The start to a new year is always a fun time to plan new vacations and fill up the crisp, blank pages in your new agenda. Having important dates to remember and get excited for is always great motivation for days at the office when it feel like the world is against you.
Trade the Beanies for Sunhats
For those powder-seekers whose eyes twinkle at the sight of snowfall in the weather forecast, the recent snowfall that has his Canada is a wonderful offering from the snow gods. For the folks who cringe at the sight of temperatures dropping below zero in the forecast, you’re most likely looking for any opportunity to pack up your suitcase with your favourite swimsuits, sandals, sunglasses, sunscreen and of course, inflatable flamingo and head for tropical beaches and fruity drinks at the swim-up bar.
Now, I love the fluffy snow but I also love tropical beaches and since we’ve got a few more months of winter left before we see the green grass again, I’m heading south for a little vitamin D and vitamin sea. For all those who are also planning or who have already purchased their tickets for a tropical getaway, here is a list of the 10 essentials you will not want to forget.
Let’s start with the basics. These are the items that although some can be purchased at your destination, they may be very expensive and stocking up beforehand can save you some money. Extra money = extra fun to be had!
1. Sunscreen & Lip Balm
First and foremost, you’ve got to pack sunscreen. Where there are tropical sandy beaches and turquoise waters, there are lobster red sunburns waiting to happen. Avoid wincing in pain in every position you lie in bed your first night by remembering to pack a tube of sunscreen. When the sun is roasting your skin, it is also roasting your lips although you may not notice it. Lip balm is an important necessity to pack no matter where you go, especially in dry climates.
If you really want to get a tan, no problem, there are a variety of levels of SPF so if a tan is a must, just go for a lower SPF. What we often forget is how much stronger the sun rays are in different parts of the world, so even with sunscreen, you can get a tan.
2. Aloe Vera or After Sun Lotion
We all know how painful a sunburn can be and how much relief can be found in a cold wet towel or cold shower. For those days where you really slacked off while putting on sunscreen, having a tube of aloe vera after sun gel or any other kind of after sun cream will be your savior.
The aloe vera after sun gel is the best in my opinion because its cool and soothing. If you have a fridge where you’re staying, you can increase the relief factor by storing the tube in the fridge so it can be even colder.
Without a passport you’re just standing in an airport with a suitcase and a dream of sipping margaritas on a white sandy beach so don’t forget it. Triple check before you leave the house that you do in fact have that golden ticket with you. It’s also important that you have a safe place to keep your passport as well as your money while you are travelling. Eagle Creek has a collection of travel belts that will keep your important items close and safe at all times.
4. Money & Emergency Credit Card
Without money you are a little stuck and may be quite bored and hungry very quick so don’t forget your money. Do some research before you leave for your trip so you are aware of the type of currency that is used where you are headed. It is also a good idea to have some cash with you when you arrive so you can pay for taxis, etc. if they are necessary to get where you are going. Sometimes there are currency exchanges booths in airports but depending on the size of the airport, they may not be very reliable.
An emergency credit card is also a good idea in case an unexpected expense pops up. Keep your credit card somewhere safe with your passport and remember it’s for emergencies, not bar tabs and shopping sprees.
5. Water Bottle
A reusable water bottle is crucial for any trip because you need to stay hydrated. Whether you get a Nalgene bottle or a stainless steel Mizu water bottle, choose one that will hold a decent amount of water so you’re not having to run to find a tap after 3 sips.
Harmful UV rays are serious business so it’s important to keep your eyes protected. Make sure you pack some sunglasses for your trip and it could be a good idea to have a sunglasses leash too, you know those little strings that attach to either end of the arm? Depending where you are, you may be taking your sunglasses on and off and just having them hang out on your head, they’re vulnerable to falling. With a sunglasses leash they hang conveniently around your neck and you can jump from taxi boat to the dock or run to catch the last bus with no hesitation.
Of course you’re going to hit the beach, the rivers, the lakes and the natural water-slides because what’s a tropical vacation without some fun in the water? Unless you’re heading for a nudist retreat, bringing along a couple swimsuits is ideal. Having at least two swim suits that you can rotate is perfect so while one dries or is being cleaned (hand washed in a sink, we don’t need to drop of that little thing at the laundromat after each day in it) you can wear the other one.
When the sun is hot and you can feel your forehead and the back of your neck baking, you’re going to wish you had a hat to throw on. Whether you bring a ball cap, a 5-panel hat, a fisherman’s hat or a big ol’ straw sunhat, any hat will give you that extra bit of protection and keep you shielded from the sun.
9. Sandals or Water Shoes
If you’re spending the bulk of your time in a hot destination, your feet are going to get warm real quick in a pair of sneakers and you won’t make many friends if your feet are putrid. Sandals will allow your feet to get the fresh air they need and you can enjoy walking with your toes in the sand in a matter of seconds (unless you’ve brought along excessively strappy sandals that aren’t easily slid off like a pair of flip-flops).
Water shoes can be great too depending on the types of activities you will be doing. If you’re heading for a jungle tour and will be finishing at a river waterfall, water shoes that strap to your feet could be a safer option as you won’t have to worry about them slipping off and floating away.
10. Quick-Drying Towel or Sarong
There’s nothing worse than forgetting your towel and having to scramble around for something more worthy than a small face cloth to dry yourself. A quick-drying towel like those made by PackTowl or Sea to Summit are perfect for a tropical vacation. They dry quick so you’re ready for the next adventure in no time.
Eliminate any packing stress by writing yourself a packing list a few days before you have to start packing for your trip. This will give you time to think about what you really need, remember items you may have forgotten in your first brainstorm and allow you to think with a clear, calm mind. Once you’ve got the essentials, you can fill up your bag with the rest of your gear, zip it up then head for the plane!