One thing I’ve always excelled at is packing light.
I’ve been to the Arctic twice in the winter — using just a carry-on. A six-week trip spanning Moldova, Ukraine, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Portugal — also in a carry-on.
I even went on a five-month backpacking trip through Europe and Morocco, with temperatures spanning from 115° F to 40° F — yup, all in a single carry-on bag (and personal item).
But for some reason, when I would go on a weekend trip, I would always overpack. I would find my biggest reasonable-sized bag and then fill it up to the brim, and then I’d lament how heavy my bag was… as if I didn’t pack it myself.
I decided to create a weekend trip packing list for myself so that I would stop overburdening my weak-a** shoulders with far more weight than necessary, especially when I pack at the last minute
I decided I should share it with my readers, since I know a lot of people struggle with figuring out exactly what to pack for a weekend getaway.
Best Carry-on Bag for a Weekend Away
There are all sorts of carry-on bags you could bring for a weekend trip… but not all travel bags are created equal.
A duffel bag is the classic weekender bag, but the fact that it distributes weight unevenly on one shoulder is a no-go for me, personally.
Instead, I opt for a comfortable travel backpack most of the time when I am planning a weekend trip, especially if I am driving to my destination.
That way I can use it as a travel daypack as well when I am at my destination for a day trip, hike, etc.
If I am flying, I often opt for a small roller suitcase like this underseat roller bag — that way, I don’t have to worry about finding overhead space on a packed plane, and possibly having to deal with a gate-checked bag at baggage claim!
The great thing about both of these types of bags if you are flying is that they count as a ‘personal item’ as opposed to a carry-on bag.
Weekend Packing List: Clothes (Women)
Packing cubes | I like to bring packing cubes on every trip, even when I’m just packing for a weekend away or a short trip. They keep my clothing items folded while I am rifling through my bag trying to find something that, inevitably, has made its way to the very bottom. I use these Eagle Creek packing cubes.
T-Shirts | I would bring 1-2 T-shirts for a weekend trip, short or long-sleeve depending on the weather. I like to bring black and white and liven them up with a pretty printed skirt. If it’s really hot, swap out T-shirts for tank tops.
Cardigan | A cardigan is a great layer for breezy evenings or spring or fall days. I prefer long, loose ones — preferably with pockets, like this one! It’s great for layering.
Leggings | I love leggings for underneath dresses or for sleeping in. I typically bring 1-2 pairs for a weekend away. I have these ones and love the high waist and stretch!
Printed skirt | I love a pretty printed skirt to go with a T-shirt — it’s the easiest outfit to throw together and feel put together!
Printed dress | I always like a beautiful printed dress which will pair nicely with a cardigan and leggings if it gets cold. It’s versatile but comfortable and fun!
Jeans or pants | A pair of pants or a pair of jeans — either black or blue — will serve you well on virtually any kind of weekend trip. Black is dressier, blue is more casual.
Warm jacket or rain jacket, if needed | Depending on the weather at your destination, you might want to bring a warm jacket like a parka or a waterproof rain jacket if you are going on a winter vacation.
Beach bag, if needed | If you’re going on a beach vacation, you’ll want a separate beach bag or tote that you don’t mind getting sandy. This striped, nautical-themed beach bag is super cute!
Undergarments | I’d bring two bras and three pairs of underwear for a weekend trip.
Socks | Two to three pairs of socks is good for a weekend trip, less if you are doing a beach trip where you’ll be primarily in sandals.
Weekend Packing List: Hygiene & Toiletries
Hand sanitizer | It may be 2021, but there’s still a pandemic going on! I bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse (this orange-scented one from Whole Foods is less toxic-smelling than others)
Mask | I always wear a KN94 mask — they’re less often counterfeited than N95s and Korea, where the masks come from, have a less tolerant attitude towards fakes. Unfortunately with the Delta wave, the virus is more transmissible than ever before, so I have stopped wearing cloth masks.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, and case | Of course, you’ll need a toothbrush for a weekend away, but I also suggest an easy carrying case for your toothbrush. I’m trying to reduce my plastic footprint, so I love this set of 4 bamboo toothbrushes, which also comes with a bamboo carrying case + even charcoal dental floss. It’s all zero-waste and eco-friendly!
Deodorant | I was *finally* able to make the switch off of aluminum deodorants with this wonderful activated charcoal natural deodorant (which is also baking soda free!). I find I have to re-apply once a day, but I’m naturally a very sweaty and smelly individual, and I bet most normal people would be fine to go a whole day with it!
Make-up | Bring whatever make-up you normally wear day-to-day! I always pack a red lipstick (I’m obsessed with Glossier’s buildable red lipstick), mascara, a bit of concealer, and some lightweight tinted moisturizer.
Shampoo and conditioner | I hate using whatever toiletries are given to me by the hotel, plus it wastes plastic packaging to use those little bottles. I always bring my toiletries from home, but I put them into small silicone GoToobs which squeeze out whatever is inside easily and without drama (much better than those plastic ones that you have to bang like a drum to get even a drop of your shampoo out!)
Body wash | Bring some body wash and put it in one of your GoToobs
Sunscreen | Absolutely essential for a trip of any length! After getting some faint sun spots at age 30, I’m now fastidious about everyday SPF on my face. I use this bougie Supergoop! face sunscreen because it has all sorts of great natural ingredients, like red algae which protects against blue light emitted from phones and meadowfoam seed for hydration.
Contacts and contact solution, if needed | If you need it, you know.
Weekend Packing List: Electronics
Cell phone and phone charger | You’ll definitely need your phone and charger for a weekend away! I also suggest bringing a car charger if you are doing a road trip or driving to your destination
Portable battery | I always bring a portable battery with me to keep all my electronics juiced up. I use a portable battery (I have this one from Anker) — it’s especially essential you are doing a city trip with lots of walking and photo-taking. It’s also great if you are flying to your destination and need to charge on the plane as not all planes have accessible charging outlets.
Kindle | If you’ll be on a plane or have time to sit down with a book on your trip, a Kindle Paperwhite loaded up with a great book or two is a must-have! The new ones are waterproof, too, which is great if you’re lounging beachside or poolside on your trip.
iPad | An iPad also works, if you prefer, and it’s great for distracting kids who need some screen time on longer trips to save your sanity. It’s also great so you can leave your laptop behind, but still be connected if you need it.
Haircare tools | I don’t personally bring any haircare tools on my trips for the weekend. I have stick-straight hair that I rarely ever blow dry unless the weather is freezing cold out and I need to dry my hair so I don’t get sick. However I know other people don’t have that luxury, so bring whatever haircare tools you use at home if that’s essential for you.
Adapters, if overseas | If you’re doing a domestic weekend trip, you won’t need a travel adapter, but if you are doing international travel, pack a universal adapter.
Weekend Packing List: Random Travel Gear
Eye mask | I hate not being able to sleep when I travel — you never know if your hotel room has good enough curtains, or if you want to sleep on the plane. I like these contoured sleep masks that don’t press down on your eyelids. I have this one, and it’s also great for headaches!
Medicine and mini first aid kit | You’ll want to bring a small medicine kit – painkillers, stomach medicine, etc. – and some first aid items such as Bandaids and hydrocolloid blister bandages if hiking or walking a lot.
Reusable water bottle | An insulated water bottle that keeps your drinking water cool is great to have while traveling. I use this one by Klean Kanteen.
Guidebooks, if using | If you are traveling somewhere that you’ve never been before, a paperback guidebook can be a great resource to throw in your day bag.
Minimalist Packing Tips
As someone who lived out of a backpack for three years and still travels lightly, here are my best travel tips for how to pack light on your next trip.
Choose a color palette.
Pick one or two neutral colors (navy, black, brown, tan) to make up the bulk of your clothing and then add a few colors that you know look good with those.
For example, I’d bring a pair of black jeans, a tan skirt, and then I’d pick a red blouse since I know that color would pair nicely with my neutrals.
Always opt for comfortable shoes.
Unless you have a specific reason to bring a pair of heels, such as you’re attending a wedding or know you’re going out clubbing, just don’t.
I’ll admit my minimalism often doesn’t extend to my shoes — I would bring as many as five pairs of shoes on my backpacking trips — but for a weekend away, packing two or a maximum of three pairs will work just fine.
I would suggest a comfortable pair of sneakers that work just as well on the city streets as on a hike AND a pair of either ankle boots or sandals (flip flops for a beach trip) that work well as walking shoes depending on the season.
Add an optional pair of dressy shoes (stylish flats or heels) if you are doing anything that needs to be fancier and a little bit elevated.
Use packing cubes.
Packing cubes serve the function of keeping everything organized, of course.
But it also helps you visualize all your clothes together and make sure the colors go well together, and it helps you not overpack as you can take clothing in and out of the cubes, rather than throwing all the clothes into the bag until you can barely close it (guilty as charged).
Quick Weekend Packing Checklist
Above is the list of items in bullet point form, so as to be an easy packing checklist for a weekend trip:
Wallet, drivers license/ID, and credit cards
Car and house keys
Boarding pass and other travel documents
Travel bag (backpack, weekender bag, duffel bag, or roller suitcase)
1-2 pairs leggings
1 printed skirt
1 printed dress
1-2 pairs jeans or pants
2-3 pairs shoes
Warm jacket or rain jacket (optional)
Bathing suit and cover-up (optional)
Beach bag or tote (optional)
2-3 pairs underwear
2-3 pairs socks
Hygiene & Toiletries
Toothbrush and carrying case
Lip balm with SPF
Contacts and contact solution
Electronics & Etc.
Kindle and/or iPad
Mini first-aid kit
Reusable water bottle
Weekend Travel Checklist
This is a bit different in that this is a quick checklist of things to do before you leave for a weekend away!
– Organize a pet-sitter or house-sitter, if necessary
– Take out the trash
– Water any plants that need it
– Clear out the fridge of anything that needs to go
Nothing beats having your own set of wheels beneath you and everything you need in your car!
When planning a road trip, it’s crucial to consider not only what you want to wear and bring to your final destination, but all the little things that will make your road trip more comfortable along the way. That includes necessities, like an annual travel insurance policy and safety gear for hitting the road, as well as frivolities like road trip games and a killer Spotify road trip playlist
After all — on a road trip, the destination is the journey!
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Here are the things that I think are absolute road trip necessities, to help you plan and pack for hitting the open road.
Below is your ultimate road trip packing list for all occasions!
Note that this is a road trip packing list that assumes you’ll be staying in hotels along the way. If you’re also camping, you’ll need to add other items like a tent, sleeping bag, etc. — check out my car camping packing list which will tell you all the things you need to bring!
These are the absolutely mission-critical items to have in terms of safety and physically being able to go on your road trip, and making sure you have the items on this list is one of my top travel tips for planning a long road trip.
They’re not that interesting, sure, but they are all the road trip essentials you need to remember, so be sure to scan this part of the road trip packing list carefully to make sure you haven’t omitted anything vitally important!
Car documents & driver’s license
This should be rather obvious, but you’ll need your driver’s license, car documentation, AAA card if you have a membership (or other similar roadside assistance program), and insurance papers ready for any road trip you take.
If you have an America the Beautiful National Parks pass, don’t forget that at home. If you don’t have one and you plan to visit 2 or more national parks during a USA road trip, I strongly suggest buying one. At just $79.99 for the year, it typically pays for itself after the third use and it covers 2,000 parklands in the U.S. National Parks system.
Make sure you double-check that you have all this information easily handy in case you need it on your trip.
If you are renting a car at your destination, make sure you get all the paperwork from the car rental office and ensure you’re sufficiently insured for the trip.
If your road trip includes going to another state or country where you are not insured locally, you may need travel insurance in order to cover you in case of incident.
Double check with your health insurance plan and car insurance plan to ensure you’re within their coverage; if not, travel insurance will fill in the gaps.
Roadside emergency kit
You should already have an emergency kit in your car with things like a reflective triangle, rain poncho, emergency blanket, safety vest, safety whistle, etc. in case of an emergency.
But if you don’t, know is a good time to invest in a roadside emergency kit that also includes a first aid kit.
If you’re bringing your own car from home, you’ll want to make sure you have things like jumper cables, etc. in case you have a battery die on you on the road.
Have your physical car manual handy or download an electronic version of it before you set out on your road trip — it’s essential in case any funky lights turn on and you’re not sure what they mean, or if you have trouble with some function.
Once on a road trip in Utah, I managed to lock the steering wheel of a rental car, and it was really counterintuitive to understanding how to unlock it. I almost got stuck out there for hours! Be sure to have access to a car manual, whether physical or electronic, before setting out on your road trip.
Spare tire & tire changing kit
Having a spare tire isn’t much good if you don’t have a jack or kit to change out the tire. Make sure your tire changing kit is complete (or buy your tire changing kit before you head out), and make sure you know how to use it!
Flashlight or headlamp
In case you get somewhere poorly lit after dark, have an emergency in the night, or just go on a sunset hike and need to light your way back, a flashlight or headlamp is key (and make sure to bring some extra batteries, too!)
For the most part, this packing list is geared towards summer road trips, but if you happen to be planning a winter road trip, don’t neglect seasonal car necessities like an ice scraper, tire chains, etc.
Basic Road Trip Necessities
These are the little things that are easy to accidentally skim over and forget.
They aren’t as vitally important as the above, because they’re easy to replace on the road, but save time by packing these road trip necessities before you go!
Car cell phone charger
You will zap your cell phone battery FAST while on a road trip, so it’s essential to have a car charger.
There are places in the world that still use only cash… shocking, I know.
When you are ready to hit the road, don’t get caught off guard without any cash for a park entrance fee, bathroom fee, road tolls, or little odds and ends along the way like buying tasty produce from a local roadside farm stand!
