Packing List—20 Things to Pack for Warm Weather Travel

I love lists, especially when I’m packing for a long-anticipated bucket list trip. I’m a kitchen sink kind of packer. Making a list helps me with my packing efficiency, which is a work in progress! My mother—she’s the neat one—keeps handwritten packing lists in her luggage. That sounds like a great idea to me, so now I create and save my own packing lists on my iPhone in “Notes” or as a “Reminder List.”

Packing from a list helps eliminate unnecessary “stuff” in my suitcase. I have packing lists that are specific for warm, cold, and international travel. You might have a camping list, a cruising list, and a going-to-visit-the-kids list!

I’ve curated a new list with BNT Warm Weather Destinations in mind. Your bags won’t pack themselves, but maybe sharing packing lists with you will take the heavy thinking out of packing, so you can spend your mental energy dreaming of soaking up the sunshine instead!

Here’s a just beyond-the-obvious packing list for warm weather destinations:

  1. Sunscreen
  • Okay, this one is obvious, but don’t forget it!

2. Lightweight “Packable” Hat

3. Packable Rain Gear or Compact Umbrella

  • Self-contained, packable rain gear is best. You can throw it in your tote when site seeing. If you don’t need it, it won’t take up souvenir room in your bags.

4. Walking Shoes

  • Bring at least one pair of shoes with treads for walking tours, hiking, and less than ideal weather. Sturdy, “pretty” sandals or shoes can be dressed up or down, depending on your itinerary. Colorful espadrilles are another lightweight choice that are happy and easy to find even on the road.

5. Tote

  • Bring a packable or wearable water-resistant beach bag, fanny pack, or back pack for heading to the beach, site seeing, or shopping. Just be sure you have room in your luggage or carry-on for the trip home.

6. Collapsible Water Bottle & Spork

  • Collapsible Water Bottles are genius and available on Amazon or at any sporting goods store. They are extremely packable and allow you to breeze through airport security lines (with the body empty, of course). You can fill it between security and boarding now that clean water stations are popping up everywhere. Carrying a collapsible water bottle with you will save you a few bucks every time you’re thirsty and keep you hydrated. They are also a “travel-green” alternative.
  • A fellow travel and writing buddy presented me with a spork one Christmas and it’s been a packing staple ever since. Obviously, it’s a spoon and fork combo, plus it has a short, serrated feature that works for most road trip grab-and-go fare.

7. Sunglasses (see #1)

8. Clothing You Can Layer

  • Some islands and beach areas also have high elevations, so it can get cold at night. Throw in a neutral colored sweater and snazzy scarf to layer over your warm-weather clothing. You can always wrap your sweater around your shoulders or waist when you warm up (or throw it in your packable tote). “Breathable” fabric pieces are wonderful for traveling, too. They don’t wrinkle and allow for some fluctuation in your own body temperature.

9. Travel Documents

  • Make a copy of your passport if traveling out of the country, this includes Canada and Mexico, folks. There’s still some confusion out there about this. Leave a copy with your loved one or your emergency contact at home, stash another in your luggage.

10. Government Issued Picture ID

  • While this includes your driver’s license or equivalent, if you are a resident of Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington, you’ll have to use an alternative form of ID (passport). Here’s an article on T & L.

11. Medical Cards

  • Include a list of prescriptions you’re packing in your suitcase.

12. Emergency Contact Numbers

  • Leave a copy of your itinerary and travel “whereabouts” with your contact at home. If you’re traveling with a tour company, include your Tour Director’s name and their office number on this list. Keep a paper copy of your emergency contacts in your purse, wallet, or luggage. Make sure at least one traveling friend knows where it is. Don’t forget to return the favor.

13. Cell Phone

  • A cell phone can double as a camera and emergency information holder.

14. Ziplock Bags and Packing Cubes

  • Ziplock bags are handy to stow your toiletries when flying, separate delicate items from heavier clothing, gather dirty laundry (okay, this might be a small kitchen or plastic grocery bag), hair accessories, quick-grab items in your oversized purse, handy wipes, daily vitamins and prescriptions, and more. Separating items in your luggage with packing cubes makes it easy to keep your bath items neat and out of your roommates way. And, of course, they help you unpack efficiently. If you travel a lot, keep some items in the packing cubes for the next trip. It’s an old Army trick, but rolling your clothing will squeeze the most space out of your suitcase and keep your clothing virtually wrinkle-free! Some travelers pack their clothing in extra large ziplock bags, then squeeze the excess air out. Voila! More packing or souvenir space.

15. Reading Material

  • One of the best things about traveling is the luxury of a little more reading time — or, a lot! While it’s more pleasurable to hold a book and turn the pages, depending on your luggage space and how many books you read while on vacation, an electronic reading pad is a convenient way to travel.

16. Black Dress or Button Down Shirt and Tie

  • A black dress, constructed with jersey or a wrinkle-free material, is cool and comfortable for strolling through the streets, as a beach cover up, and to wear to dinner at an upscale restaurant. You can dress it up with a scarf and your “pretty” sandals. Button down shirts are a simple solution to dressing up or down. All it needs is a tie! (I prefer bowties.)

17. Mini-Emergency Pack

  • You can purchase a small, hard-cased emergency pack with alcohol pads, Band-aides, and such at the drug store before you leave or after you arrive. Or, you can make your own emergency pack! I always throw in a pack of Pepto-Bismal tablets, pumpkin seeds, and charcoal tablets to keep my digestive system happy and safe, especially when traveling out of the country.

18. Disposable Toiletries

  • Put your favorite toiletries in a 3 oz. empty, I-don’t-have-to-take-it-home bottle that complies with airline security and discard it at the end of your trip. Recycling empty — or nearly empty toiletry bottles — frees space in your luggage for souvenirs and makes unpacking much more efficient. The art of decluttering feels just as good on vacation as it does at home. I keep a box of travel items I collect (unused hotel room toiletries, a throw-away toothbrush, travel sized items, plug adapters, hand sanitizer, facial wipes, etc.). It’s a faster-packing method for the whole household.

19. Hand Sanitizer

  • If you’re a germaphobe, you don’t need me to remind you to carry hand sanitizer (gel or wipes) to wipe down phones, door knobs, toilet handles, and tv remotes when you’re traveling. It’s not fun to get sick when you’re on a vacation looking for a “Thin Place.”

20. Travel Journal — Capture the moment while you’re in the moment

  • Okay, I’m a writer. I read, I write. I teach writers. I encourage EVERYONE to put their words down for the shear pleasure of “having written.” It’s more than that, though. It’s a record of a day—or trip—in your life. It doesn’t matter if you think you can write or not, if you can put words on paper, you can write. And, you’ll be better for it. While I’m a big fan of slim, moleskin journals because they’re relatively inexpensive and fit easily in my purse or luggage; I really love to shop for a journal on location the first day of a trip. I often find a beautiful journal or tablet unique to the area. You could always look for ones that are roughly the same size and start a collection on your bookshelf at home. If you’re short on space, your cellphone can double as a travel journal. Start a “Note” named after your tour. Either way, capturing travel moments are priceless for remembering the fun little details or emotions you may forget…

Karen Leslie

The Thin Places Travel Writer

Originally published on the BNT Travel Blog at ©3/25/18



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Karen Leslie

Karen Leslie

Travel writer, Marketing Specialist, Fiction & Prose writer, Motivational Writing Instructor. B.H. Penn State, M.F.A. in Writing Spalding University.