The Best Tropical Vacation Packing List (with free download)

Girl in blue swimsuit with dog stand in blue water in Mexico

Are you dreaming of a getaway to paradise? That salty sea breeze, the warm sun on your skin and the sound of lapping waves on a secluded beach. If this is your idea of blissful relaxation, then it’s likely time for you to book that tropical-paradise vacation. But how do you make sure you don’t forget anything in your haste for the journey ahead? Not a worry - we've got you covered! With our comprehensive packing list for tropical vacations, each item has been carefully chosen for comfort and convenience while enjoying an idealistic haven away from reality. Download our indispensable list now and ensure every trip requirement is expertly taken care of so all that's left for you to do is sit back and enjoy!

Clothes and shoes to pack for a tropical vacation

As you start packing for your tropical vacation, remember that dressing comfortably is key. Pack lightweight and breathable clothes, such as cotton or linen to keep you cool and comfortable your entire vacation. Pack at least one bathing suit, shorts, skirts, dresses, and tops and a pair of flip-flops or sandals. Don't forget to pack a light cardigan, sweatshirt, or scarf if you're planning to visit different altitudes, particularly during the evening hours.


This is probably the easiest piece of clothing to forget since it's not something you wear on a daily basis but it's crucial to pack for a tropical vacation! Personally I take only one to two bathing suits, but some people like to pack more for variety. Whatever you pack, if you're fair skinned like I am, you'll want to pack some sort of rash guard with UV protection for those extra sunny days. I can't tell you how sunburned you'll get while on a tropical vacation to somewhere like Rio de Janeiro.

Casual clothing

For us, tropical vacations mean hot temperatures and lots of moving around so comfort is key. 95% of what's in our suitcases for a tropical vacation are comfy, casual clothes. When packing we try to stick to neutral colors so we can mix and match items easily thus giving ourselves a variety of outfits while packing less. Black, white, gray, and denim are all easy to mix and match.

  • T-shirts/Tank tops
  • Shorts/Skirts
  • Sundresses
  • Lightweight pants/leggings
  • Casual shirts/blouses
  • Light jackets or cardigans for cooler evenings

Evening attire

If you're planning to eat out at a few nice restaurants or head out for a night on the town while on your tropical vacation, don't forget to pack at least one nicer outfit. For those of you who are taking a cruise tropical vacation, keep in mind that some cruise dining rooms have a dress code. Our little tip for packing a nicer outfit is to pack stuff that is wrinkle resistant (if possible) and stick to black as much as possible since it can dress up or down really well. For Chris this looks like his favorite pair of pants that can be worn to dinner or on the trail combined with his favorite wrinkle resistant shirt in long or short sleeves. For Sara this means a dress (often black) with a sweater and a nicer pair of shoes to give the look a bit of a dressy boost.

For her

For him


  • Underwear
  • Bras (sports and daily bras)
  • Socks


Girl sits on rocks at black sand beach on Maui, Hawaii


If you're someone who like to get dressed up occasionally while on a tropical vacation, don't forget to pack all of your accessories including jewelry, hair accessories, belts, etc. You may also want to pack a beach bag, a light backpack, or a crossbody bag to carry around your essentials and valuables.

Sun protection

Tropical vacation means lots of sun, so don't for get to pack the sun protection! Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are essential in any tropical destination. Pack a high SPF sunscreen of at least 30 that is also water-resistant and reef safe is important. Wearing protective sunglasses can help shield your eyes from the strong sunlight, whilst a straw hat or baseball cap can protect your face from the scorching heat.

Beach accessories

Water activities

Miscellaneous accessories

  • Insect repellent
  • Travel-size toiletries for beach day (mini deodorant, lotion, etc.)
  • Personal medications (whatever medications you might need while at the beach or pool)
  • First aid kit
Girl and guy laying on surfboards in Maui, Hawaii


If you know us, we can't go on a tropical trip without packing our camera gear. As digital nomads we rarely just vacation so we're usually hauling around laptops, camera gear for travel vlogging, and more chargers for batteries and accessories than we care to admit. If you're going purely for vacation then you won't need near as many electronic as we do, so here's a list of the basic electronic you'll need to pack for your tropical vacation.

Note: If you're curious what our filming and photography equipment setup is like you can checkout our store on B&H.


Option electronics

Man walks down tropical path along Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Travel gear and essentials

Finding the right travel gear like luggage, packing cubes, and carryon backpacks is practically an art.  Everyone has their preferences, but these are our current tried and true favorites.

Double-check your travel documents, such as your passport, visa (if applicable), tickets, and travel insurance. Tuck them in a safe and easily accessible place such as a waterproof ziplock bag, a passport holder, or a fanny pack. We also consider making copies of all of these and sending them to your email or trusted friend/family member before and during your trip.


Travel essentials

  • Passport, visas, and travel documents
  • International Driving Permit (if applicable)
  • Travel wallet with cash, cards, and ID
  • Travel insurance documents


  • Travel pillow (we haven't tried this specific pillow but we like their camping pillow and this one is intriguing to us for flying because of how small it packs)
  • Luggage locks and tags
  • AirTags (in case luggage gets lost)
Girl walks between palm trees during tropical vacation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Health & wellness

Pack a small bag containing all of your toiletries and essentials like makeup, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, tampons/sanitary pads, and dry shampoo. If you're flying, remember to pack any creams, liquids, or gels in a clear plastic bag and make sure each item is below 3.4 ounces. It's always a good idea to bring a small first aid kit containing medical essentials such as painkillers, band-aids, and antihistamines.


  • Prescribed medications and copies of prescriptions
  • Pain relievers
  • Motion sickness tablets

Personal care

  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, etc.)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hand sanitizer


  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Any necessary medical supplies
Girl and dog on a boat during a tropical vacation in Bacalar, Mexico


While packing for a tropical vacation, the inclusion of miscellaneous items on your packing list is crucial. This category encompasses a range of items that may not fit into the traditional packing categories but are necessary for comfort, convenience, and emergency situations.


  • Books or magazines for leisure reading
  • Magazines or e-readers

Food and drink


Final thoughts

Taking a tropical vacation can be an amazing experience, especially if you've prepared for it correctly. Packing the necessary items will make sure that you don't have to worry about missing out during your trip. With the helpful advice included in this guide, you can now feel confident when packing your vacation suitcase. Don't forget to download and print our free optional packing list for the best and most stress-free tropical vacation. Make sure that you take advantage of the beauty and serenity that a tropical destination has to offer by preparing for your getaway ahead of time - all you have to do is pick your favorite spot and pack! So start planning your dream tropical location today and pack for a memorable island getaway.

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Hi! We're Chris and Sara a husband and wife video making, storytelling, travel loving duo with a passion for sharing travel tips, tricks, and inspiration with others.
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