Florida, better known as the Sunshine State, has more than 800 miles of coastline, including many barrier islands parallel to its coast. Florida is also where you will find the Everglades National Park, Lake Okeechobee, hundreds of canals, and many coastal bays.
The Sunshine State is aptly named because of its year-round lifestyle. A Florida vacation is all about fun in the sun and water. The state’s beautiful coastal areas are divided into three regions –
- The Atlantic Coast – from the Georgia Border to the Magic City of Miami.
- The Southwestern Portion of Florida, where the coast meets the Gulf of Mexico. This also includes the Florida Keys.
- The Florida Panhandle – also on the Gulf of Mexico but to the north.
While there are noticeable changes in Florida’s seasons, most of the year, one can enjoy any outdoor activity – even when most of the country is digging out of a snow or ice storm.
Florida is world-renowned for having stunning and pristine beaches and a whole lot of sun. But surfing and water sports are only part of the entertainment and attractions offered in the Sunshine State. From Orlando’s theme parks to the Space Coast and the Keys, Florida is a vacationer’s paradise – with something for everyone and kids of all ages.
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A Word About Florida’s Weather
Florida’s climate is considered temperate – or warm most of the year. While it rarely snows in most of the state (especially South Florida), the change of seasons is noticeable. So how and what you pack will depend on when you intend to visit Florida, the most southeastern state in the country.
From May to October (considered the wet season), Florida is hot and humid, which coincides with the Sunshine State’s Hurricane Season. During Florida’s wet season, it is not unusual for parts of Florida to experience daily thunderstorms (some quite strong) and high humidity. The average temperature in July in Florida – the hottest month, is 82F degrees.
Florida’s dry season, which extends from November to April, is cooler and less humid – and often some of the best weather in the United States – especially from December to February. January is the coldest month in Florida. Note –
- The high season for locations in subtropical southern Florida is from mid-December to mid-April.
- Northern Florida’s busiest tourist season is from late May through early September.
Planning a trip to Florida and unsure what to bring? Our Florida Packing List is a great place to start preparing for your upcoming getaway – but always keep in mind the time of year you head south to Florida.
The Essential Florida Vacation Packing List.
Sunscreen is a requirement to stay safe in Florida’s tropical sun.
Florida’s sun is a tropical sun and, unlike other parts of the nation, you can get burned in minutes without proper skin protection. Fortunately, there are all kinds of sunscreen products – from sprays to creams, that offer different levels of protection. (See SPF Guide) Most recommend a minimum of an SPF of 30.
A waterproof cellphone phone holder is a must for the pool, beach, and water parks.
This simple waterproof pouch can clip or hang around your neck, so you do not have to constantly worry about the phone getting wet or stolen if you leave it with your stuff while swimming. There is often room for a phone and other valuables.
Hand sanitizer is a modern travel necessity.
This should always be brought along – from traveling to amusement parks. And, with available travel sizes, it has never been easier.
Lip balm with sunscreen protects your lips from the harmful UV rays of the Florida sun.
Like your skin, your lips need protection from harmful sun rays. Lip balm also helps to moisturize dry lips.
Digital cameras are now quite affordable and offer many high-tech features.
For those whose phone camera just won’t do, grab a digital camera with optical zoom (and storage card) to save all your vacation memories.
Sun visor hats help keep the sun out of your eyes or off your face – with style.
To make packing easy, these sun visor hats, with a wide brim, can be rolled up and folded.
Polarized sunglasses help protect your eyes from the Sunshine State’s bright sunshine.
Stylish, polarized, and affordable sunglasses are available to help protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
An insulated/reusable water bottle is a great way to stay hydrated in the often hot, humid tropical sun.
Staying hydrated is essential when in the tropical sun and heat. These reusable water bottles are insulated and can stay cold for hours.
A portable fan is a convenient way to beat the Florida heat.
A portable fan is a small, smart addition to your Florida packing list. These are great on the beach or when standing in line at one of the many Orlando theme parks.
Comfortable walking shoes are a must when touring a museum or amusement/water park.