Paper map or offline map
Yes, paper maps still exist and not just as an Instagram prop… although they do make awesome Instagram props, too.
Or if you just want to use your phone, that’s OK too, but be sure to download all the offline maps using Google Maps or Maps.me
A killer road trip playlist!
OK, what good is a road trip without some awesome music? Be sure to have an epic playlist ready to go.
My friend Stephanie gathered all the best road trip songs — download some before you go in case you need some tunes when you don’t have any data or WiFi.
If you prefer podcasts, have your favorite shows downloaded and ready to go.
Road Trip Items for Hygiene & Travel Safety
In the current public health crisis, it’s important to bring plenty of sanitizing gear with you when you’re on a road trip. There are lots of high touch-point surfaces you may not think of immediately, like a gas station nozzle, which can be high-risk on a road trip.
Here’s what I recommend you pack for a road trip in 2021 in the current hygiene context.
While there was a huge run on sanitizing wipes in the US, shortages are on the decline, but it’s still just as important to bring wipes with you on a trip, vaccinated or not!
It’s best to try to source alcohol wipes in a store from a brand you trust or from a verified brand seller on Amazon, such as from the Clorox store.
Use alcohol wipes on high-touch surfaces as needed and not excessively — soap and water should be your primary line of cleaning and defense.
I suggest you use these when not otherwise possible, such as when at a gas station or using a touchpad at an ATM or grocery store.
Hand sanitizer as well is another great thing to have on hand when on the road, as sources of hand sanitizer cannot always be guaranteed and there may be times where it is difficult or less safe to go to a public restroom.
Again, it’s better to try to source hand sanitizer in a store from a trusted brand, but in the absence of that being possible, this brand available online looks to be safe, FDA-approved, and with a high-enough level of ethyl alcohol to be safe.
Spare liquid soap
Liquid or bar soap is still the gold standard for washing your hands and should be chosen over hand sanitizer whenever you have access to water.
Some gas stations, park bathrooms, etc. may not be well-attended, so bring some spare liquid soap with a locking top or a bar of soap in a Ziploc baggie just in case.
Be sure to wash your hands for 30-40 seconds, every part, in order to get the full sanitation benefits.
When in places where distancing is not possible, you will need to wear a face mask to keep yourself and fellow humans safe.
Bring multiple cloth face masks and circulate them, allowing face masks ample time in the sun when possible (such as leaving them on your dashboard) or washing them in between uses in order to sanitize the masks.
Not specifically hygiene-related, but worth putting in this section nonetheless.
Be sure to have a few gallons of extra water in your car for emergencies. Whether it’s replacing the water to cool down your engine or emergency drinking water if you’re stranded, it’s a cheap and simple thing to add to your road trip packing list with no downside.
Personal Comfort Road Trip Items
These are the little things when packing for a road trip that make your time much more comfortable on the road.
From snacks to sunscreen, travel towels to travel pillows, these are the little things that you probably already have at home that you should make sure not to forget on your long road trip.
Road trip snacks
There’s a funny quote about snacks for road trips… it goes like this: “It doesn’t matter how old you get, buying snacks for a road trip should always look like an unsupervised 9-year-old was given $100.”
I’m not sure who originally said it, but it’s true. Nothing ruins a road trip faster like hanger… so be sure to avoid it!
Have a good mix of snacks and not just sweet ones. I find that too many sweets on an empty stomach is a recipe for major headaches. Likewise, too many salty snacks and not enough water will also do you in!
Don’t be caught off guard by a poorly stocked restroom! Bring your own toilet paper from home, or have a resealable pack of Kleenex with you.
At a minimum, you should have motion sickness tablets, painkillers like ibuprofen/paracetamol, and something like Pepto-Bismol tablets for upset stomachs while you’re on the road.
Impromptu hikes, lack of schedule, random meal times, salty snacks, sunny days, hangovers from wine nights after driving duty is done: there are many reasons it’s easy to get dehydrated while road tripping.
I always pack some rehydration packets with me on my travels as I’m prone to getting dehydrated and getting headaches, and they’re a lifesaver. I recommend these ones.
I can’t express to you how much I love microfiber travel towels!
They pack up to nearly nothing and they’re super effective at soaking up moisture… plus they quick-dry so fast compared to standard home towels!
Whether you take a dip in a lake or river, are staying in a hotel or Airbnb that doesn’t provide enough towels, or need an impromptu picnic blanket or beach touch, a microfiber travel towel is a road trip must pack.
Some bites are inevitable no matter how diligent you are with bug spray. Keep itchiness at bay with an After Bite itch eraser, which instantly soothes any bug bites.
Did you know you should always wear sunscreen while driving? The windshield doesn’t protect you against all UV rays — while they protect against UVB rays (which cause sunburn), most do not block UVA rays, which cause aging and skin cancer.
No matter what your skin tone or race, Black, white, or Asian, you need to wear sunscreen daily — and on a road trip it’s no different!
If you’re hiking, don’t forget about your scalp either — I often end up with a burned scalp and it’s no fun, often leading to headaches. Buy a special sunscreen for hair and scalp to avoid this!
Lip balm with SPF
Be sure to bring a hydrating lip balm that also has SPF on your road trip! Poor hydration and lots of sun can both cause dry, chapped lips which are no fun when traveling. I like the key lime Sun Bum chapstick best.
There’s nothing worse than squinting through the windshield as the sun nearly blinds you while you drive! Seasoned roadtrippers know to bring your favorite sunglasses, plus a cheap spare pair as backup.
You hopefully have someone to divide the driving duties with, so while you’re on a break from manning the road, you’ll want to have a comfortable way to kick back and enjoy your time off of driving duty.
This cozy memory-foam travel pillow also comes with an eye mask if you need to catch some Zs while another driver takes over!
A cozy-soft travel blanket, whether it’s just a blanket you love from home that you don’t mind taking on the road or a specialty travel blanket, will make your time on the road that much more comfortable.
Also great for impromptu picnics, sunset hikes that get surprisingly chilly, and taking a nap while you’re off duty.
Insulated travel mug
I use and swear by Contigo travel mugs — they’re leakproof and pretty much indestructible and they’re inexpensive to boot. This one is vacuum-insulated and fits standard cupholders easily.
Reusable water bottle
Don’t waste plastic or money constantly buying new water bottles at obscene prices!
Get a reusable water bottle and either refill it from your extra-large water containers mentioned above (safer given the current situation) or fill up in sinks and fountains along the way.
This one is insulated, stainless steel, and convenient to drink from. Another good choice would be a collapsible water bottle like this one which you can take with you when hiking.
Vaseline is a traveler’s miracle, perfect for everything from fixing flyaways to helping super-chapped lips or hands (common when hyper-sanitizing!) to preventing chub rub, a summer affliction for the thicker-thighed ladies out there like me.
I always make sure I travel with Vaseline and while you don’t walk as much on road trips as on other forms of travel, it’s still such an easy addition to your bag that I say bring it!
For ladies with long hair, a brush and hair ties are a must, especially on hot days. I also tend to take advantage of the fact that I’m not flying and thus don’t have to adhere to liquid restrictions when I’m road tripping by bringing my favorite shampoos from home.
Your hair care needs will vary depending on your hair length and hair texture, so bring whatever you know you need for your personal hair care, including any heat styling tools you want, because space isn’t an issue when road tripping!
Whatever toiletries you need from home, bring it on the road with you because the great thing about a road trip is no checking luggage! Here’s a quick list of toiletries you likely want with you.
Shampoo & conditioner
Razor & shaving cream
Toothpaste & toothbrush
Any acne or anti-aging skin treatments
When road tripping, think loose, comfy clothing that’s easily breathable which transition from car to outside easily.
For women, I suggest the following at a minimum for car/outdoor comfort. Yoga pants or leggings with a comfortable waistband, tee shirts with a sports bra, hiking boots or sneakers depending on activity, some sandals or flipflops for quicker rest stops: these are some road trip clothing essentials.
You’ll also want to bring layers like a jacket for any needed warmth, depending on the temperatures of your destination.
You may want to also bring some packing cubes (I like these from Eagle Creek) for your clothes and a laundry bag for dirty clothing to add a little organization to your trip, especially if you’re stopping in different destinations each night.
I included this separately from the comfortable clothes section because I wanted to highlight and underline how important a good rain jacket is. Rain is inevitable at times, so might as well dress for it!
I love the Marmot PreCip rain jacket (there’s a women’s version and a men’s version). I used mine for years biking in all sorts of rainy NYC weather and it always kept me dry without making me too hot and uncomfortable like some other rain jackets can, due to the zippered arm-pits which provide ventilation.
This is key if you plan to do anything outdoors like hiking or other active day trips while it’s raining.
In addition to a rain jacket, grab an umbrella from home and toss it in the car in case of rain!
If you’re hitting the road with kids in tow, you’ll want to be prepared for the inevitable “are we there yet?” with plenty of road trip games and entertainment for your little ones.
These are the electrics odds and ends that you’ll most likely want with you on your road trip!
The Anker external battery pack is a travel must. While you can charge your phone while driving, you may want to charge other devices — a camera, a drone, portable speakers, an e-reader — as well.
Or if you notice your battery is running low while you’re out hiking or sightseeing, you can just start charging right away without having to return to your car. It holds several charges on a single battery pack and will last days at a time.
Camera & extra batteries
For all my years of running this travel blog, I’ve relied on my Sony A6000 to take nearly-professional quality images. I don’t sell my photography, but I do love having wonderfully preserved memories, and this camera is the perfect middle-ground above a smartphone yet below the 5-figure kits that most photographers give.
Whatever camera you choose, be sure to have plenty of extra batteries and the battery charger as well — plus extra memory cards! I rely exclusively on 64GB Sandisk memory cards.
Laptop & charger
I bring my Macbook air and charger with me everywhere, but you may not need this set up if you don’t need to do any work while you travel.
I love having a Bluetooth speaker with me on road trips. They’re great for when you find an isolated spot you want to chill with friends at (though of course, make sure to be a decent citizen and don’t blast your music when other people are around enjoying nature).
Kindle or inspiring audiobooks
I bring my waterproof Kindle e-reader with me everywhere, but I can’t read while people are driving or I get motion sickness badly! So I love listening to inspiring adventure books on Audible while I travel.
Portable WiFi device
If you need to work while on your road trip or want to have a WiFi device handy so kids can connect to their devices (and you can stay sane), a portable WiFi hotspot is a road trip essential.
I like this GlocalMe WiFi device which is compact and easy to set up. Note that it won’t work all the time, as there need to be cell towers around, but on the plus side, it doesn’t need to access a specific network so even if your phone does not have signal, it might!
Fun Road Trip Accessories
These aren’t strictly necessary, but these little items will make your road trip much more memorable and a whole lot more fun!
I love this Instax mini instant camera for printable memories on demand! It’s the modern version of a Polaroid and it’s a great way to preserve memories of your trip.
Because face it, how often do you develop digital photos?
If you’re road tripping with a loved one and want to have romantic picnics, with the family and want to make special memories, or you just want some darn cute pictures of you and your friends enoying a road trip picnic, a picnic basket is an excellent choice.
Want something equally enjoyable but far more practical if you’re hiking? This picnic backpack is an excellent alternative.
Is it cute? No. But neither is being hunched over for days because you didn’t take care of your back, either.
Travel notebook & pen
This page-a-day travel journal is the perfect sidekick for remembering your travels and jotting down notes from the open road.
Tasty instant coffee
If you’re a coffee geek reading this, you probably want to throw something at me for the contradiction in terms that is “tasty instant coffee.”
But don’t stop reading! Joe Coffee, a NYC-based coffee shop, has delicious instant coffees which they dehydrate in small batches so that your cup tastes like a freshly-brewed one. Buy it online on Amazon here.
Better yet, they work in either cold or hot water so you can have an iced coffee or hot coffee fuss-free (most hotels you stay at should have an electric tea kettle).
With year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches with buttery soft sand, and vibrant city culture, Puerto Rico is the has-it-all destination within a short flight from the U.S. mainland.
Despite not needing a passport to visit, Puerto Rico offers a unique culture all of its own. Puerto Rican culture is influenced heavily by its Taíno roots (the Indigenous people of the Caribbean who pre-dated Columbus’ invasion), as well as African, Spanish, and American cultures: a result of its complex history of colonization, slavery, and its present-day status as a colony by a different name.
This post will focus on what to pack for Puerto Rico and so I don’t want to get too much into such a complex topic here. I wrote a quick summary of Puerto Rican history and things to know before you go on thisPuerto Rico travel guide that may be helpful to read before arriving in PR.
Packing lists can be quite personal, and I don’t claim that this is the only or most comprehensive Puerto Rico packing list out there. This is what I’ve personally brought on my two trips to Puerto Rico as a minimalist traveler who still likes to look cute when I travel and bring a few of my favorite products.
I’ve broken this list down into the 10 most essential items to make sure aren’t missing from your Puerto Rico packing list, then I’ve followed it up by what to wear in Puerto Rico for women and men. Finally, there are a few little extras that you should consider when packing for trip to Puerto Rico, located at the end of the post.
10 Essential Things to Pack for Puerto Rico
Reef-safe sunscreen: If there is one thing I hope you take away from this Puerto Rico packing list, I hope it’s this! The future health of the reefs around Puerto Rico depends on the actions you take today. Your choice on what sunscreen to wear has a huge impact on keeping Puerto Rico’s reef system healthy for future generations. When it comes to a reef-safe option, I love SunBum SPF 50 with Vitamin E— it’s moisturizing and soothing for you, and it won’t hurt the animals who call the reefs around Puerto Rico home.
