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What to pack for a tropical vacation?

There’s so much to look forward to when planning your tropical vacation.

Imagining yourself laying on the beach, researching which excursions you’re gonna book… but also, thinking about what you’re gonna bring. And that is something that can be a bit stressful. Because, even though most items are available on the island, it’s reassuring to know you’ve brought everything you’re gonna need. Luckily, there is a tropical vacation checklist waiting for you at the bottom of this article. 

What to bring on a tropical vacation?

By knowing exactly what you have to pack for a tropical vacation, you either save yourself a trip to the (drug) store on the island, or you save yourself the trouble of carrying luggage full of things you’re not gonna use. Besides, a smart packing list saves plenty of space in your suitcase for souvenirs. A win-win situation, if you ask us. 

Knowing what to bring on a tropical vacation starts with knowing what your destination is gonna be like. You’ve probably already done your research when choosing your destination (sun, beaches, water sports, and the list goes on). But how does that translate into a tropical vacation packing list? 

Tropical travel clothing for all sorts of activities

Let’s start with the activities on your destination. Aruba is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear water. It’s hard to resist an afternoon (or full day) of relaxing. A bikini or swim shorts are thus a must-have. While there, you can also participate in some amazing water sports. Kayaking, surfing, jet skiing, kitesurfing, scuba diving or canoeing. A full coverage swimsuit might be convenient for some of these activities, so best to bring one. 

Next on the list: Tropical travel clothing. Which essentials should you bring? This has everything to do with the activities. We already mentioned the swimming gear - but away from the water, there are many things to do as well! Have you thought about horseback riding, playing golf or going on a hike? All require different attire, such as long pants or leggings, sturdy shoes or a comfy t-shirt. Want to pack as efficiently as possible? Use some packing cubes to keep your items organized as you travel. Some even come with a vacuum feature to save more space.

Tip: Check your hotel’s facilities

A smart thing to do before you start packing from your list for a Caribbean vacation is to check the list of items that will be provided by your hotel or resort. It will save you a lot of room in your suitcase when they provide a hair dryer, beach towel or even shower gel. Or if their facilities include a laundry room or service, so you can reuse your clothing items and leave that second pair of leggings or even the travel laundry detergent at home.

Tropical vacation checklist

So, let’s put all that information about a packing list for Aruba into practice. Follow the summary below as a basis for your own “what to bring on a tropical vacation” list. This one is based on a one week stay - so feel free to remove or add items if you are staying on the One Happy Island for a shorter or longer period of time. 

Do you have any other items that you would love to take? Such as a travel pillow, clothing and toiletries for your kids or running gear. They can easily be added to the existing categories (or a new one) so in the end, you have your own personalized packing list for your island vacation. 

Tropical travel clothing:

  • Two pairs of shorts

  • One pair of long trousers, preferably of a light and airy fabric such as linen or a linen-cotton blend

  • A variation of a few basic tank tops and shirts

  • Two fancy tops, for going out

  • Two dresses for going out to dinner or as a beach cover-up

  • Two light sweaters or one + a lightweight, foldable jacket for in the colder mornings and evenings

  • A beach cover-up or a sarong 

  • Joggers and/or sport leggings 

  • 3 bathing suits

  • 8 or 9 pairs of underwear and socks, always comes in handy to pack some extra 

  • A sun hat or cap, to protect your scalp and face from the sun

  • Sunglasses (UV-blocking ones)

  • Flipflops for the beach or a quick trip to the local supermarket

  • Walking shoes or sturdy sneakers

  • A (waterproof) backpack or beach bag


  • A reef safe sunscreen

  • Aftersun or another moisturizer 

  • Lip balm with SPF

  • Insect repellent

  • Prescription medicine

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Sanitary products

  • Toothpaste and toothbrush

  • Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and face wash

  • Razors

  • Brush or comb 

  • Hair ties and clips 


  • All your chargers, extra batteries and a powerbank

  • Headphones 

  • Waterproof bag/case for your phone or camera

  • Universal adapter

  • Reusable water bottle

  • First aid travel kit and/or water filter(straw), if you are going on more physically heavy activities

  • Beach towel

  • Laundry travel soap

  • Books, magazines or an e-reader 

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