travel in style: packing for a tropical vacation

January. The “fun” part of winter is over, the novelty has worn off, and we’re all sick to death of the cold and the muck. No wonder it’s the time of year when everyone you know (including you, I hope!) is taking off for somewhere warm and exotic. how to pack for a tropical vacation

On the off chance you have something tropical on your calendar (or in the hopes I can inspire you to take yourself on a little sunny getaway), I thought I’d give you my tips for packing the perfect tropical getaway suitcase.  I don’t like to brag (stop laughing!), but I have this packing thing down. Tell me the number of days you’re traveling and where you’re headed, and I can put together a bag that will work for anything you might encounter…and you’ll be able to fit it all in a carry-on.

Take my trip to Maui last month (just you wait…I have stories for you!). I packed so well, I scared myself. Wore every single thing in my case exactly the right number of times, and even had room to bring home souvenir jars of guava butter (insanely good, by the way).

So, what goes in the perfectly-packed suitcase for a tropical vacation? I’m so glad you asked.

  • For the pool: 2 swimsuits (if you’re a two-piece gal, throw in a third bottom for good measure), 2 pool cover-ups stylish enough to wear around the resort (cotton tunics are endlessly versatile that way).
  • For day: 3 short bottoms (shorts or skirts – I went with 2 pairs of shorts and one skirt) and 3 tees. Bonus points if they coordinate.
  • For evening: 1 bright, fun jersey dress (like this amazing one from Velvet), 1 pair of white jeans, and 1 easy cotton or linen sweater.
  • Shoes: 1 pair of flip flops, 1 pair of dress sandals, 1 pair of walking flats (which you’ll wear on the plane).
  • Extras: 1 light jacket (my military jacket got plenty of wear), a light-but-warm scarf, a couple of bangles and a pair of bold earrings. Leave the rest of the jewels home.
  • Underpinnings: I think you know to pack PJs, and plenty of extra undies. Especially those that won’t show under the white jeans and jersey dress. And at least one sexy bra, please.

That’s it! All of that got me through 6 days in Maui, with not a drop to spare.

By the way, a word about those amazing swimsuits. They came from a Portland store called Popina, who not only braves the odds by selling adorable suits in the rainiest city ever, but actually designs them too. And does a damn fine job, I might add. I love Popina’s in-house brand for serious function (ie, the perfect snorkeling suit), but for movie-star style poolside lounging, their selection of Seafolly swimwear stole my heart. That gingham number did some seriously generous things for my figure. Big thanks to Popina for sending them on vacation with me!

Now tell me, do you have a tropical destination in your future, or was this just cruel torture?

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5 comments on “travel in style: packing for a tropical vacation

  1. Vanessa

    Love it! I’m going to Costa Rica for a wedding next month so this is perfectly-timed. This also means I’ll be packing a couple of silk dresses and fancy shoes, as well as hiking shoes (I know, I know, you can take the girl out of Colorado….)

    Is the ikat tunic from CPWM too? A pool cover up is the only item I’m missing!

  2. Pingback: maui travel guide - shopping's my cardio

  3. Kelly

    Great posts! Let me add a few essentials ….

    Sun Tanner Towelettes (Loreal has a good one) – PLEASE USE ONE A DAY BEFORE LEAVING 🙂
    Sun Screen Towelettes
    Bug Towelettes
    Head Lamp
    Inexpensive Water Shoes
    Lightweight Sneakers – (which is what I wear on the plane because others wear sandals LOL)

    Have a great trip!

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