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The Ultimate Caribbean Vacation Packing List (Separate List if Have Kids)

A smartphone and succulent plant in the table.

Vacations are awesome but packing for a trip is not everyone’s cup of tea. Are you planning to take a Caribbean trip and don’t know where to start? Don’t fret; a packing checklist will make the whole process easier. Here’s a comprehensive guide for your next trip to the Caribbean.

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What to Pack for the Caribbean

A woman sun bathing on the seashore.

Last year, I decided to do something different for my birthday. I chose to go on a trip instead of partying with my friends. My destination? The Bahamas. It was my first time. God knows for how long I’ve wished to visit the Caribbean. The plan was simple: lay on the beach during the day, party so hard at night, and indulge in the cultural heritage of that beautiful island. From my research, I knew I’d have a great time; and I did!

One of my secrets to enjoying a trip is taking time on that packing list. Although it’s not my favorite thing to do in the world, it’s inevitable. I recommend writing down a list on paper or on your notes app, then tick items off as you pack them. Here is my list:

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1. The Suitcase

A luggage and sunglasses on the seashore.

There is a never-ending debate on whether one should bring a suitcase or a backpack on vacation. I would choose a suitcase anytime. We can all agree that they are easier to drag around at the airport – they have wheels, after all. Not to mention I don’t have to worry about a sweaty back – which would be the case with carrying a backpack. Finally, I think a suitcase gives me a clear view of all my belongings. This makes it easy for me to notice if something is missing.

Now that we’ve agreed a suitcase carries the day on this one, the next thing you have to do is pick one that suits your needs. I always pick a big suitcase – because I like bringing souvenirs home. The Travelpro Maxlite 5 is my suitcase of choice. I love its lightweight design and four wheel spinners that rotate about 360 degrees. I also like that it expands up to two inches, giving me more packing room when I need it.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Expandable Luggage with 4 Spinner Wheels, Lightweight Suitcase, Men and Women, Black, Checked-Medium 25-Inch

Pro tip: Ensure that you order your suitcase weeks before your trip to the Caribbean. That way, you can test the height and everything else. In case of anything, you’ll have enough time to get a replacement.

2. Travel Documents

A happy woman with her passport on the yellow background.

If you are like me, you have almost everything in soft copy. But when traveling across the world, you will need a little old-fashioned paper. Some documents you need to bring with you include a passport, an international driving permit, reservation printouts, airline boarding passes, and vaccination records. This list can go on and on, and that’s where a document organizer comes in.

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Zoppen RFID Travel Passport Wallet & Documents Organizer Zipper Case with Removable Wristlet Strap, Royal Blue

You don’t want your documents lying around. My favorite organizer is the Zoppen RFID Travel Passport, Wallet & Documents Organizer. This organizer has plenty of room – six card slots, a mesh bag, a pen holder, two zipper bags, a boarding pass pocket, and a passport pouch. I also like that it comes with a removable wristlet, so I can carry it with me easily when I need to.

3. Flight Essentials

I recommend that you bring a water bottle – a collapsible one would be the best so that you can save on space. Once you get on your flight to the Caribbean, you can ask the cabin crew to fill up the bottle for you. Stay away from metallic and insulated bottles. While they are aesthetically pleasing, they can be a little too bulky. The 1 liter Vapur collapsible bottle would do the trick.

Vapur Element Flexible Water Bottle - with Carabiner, 1 Liter (33 oz) - 2 Pack - Grey & Teal

I also always carry medication, just in case I need it. When going to the Bahamas, I wanted to hit the ground rolling as soon as I landed. So, I couldn’t take chances with nursing a bad headache after the flight. I also recently discovered that most airlines don’t encourage their staff to hand out pills on a flight. So, I always pack my non-prescription pills in my Restree Pill carrying case.

Restree Pill Organizer, Portable Pill Dispenser, Moisture-Proof Travel Pill Case for Vitamin, Medicine, Fish Oil/Supplements Extra Large 9 compartments (Black) Still, on medication, consider carrying sea-sickness medicine if you plan on hopping on one of those sunset sails in the Caribbean. Something else that works like a charm is sleeping during the flight. That’s why I always pack a sleep kit – it contains an eye mask and ear plugs.

ROVAZO - 3D Sleep Mask and Ear Plug Travel Set 2 Pack – Super Soft Contoured Adjustable Black Out Eye Shades - Premium, Comfortable Silicone Ear Plugs - for Planes and Naps - Bonus Pouch

Most importantly, you don’t want to forget your hand sanitizer – especially at such a time when we are just from facing the COVID-19 pandemic. I like carrying the Purell Advanced Hand sanitizer Refreshing Gel. I like the 2 oz bottle because it’s easy to slip into my purse.