Chemical-free insect repellent: Just like reef-safe sunscreen, it’s critical that the bug spray you use won’t harm the sensitive ecosystems of Puerto Rico, especially when you get in the water! A simple lemon eucalyptus spray like this will keep most mosquitos away without the harsh chemicals which can mess up delicate ecosystems. Spraying your clothes with
An awesome travel towel: An actually-good travel towel changes the game. Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about a sad little microfiber square that might as well be a washcloth. I’m talking a true microfiber beach towel that serves you just as well on a beach day as it does after a long shower. I’m obsessed with this classic red and white striped travel towel fromDock & Bay, which easily knocks off sand in a single shake-out and is made of 100% recycled materials.
Bathing suits you love. When packing for a trip to Puerto Rico, you’ve got to have swimwear you really love — and that loves you back. I love wearing a two-piece, but I often get bloated while I travel and I hate feeling awkward in my swimwear after a day indulging in too much mofongo and lechon. Solution? High-waisted swimsuits! I love this one, and this one is agreat plus-size optionwith a high waist and a classic shape. I would bring 3 swimsuits for one week in Puerto Rico so I never have to suffer the indignity of putting on a wet bathing suit, because no one — and I mean no one — has time for that.
Comfortable and secure daypack: My everyday backpack is this awesome PacSafe CitySafe backpack– it has a lot of awesome security features that make it insanely useful for city travel. While Puerto Rico is quite safe, pickpocketing can be an issue in cities. Personally, I love the locking zippers and slash-proof construction for peace of mind. Even when I don’t need the security features, I just love this bag because it’s great at fitting all the things I need for my day (mine can fit a camera and several lenses, a drone, my reusable water bottle, some snacks, and a few other odds and ends), and it’s actually — dare I say — cute?
Portable charger: You’ll use your phone battery more than you thought in Puerto Rico – whether it’s using it to take photos or videos, or to navigate as you drive around the country. Bring a portable charger to save yourself many headaches! Anker is a reliable brand and what I personally use as a blogger with approximately 102 different gadgets I use – make sure you get one that can hold several charges at once so you don’t have to charge it every single night.
Motion sickness tablets: Many activities in Puerto Rico have you out on the water, which can be tough for people like me who are prone to seasickness and motion sickness! I always packnon-drowsy motion sickness tablets and keep them on hand for days on the water and on long car drives.
Medications from home: Anything you need at home, you’ll likely need on the road. Don’t risk not being able to get the medications you need abroad. Just bring them, and double check that you have them before leaving.
Travel insurance. While this isn’t something you would literally pack for Puerto Rico, travel insurance is really important and should be part of the packing and planning process! Travel insurance covers flight delays and cancellations, as well as personal travel safety against incidents, theft, and illness. I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for years and recommend them highly for travel in Puerto Rico (and anywhere, frankly — I’ve trusted them with my safety for 5+ years across 60+ countries!). The contract is very clear as to what it covers, the prices are affordable, and the deductible is low if you find yourself needing to make a claim. Trust me, you’ll wish your health insurance was this good. *cries in Kaiser Permanente*
What to Wear in Puerto Rico (For Women)
3-5 lightweight summer dresses: Dresses are great for the hot and often sticky Puerto Rican humid weather. Since they’re lightweight, they pack up nice and small, so feel free to throw a few extras in your bag so you have more options. Since you’ll likely end up wearing one or two as a beach cover-up, having some extras is nice. I like this classic striped dress, but pick whatever you are most comfortable in!
Bike shorts (optional): If you’re a thick-thighed woman like myself, you won’t want to wear dresses without these! Chub rub can ruin your day, so come armed and equipped. I like these Undersummers bike shorts for wearing underneath longer dresses — they come in inclusive sizing up to 5XL and are comfy with no inner thigh seams, which should be a “duh” for designers but often isn’t.
Bandelettes (optional): When I want to wear something cute and short like a minidress, I love these Bandelettes. The plus of the Bandelettes is that unlike short-short bike shorts, they won’t ride up and bunch, so they end up being a lot more comfortable. Plus they allow you to breathe, if ya know what I mean.
5+ tees & tanks: You will sweat a lot in Puerto Rico, so opt for black, navy, and other dark colors. Yes, they attract heat, but they also avoid the telltale yellow pit stains that seem to be my constant vibe whenever I attempt to wear white. If you wear white, make it loose and drapey. I love this simple blank tank.
1 pair jeans: While during the day I felt too hot in jeans, I did occasionally wear my pair of jeans at night and was happy to have one pair in my bag. I like a light-wash, high-waisted pair like these cute and classic Levi’s.
2-3 pairs shorts: I suggest one pair of denim shorts (cuffed or cutoff) and one or two pairs of linen or cotton shorts. Avoid polyester as it doesn’t breathe and you will hate yourself. I suggest these affordable 100% linen shorts! Note that linen wrinkles easily, but if you hang it up in your bathroom while you shower, a lot of the wrinkles will easily shake out and smooth out.
2-3 skirts: I suggest bringing one black skirt and one printed skirt for flexibility. I especially love having midi or maxi length skirts, which feel great and coincidentally look nice in photos. As a bonus, the extra fabric around your legs traps some cool air, making you feel less hot, plus it gives you some extra coverage. I adore this polka dot midi skirt, which looks amazing with some tan sandals, and this twirl-worthy pleated midi comes in a gorgeous selection of colors!
1 pair sneakers: On days when you’re walking around San Juan and all its cobblestones, it’s nice to have a pair of sneakers that can handle the abuse that cobblestones dish out. I always add my pair of black Nikesto every packing list, as I find they look cute even worn with my dresses, and I’m all about having options!
2 pairs sandals: I suggest bringing one pair of rubber flip flops like these Havaianasand another pair of more stylish or dressy sandals. I’m obsessed with my Birkenstock Gizeh sandals and will never go back. If you buy new Birks, though, be sure to break them in for 2-3 days before you travel, as they mold to form to the exact shape of your foot! They’ll be slightly uncomfortable at first, but trust me, they quickly will become the sandals you never want to take off.
1 pair heels (optional): I don’t like to dance but I know many travelers plan for a night out in San Juan dancing the night away. If you enjoy dancing in heels, then I’d bring a comfortable pair with you. If you don’t plan to go dancing, then leave these at home – I did, gladly!
1 rain jacket: Even if you don’t plan on traveling in the rainy season (which runs April through December), sometimes the weather has other plans. I love my Marmot rain jacket as it’s lightweight, practically impermeable (tried and tested in rainy NYC biking conditions), and has underarm zips which you can open to vent on hot, humid rainstorm days.
1 lightweight cardigan: Just in case you get cold at night, are battling some extra persistent mosquitos, or want a little extra coverage, a cardigan is good to have. You likely won’t need it in Puerto Rico, but it’s good for the plane. I’d opt for a slightly longish, light-colored open front cardigan.
1-2 bras: I personally brought 1 regular bra and 1 sports bra and switched between the two.
7+ pairs of underwear: You can arrange laundry on the road, but I recommend avoiding it if you only have a week in Puerto Rico or less. If you want to avoid laundry, just bring enough underwear for the duration of your trip.
Socks: As needed for wearing with sneakers.
1 sunhat: Not just for the ‘gram, you’ll want a sunhat as it’ll give your face extra SPF and keep the rays off your face.
Sunglasses: Bring an inexpensive pair or two, or prescription from home if you’re blind as a bat like I am.
What to Wear in Puerto Rico (For Men)
Full disclosure: I’m not a man, nor do I have strong opinions or experience with men’s clothes, so these are guidelines more than actual product recommendations.
This guide is really aimed more at addressing what to wear in Puerto Rico for women since that’s my personal experience, but I’ll throw in some suggestions without much commentary in case it is helpful.
5 short sleeve Ts
2-3 pair jeans or pants
2 pairs of shorts
1 pair of underwear for each day of your trip
flip flops or comfortable walking sandals
1 pair nicer dress shoes if you have a nice dinner/night out
1 nicer button-up shirt for nights out
waterproof rain jacket
1 lightweight sweater
3-5 pairs of socks
Other Things That Need to Be on Your Puerto Rico Packing List
Basic toiletries: This is highly personal, but for me, I need to bring the following: shampoo, conditioner, facial moisturizer, facial sunscreen, and all my little serums. Shoutout to my permanent sidekick, the Valo Vitamin C serum from Lumene, a cruelty-free Finnish brand, which is currently working overtime undoing all the sun damage I unleashed on my poor twenty-something skin before I realized the importance of preventing sun damage and am now seeing in my thirties.
Deodorant: This deserves a separate category, always and forever. I readily admit I am often sweatier than I have any right to be, but I’m obsessed with Secret clinical strength deodorant. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go with a more natural formation, but I’ve often ended up sweat-drenched and rank within hours. This is the only thing that holds up to hot weather travel for me.
Menstrual cup or your favorite tampon/pad brand (if applicable). I switched to a menstrual cup for travel 5 years ago and haven’t looked back! I started with DivaCup, and now I like the FlexCup for its tampon-like pull tab which makes it easier and cleaner to remove. While it may seem awkward at first to the uninitiated, I don’t have to change my cup for at least 8 hours even on heavy days when a tampon will last less than 2 hours. I’ve never leaked once in 5 years — can you say that for tampons? That said, you do you, and if you will feel more comfortable in tampons or pads, bring ’em.
Razor (if applicable): Bring a high-quality razor for a close shave that won’t irritate your skin — disposables are wasteful and cause irritation.
Ebook reader: I love having a Kindle Paperwhite for travel (the new ones are waterproof!) but if you don’t think you’ll be doing much reading on your Puerto Rico trip or your flight over, then you can give this a pass.
Travel camera or smartphone: I use a Sony A6000 because it’s lightweight for a professional caliber camera, relatively inexpensive in the wild world of professional-grade cameras, and a nice step up from a smartphone. I like having a zoom lens and a prime lens to maximize what I can capture, but if you have to pick just one, I’d pick a zoom lens. The kit lens on the A6000 isn’t bad, but the 16mm-70mm f4 Zeiss zoom lens uplevels it massively. However, smartphones are getting better every day, and the new iPhones with their telephoto and wide lens capabilities are pretty amazing, so you might not need a camera if you have a good smartphone!
Well, that just about covers what to pack for Puerto Rico. I hope you found this list and my tips for what to wear in Puerto Rico for women helpful for planning your trip. Did I forget anything that’s on your Puerto Rico packing list? Let me know in the comments!
There’s nothing better than classic smell of a warm campfire crackling under a blanket of twinkling stars and waking up to a soft glowing sunrise as dawn breaks the horizon.
Camping is all about those moments of peace and serenity. When your pace for the day is slow and peaceful, and you truly embrace what it means to be a part of nature.
But, as my fellow campers know, not all moments are pure bliss and comfort. Sometimes you wake up to powerful thunderstorms that wipe your camp out, or you come back from a long hike and find your campsite has been invaded by ants.
But one thing is for sure, every trip is an epic adventure with hidden lessons that bring memorable stories for years to come.
As a very seasoned car camper, I want to share with you my ultimate guide to car camping: checklist, essentials, packing list, tips, and more.
My guide includes everything from the apps I use for discovering campsites, products that I feel enhance your car camping experience, and of course the car camping essentials like cookware and storage. I have learned nature’s lessons and developed a love for the chaos and order that comes along with wandering into the great unknown.
What is Car Camping?
Home, sweet car!
For the purposes of this article, I will be focusing primarily on car camping. Which means you will be living and sleeping IN your car.
Your car becomes a fully functioning home on wheels. No tent setups, no breaking down campsites, just you and your car exploring all of what the world has to offer!
However, car camping can also be thought of as driving up to your campsite and setting up shop with a traditional tent — and I’ll cover that briefly as well, while I’ll focus more on the logistics of car camping and sleeping in your car.
The thought of sprawling out in your car, protected from the elements sounds simple in theory, right? Hold up!
Logistically, there are a few things to consider if you want to make your car camping experience as comfortable and convenient as you dreamed in your head. With a little bit of knowledge and advanced planning, your dreams of easily escaping into nature can come true!
Car Camping Checklist #1: Finding a Campsite
Car camping should be treated just like any other vacation or getaway.
First, you dream of where you want to go and then second, seek out accommodations.
Finding accommodations, or in this case, a campsite, is not quite as easy as you may assume. Take it from me! I’ve been kicked off public land, asked to leave rest stops, and have even had campsite reservations stolen from me.
But over the years I’ve perfected my system and discovered the best apps and maps for making accommodations easy. Below I’ve provided the names of my favorite apps and links to websites that I use regularly to find my next camping destination.
Best Apps for Car Camping
1) iOverlander. This app is the best kept secret for free dispersed overlanding campsites. iOverlander uses a simple topical map setup, loaded with a database of campsites that are updated by the users. Details are listed for each campsite including coordinates, pictures and amenities.
2) HipCamp. This is another wonderful app and great alternative for discovering campsites. HipCamp allows you to book unique camping experiences on farms, vineyards, and public parks across the country. It’s essentially an Airb&b for land. Owners “rent out” their land for campers so it gives you a more private setting.
Car Camping Essential Website Resources
1) https://www.blm.gov The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States that is responsible for public land. Campers can camp for free on BLM land. This website is a great resource for finding maps that provide locations for public land.
2) https://www.fs.usda.gov Similar to BLM Land, National Forest Land is also public use land. Follow the link provided to download maps of National Forest Lands.
3) https://www.reserveamerica.com Reserve America is the Mecca for campground reservations in the states and federal lands. It’s packed with information including tips on outdoors adventures, searching for sites as well as reserving lodging.
Car Camping Checklist #2: Pack Your Essentials for Car Camping
Not sure what the most important parts of your car camping setup are? I’ll break down your car camping essentials section by section so you don’t forget a thing.
Here’s your complete car camping packing list!