From traveling to traversing the miles of entertainment, Florida visitors should always pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Poor shoe choices can lead to painful blisters and other foot ailments.
A compact, windproof umbrella is an easy way to prepare for unexpected Florida downpours.
Florida can be quite rainy, so carrying a small strong umbrella is a must. Umbrellas even double as sun protection when needed.
Rain ponchos are easy to pack and quite valuable when caught at a theme park without an umbrella or other rain gear.
Rain ponchos are lightweight and compact – so they are easy to throw into a day pack when enjoying the day at a state park, the Everglades, the Aquarium, or a theme park. When the skies open during the wet season, a Rain Poncho is the best way to stay dry.
Noise-canceling headphones can help tune out the world while traveling.
Headphones that allow you to cancel out the noise and distractions of the world are essential for travel, working out, or just lounging on a quiet Florida beach.
Neck pillows (w/Sleep Mask & Earplugs) are ideal for taking a snooze on your flight to the Sunshine State.
Once you experience air travel with a neck pillow, you will never travel without one again.
A day backpack is perfect when hiking, visiting the Everglades, or traversing one of Florida’s amazing natural preserves and scrubs.
Florida offers all sorts of day trips when not relaxing at the pool or on the sand. A day backpack is a perfect bag to bring along for the day’s essentials for an outing at the Kennedy Space Center, Lake Okeechobee, or one of the Florida Keys. Be sure to pack water, extra clothing, and sunscreen, among others.
A solar-powered portable charger can keep devices charged while traveling or on the beach.
You will probably need several chargers for all your devices, so don’t forget to include a solar-powered option that is great for a day at the park, pool, or beach. Consider buying a charger carrying case to keep things organized.
Cooling towels offer a high-tech solution to Florida’s heat.
Whether you are on a boat on Biscayne Bay or enjoying Universal or Disney World, the Florida sun is tropical, intense, and hot. To stay cool, use these nifty, lightweight cooling towels, which cool up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit simply by running them underwater.
An RFID travel wallet protects your personal information from being stolen using digital methods.
When planning an upcoming travel excursion, it is essential to keep your privacy and personal information safe. A travel wallet that includes RFID protection can help prevent identity theft. Make sure you include some extra cash for emergencies.
Sand, Surf & Pool – Related Packing List for a Florida Getaway
A Beach towel offers enough room to enjoy the sand and surf.
Many travelers make the incorrect assumption that the hotel or Airbnb will provide towels for a beach excursion. And while some do, they are usually not large enough, which makes them uncomfortable to use. Beach towels are designed to fold compactly and even repel sand.
Chair clips help keep your towel secure and in place on a windy beach or by the pool.
If you prefer to sit on a beach chair, these clips hold your towel in place and blow away in a strong coastal gust. Choose a color you like, so you can identify your chair in a sea of beach goers.
A mesh beach bag with a cooler insert is the perfect accompaniment to a day at one of Florida’s beaches.
A mesh bag for the beach is the perfect choice because it would fill up with sand. The cooler insert helps keep food and drinks refreshingly cold.
Oversized beach blankets provide more beach real estate and are now made with sand-proof material.
This beach blanket offers sand-proof protection, is easily folded and compact, and is large enough for several people.
Kindles (or any reader/book) are great little devices that allow you to enjoy a relaxing beachfront vacation.
Most people relaxing on vacation in Florida love to catch up on some books they have been meaning to read. Choose the glare-free Kindle for the beach or pool.
A disposable underwater camera is a perfect way to capture your Florida getaway – from a new perspective.
With affordable waterproof cameras, you can have some fun taking pictures of the action below the water line.
Portable & waterproof speakers can be used on the beach and in hotel rooms.
Portable speakers are a great addition because they can be used at the pool, the beach, on a watercraft, or in your hotel room.
Snorkels are a great way to experience the beauty of Florida’s waters.
While there may be snorkel gear for rent, if you are a serious snorkeler, Florida’s coasts and reefs offer some amazing adventures and views.
Clothing to Pack When Planning a Florida Vacation
As noted above, the clothing you pack will be contingent upon the time of year you plan to visit. Unless you plan to visit Florida during the winter months, do not underestimate the strength of the sun or the heat. As such, to pack appropriately, consider lightweight clothing and add layers should a cool spell arrive in Florida.