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Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel, Clean Scent, 2 fl oz Travel Size Flip Cap Bottle (Pack of 6) – 3155-04-EC

4. Electronics

I wanted my birthday trip to be as minimalist as possible. That means no packing a heavy camera. But I also wanted to take a couple of pictures of myself on the beautiful Caribbean beach. That’s why I brought my smartphone – I use an iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, 256GB, Gold - Unlocked (Renewed)

Besides taking pictures, you will also need your smartphone for navigation, translation, and much more. So, ensure you have all the apps you might need, such as offline maps. It’s also important to find out if you’ll need a power adapter when traveling to the Caribbean.

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to because the plug sockets in the Bahamas are the same as the ones in the U.S. However, I did carry my Anka Powecore power bank. It could be quite frustrating if your phone died on you while on vacation.

Anker PowerCore III 19,200mAh Huge Cell Capacity 45W Power Delivery Portable Charger for MacBook Air 2020, iPad Pro 11, iPhone 11/11 Pro/XS Max/X / 8, Samsung and More

I recommend carrying a lightweight phone tripod, such as the LINCO selfie stick and tripod. It comes in handy, especially when traveling solo and would love to take pictures of yourself. Don’t forget your earbuds. You can’t rely on the ones provided by the airline, which in my opinion, are not of the best quality. Of course, don’t forget to bring your phone charger.

Selfie Stick & Tripod LINCO, Integrated, Portable All-in-One Professional, Heavy Duty, Lightweight, Bluetooth Remote for Apple & Android Devices, Separable Tripod Feet, Extends to 52", Black

5. Clothes

A happy family walking on the beach.

The Caribbean is hot and humid – it’s part of the reason why so many people like going there. And of course the turquoise water and white beaches. Therefore, it goes without saying that you need to pack breathable clothing when visiting this part of the world. Consider packing items like breeze t-shirts, sundresses, and tank tops.

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However, some resorts around here might not let you in if you are dressed too casually. Therefore, consider getting one or two upscale outfits for when you want to go out.

6. Shoes

Slippers left on the sea and a bouquet of flowers.

I make it a habit to plan my outfits ahead of traveling. That way, I can bring shoes that complement my look. Since I can’t wear heels on vacation, I always bring a pair of wedges. They are date-night appropriate and incredibly comfortable. I also pack a pair of platform sandals for days when I want to explore or go shopping in the city.

If I have some more room, you can be sure I’ll throw a pair of fisherman sandals in there. I like how versatile they are. You can pull them off during the day or at night when going for drinks with your travel buddies. Don’t forget to bring a pair of utility sandals.

They are waterproof, making them an excellent choice for walking near water or doing other water activities. Whatever shoe you choose to add to your packing list, ensure that it’s comfortable, especially under the Caribbean heat.

7. Accessories

A hat, a sun glasses and a shell on a deck.

Even though the goal is to pack light, there are some accessories you should never leave the house without. Top of that list is utility jewelry – jewelry that can fit every occasion and style. Remember I mentioned planning your vacation outfits beforehand. Once you’ve done that, you can easily pick a few pieces from your jewelry collection. For instance, this MIDEEO 14 Gold Leaf Pendant necklace is minimalist and would go with almost anything.

MIDEEO Gold Leaf Necklaces for Women Dainty Necklace Olive Branch Necklace 14K Gold Filled Small Leaf Pendant Necklace Simple Chain Jewelry Gift

Another must-have for a trip to the beach is a nice pair of sunglasses. They make you look stylish while acting as a barrier from the unforgiving sun and heat. When shopping for sunglasses, I always consider style, fit, and protective coating.

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I would also recommend sunglasses with polarized lenses, especially when I have watersports on my itinerary. This pair of WOWSUN polarized sunglasses are a favorite. They have a vintage touch, and a high-quality lightweight frame. They also have anti-slip nose pads, which I find very useful.

WOWSUN Polarized Sunglasses for Women Vintage Retro Round Mirrored Lens

A sun hat is also essential on the beach. Most people struggle with packing a sun hat. That used to be me until I learnt to always buy flexible hats. One that will bounce back immediately you get it out from your suitcase. If you are a brave soul, you can skip putting the hat in your suitcase, and instead, wear it around the airport. That way, you can place it under your seat during the flight. But I must warn you – there is the risk of forgetting your hat on the plane.