Sleeping in Style
Now that you’ve got your dream location picked out and a sweet campsite to boot, let’s get into the list of gear you’ll need to have the perfect adventure.
We’ll start with the most important pieces of gear, sleeping! Sleep is often overlooked but it’s essential if you want to have a good time! Nothing ruins the next day like a bad night of rest. Here’s my list of essential bedding products that are tried and true.
I’ll present two options to my fellow campers. The first option is the traditional route of tent camping. Traditional tent camping still lets you enjoy all the necessities you have stashed in the car but also enjoy the novelty of sleeping in a tent.
The second option is for more of my “#vanlife”-ers, or the lucky few who have a truck or a large SUV that’s big enough to sleep in. I’d seriously advise those with a large car to fold down the backseats of your car or truck and turn it into a packable sleeping sanctuary!
We’ll start with a tent set up for my novelty tent sleepers who want to drive into the campsite, unload and set up camp.
For those who enjoy sleeping in the great outdoors, the REI Half Dome is a great starter tent.
It packs down small, weighs just under 5 pounds, and can lodge two people comfortably. It’s a great option that doesn’t take up much room and is very simple to construct.
If you chose to go the tent route, you’re going to need to invest in a good sleeping pad. A sleeping pad will act as your mattress and keep you off the cold, hard ground.
The NEMO Flyer is my favorite to use as it is easy to inflate, packs down nicely, and is relatively quiet if you’re the type that rolls around when you sleep.
When sleeping in the car, most people overlook sleeping bags and opt for blankets. But I’ve learned that a sleeping bag is absolutely essential!
Despite being protected from the elements, your car can still get quite chilly and a good down sleeping bag will save you from a harsh, cold wake up. I personally use the Marmot Trestles Elite similar to this one. I love it because it’s super lightweight, comfortable, and keeps me warm.
If you’re one of the lucky few who has a truck or a large SUV, I’d seriously advise you to turn the back of your car or truck into a packable sleeping sanctuary. The best part about a large car is you can create a sleeping system that is more luxurious than your bed at home!
I’ve been through a plethora of air mattresses, sleeping pads, and foam rollouts. But I have finally settled on the ultimate camping mattress.
I LOVEthis tri-fold memory foam mattress. I purchased the queen size for both my Ford Edge and F150. It fits perfectly in the back of both cars and folds up to a small enough size that’s perfect for road trips. It’s integrated with a bamboo covering for breathability and I’m able to easily take the cover off for washing.
Yes, my sleeping arrangements are very luxurious for camping standards. Which is why I top my camping bed off with a good synthetic down comforter.
A comforter is the icing to my bed cake. I love cuddling up under a comforter and having that extra layer of warmth during the cold months. I use this simple comforter I got off Amazon. It’s an inexpensive option that provides the comfort and warmth that I need.
As for pillows, I just use regular bed pillows. I do have separate ‘camp pillows’ that are different from my home pillows.
The more of an established camper you become, you begin to realize that most articles of fabrics will begin to absorb a permanent campfire smell. So it’s best to have a designated camp bedding bin (below) to keep your linens at home fresh.
Bedding takes up the majority of space in my car. I’ve learned the best way to pack bedding is with these Ziploc totes. I throw my comforter, bedsheets, and pillows inside the Ziploc totes.
They are a good way to compact the bulkiness of bedding. They are sturdy, durable, and have a breathable mesh top so you’re able to air out your bedding as you travel.
After a long restful night’s sleep, you’re going to want to wake up and enjoy the sunrise with a cup of camp coffee followed by a beautiful breakfast spread that’ll fuel your outdoor adventure for the day.
The beauty of car camping is that you’re not subjected to MRE meals or boring bologna sandwiches. When you car camp, the sky’s the limit when preparing food! If you’re worried about how to pack for camping and making magnificent meals, don’t worry! I have all the tips and tricks in the kitchen guide below.
Every good camp meal begins with a source of heat. Of course, the simplest answer to your source of heat would be a campfire. But sometimes you arrive at a campsite and find out there is a burn ban in place. That’s where the Coleman Signature Grill Stove comes in!
The Coleman Grill is the perfect answer to all your cooking needs. I love that one side of the Coleman is a grill and the other side serves as a stove. It’s the perfect combination for grilling bacon and eggs while using the stove to warm up your coffee. It’s one of the most necessary things for camping, so don’t forget it!
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a well insulated cooler. A well insulated cooler is going to keep your food and drinks cold, thus in turn, keeping you safe and healthy from spoiled food. It’s no surprise that I’m a huge fan of the YETI coolers.
I own the Tundra 45 and it’s the perfect size for road trips and holds enough food and ice for at least a 4-day adventure. Plus, YETI coolers are bear-proof so you don’t need to worry about leaving it outside during your stay at the campsite.
Every camper knows there’s some magic in that morning cup of coffee. For some reason, being out in nature makes the taste of coffee significantly better. I’ve found that the easiest and fastest way to create a perfect cup of camp coffee is through a small device called a Jetboil like this one here.
The JetBoil is essentially a small cooking stove that can boil water in less than 3 minutes. It folds up to a size smaller than a deck of cards and only weighs .2 kg. I pair the JetBoil with a packet of instant coffee and I’m set for the day.
So you’ve got your big ‘kitchen’ appliances out of the way. Here’s a quick rundown of the small kitchen utensils that’ll make your camping experience more enjoyable.
Cast Iron Skillet. Cast iron skillets were made for the great outdoors! It’s the only material that I’ve found that can withstand the heat of a fire, stays warm after cooking, and requires little cleanup. Plus, it gets better with age! Lodge is the gold standard in cast iron cooking.
Spatula. I like using a metal spatula. If you’re cooking over a fire, it’s the best material to have as plastic spatulas tend to melt… plus, it’s easier to clean than wood. I prefer a fish spatula – perfect for flipping pancakes!
Trash bags. Don’t forget the trash bags! You’d be surprised by how much trash you accumulate during your time on the road. You’re responsible for leaving no trace and leaving campsites better than you’ve found them. Bring biodegradable trash bags if possible.
Reusable bowls and utensils. I like using reusable bowls and utensils as it saves space and decreases waste. I like this simple mess kit from REI. It’s the perfect size for two people, comes in a zippered pouch that’s perfect for packing for car camping and funky colors that make it exciting.
Cutting board and knife. I overlooked the use of a cutting board and knife for the longest time. I found myself cutting up food on random surfaces in nature. I’d advise against this and pack a small cutting board and camp knife, like this one.
Spices, oils and dressing. The best way I’ve found for packing and transporting spices, oils, and dressings is to use travel shampoo bottles. They are the perfect mini size and they have screw-top lids so they’re guaranteed not to leak. For a spice kit, this travel one is super cool for hardcore foodie campers.
Propane. If you opt to use a portable grill then you’ll need to pack propane. Always pack an extra bottle! Nothing is more disappointing than cooking your meal halfway and running out of propane. Buy in bulk to save.
Lighter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten a lighter. Put one in the car, put one in your utensils bag, put one in your pocket. Anything you have to do to remember a lighter! If you forget a lighter, you’ll have no ignition source for your grill or a campfire. Buy a 4-pack and stash them around.
Lighter fluid. I love campfires but the actual act of building a fire is quite complicated and is a skill that takes time to acquire. Lighter fluid speeds this process up and keeps a weak fire burning all night long.
Bandana. Bandanas are the quintessential campers rag. I use my bandana for everything! It comes in handy as a dishrag, an oven mitt, napkin, the list goes on! It’s a great environmentally friendly alternative to paper towels and napkins.
Dish Soap. You’re going to want to bring some dish soap for washing up your dishes and utensils. I personally love CampSuds dish soap. It’s biodegradable, has a clean scent, and can also double as a laundry soap in a pinch!
Shovel. I always pack a mini shovel for clearing out overused fire pits or digging a new fire pit.
I keep all the kitchen utensils organized in a large 12-gallon plastic bin. Plastic bins will become your best friend as you get deeper and deeper into car camping. They are a great way to store all your necessities, they’re super easy to clean after a long trip and they last for ages! They also double as ‘coffee tables’ when you’re ready to sit down and eat.
Making Camp Feel like Home
So you’ve staked out some land to call home. You’ve made your bed for the day, dinner is cooked and you’re ready to relax by the campfire.
I like to compare this stage of the camping experience to relaxing in your living room. You’ll want some chairs, maybe a hammock, some nice mood lights, and a place to sip that well-anticipated whiskey as you enjoy the sunset.
Chairs. There are a million different options when it comes to chairs. What it really comes down to is what is most comfortable for you. What I’ve found that works for me are these steal of a deal chairs from Ozark Trail. The mesh back allows for a bit of airflow, an insulated cooler on the side lets you stash some extra ‘cold ones,’ and a nifty bottle opener is attached to the side.
Hammock. A hammock is the perfect alternative or addition to chairs. Hammocks are the ultimate way to relax. A brand I’ve used and swear by is Wise Owl Outfitters. Wise Owl hammocks are lightweight, easy to set up, sturdy, and they come in so many different fun colors.
Hammock Straps. If you choose to use a hammock, please consider hammock straps much like these. Hammock straps help in preserving the health of trees by minimizing bark stripping that traditional hammock rope tends to leave behind.
Lanterns. When the sun begins to go down in nature, it gets dark fast! I love these little mini lanterns from REI. They’re the perfect size for stashing around the campsite. They emit a soft light that’s perfect for hanging around the campsite or they can also double as a powerful flashlight.
Toiletries and Cleanliness
As you begin to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, you realize how difficult it is to keep everything clean. Including yourself!
As an avid camper, I’ve come to embrace the dirt and the days without showers. But with that being said, I do have a few tips for keeping your body and campsite as clean as possible.
Wet Wipes. Wet wipes will become your best friend! There will be times where you are nowhere near a water source and you can’t stand the thought of getting into your sleeping bag dirty. That’s where these wet wipes save the day! These wipes are great for your face, hands, and body. Not only do these wipes clean, they also moisturize your skin with a clean cucumber aloe scent.
Toothbrush and toothpaste. I like to use dry toothpaste tabs when I’m out in nature. These tabs are a great option as they are made with all-natural ingredients that are safe to spit out on the ground with no damage to the environment.
Soap. If you’re lucky enough to have a campsite next to water you’ll want to take advantage of the free bath. Grab your CampSuds that I mentioned above and use this as your body wash. I know, I know, it’s a little weird washing your body with the same bottle as you washed your dishes with but trust me! It’s an all-in-one product that’ll leave you feeling better and cleaner!
Towel. Regular bath towels take up a lot of room and tend to take forever to dry out. I prefer to use microfiber towels like these as they dry faster, are easier to pack, and tend not to absorb smells.
Deodorant. Please, for everyone’s sake, pack your favorite deodorant (this is mine)
What about my hair? Okay ladies, embrace that second and third-day hair! I’ve found that camping is much easier when you let your locks do their own thing. I like to wet my hair during a bath, throw it in a braid for the night, and be done with it. As soon as you embrace the ‘no poo’ method, the easier your life becomes.
If you just can’t take it, throw your favorite dry shampoo in your bag and call it clean! PS. Your hair is going to smell like campfire every night anyway so just embrace not having to mess with it.
First Aid and Campsite Survival
As you become more accustomed to camping, you’ll learn that accidents happen. No matter how careful you are, you’ll find yourself digging through your backpack for a bandaid or searching for that precious piece of paracord that could double as a spare shoelace.
Chances are, most items in your first aid survival kit will never get used. But these extra items come in handy the one time you’re in a dire situation.
First Aid Kit. Everyone should keep a comprehensive first aid kit on hand when traveling away from home. It doesn’t have to be some sort of mega kit. This kit from Amazon is perfect. It’s a great comprehensive kit for minor cuts and burns and is small enough to stow away in the smallest crevice of your car.
Bug Spray. I live in Texas, so I camp in and around the southern states a lot, which means BUGS! Tons and tons of bugs. I consider bug spray an essential survival tool because without it, you’ll feel like you want to die. I prefer to use a bug spray with natural ingredients like this one from ClimbOn. It has a clean scent and doesn’t leave a greasy residue like most commercial bug sprays.
Paracord. Paracord is a multi-use tool that every camper should have in their survival kit. Paracord has unlimited uses from acting as a tourniquet to simply stitching up a broken hiking boot. If you’re unfamiliar with Paracord, this site has a great guide on the many uses of paracord.
Matches. Even though you should have packed multiple lighters, as mentioned above (hint hint) it’s still smart to throw some extra matches in your survival kit.
Sunscreen. I put sunscreen in the survival section because I believe it is an essential survival tool! A bad sunburn is not healthy and can really ruin a fun trip. My favorite brand is the SunBum Mineral Sunscreen. It’s all-natural, safe for the environment ingredients make it a great alternative to normal household sunscreens. Plus, it has the signature SunBum scent that makes me smile.
Headlamp. You can never have enough light sources after the sun goes down. A good headlamp like this one from Black Diamond is a great choice. It’s lightweight, compact, and powerful enough to navigate through whatever dark situation you find yourself in. Bring extra batteries, too!
Compass and map. A compass and map sound like such an old school tool for survival. But it’s an absolute essential to have in your survival kit. Chances are you will never use it, but it’s a great back up to have if your phone dies and you become lost.
Add some sass to your site!
Now for the fun stuff. Ladies… and some gentlemen, this is your time to shine!
Nothing is more fun than having the best looking campsite in the forest. This comes in the form of unnecessary but totally worth it accessories that add flair to your campsite. I like to add some sass through fun lights, flags that represent your home state, and subtle splashes of color.
String Lights. I love these string lights from REI: they add the perfect amount of accent lighting, plug in through a USB port, and have several different brightness settings to create the perfect illumination no matter what time of night.
