’s too heavy for tropical weather.

Easy-Breezy Meets Formal

Your itinerary might call for a cocktail dress or sophisticated pant suit for formal dinners or if you’re taking in a show or hitting a club. A chic and elegant wrap dress may be perfect, especially one in wrinkle-free fabric that packs small. A maxi dress or skirt is also a great choice since they can be both easy-breezy and formal. Boho pendant necklaces pair beautifully with maxis. If maxis aren’t for you, a midi-length dress also makes a nice dressy statement.

Of course, you’ll want to bring a flowy sundress and maybe a fun on-trend jump suit. Add fun accessories like a wide-brimmed or floppy sun hat, chic tote, oversized movie-star sun glasses, and you’re ready for several days of touring, shopping and other outings.

Functional and Fun

Even a well-chosen swim-suit coverup can do double duty. An open-knit sweater or crocheted romper makes a pretty poolside statement, works for lunch, and can be worn with a tank or other layers for a completely different look later on. A kaftan offers similar flexibility and great looks.

For active excursions, bring your best comfortable and functional footwear and clothing but even these can sometimes do double duty. For instance, maybe the leggings you hike in can make an appearance in the dining room when topped with a pretty tunic or maybe your walking shorts work great with a simple tank and, afterwards, you can switch to a wide-stripe ¾-length sleeve Tee for a casual lunch. Those fun loose-fitting pants or culottes you wear sailing can be paired with a bikini top for lounging, or a crop top for other activities. This type of thoughtful planning about what goes in your suitcase can ensure maximum enjoyment of your whole vacation.

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