Here is a basic list of essential clothing for a visit to Florida –
- Several lightweight t-shirts, shorts, and a pair of long pants or jeans.
- A bathing suit – preferably more than one
- A swimsuit coverup
- A sun hat or baseball cap
- Flip-flops or comfortable sandals
- Lightweight pajamas
- A light or rain jacket for cooler evenings when you may be cold from a day in the sun.
- Water shoes
- Medicine, etc.
If you plan to visit the Sunshine State during the winter, you may need to include some warmer garb because some nights can reach the 40s, even if the day is warm and sunny.
Pro-Tip – Consider taking a shirt and undergarment in a carry-on to be prepared should your luggage is misplaced on your way to Florida.
Packing List for Kids Visiting Florida
When packing for a trip to Florida that includes kids, consider these additional packing items –
Electronic gaming devices keep kids entertained for hours when traveling or relaxing at the pool.
Most kids own at least one of these electronic gaming devices, which, from a travel perspective, are a must, especially when getting to or relaxing at the pool or beach.
Car seats are required for certain types of travel, so bring your own for your little one.
Whether traveling in a car or plane, a child’s safety seat is an essential item to keep your child safe. These strollers offer a safety harness and ten headrest positions.
Portable strollers are a lifesaver if a child is too tired or hot to walk.
For those times when your child is sleepy or tired, a portable and lightweight stroller is the perfect answer.
Swim diapers are typically required for infants and toddlers in most pools and beach locations.
Help your kids beat the Florida heat, even if they are still in diapers.
Kids-size sunglasses that are polarized help protect their eyes.
The Florida sunshine is intense and can be harmful, especially to the eyes of young children.
Sun protection shirts keep your kids safe from Florida’s tropical sun rays.
These chlorine and salt-resistant shirts offer kids superior protection (UPF 50+) from the sun’s harmful rays. The shirt can be worn swimming and stretches four-way for comfort.
Sun hats help protect a child’s delicate skin from UVA and UVB rays from the sun.
Sun hats offer UPF 50+ protection and can be worn anywhere – at the lake, beach, pool, or amusement park.
Beach toys keep kids busily creating at the beach.
Every person has childhood memories of playing on the beach in the sun and surf, and your trip to Florida should be no different.
Water wings keep kids safe in the water while letting them explore their world.
These flotation blow-ups offer parents a sense of relief when their child is splashing about in a pool or surf.
Mini first aid kits for kids are compact and fit easily in a day pack or handbag.
While you hope to never need one, you will always be grateful that it is there when your child scrapes their need, etc.
Digital cameras for kids are a great way to introduce photography to a youngster.
An affordable digital camera is a great way to allow a kid to take their own pictures of their Florida vacation.
Deet-Free mosquito wristbands keep away bothersome insects and mosquitoes.
Wristbands are now manufactured without chemicals and are 100% natural – using lemongrass, citronella, geranial, etc. They are waterproof and great anywhere bugs might find your kid.
Staying in Florida Longer than 2 Weeks?
If you happen to be staying for more than just a few weeks, consider including these additional items –
A Travel Journal is an ideal way to record your Florida memories as they happen.
Keep track of your daily memories in a travel journal. Don’t forget to add photos too.
Packing Cubes help organize the contents of your luggage.
The most challenging part of packing for more than a few days is finding room for everything you think you may need. These packing cubes help you organize essential items.
A portable laundry kit is a great way to prepare for a longer trip to Florida.
Finding time (and a place that is not outrageously expensive) to wash clothing on vacation can be challenging. This portable, pocket-sized travel line can be set up anywhere to hang clothing, bathing suits, and towels.
Nothing on vacation feels more like home than a robe.
A lightweight robe can be a great choice for extensive travel. This kimono style offers soft, breathable cotton and great comfort.
Travel Insurance is a must for those with extensive travel plans.
A long trip should be protected by travel insurance, which is available from many insurers. Some include protection for lost baggage and medical emergencies.