Ten Items All Women Should Have in Their Suitcases for That Tropical Getaway

This article is going to give you some packing ideas for women because 1) I am a woman who loves to travel and needs to pack often and 2) if your significant male other is anything like mine, you have to fight to get him to wear a shirt with a collar instead of a tee-shirt so don’t even agonize over what to pack for him. Seriously. Throw a few items in a suitcase for him and you are done. Shirts? Pants? Underwear? Check, check, and check.

Now, we ladies are a little bit more particular. Since I have been traveling extensively for quite a while now, I have learned a lot about packing, what works and what does not work, and how to get by on a much smaller number of clothes than I ever would have dreamed. I am not even going to tell you what many of the other packing articles will tell you, which is to stick to one color and mix and match just those dull, boring choices, and please. We need a few choices and we like some colors, right?

So, here you go. The perfect packing list.

A Little Black Dress.

1. A LBD. You do have a Little Black Dress, correct? Because if you don’t, you should immediately go shopping. Your LBD can be short or long but as simple as possible so you can dress it up or down, and should be comfortable, well-fitting and preferably have some stretch to it. Actually, have some stretch to it is a phrase that works for every item in your wardrobe, at least for me. Your LBD absolutely does not have to be expensive. Crazily enough, I have found darling jersey dresses at Walmart and you can find equally cute things at T.J. Maxx, Steinmart and other, similar stores. Just keep trying on and looking and you will find the perfect dress.

 2. A couple of maxi dresses. When I was in high school, I had some mad sewing “skillz” and spent a lot of time making my own clothes, including a fabulous purple wool maxi skirt that I kind of wish I still had since maxi’s are now all the rage. Instead, I have purchased several jersey maxi dresses and pack at least one or two every time I travel. Maxi dresses can be worn very casually – I have seen women wearing them to the grocery store with casual sandals – or very dressy, depending on the jewelry or shoes you add. They are also very comfortable and very flattering, if you choose the right style. Try some on until you find one that is just right and I guarantee you will love it. Anytime I can wear something that is as comfortable as pajamas, I am happy.

3. Pashminas. I honestly didn’t know about pashminas until I was on a cruise and the online store had a $10 sale which included pashminas in every color. Since they were only $10 and the rainbow of colors was a little intoxicating, I might possibly have purchased several. That night, I wore a cute maxi dress to dinner and needed something to cover my shoulders, so I grabbed the turquoise pashmina, threw it on and became a pashmina convert. Pashmina is just a really fancy word for shawl but these soft, over-large scarves really are great to wear over your shoulders. They are also wonderful on a plane. Tuck one in your purse and use it to cover up instead of one of those nasty airline blankets.


4. A really good pair of black pants. I am not of the school that says black pants make you look slimmer; I think that any color is flattering if it is well fitting. However, black is great to travel in because it doesn’t show those chocolate stains from that fabulous chocolate soufflé you dripped on them last night. Or maybe that’s just me. But they are also great because any top will match them and I have learned that if you wear a super cute top, nobody really notices your pants. Your pants should be comfortable, flattering and stretchy, as mentioned above.

5. Tee-shirts. I am not a fan of destination tee-shirts. You can keep all those baggy, unattractive tee-shirts that tell where you have been – they are just not for me. However, I am a fan of nice, fitted, colorful, attractive tee-shirts like those from Jones New York or even Banana Republic or J. Crew.  The great thing about these tee-shirts is that they are comfortable, flattering and you can dress them up or down. Wear one with jeans and a ball cap for a tour? Casual. Wear one with black pants and some cute jewelry? Dressy.

Tee Shirts

6. Underwear. Unless you are a lot more risqué than me, you are going to need some undies to wear under those first five items I know you have already packed. Don’t go crazy and pack all your bras and panties – one bra, a few panties and a strapless or adjustable bra are all you need to bring. It’s pretty easy to just rinse our your undies in the hotel sink.

7. Sleeping Essentials. My daughter was amused when I appeared out of the bedroom of our beach house on Tybee Island in a silky gown and matching robe. She herself was decked out in sleeping pants and a tank top, apparently the de rigueur sleeping outfit nowadays. I actually also have plenty of sleeping pants (seriously, how did we live before these were invented) but I like to take along a silky gown and robe as well when I travel. They don’t take up much room, and the robe comes in handy to toss on when you get out of the shower or are putting on your makeup and fixing your hair. Plus, when you wear a lovely matching gown and robe set you can totally look like a 40’s movie star and who would not want that?

Sleeping Pants

8. Bathing suits. Although I don’t recommend packing an exorbitant amount of underwear, I do suggest taking 2-3 bathing suits on a tropical getaway. Invariably, your bathing suit will still be wet/covered in sand when you want to put it on next so it’s nice to have a clean, dry one on standby.

9. Shoes. I am not even going to tell you how many pairs of shoes I took on our first cruise because I can’t remember but, suffice it to say that it was a lot. Way, way too many. I am not going to advocate bringing one or two pairs of shoes with you – get real – but this is not the time to pack every single pair of red sandals you own. Pick and choose the cutest ones that will match several outfits, maybe one dressy pair, one or two casual pairs, and some tennis shoes or walking sandals if you plan to do a lot of walking and that should be plenty.

10. Jewels and Scarves. I know you listened to me and packed that LBD and some simple but cute tee-shirts so now you are going to need some jewels and scarves to change them up, dress them up and make them look different so you can repeat some outfits because, unless you want to bring three or four extra suitcases, you are not going to be able to bring a completely different outfit for each day. This is not the time to pack those wildly expensive diamonds and emeralds you have tucked away, as costume jewelry will be just fine and you won’t have to worry if you lose a piece.


So, that’s the final packing list. Of course, you will also have electronics, cosmetics, and other items which are unique to you personally but these ten items will work for everyone. What do you think? Any additions?

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About the author: Jan Ross

For twenty years, I worked as a librarian in an elementary school but finally decided to get serious about travel writing and devote all my time to it. Now, I travel the world and write all about it. I can't imagine a more fabulous or fulfilling job. I write a regular travel column for two regional, Central Kentucky magazines and contribute regularly to other magazines and online travel sites, such as The SavvyGal, A Luxury Travel Blog and The Vacation Gals. I'm an avid reader and stay active with Yoga, Pilates and Zumba classes. My favorite place in the whole world is a beach - any beach. I have been married for 34 years and my husband is my favorite travel companion. I also rely on him for his excellent photography skills. We have two grown children and the best grandson in the world. Slowly but surely, we are visiting all the places we have dreamed about. Hopefully, the next one will be the one you want to read about!

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