Tap lights. These small tap lights are fun to have scattered around the campsite where you need a bit of extra light. A little tip is to put these lights near your shoes at night, so when nature calls and it’s dark outside, you can make a quick quiet escape without waking up the whole camp with a flashlight.
Flag. It’s fun to fly a flag representing your home state. It adds a little flair to your campsite and opens the door to conversations with fellow campers. I’ve sparked a lot of friendships through flying a Texas flag.
Bluetooth stereo. I like this Bluetooth stereo because it’s waterproof, durable, and has a subtle LED light that makes it easy to see after dark. Always remember to be considerate of your camp neighbors and keep your music to yourself.
Camp Games. It’s also important to bring some fun things to bring camping. Playing camp games is a fun, interactive way to pass time. Cards, Uno, and Jenga are some of my favorite games to pack. They are small and compact and can host a variety of people if you find yourself entertaining your fellow neighbor.
I won’t go into much detail on clothes as it’s pretty diverse depending on the location you choose. But there are a couple of staple items that I refuse to leave home without no matter what the weather is forecast to be.
Flannel. Flannel is the OG material of outdoorsmen and women everywhere. And if you’ve seen my Instagram, you know I don’t leave home without my one and only flannel. I’ll make a confession, I’ve had this Eddie Bauer flannel for over 10 years. In short, these flannels are indestructible! They are so soft, comfortable and wash up like new. A good flannel will offer a layer of protection from the sun as well as protection from the cold. It’s a great versatile option that should always be packed.
Rain jacket. You never know when the weather’s going to change. Small rain showers can sweep through the mountains or desert on a moment’s notice and it’s best to be prepared. I love The North Face Resolve Wind and Rain jacket. It protects me from the wind and rain and fits like a glove. It’s full of features that are meant to be tested outdoors and it has a lifetime guarantee!
Hiking Boots. Hiking boots are a camping essential. Whether you’re hiking or not, you need a good pair of boots that protect your feet from the landscape of a campsite. Campsites are full of rocks, logs, and possibly snakes and it’s best to protect your feet from your surroundings. I use the Ahnu SugarPines to conquer the world around me. If possible, I suggest going to your local outdoor store and trying on a pair that best fit your feet.
Leggings and Shorts. I always pack both! The night time will always be more chilly than you think so it’s best to have the option of having an extra layer on your legs. I opt for compression spandex leggings and shorts as I find this material to be the most comfortable and moves well as I build fires and tend to the campsite.
Final Essentials for Car Camping
There are always small tips and tricks I learn after every trip I take. Here’s a miscellaneous list of my lessons I’ve learned to pass on so you don’t make the same mistakes!
Campsite Shoes. Campsite shoes are comparable to house slippers. These are the shoes you wear around the campsite that are comfortable and easy to slide on and off. After a long day of hiking or wandering around outside, you’re going to want a shoe that relaxes your feet. I use the Teva Original Sandals. The foam bottoms feel great on my feet and they’re super lightweight, a nice contrast to the heavy hiking boots I wear all day long.
Clothes Pins. A great camping hack is using clothespins to dry out and hang up any article of clothing they may be wet or sweaty.
Eggs. Eggs are pesky when it comes to packing in the cooler. I’ve found the pre cracking them into a large mason jar is the best way to transport them.
Warm Water Bottle. If you’re sleeping in a place that’s colder than you anticipated, JetBoil some water and transfer it into a heat-safe water bottle. Then, place that water bottle in the bottom of your sleeping bag and voilá you have a heated blanket that’ll stay warm for hours.
Cash. Always bring an extra stash of cash. Some campsites require a small cash fee, or you desperately need that last-minute firewood coming into a park. It’s always a great idea to have a little bit of backup.
Notebook. Bring a notebook to write down some highlights of each camping trip. It’s a fun and funny way to reminisce about memories that you may have otherwise forgotten.
Car Camping Checklist #3: Learn How to Pack for Car Camping
That completes the list of all your car camping essentials. Now that you have an idea of what to pack for car camping, you’re probably asking yourself how all of this is going to fit into your car.
Nothing feels worse than rummaging through your car, searching for that sacred item that you swear you packed but can’t find. To avoid the stress and irritation of having an overwhelming amount of stuff in your car, I’ll give you a breakdown of the easiest methods to keep your car clean, functional, and fun.
The easiest way to pack your car is to break everything down into stations. Much like a house has different rooms, your car will have different stations. This is where plastic bins become your best friend! Every station has a plastic bin of its own. Here’s a breakdown of my stations and where I’ve found the easiest locations to store each ‘room’.
Station 1: Electronics. I keep all the electronics in the glove box as I’m constantly charging phones, watches and computers. It’s easy to be driving down the road, plug in your dying phone without having to pull over and dig through weeks worth of camping essentials.
Station 2: Toiletries and Clothes. I keep my toiletries and clothes together as they both are my ‘clean’ items. I store them in pull out style bins behind my front seat. I store them here because It’s easy to create a changing room when both car doors are open and allows a small amount of privacy when brushing your teeth or removing makeup.
Station 3. Survival Kit. I keep my survival kit under the back seat. The survival kit rarely gets used so I try to keep it out of the way. I don’t want one more thing to rummage through if it’s not necessary.
Station 4. Bedding. My bedding is kept in the middle of the car. As mentioned before, the Ziploc Totes hold and compress most of the bedding so it doesn’t take up too much space.
Station 5. Kitchen and food. I keep the grill, cooler, and utensils bin in the very back of the car. I do this because these are the items that tend to be used the most and become the dirtiest. It’s easiest to keep them in the very back as you’ll be unloading these items once to several times a day. This way, when it’s time to eat, you simply pull the specific items out without having to unload your entire car for one meal.
You’ll quickly begin to find that your car fills up fast and every nook and cranny soon has some piece of camping equipment living in it. The best thing you can do is embrace the organized mess! As you become more accustomed to your campsite routine, the easier it will be to pack and create stations of your own.
Car camping is becoming the new way to see the world. Don’t get left behind by being clueless as to what and how to pack. I hope this comprehensive car camping checklist helps you locate, furnish, and create the campsite of your dreams.
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If you’re planning a trip to Norway in the colder months, especially coming from a warmer climate, you’re probably a little nervous about what to wear in Norway in winter.
I’ve just returned from a winter trip to Norway and while I was a bit concerned about the cold, I found that with the right winter clothing and accessories, I was well prepared for the cold in Norway.
And despite packing for temperatures up to -20 C (though it didn’t get that cold in my time there!), I was able to fit in all in my carry-on backpack due to careful planning and packing and proper layering.
In this post, I’ll explain what I wore in Norway in winter, linking to products either exactly the same as or really similar to what I used.
Your Winter in Norway Packing List
8 Essentials to Pack for Norway in Winter
One of the most important things to pack for Norway in winter is a sturdy pair of crampons. Crampons are basically small spikes or grips that you attach to your winter boot with a stretchy silicone attachment.
You don’t need a super intense-looking mountaineer type crampon, unless of course you’re going mountaineering (which I definitely can’t help you with, as the most activity I got in Norway was dog-sledding).
I used these simple Yaktrax which were really easy to take on and off — essential, as indoor places everywhere in Norway ask you to take off your crampons before entering.
They were also perfectly grippy for icy city streets and I didn’t have any slips while wearing them, walking around in the snow and ice for miles (and the day I went out without them on accident, I definitely noticed the difference!).
Moisturizer and lip balm
Winter in Norway will really dry out your skin, so you’ll definitely want to pack a pretty heavy-duty moisturizer as well as lip protector.
I remembered the former but forgot the latter and by day 2 I had sore, chapped lips and running to the nearest pharmacy to drop $10 on a simple chapstick… so be smarter than I am and bring it from home where you’ll spend less on something better.
It’s highly likely that one of the reasons why you are going to Norway in the winter is to see the magical Northern lights.
In that case, you’ll want to ensure you have a camera that is capable of manual settings – a smartphone won’t do if you want proper photos. Most importantly, you need to be able to set the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. I use a Sony A6000 and it works great.
To properly photograph the Northern lights, a travel tripod is absolutely essential.
You need the camera to be still for at least 3-5 seconds to get a decent photograph, and there’s no way you can eliminate camera shake for that long without a tripod. In the past, I’ve used a simple, cheap 50″ Amazon tripod and it worked just fine.
Reusable water bottle
The tap water in Norway is drinkable everywhere (and absoutely delicious) so make sure you bring a reusable water bottle so you don’t spend a fortune on bottled water, which is expensive in Norway.
If you don’t already have one, try this one from Simple Modern.
Your electronics lose battery so much faster in the cold. Bring a portable charger (I brought two) with the ability to store enough power to complete 4 or 5 charges – it’ll save yourself so many headaches! Anker is a reliable brand and what I personally use (I have this one).
Also remember to bring extra batteries for your camera, especially if photographing the Northern lights!
Adaptor, if necessary
Norway uses the standard European outlet, so bring one if you need it, which you will if you’re coming from the UK, the Americas, or Asia. Here’s a universal one.
Yes, I know this isn’t something that you pack, but in my opinion, it is just foolish to leave home without it. It’s extra important to have travel insurance in winter as the weather is unpredictable, and you will be protected and reimbursed in case of trip cancellation in addition to illnesses or accidents. I recommend buying travel insurance as far in advance as you can, as it’s always cheaper that way.
I always use World Nomads when I travel. The contract is very clear as to what it covers, the prices are affordable, the excess/deductible is very low, and it covers a wide range of activities and events.
What to Wear in Norway in Winter
You can get away with wearing most of your normal winter clothing in Norway as long as you have proper base layers that help insulate you and keep you warm.
You want something moisture-wicking and antimicrobial, which will keep things from getting stinky or uncomfortable when you sweat (which you will if you’re walking around or being active, yes, even in the cold!).
I wore brought one pair of thermal leggings and one thermal top with me for one week and just aired them out overnight. I didn’t find I had any issues with odor, but you could bring a second pair of each if you prefer to alternate daily.
Many people swear by wool, but in general I can’t wear wool or I get insanely, tear-off-all-my-skin itchy (though wool socks are fine for me as the skin on my feet is thicker). If you can tolerate wool then something like these merino wool leggings, paired with a cashmere sweater layer, will serve you very well.
A warm winter jacket or parka
For walking around in Norway in winter, you’ll want a nice and warm winter jacket (preferably a parka which goes to about mid-thigh) that is water-resistant and hooded, to keep you warm against the snow.
While winter in many parts of coastal Norway like Tromso actually isn’t that cold, with average temperatures around -4° C to 0° C (24° F to 32° F), there is a lot of wind and precipitation, making it feel colder. You want a waterproofed jacket that will protect against snow and even worse, freezing rain.
For my most trip to Norway, I wore a jacket that I bought from Decathlon which I can’t find online but is virtually identical to this one but in a navy blue. I loved having a faux fur lined hood to keep snow and rain out of my face and the weatherproof material was much-needed. Down feathers add a nice layer of warmth that really helps insulate you (though if you want a vegan option, this jacket is similar).
On my past trip to the Arctic, in neighboring Sweden where it’s actually a bit colder, I did really well with my North Face parka which I’ve owned for 10 years and absolutely love.
The only reason I didn’t bring it with me to Norway is because I left it in California. I haven’t moved it over to Bulgaria where I’m living yet, so I had to replace my winter jacket, but if you’re buying a winter jacket for the first time and want something durable, I think North Face makes some of the best winter clothing (and their clothing comes with a lifetime fix or replace guarantee, so if you ever have any issues, you can send it in and they will fix it for you).
Snow boots & wool socks
Norway in winter is extremely snowy and you will regret it if you visit Norway in anything other than proper snow boots!
I wore a pair of snow boots by Quechua which I bought from Decathlon, which I can’t find online, but here is a similar boot by Sorel, a trusted winter brand that’s beloved in Norway and beyond (here’s a women’s version and a men’s version). I recommend sizing about half a size up to account for thick winter socks.
But no matter how insulated your shoe is, it won’t do much good if you are wearing thin, crappy cotton socks. I invested in these Smartwool socks after some hemming and hawing about the price and I’m so glad I did.
You don’t need that many pairs because you can actually re-wear them a few times before they get smelly because wool is naturally odor-absorbent and antimicrobial. I was fine with two pairs of socks over a week, which I alternated daily. And even though I generally can’t tolerate wool because of itchiness, I don’t mind them on my feet as the skin there is much thicker and less sensitive.
For a scarf, the bigger and more wrappable, the better. I brought two simple scarves, both from H&M, similar to this one to add a bit of variety to my photos since I’d be wearing the same jacket every day.
Same with hats – I actually brought three different colors because I could add some variety to photos without adding much in my backpack.
For the rest of your clothing, you can pretty much wear whatever you are used to wearing in winter. If you have all the above accessories, you’ll be good with a layer of jeans and a sweater.
For me personally, for one week, I bought three sweaters and two pairs of jeans and it was perfectly fine.
Pretty self-explanatory. I brought eight pairs for seven days and two bras. You probably know your underwear needs better than I do.
Bathing suit + flip flops (optional)
If staying at a hotel with a pool or sauna (you lucky duck), be sure to bring these!
Toiletries for Norway in Winter
You’ll want to pack all your usual toiletries, which obviously vary depending on the person. Here’s what I brought:
Shampoo & conditioner
Moisturizer & lip balm
What to Pack Everything In
Having seen my friend struggle with a giant suitcase throughout Arctic Sweden… I strongly recommend that you bring a well-designed travel backpack instead of a suitcase.
Sure, it’s possible to travel with a suitcase… but you will likely regret it when you end up trying to drag your bag through freshly laid snow, getting all your clothes wet in the process. Take it from an idiot who brought a rolling suitcase to Finland in November.
