Get packing for the island holiday!
So, you’ve bought the ticket, you’ve booked your stay at any one of the 3 to 5-star luxury hotels available and you are rearing to go on that island holiday.
But what to pack, as not only do you want to look healthy and relaxed in your piece of Paradise, but you want to be comfortable and appropriately attired, right?
There are 4 basic categories to consider for an island getaway:
Do a quick check on the weather patterns in the region you are going to travel to. It’s best to get an idea as to the average temperatures on the island, the rainfall and wind. There is nothing worse than not taking that thin cardigan for those (really rare) windy and nippy evenings. ‘Be prepared’, as the Scouts say!
The tropics are warm all year as they get more sun exposure than most parts of the planet, as they have longer days. This also means that they don’t experience the kind of seasons the rest of the Earth does, hence the draw in droves for tourists from all other climes, year-round!
Tropical seasons are normally divided into rainy and dry seasons. Most tropical getaways sit in the zone of 10° to 20° north and south of the equator. The annual rainfall is 1000 to over 1500mm with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 35°C.
Yes, we know that the swimming costume was the first to go into the bag! Aside from that, irrespective of which island you’re going visiting, you’re certain to need clothes appropriate for the beach, after all that’s the dream, right? This is the perfect excuse to bring your brightest clothing! While sarongs and flip-flops, bathing suits and coverups are the order of the day though, each nation has its own identity, style and custom and it’s always a good idea to do a bit of research around these, to not offend the locals. Packing clothes for both day and night is prudent, as is taking your lead from the locals. Pack plenty of options that afford you choices to dress appropriately during your vacation.
After a day patrolling markets and sightseeing in a hot climate, chances are you will shower before dinner, so pack sufficient underwear for each day, plus 50 percent extra for good measure! As cotton soaks up sweat and dries slowly, rather pack underwear made of polyester and other synthetic fabrics for their fast-drying properties. Even though air-conditioning is standard in most hotels, if you are a pyjama-kind of person, bring one pair for a weeklong trip, but just as easily, a T-shirt and a pair of shorts will suffice.
T-shirts and shorts for day-to-day, casual activities are standard wear on most islands, although women should check the local custom to ensure that this is acceptable. Some island countries that are predominantly Muslim it would be best to wear skirts or dresses that are not too short. These items of clothing are easy to put on over your bathing suit to head down to the beach, visit a local restaurant or walk through the town. Generally, clothes you wear at home are fine, just steer away from cotton, preferably choose non-cotton fabrics for the humid and hot climate. Sundresses that are light and airy, a few T-shirts, and shorts, a couple of ‘Hawaii’ shirts for the men and a couple of loose-fitting pants should see you through.
A number of islands have rain forest that are perfect for a good hike, so bring suitable clothes that you can also wear for trekking through muddy terrain or wending your way to the top of that atoll.
Whatever your level of adventure, make sure your activity clothes are made from breathable, water-wicking fabrics and, above all, pack clothes that aren’t too tight or restrictive.
For the night owls, typically there are areas that cater for a vibrant club scene, so be sure to pack that little strappy number and for the guys, a pair of linen pants will see you dressed a little less ready for the beach!
Ahead of time, however, check out the establishment’s dress code, because there are some island venues where evening clothes are more appropriate. Just check ahead to be safe and avert any potential embarrassment
And remember your hat! Wide-brimmed is great for relaxing beside the hotel pool while sipping a cocktail, but possibly inappropriate for a walk along what might become a windy beach. Bring a cap with a neck flap to protect you from the harsh tropical sun.
TIP: A great piece of clothing to take along for either day or night wear is a kaftan. These are perfect to either throw over a bathing suit for a quick pop into a restaurant that restricts swimwear, or to accessorise with costume jewellery for a night out on the town.
TIP: Remember this is the Tropics so pop a rain poncho or umbrella in your day bag, especially during the rainy season. A hooded, lined rain jacket for cool evenings and rainy days is also an option.
TIP: A lightweight day bag or backpack is a must to carry that water bottle and snack, mobile phone, cardigan or sarong and suntan lotion etc.
For the feet
Best to pack a pair of sandals for the beach and a pair of dressier shoes to adorn your evening clothes. For the active, also pack some sturdy walking shoes that will see you through all day-to-day activities. The open weave, active sandals available from most sports shops are ideal, as they are generally made from synthetic materials, are robust and allow your feet to breathe.
TIP: Ensure whatever shoes or sandals you bring, they are well worn in. That doesn’t mean scuffed, but rather not so stiff that the material chafes your feet. That will really ruin your holiday!
While this may be the most obvious, there are some things aside from your toothbrush and deodorant to consider! For one, insect spray or lotion is a must on some tropical islands, especially when outside of your air-conditioned hotel room. Especially when touring in the national parks or where there is dense foliage.
Another must, is waterproof 50+ SFP suntan lotion. The sun is unrelenting in the tropics and while you undoubtedly want a copper tan, you don’t want to be impaired by sunburn! And while you’re at it, take along a bottle of soothing Aloe Vera in case you have overindulged on the tanning side.
And yes, we know that you are a responsible citizen, but other than for after a heavy night out, headache tablets are also good for days that you have been in the sun too long!
Moisturiser is vital for your face, eyes and body, as the sun and sea tend to make the skin dry. Take along a deep-penetrating, yet light cream to keep that tanned skin supple.
And while we’re talking care, remember to pack those wrap-around sunglasses to protect yourself from the tropical glare. Polarised are best and it’s even a great idea to have the kids wearing sunnies!
TIP: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Make sure you have a 1lt bottle of water with you wherever you go as that thirst will hit you when least convenient!
Electronica et al
Sad fact is that we cannot be without our mobile phones! So, make sure you bring an international travel adapter that will take all plug types as well as afford you USB slots to charge other items at the same time. Remember your USB cable, headphones and laptop, if you are so inclined.
Take a couple of memory cards, one for your camera/phone and one for back-up. Also, a powerbank is a good idea, as taking those hundreds of happy snaps each day can easily drain your phone while you’re out and about!
And for ease of access, use ziplock bags, the same ones you’d use for hand luggage liquids. Use them to store electrical items, things for the journey home (house keys, parking ticket, and car keys), medication and other loose accessories that you either forget where you put them, or you toss them randomly into your suitcase!
TIP: A waterproof cell phone pouch is perfect for that trip to the rainforest, kayaking or simply going down to the beach, to protect your device from sand as well as water.
Now, grab your passport and that last-minute tube of lip ice and head for the islands, they are waiting for you!