The Top 10 Things You Wouldn’t Think to Pack for a Trip to the Caribbean

Jason and I and two other couples head out for Mexico in about three weeks! This is our fourth trip, but it will be the second and first trip to Mexico for the two couples that are coming with us. I shared a few tips for packing with them earlier this week and thought I’d share with you, too. Here’s a list of the top ten things I pack for our Caribbean vacations that I never would have thought to pack (or not pack!) when Jason and I first started taking trips. 

Metal Clips // Clear Baggies // Insect Repellent (40% DEET)

Metal Hanging Clips

I bought these clips originally for a cruise I went on with my mom. They are awesome! We all know how annoying it is when the resort closet doesn’t have enough hangers—these little clips help that problem immensely. They’re great for skirts or maxi-dresses that don’t stay on regular hangers and they’re great for hanging up wet swimsuits in the shower/tub area. I got mine here.

Trash Bags/Ziploc Bags 

The trash bags are great for many reasons—it’s nice to bring a trash bag so you can gather up your own trash to put outside your room when you need your trash emptied if don’t want housekeeping to visit everyday. Also, Ziploc bags are perfect when you go on excursions that require only part-day swimsuit attire. Grab a ziploc bag to throw your stuff in and everything else in your bag won't get wet. These are also great to put any liquor or other liquid you buy on your trip into when you pack up to go home.

Bug Spray

Unfortunately, I didn’t think of this one during our first trip and was eaten alive during a few walks on the beach and outdoor shows. I’m mosquito bait (Jason isn’t and escaped with one or two bites to my twenty), so now I never go anywhere without it. Now that we’re experiencing the Zika outbreak, I’m going to guess this is a no-brainer, but worth mentioning anyway!

Not Beach Towels

Just, no. These take up way too much room in your luggage (room that could be used to bring back liquor!) and most of the time, you don’t need them! Resorts will let you use their towels all week and even take them on excursions. Don’t waste precious shoe room in your luggage! Leave the towels at home.

Backpack // Waterproof Phone Bag

Cheap Waterproof Watch and/or Waterpoof Phone Bag

When we went on our first trip that we planned and paid for all by ourselves, we went to the timeshare presentation and received these cheap little rubber waterproof watches that almost looked like Livestrong bracelets. We were in a different time zone, so having those watches was a lifesaver. We had dinner reservations to make each day and also needed to watch the time for excursions so these were great.

An option if you can’t find or don’t want to wear a watch would be these waterproof phone protector bags. These keep sand, water, spilled alcohol, seawater… you name it… out of your phone! They even allow you to take underwater pictures or video. You do need to test their waterproof-ness (new word?) when you first get it by putting a paper towel into it and submerging it for a bit, but they’re affordable and come in really cute colors, which is what’s important, right?


The first few times we went to the beach, I carried a super cute waterproof beach bag, but I won't be doing that again in the near future. I’m not saying those adorable beach bags don’t have a time and a place, but in another country on an excursion, large, open bags aren’t the most practical to take. Backpacks are my new jam—especially one that isn’t hot pink and orange striped so Jason doesn’t automatically refuse to carry it on principle. It also doubles as an awesome shopping bag while you’re out on the streets in another country. Choose one that isn’t easily opened from the back (to stave off thieves!) and don’t use any outside pockets if they’re easy to open (like magnetic closures). 

Dryer Sheets 

These are great to use to help keep the mustiness out of your clothes in high-humidity areas. Even though rooms have air conditioning, the smell of humidity still creeps into rooms sometimes. Having a few dryer sheets, stored in a Ziploc baggie until you need them, to pull out and put into your drawers or place under your bed help keep your clothes and room smelling fresh. On an almost unrelated note, I also bring 2-3 Tide pens in case of spills. These have been a lifesaver a few times! Especially when you try to pack light and plan to rewear things. Consider that extra #11. It’s free - ha! 

Copies of Your Travel Docs 

One of my biggest fears is that one of us would lose or have our passport or travel documents stolen when we’re in a foreign country. Something that *apparently* helps when this happens is to have copies of your documents with you in a different piece of luggage than what you are carrying the originals in in the event you lose them. I usually copy our passports and the credit/debit cards we bring with us and our insurance cards and put the copies in between the lining of our luggage and the outside of it so they’re not immediately viewable if someone were to open our luggage. I usually put it in a checked bag in the event our carry on is stolen.     

$1 Bills (in American Dollars) 

So being complete newbies to travelling to the Caribbean before our honeymoon, Jason and I had thought we needed to exchange our money when we travelled, which made it a little more difficult to tip because of the exchange rate. BUT… you may not actually need to exchange your money when you travel! You definitely don't have to in Mexico, the Dominican or Jamaica, but do a little research on your destination to be sure. Just make sure to pay attention to the exchange rate you’re getting if you pay for anything off the resort in American money, but really we try to pay for everything before we go, so the cash we bring is only for tipping or shopping. Bringing $1 bills in tip money makes it easy to tip when you need to and when you think it’s appropriate. We usually tip exactly as we would if we were to eat out in the U.S. and bring about $100 worth of $1 bills with us just for that purpose. 

Non-Polarized (Cheap) Sunglasses

This one may not apply to you, but we bring my iPad and Jason’s Kindle Fire to read on the plane or beach. Something we found out the hard way is that it is almost impossible to read eReaders with polarized glasses! You may want to try this out before you leave on vacation to make sure this tip is true for whatever glasses you have, but it definitely is for us! Jason brings his polarized glasses with him to wear when we go out on the water, but another cheap non-polarized pair to wear when we’re lounging by the pool or on the beach.

That’s pretty much it! I hope this list helps you the next time you go shopping for an upcoming tropical vacation.

Next time get ready for Part II to the Hard Rock Riviera Maya review!

What is something you never would have thought of to take with you on a vacation that you now can't live without? 

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