While rolling suitcases can be great for short weekend trips, they are not the best for Norway in winter. There will likely be snow and ice on the ground, and you will have to drag, not roll, your suitcase, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a rolling suitcase. Not fun.
You’re way better off with a backpack that you can easily carry. I am a light packer, so my Tortuga Setout Backpack is perfect for me — this is the exact backpack I brought with me on my trip to Norway, and it had plenty of room for more than I brought.
This bag is 45L and has got three main compartments: one for a laptop and other flat objects, one giant rectangular compartment perfect for packing cubes stuffed with clothing, and one smaller compartment with pockets for passports, pens, odds and ends, etc. that I stash all my extras in, plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to. It also has a water bottle holder on the outside.
Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute the weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.
Does it pass airline requirements? I’ve never once had to check it in on a budget airline flight, and I’ve taken probably 50+ Ryanair, Norwegian, and Wizzair flights at this point.
If I’m flying on a stricter airline like Ryanair or Wizzair, I just buy priority boarding so that I have a guaranteed spot on board for my bag (plus a second personal item bag), which adds about $5 onto my total flight cost instead of the $50 or so that a heavy checked suitcase or backpack would.
Despite traveling for two years, I haven’t personally used a bigger backpack, but I’ve heard excellent things about the Osprey system. If I ever were to upgrade my backpack capacity, that’s what I would choose. But I’m cheap and hate paying baggage fees, even at the expense of having less clothing options, so your mileage may vary.
If you haven’t used packing cubes before, get ready for a travel revolution. These super helpful zippable bags are a miracle when it comes to organizing your clothing, keeping everything from bursting out every time you dare open your backpack.
If you are traveling Sweden in winter, you will get your clothing wet, dirty, and covered in snow constantly, and you’ll have to change your clothes a decent amount. A laundry bag will come in handy at keeping dirty stuff separated from the clean.
Like packing cubes, you don’t need anything fancy at all. I do like having a cute one like this one from Kikkerland though, because I’m impractical and like cute stuff.
Hanging toiletry bag
Packing for Norway in winter has special toiletry concerns (hint: bring ALL the moisturizer) and I recommend using something like this hanging toiletry bag to organize your various shampoos, moisturizers, make-up, etc.
It has a good number of separators, organizers, and pockets without taking up any excess space. It’s the Mary Poppins bag you always needed but never knew existed – a miracle for girly girl travelers like myself who want to bring their entire vanity with them when they travel (but don’t want to pay check-in fees).
You’ll also want a smaller day bag or purse for carrying your day-to-day odds and ends, like your wallet, lip protector, phone, camera, etc.
I used a simple foldable backpack like this one which I packed up folded away for the plane so I didn’t have to carry two bags, but then used during my day-to-day travels in Norway.
You may prefer to carry a purse or a larger backpack depending on your needs – this is just what worked for me!
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Paris is a gorgeous city any time of year, but in the winter, it’s a bit extra delightful.
The tourists are as gone as they’ll ever be, scared off by the cold temperatures and or lulled into Germany or Austria instead for Christmas Market fever.
Yes, winter in Paris is cold, and the weather in Paris in December through February isn’t exactly enticing, but getting to see the City of Lights as close to empty as it gets is not a bad trade-off.
In order to enjoy your time visiting Paris in winter, you’ll want to pack appropriately. I’ve nailed down exactly what to wear in Paris in winter to keep you bundled up and warm, yet looking as chic and feeling as comfortable as possible.
Paris Weather in Winter
First of all, before you decide what to wear in Paris in winter, you should probably figure out just how cold it’ll be.
Luckily, Paris’s winter weather is not that cold: throughout the winter, we’re talking average highs of 46-48° F (8-9 °C) and average lows of 37-39 °F (3-4 °C).
However, that of course doesn’t account for extremes which are possible. Climate change means more volatility; France shattered its heat wave record this last summer.
Snow is possible but not necessarily likely during your winter trip to Paris. It really can vary — some months there’ll be no snow at all, other months, it can pile up. In 2010, there were 14 snowstorms that December in Paris with temperatures as low as -10 °C / 14° F and even lower in the surrounding suburbs.
I tell you this wide range not to be unhelpful, but to remind you to prepare for the worst weather and hope for the best when deciding how to pack for Paris in winter.
When it comes to packing for winter in Europe, I think it’s always better to be a bit overprepared than underprepared. Otherwise, you risk having to spend a day of your trip looking for all your winter needs and buying some things impulsively that aren’t quite right, rather than preemptively bringing or buying things you love.
There’s so much to do in Paris — from visiting the Louvre and Catacombs to exploring a more unusual side to Paris, that there’s really no point in spending the time shopping for appropriate clothes just because you didn’t pack right!
Where to Stay in Paris in Winter
If you’re visiting Paris in winter, I suggest opting for an awesome place (perhaps with an Eiffel Tower view?) that takes advantage of the fact that you’re visiting in the off-season!
Whether that’s a chic Airbnb in Paris or a luxury hotel with an unbeatable view, it’ll improve your trip to Paris in winter drastically.
EIFFEL TOWER VIEW | For a chic hotel with an Eiffel Tower view that won’t totally break the bank, theJardins Eiffel is a fantastic choice for a dash of luxury at a reasonable price. the rooms are quaint and lovely with a real Parisian touch to them. Prices from $250/night and up. Check details on Booking.
MODERN BOUTIQUE | citizenM is one of my favorite hotel chains as they offer all sorts of great modern amenities, incredibly vibrant styling, and well-thought-out rooms at budget prices. They offer a smaller footprint per room but designed in a way that doesn’t seem tiny, and passing on that discount to you. Prices from $200/night and up. Check details and availability on Booking.
LUXURY APARTMENT | For a lovely apartment-style stay, you’ll need to be careful to pick an apartment rental that stays within Paris’s short-term rental laws. Résidence Charles Floquet is a condo-hotel that does just that, offering all the apartment amenities with the confidence of a hotel, ranging from 1-bedrooms with courtyard views to duplexes with Eiffel Tower views. Prices from $400/night and up. Check details and availability on Booking.
What to Wear in Paris in Winter: The Essentials
Here is my complete list of what to wear in Paris in December through February, with product recommendations to things I love, as well as a few Paris winter outfit ideas along the way.
A winter coat
What coat you should pack for Paris in winter depends on how warm you like to be. I personally run cold in general and come from a magical place (California) where winter barely exists: where people freak out and pull on the Uggs and fleece jackets as soon as temperatures drop below 50 °F (that’s 10 °C for you non-Americans out there)
I struggled with winter a lot when I first moved to New York. It was a rough wake-up call. After two years of trying to make cute woolen peacoats work for me in sub-freezing temperatures Gossip-Girl-style, I eventually packed in it, called it quits, and invested in a proper winter coat. My life changed overnight, even if I definitely lost quite a few fashion points.
This is the exact North Face parka that I bought. I love that it comes down to mid-thigh, which makes a world of difference over a jacket that ends at the hip. You really have no idea how much heat you lose in that area until you wear a jacket that covers it!
While North Face gear is pricy, it will last you a lifetime, as North Face products have a lifetime guarantee (hold onto your receipt though just in case).
I tested this guarantee when my zipper came unstitched after two years of heavy use, wearing it every day including when I was biking to work in the winter.
North Face promptly fixed it up and sent it back as good as new. This isn’t sponsored, for the record – I’ve paid out of pocket for my North Face gear and would happily buy it again.
However, I know for some people, the idea of wearing a puffy winter coat in Paris in winter makes them cringe. And I get it — I mean, I suffered through two winters of being ridiculously cold for the sake of fashion as well.
Since Paris doesn’t really snow that often in the winter, you can safely leave the snow boots behind. What I do suggest is something waterproof, as Paris is quite rainy all winter and it’ll also work in case it does snow while you’re in Paris as well.
For me, the winter boot I can’t live without are my Blondo waterproof leather boots. I bought this pair in 2008… which means I’m celebrating my 10-year anniversary with them this year, which is longer than most of my friendships and every relationship I’ve been in so far.
In 10 years of heavy use, I’ve only had to get them resoled once, which set me back about $60 in NYC. However, for a pair of shoes I wear nearly every day for 3-4 months per year, it was 100% worth it.
The traction is excellent, the look is sleek and streamlined, and I’ve tested their waterproofness in many a filthy slush puddle and emerged with my feet unscathed. They stand the test and that’s why they’re the only shoes I think you need to wear in Paris in winter.
If you want a shorter Chelsea-style ankle boot rather than a knee-high look, Blondo also makes a really cute version here that I’m eyeing for this winter.
One last note: Be sure to pair your winter boots with proper wool socks. No matter how insulated your shoe is, it won’t do much good if you are wearing thin, crappy cotton socks (another thing that took me several years to learn… why do I suck at winter so badly? Oh yeah, California).
I invested in these Smartwool socks after much hemming and hawing about the price and I’m so glad I did. You don’t need that many pairs because you can actually re-wear them a few times before they get smelly because Smartwool is odor-absorbent and basically kind of magical. I’d bring 3 pairs for a week-long trip and give them a day to breathe in between wears.
Winter accessories are really what make or break whatever you decide to wear in Paris. As long as you have a hat, gloves, and scarf, you can almost get away with wearing whatever you want as your base layer – as long as you have the right jacket and shoes like I recommended above as well.
In terms of a hat, I recommend wearing a tightly-knit hat that fits firmly on your head and covers your ears completely — bonus points if it is lined with fleece!
I lose my hats constantly since I’m a hot mess of an adult, so I go through several each winter. I recommend a beanie knit hat with fleece, kind of like this one.
I like colorful ones with a pompon on it, because it adds a bit of color and interest to your winter photos (where you can otherwise just look like an all-black blob).
For gloves, look for something that is both touchscreen compatible and warm. However, you really don’t need something waterproof or crazy high-tech. I recommend a simple pair of gloves like these ones.
You’ll have your hands in your coat pockets most of the time anyway, but it’ll be nice to have touchscreen-friendly gloves so you can use your smartphone without having to
For scarves, I recommend the biggest, most wrappable scarf you can find. I tend to go for something huge, chunky, and made of acrylic. I like acrylic because it’s gentler on my skin than wool, which tends to make me itchy with when it’s in direct contact with my skin (with socks being the exception, since the skin on my feet is much less sensitive than everywhere else).
However, other people may be fine with wool, in which case I’d definitely say go for a wool scarf as wool can really trap in heat and keep you ultra-toasty.
I prefer an infinity style knit scarf for winter that I can wear super tight around my neck to keep in as much warmth as possible. Every bit counts!
I suggest at least one but better yet two scarves if you can fit it. Since it’s an outer layer, it’ll show up in all your photos, so choose a pattern or print you love that goes well with your winter coat, which you’ll likely only have one of, and adds variety to your photos.
Now, I’m going to let you in on my #1 secret weapon when it comes to what to wear in Paris in winter. Three words: fleece lined leggings.
These leggings are magic when it comes to surviving just about any winter. If you can tolerate wool, you’ll probably be even warmer with something like these merino wool leggings.
But since I can’t, I substitute fleece-lined leggings like these ones. On a cold day, I typically wear them underneath a pair of jeans and I am toasty and warm all day long. I prefer the ones without feet because they sag less during the day, and then I can wear my own warm socks with them. I generally pack 2-3 for a one-week trip.
What to Wear in Paris in Winter: Complete Clothing Packing List
If you’ve followed my advice up to this point — warm jacket (preferably down or faux down), waterproof leather boots, wool or fleece-lined leggings, and all the winter accessories — you can pretty much get away with wearing whatever you want with them.
I tend to choose a lot of sweater dresses because I am lazy when I travel and don’t like to pack a lot of different things that I have to mix and match, when just one dress will do perfectly. But you can also just wear jeans and sweaters on your trip so long as you have the appropriate winter accessories, shoes, and outerwear.
Here’s my complete Paris in winter packing list (well, clothing at least). This list is assuming you’ll be in France in winter for one week – so feel free to add or subtract clothing items as it makes sense depending on the length of your trip as well as your personal taste and style. It includes the above-mentioned outwear accessories so you don’t forget it!
Several pairs of fleece-lined leggings. 3 pairs should do you well for 1 week.
1-2 base layer thermal tops if you run cold. You can skip these if you don’t get cold easily or you’re used to cold temperatures.
1-2 pairs of jeans (slightly loose is better; too tight will be hard to layer), which you can wear over leggings if it’s especially cold.
2-4 warm sweaters. I recommend wool if you can tolerate it. 100% cashmere sweaters tend to be everyone’s favorite, but I find even cashmere itchy personally. I wear synthetic or acrylic sweaters with a base layer underneath.
1 thick jacket like the North Face parka I recommended, or a cute pea coat or something similar.
1 thin down jacket to layer underneath a less warm coat. You can keep this rolled up in a day bag, that’s how small it is, and add and subtract it as a layer as needed.
What Else Should Be On Your Paris in Winter Packing List?
So, you’ve determined what to wear in Paris in winter – the last thing to decide is what other extras to bring. Here are my essentials: however, you know what you need, so feel free to adapt as you see fit.
Toiletries & Personal Items
Lip balm: I tend to get dry lips in winter from the cold air and overheated buildings. I love this Aquaphor as it doesn’t dry my lips out the way many balms do (which trick you into continuing to use them!).
High-quality moisturizer: For the same reason as above – the combination of winter weather plus heat will do a number on your skin.
Sunscreen: Don’t discount the need for sunscreen even in the winter! I like this fancy Japanese Biore sunscreen for my face as my skin is quite sensitive and acne-prone, and this is really gentle on my skin.