FURTALK Womens Beach Sun Straw Hat UV UPF50 Travel Foldable Brim Summer UV Hat (Aa-Mixed Beige, Medium)

As you may already know, most smartphones don’t play nicely with water. Yet a selfie in the ocean would look so nice. Solution? A waterproof phone case. Most are made from durable plastic, usually thick enough to withstand water pressure. Most of them, like the Migeec waterproof phone case, are compatible with all phone models that measure up to 6.9’’.

Migeec Waterproof Phone Case (2 Packs) IPX8 Waterproof Phone Pouch Dry Bag Waterproof Bag for Beach Kayaking Travel Compatible with iPhone Android Device up to 6.9" (Black+Blue)

8. Skincare

Packing your skincare essentials on a trip is almost as important as packing your passport. However, you don’t want to spend so much time on holiday struggling with a complicated skincare routine. Therefore, only bring the essentials. Preferably, buy familiar ingredients – now might not be the best time to try out new products. Notably, you won’t be allowed to carry liquids over 100ml on an international trip.

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40Pcs 2oz Empty Clear Plastic Travel Bottles, Portable Refillable Containers with Flip Top Caps, PET Bottles for Hand Sanitizer Shampoo, Body Soap, Toner, Lotion, Cream (40 Pack)

Lucky for you, there are refillable containers, such as the Gails Willing 2oz empty clear plastic travel bottles. With these containers, you can conveniently carry your usual skin care products. Some essentials you must always carry include face oil, sunscreen, and eye cream. Oh, and your lip balm.

NISHEL 4 Sections Hanging Travel Toiletry Bag Organizer, Large Makeup Cosmetic Case for Bathroom Shower, Pink

In the same breath, minimize your makeup when traveling. And for that, consider getting compact makeup organizer bags to make packing easier.

9. Cash

While traveling, you need to have some cash on you. You might find yourself in a situation where there is no ATM near you, or the establishment you are at does not accept a debit or credit card. However, you can wait until you land in the Caribbean and make a withdrawal. So, make sure you carry your card.

What to Pack When Traveling With Kids

A child wearing hat on the beach.

Having kids has never been a good enough reason not to travel. You have to be more creative when packing. Inevitably, you will have more luggage no matter how much you try to pack light. However, you can make a priority list and maybe leave some things that don’t make the cut at home. Keep in mind that what you need depends on the age of your children. Check out this list of essentials to pack on your trip to the Caribbean with the kids.

1. Wipes

WaterWipes Biodegradable Original Baby Wipes, 99.9% Water Based Wipes, Unscented & Hypoallergenic for Sensitive Skin, 60 Count (Pack of 12) - Packaging May Vary

Baby wipes will be your best friend when traveling with the baby. They come in handy when you need to change their diaper or feed them. Besides, the water in the hotel room might be harsh on the baby’s skin, so you can use wipes instead.

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Besides you can also use the wipes yourself, such as when you need to clean your fingers after having a snack. Go for gentle alternatives, such as the WaterWipes biodegradable baby wipes. They are 99.9% water based, and hypoallergenic, making them suitable for sensitive skin.

2. Waste Disposal Bags

Ubbi Disposable Diaper Sacks, Lavender Scented, Easy-To-Tie Tabs, Diaper Disposal or Pet Waste Bags, 200 Count

Sometimes your baby needs a diaper change, and there is no garbage bin in sight. That’s why it’s important to pack small waste disposal bags. Besides, your baby might vomit while traveling. These Ubbi diaper sacks are lavender scented and have easy-to-tie tabs.

For younger children, consider packing a portable changing mat. Also, find out if a car seat or pram will be available at your destination. If not, pack your own. Remember to find entertainment options for them. That might mean packing things like sturdy books that you can easily clean and talking books.

3. What to Pack for Longer Trips

A woman with her laptop relaxing on the sea.

If you plan on staying in the Caribbean for more than two weeks, you might need to tweak that packing list. For starters, I recommend bringing your laptop or tablet computer. You will need that to transfer your pictures and videos.

If you are a digital nomad, carrying your laptop can allow you to continue working while enjoying your vacation. If you are bringing your laptop, remember to pack its accessories, such as a wireless mouse.

I also recommend that you pack a movie or television streaming device. You might argue, “but I’m not the type of person that watches movies on vacation.” While that might be true, you might occasionally feel the need to sit down and watch a show. For that reason, have an HDMI cable or phone adapter in hand.

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Before you pack your bags and go for such a long period, you need to think about your home security while you are gone. Thanks to our advanced technology, you can keep an eye on your home from anywhere in the world. All you need to do is install a remote video verification system. Some systems have additional features, such as real-time alerts and video streaming.