Hand sanitizer: Perfect to use after getting off the metro, before eating, or any place with less than sanitary conditions. You don’t want to get sick on your trip! I always find I get way sicker when I pick up illnesses abroad, so prevention is key. I carry a mini bottle of Purell like this one with me.
Shampoo & conditioner
Hair brush & other hair accessories
Prescription medicine, if needed
Other medicines (ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol, etc.)
High-powered portable battery pack: Your phone battery will get run down very quickly on a cold winter day in Paris, so be sure to pack a portable battery charger like an Anker battery pack: this is what I swear by as a blogger who needs fully charged electronics at all times!
Camera: I personally use a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera, which is the perfect travel camera for producing professional-quality photos without taking up much space or weighing too much. I have several lenses for it but most people will be fine with the kit lens. Be sure to pack several extra batteries as well, for the same reason as above (winter weather = zapped electronics)
Adaptor, if visiting internationally: If you are visiting from continental Europe, North America, South America, most of Asia – basically, anywhere that doesn’t use UK plugs – you’ll want an international adaptor for sure. If bringing something that is reliant on heat, like a hair dryer or straightener, be sure to bring a voltage converter as well.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you in partnership with Moon Travel Guides. All opinions and recommendations expressed are entirely my own.
Let’s be honest about New York: no one lives there for its weather.
There are few things that New Yorkers can agree upon, but the fact that fall is the best season to be in New York is surely one of them.
New York’s winters are about three months too long, stretching on so that it feels like half a year. Spring lasts about three weeks, only in bits and pieces, teasing you before plummeting back into winter temperatures or before giving itself over to a miserable, scorching summer.
Oh, summer. That time of year when the subways feel like saunas (only smellier and far more crowded), throngs of families finally able to travel on their school breaks flood the streets, and there’s a pervasive heavy humidity to the air that so that walking feels like wading through water.
But fall, fall is the promised land when it comes to New York seasons. The smothering humidity lessens to a crisp, fluttering breeze. The leaves on the trees do their yearly magic to ripen to red slowly, before fluttering down onto the streets in a cascade of satisfyingly crunchy leaves. Chafed thighs and underboob sweat are banished (until the following year). It’s the little things.
The best thing about visiting New York in fall is that you can actually make the most of it and see as much of the city as you set your heart to. Sure, you may not have those endless summer days, where the sun doesn’t set until nearly nine at night, but you also aren’t constantly maneuvering through crowded, sweaty streets desperately seeking out your next hit of A/C.
Visiting New York in fall means that you can actually visit it the way it’s best experienced: slowly, deeply, and on foot.
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What to Pack for New York in Fall: The Essentials
A high-quality guidebook like Moon New York City
Travel blogs are great for pre-travel research, but nothing beats the convenience of having a well-curated guidebook in your day bag or purse. While I rely on blogs for much of my travel planning, when I travel I still often grab a coffee and sit down with a guidebook to strategize and get some neighborhood tips without having to trawl through the internet.
Moon Travel Guides sent me a copy of their latest New York guidebook to review, and I’m impressed by the quality of the recommendations in the book. Moon New York City is written by a New York native and features some serious insider knowledge. And fall is the perfect season to travel with a guidebook in hand, leisurely following one of the suggested neighborhood walking tours or eating your way through the city.
As a former New Yorker, I love seeing tourists directed towards the city’s finest (and away from the endless tourist traps). I love when tourists get a chance to see the city through our eyes: through our local under-the-radar restaurants, hidden speakeasies, craft beer bars, and offbeat neighborhoods.
Since fall in New York gives you the best possible conditions to explore the city, I strongly recommend that you pack the most comfortable shoes possible, so that your travels aren’t interrupted by pinched toes or chafing blisters.
I’m originally from California, so anything below 70 degrees is ‘boot weather’ on my warped inner thermometer. I wear these Blondo waterproof leather boots nearly all fall and winter long for the last decade and they’ve held up beautifully that whole time, though I did get them re-soled about five years ago to keep them looking their best. They’re ultra-comfortable to walk in and great if there’s some rain in the forecast or if it’s on the chilly side.
If it’s on the warmer end of the fall months, I swear by my Birkenstocks; otherwise, I find a comfortable but stylish running shoe like my black Nikes are the way to go to keep myself pounding the pavement without getting tired.
Camera & charger
New York is an epic city with so many amazing angles to capture. Don’t be caught off guard and miss a photo-perfect moment.
My current photography set up is the Sony A6000 mirrorless camera with the 18-105mm f/4 lens, which lets me get everything from street scenes to super zoomed-in detail shots. The lens is definitely a bit on the bulky side, but the A6000 is so lightweight that it all balances out.
More and more, I find myself reaching for my iPhone X out of laziness when I’m photographing food or general street scenes. I generally find that it performs as well as my mirrorless camera in most daytime scenarios and can sometimes outperform it in low light conditions. However, in times when I want to zoom in on a particular composition, I love having my mirrorless camera + zoom lens combo. The zoom on camera phones is still pretty terrible, so if you want a diversity of shots, I recommend a versatile lens like the 18-105 I recommended above.
Of course, make sure you have some spare batteries as well as your camera battery charger to keep your camera juiced up and ready to capture the fall beauty of New York! Also, unless you’re coming from the Americas or certain parts of Asia, you may need a universal adaptor for American outlets, which use Type A and B sockets.
External battery pack
More and more, we rely on our smartphones for getting us around as we travel, whether it’s navigating unfamiliar streets on Google Maps, using it as our primary camera, uploading to Instagram Stories, hailing Ubers, or using it to present skip-the-line tickets bought on mobile apps.
Make sure your smartphone can keep up with your jam-packed trip to New York and bring along an external battery pack. My personal favorite brand is Anker, which I have used for years and find to be the best combination of powerful, compact, and reliable.
Reusable water bottle
Cut down on plastic waste during your trip to New York and take advantage of the fact that New York City has some of the cleanest urban tap water in all of the entire United States.
Using a reusable water bottle, you’ll save a ton of money over buying bottled water, not to mention keep plastic waste to a minimum, and any coffee shop, restaurant, or bar will be happy to refill your water bottle for you (or you can fill it up at any water fountain which you’ll find throughout the city’s main sites and museums).
While we’re at it… be sure to bring some reusable tote bags as well to avoid creating plastic trash!
What to Wear in New York in the Fall: Clothing Packing List
Let me put in a quick note on what the weather is like in New York City in fall. If I had to put it in two words, it would be this: changing rapidly.
September average temperatures range from lows of 61°F to highs of 76 ° F. For you metric folks, that’s 16° to 24° Celsius.
Then by October, temperatures drop pretty significantly and range from lows of 50°F to highs of 64°F(in Celsius, 10°to 18°).
November is when fall in New York really starts to fade away and merge into winter. Don’t be surprised if you see a bit of snow in November! The average low is around 42°F and the average high is around 55°F (for Celsius, 6°to 13°). Of course, much lower (and higher) temperatures are possible than this!
Those are just to give you some ideas of what to expect from New York fall weather, so that you can better adapt your New York in fall packing list. As you can tell by the temperature averages, what you’d wear in New York in September is much different than what you’d wear in New York in November, so adjust this generic list according to the temperatures you think you’ll experience but also what you’re used to. A Californian like me will have a much different idea of “cold” than a Chicagoan or Londoner!
Also, please note that this is my packing list for women in New York — men, you’ll want to make adjustments where it doesn’t apply to you, keeping in mind the temperature ranges I listed above.
Now, without further ado, here’s what to wear in New York in September and onwards!
A warm, versatile jacket
As I hinted at above, my recommendation for what kind of jacket to wear in New York in fall depends on when exactly in fall you are visiting. Fall in New York really has two distinct halves – the one that is the tail-end of summer, and the one that is the harbinger of winter.
So, if you’re deciding what to wear in New York in September, I’d recommend bringing a lighter jacket rather than a full winter coat. This is the perfect time to wear your favorite leather jacket (or vegan leather jacket!) – bonus points if it’s black, so you’ll fit in with all the other New Yorkers. The crisp fall air is perfect for your leather jacket.
In addition to this, a simple black cardigan or a chambray shirt which can be worn unbuttoned is a great and lightweight addition to your New York fall wardrobe. I love these options because they are perfect to wear for the daytime before transitioning to your heavier jacket at night, and they don’t take up much space in your bag.
If you’re planning what to wear in New York in October or November, it gets a little trickier. The end of October is particularly finicky. I’ve experienced everything from literal snowstorms to literal hurricanes in the final week of October! Of course, both of those are freak occurrences and not likely to happen during your fall in New York, but just be aware that it’s not unusual to have extreme weather in the late fall in NYC.
If you’re planning on visiting in October/November, it’s better to bring a warmer jacket as your primary jacket and a lightweight jacket as your backup in case of freakishly nice weather. I love the UNIQLO packable down jacket (here’s a similar version) as a stylish but lightweight alternative to heavier winter jackets, and I find that mine keeps me warm in temperatures as low as 40°F / 4° C. If necessary, you can layer the two, as the down jacket is quite light — I do this often!
A rain jacket and/or umbrella
New York isn’t particularly rainy in the fall – expect an average of 7 days of rainfall per month, about a quarter of the time. However, it’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared in my book!
I love my Marmot PreCip jacket and used it in New York all the time. It kept me dry even on long bike rides through the rain in the city!
If you don’t want to bring a raincoat, I’d still throw an easy folding travel umbrella in your bag. Whenever it rains, you can easily grab an umbrella on the street in the touristy parts of New York – they proliferate as if out of thin air – but they’ll be overpriced and break within a few uses and just add to landfill.
A knit hat and scarf
I find that my ears and neck get cold first, before any other part of my body. I strongly recommend bringing a knit hat with you, as well as a lightweight scarf. They’re easy to pack and will bring versatility to the clothes that you bring.
I find that if I just accessorize what I would wear on a summer day with some extras – a jacket, a hat, a scarf, some leggings – that’s the perfect recipe for a fall in New York outfit.
I love leggings for travel. To me, leggings plus a dress plus boots equals the ultimate travel outfit. Not much to match, and it’s hard to beat the stretch and comfort of leggings.
In the early fall, I recommend simple cotton/spandex leggings (I usually buy mine at H&M); by the time late fall rolls around, you’ll often find me in my favorite fleece-lined leggings, one of my favorite ways to stay warm when the temperature drops in New York.
Your favorite travel outfits
What I recommend you wear in New York in fall depends on what your personal taste is, and that isn’t really for me to dictate! You could be a jeans and sneakers kind of person, or you could be a dresses and leggings kinda girl (raises hand).
Generally, for one week of travel in the fall in NYC, I would bring the following: 1 pair jeans, 3 pairs leggings, 3 long-sleeve shirts, 2 short-sleeve shirts, 2 skirts, 3 dresses, 1 chambray button-up, 1 leather jacket, 1 ultra-light down jacket, and my favorite travel-friendly shoes.
Pro packing tip: Pick neutral colors for your shirts and skirts and prints for your dresses so that you can easily mix and match your separates!
Underwear and other essentials
Of course, don’t forget to bring enough bras and underwear for your trip! I don’t recommend doing laundry in NYC if you can help it – it’s expensive and a pain in the ass – so bring enough to last you your trip unless you’ll be in New York for such a long time that it’s not feasible to do so.
For one week, I would bring 2 bras and 8 pairs of underwear, as well as 7 pairs of socks.
A travel daypack or purse
While in general, pickpocketing is not a major issue in New York the way it is in many European cities, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – especially in crowded places like Times Square or a rush-hour subway car.
I lived in NYC for nine years and was never the victim of theft (well, okay, once someone stole the front wheel of my bicycle while I was at dinner, but that hardly counts).
However, if you’re going to be spending a lot of your time in touristy places in New York, I do recommend investing in a bag with some security features. Make sure it’s one that you like so you can use it in other cities around the world! I am obsessed with my PacSafe backpack and it’s been with me to nearly 30 countries since purchasing it.
It has interlocking zippers, RFID blockers, and slash-proof construction and is basically theft-proof (I mean, I could barely get into my own bag when I first got it, so that tells you how a thief would do with it!). It’s also actually cute and stylish, so you won’t look out of place in New York. Be sure to put it in front of you while on the subway – it’s polite, but it’s also the best way to prevent theft.
Of course, if you don’t like carrying a backpack, a purse also works. I recommend a cross-body bag you can wear in front of you so you can keep an eye on it.
Odds & Ends to Pack for New York in the Fall
Your everyday toiletries
Shopping for odds and ends in New York is likely twice as expensive as it is back home, so I recommend stocking up on what you need beforehand and bringing it with you to New York rather than shopping once you arrive.
Here is what I would bring, but adjust it for your own needs: lip balm, everyday makeup, a moisturizer with SPF for day time, deodorant (please for the love of God), shampoo and conditioner, body wash, a razor, a hairbrush, and hair ties.
Hand sanitizer & Kleenex
How shall I put it nicely? The New York subway is likely where the superbacteria that will take us all out will form.
I’ve seen all sorts of nastiness go down on a New York subway car, so try to avoid touching the railing if you can. And if you can’t, be sure to use hand sanitizer (squirt a little hand sanitizer into a Kleenex to clean the rail if you’re rightfully germophobic).
Kleenex is also handy as finding a free restroom in New York is like finding a needle in a haystack and finding one stocked with TP is like winning the lottery.
Headphones & earplugs
You’ll love having headphones on the New York subway, trust me! And I’d strongly recommend bringing earplugs as well. Even if you’re staying in a quiet neighborhood, New York can be one hell of a loud city, with sirens blaring, horns beeping, and the occasional drunk reveler bellowing show tunes from many floors below…
Complete New York in the Fall Packing List, in Bullet Form
Just want a quick and dirty New York in fall packing checklist? Here you are:
I went to the Azores at the end of March this year, and I’m still reeling about my trip. In a matter of just three days, the Azores quickly shot up to one of my favorite places in the world.
But packing for the Azores can be a bit of a challenge, as these windswept islands belonging to Portugal but located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean 1000 kilometers from the nearest continent experience some extreme weather. Wind, fog, and rain are your constant companions (though luckily, you can usually avoid snow, as it’s so rare it literally makes the news when it happens).
I visited in March and had pretty fantastic weather for two of the three days I was on São Miguel. The temperatures were generally around 15 °C/60 °F. My first day was quite stormy and rainy with some occasional downpours; my next two days were pretty sunny with occasional clouds and warmer days.
The reason why the Azores are so warm in March is pretty cool. The Gulf Stream which moves from west to east across the United States, giving planes crossing west-east a little boost, also passes by the Azores. This moderates the temperatures quite a bit (a similar effect happens in Iceland and coastal Norway, but their higher latitudes make the overall temperatures much colder).
Generally, because of the Gulf Stream, the temperatures don’t change too dramatically between winter and summer. However, winter is quite rainy and prone to Atlantic storms (including the remnants of hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season, though the Azores are rarely directly hit).
If you travel to the Azores in the winter, expect average highs of 17 °C (62 °F) and lows of 12 °C (54 °F), with the unlikely potential of getting close to freezing at night. In the summer, it won’t be too hot: think average highs of 25°C (77 °F) and average lows of 19 °C (66 °F), with the potential for scorchers or super soaked rainy days.
Basically – prepare for the worst and hope for the best is my motto when it comes time to deciding what to pack for the Azores.
Azores Packing List: What to Bring to the Azores
I’ll break this Azores packing list into a few sections to make it easier to digest. Since the weather isn’t so dramatically different between summer and winter, and the chances of rain and wind are high no matter what, there actually won’t be too much variance in the list depending on season.
For this reason, I won’t create two separate packing lists for the Azores based on season, but rather indicate additions or substitutions on a master list of what to pack for the Azores.
Not sure where to get the best deal on your rental? I’ve rented cars dozens of times through various search engines and have settled on Discover Cars as the best car rental search engine – it searches over 500 trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental! Compare prices for car rental in the Azores here.
Packing Essentials for the Azores
Travel Backpack (carry on size or check-in size): As many people end up visiting the Azores using one of the budget airlines that serve Ponta Delgada, such as Ryanair, it may be useful for use a carry on size bag to reduce baggage fees. I purchased priority boarding so I could bring my Tortuga Backpack for this trip.
Why do I recommend Tortuga so much? Here’s why: this bag is 45L and has got three main compartments: one for a laptop and other flat objects, one giant rectangular compartment perfect for packing cubes stuffed with clothing, and one smaller compartment with pockets for passports, pens, odds and ends, etc. that I stash all my extras in – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to. It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.
Packing Cubes: Packing cubes are an essential for travel for me, as I often move around quite a bit and my bag can easily get disorganized. Investing in some decent packing cubes is crucial for managing my luggage. It helps me easily find what I need without the stress or mess I use these packing cubes on every trip I take.
Laundry bag: In addition to packing cubes, I like having a separate laundry bag to keep my dirty stuff separate. I do like having a cute one like this travel-themed bag from Kikkerland though, because I’m impractical and like cute stuff. A spare plastic bag or reusable tote bag would do the trick, too.
Hanging Toiletry Bag: If you’re moving around a lot as you travel the Azores, you’ll want a way to keep your toiletries organized and tidy. I like to keep my toiletries in a simple hanging toiletry bag. This toiletry organizer can fit a ton of stuff while keeping it ultra-orderly: perfect for the organizationally obsessed packers amongst us *raises hand*. It fits a ton without taking up space – I swear I feel like it manages to compress things. The flat shape is crucial for travel because it’s so easy to squeeze into an outer pocket of your backpack or lay it on top of your clothes in your suitcase – something that other toiletry bags often get wrong.
Comfortable daypack : My everyday backpack is this awesome PacSafe Citysafe backpack– it has a lot of awesome security features that make it insanely useful for city travel. While the Azores are quite safe, if you’re also visiting Lisbon or Porto where pickpocketing is more of a problem, I love the locking zippers and slash-proof construction for peace of mind. Even when I don’t need the security features, I just love this bag because it’s great at fitting all the things I need for my day (mine can fit my camera and lenses, my drone, a bottle of water, some snacks, and a few other odds and ends).
The Top 10 Things to Pack for the Azores
First, travel insurance. While this isn’t something you pack, it is indispensable and should be part of the packing and planning process. The Azores are an unpredictable place: weather can change quickly and dramatically, and the likelihood of Atlantic storms and foggy weather delaying flights is not to be understated. Travel insurance covers both flight delays and cancellation, as well as personal travel safety against incidents, theft, and illness. Basically, it’s just ultra-important. I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for years and recommend them highly for travel in the Azores. The contract is very clear as to what it covers, the prices are affordable, and the deductible is low if you find yourself needing to make a claim.
Reusable water bottle: The tap water in the Azores is drinkable everywhere. If you don’t carry a reusable bottle, you will spend a ton of unnecessary money on bottled water, and you’ll waste a lot of plastic in the process as well. While in the past I’ve carried a water bottle with a filtration system, for traveling in the Azores where the tap water is drinkable, I like a simple streamlined metal bottle, like this one from Klean Kanteen.
Basic medicine: I like having a few basic medicines on hand because I hate having to deal with pharmacies abroad. I carry Pepto-Bismol tablets for standard stomach troubles as I find it can be difficult to find in some countries. I also carry painkillers like ibuprofen for headaches and minor pains, and also some sort of cold medicine as the wet and windy weather can really wreak havoc on your immune system.
Motion sickness tablets: These get a special shoutout because of the likelihood of motion sickness, especially if you’re doing a whale watching excursion, have a turbulent plane landing as I did, or are a passenger in someone’s car on windy roads. I love having motion sickness tablets on hand as I am prone to travel sickness.
Travel towel: You’ll want a lightweight, packable microfiber travel towel for impromptu hot springs dips! Just make sure to pick a dark color if you’re worried about it staining in the iron-rich waters.
A dark colored bathing suit: For aforementioned hot springs dips, be sure to pick a dark color as the hot springs at Terra Nostra, Poca de Dona Beija, Calheira Velha, etc. are all rich with minerals that will stain the crap out of your bathing suit. .
Waterproof and warm layers: I’ll go into more detail on this in the section below, but make sure you pack for the worst and hope for the best!
Binoculars: If you’re into birding or whale watching, you’ll likely be happy you have a pair of binoculars with you to spot all the wonderful marine and bird life that make these islands so unique!
Hiking boots: If you plan to do any hiking or long walks around the Azores these would definitely be advisable and the wet weather can mean muddy puddles that are not really great for tennis shoes. I didn’t bring my hiking boots and I regretted it; my friend was very happy she had hers! You can go with a leather pair or a lovely vegan hiking boot alternative.
A smartphone, unlocked if possible: For navigating, snapping quick photos, and any on-the-fly translations you need, a smartphone is a must-have.
What to Wear in the Azores (For Women)
One word: layers, layers, layers!
No matter when you visit the Azores or what you end up doing, whether it’s whale watching, hiking, or road tripping, you’ll want the ability to quickly change to clothes to match the fast-changing whims of the weather.
Here’s what I recommend as a baseline packing list. I’ll be sure to note when something is summer-specific or winter-specific.
1 rain and windproof jacket: Trust me, if there is one thing you simply can’t forget for Azores travel, it’s a durable jacket that will keep you warm against wind and dry against rain. I love my Marmot PreCip rain jacket and wear it all the time, and it’s great in summer because it has zips under the armpits to ‘vent’ it out and keep you dry while not overheating you. For the winter, make sure you wear a thin sweater or fleece layer underneath, as it isn’t exactly super warm on its own
1 knit hat: While you won’t always need a knit hat, they are small and easy to pack and add some flair to photos. I found myself using one in March because the wind was so severe, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I needed a hand on windy or rainy days even in the summer. Here’s a cute choice!
1 pair of thin, touch-screen friendly gloves: In case it’s cold out, but you still want to be able to touch your phone and use your camera. Skip this in summer.
3 sweaters: Thin but warm is your best bet. Pullover style acrylic or wool sweaters would be ideal. You don’t need anything too thick as you can easily layer. Pack these even in summer because they’d be handy at night or on rainy days.
3-5 tees: I often layer a thin cotton T-shirt under my sweater so that I could wear the same pullover multiple times before it gets funky. #fashion
1 hoodie or fleeces: Having a hoodie or fleece as an additional layer between your sweater/long-sleeve and your rain jacket or outer layer will come in handy no matter what season and can replace your rain jacket on a summer day that’s cool but not wet. This simple fleece jacket would be a good addition.
2-3 pair jeans: No matter what the season, jeans are almost always appropriate in the Azores
2-3 pairs leggings: Great as a backup if you need to layer leggings under your jeans if it’s cold in winter, or you can wear with dresses or longer T-shirts in summer. I tend to bring one thin pair for wearing under dresses, and another thicker, more structured “jegging”-like leggings as pants. (The horror!)
1 pair hiking boots: Hiking boots will serve you well in the Azores. I didn’t bring mine but I wished I had as I was jealous of my friend who lived in hers. I love my Ahnu boots(my friend had the same brand but a different color) but if you have a pair at home already bring those so you don’t have to break them in. Sneakers were okay for me since we didn’t do too much hiking, but ultimately, I much prefer boots for the added warmth and ankle stability as the ground can often be wet and slippy.
1 pair sneakers: I wore these while hiking and they were great but not perfect. I usually wear a pair of black Nikes but beware on wet days as they have small holes for ventilation and aren’t the warmest; on those days, hiking boots would definitely be better.
1 pair flip flops or sandals: Great for hot springs any time of year or as your primary shoe in the summer. I’m obsessed with my Birkenstocks but rubber flip flops will do, especially if you are staying in a hostel and need to use communal showers.
1 thin down jacket (winter only): Nights can get cold in winter, so a small packable down like the UNIQLO ultra-light down (cheaper knockoff available here) would be a great but tiny addition to your Azores packing list.
1-2 bras: I trust you’re all big girls and you know what you need when it comes to bras! I had one regular bra and one sports bra.
1 pair of underwear for each day of travel: Bring one for every day you’ll be on the road, so you can avoid laundry.
Dark colored bathing suit: Visiting a hot spring in the Azores is a must, but the water is full of iron that will stain your suit, so don’t forget a dark bathing suit!
What to Wear in the Azores (For Men)
I have zero firsthand experience packing as a man, but here’s what I’d imagine you’d want to bring based off the weather in the Azores.
5 short sleeve Ts (fewer in winter)
3-5 long sleeve Ts or light sweaters (fewer in summer)
2-3 pair jeans and pants
2 pairs shorts (summer only)
1 pair for each day of your trip
flip flops or comfortable walking sandals
waterproof rain jacket
2 thicker-weight sweaters
ultra-light down jacket (winter only)
5+ pairs of socks
thin knit hat
touch screen gloves (winter only)
Random Things to Pack for the Azores
Some things in here are women-specific, so obviously use your judgment to decide whether or not these things belong on your Azores packing list. This is what I bring on almost every trip, but don’t consider everything on here a must if it’s not applicable to you.
Travel towel: Great for quick hot spring dips as it doesn’t take up a lot of space and it dries quickly. Again, pick a dark color as it can stain.
Some earplugs: I bring Hearos ear plugs everywhere. I didn’t need them in the Azores, but just in case, they’re good to have.
Moisturizer: The wind did a number on my skin in the Azores, despite the humidity, and I felt like my skin was always insanely dry there. Do your skin a favor and pack something ultra-moisturizing. I love a moisturizer with SPF for day like this one from Aveeno and then I use a thicker moisturizer like this Olay night cream for replenishing moisture overnight.
Hand sanitizer: In case of a lack of soap in gas stations or restaurant bathrooms, I like having hand sanitizer just in case.
Kleenex packets: In case of a surprise cold or lack of toilet paper in public restrooms.
LUSH solid shampoo: Life-changing. Just trust me. Buy online or in store from LUSH and you’ll save serious money over Amazon, but you can also source it on Amazon for convenience. My favorite is the Seanik seaweed shampoo – it makes my hair gorgeous and it also doesn’t take up any space in my liquid toiletry allowance.
Face wipes: Great for nights when you’re too exhausted to take your make-up off properly or for a quick face clean up after a dusty hike.
Menstrual cup or your favorite tampon/pad brand (if applicable): If you have a specific brand allegiance, you may not find it in the Azores. I switched to a Diva Cup for travel a few years ago and I love it!
Deodorant: I can’t rant enough about how much European deodorant sucks, plus I absolutely hate the smell of the aerosol deodorants that are so popular in Europe. Do yourself, everyone around you, and the planet a favor and buy some decent deodorant from home. I love Secret Clinical Strength and stash up on it every time I’m home in the US, but then again, I am sweatier than most people are.
Travel-sized liquid toiletries: If you want to bring your favorite toiletries from home, I recommend these awesome reusable silicone GoToobs.
Lip balm with SPF
What Electronics to Pack for the Azores
Obviously, you’re going to want to bring plenty of photography gear because these islands are gorgeous! I highly recommend having a professional-grade camera as opposed to your smartphone if you are serious about getting the best photos. A tripod and some ND filters will also come in handy if you want to step up your photography and get good waterfall photos, high-quality selfies, and sunset/sunrise shots.
Of course, what you will want to bring on your trip will depend on how seriously you take photography and how much you want to “unplug” on your trip. As a travel blogger, I bring my entire life with me on the road, which includes a laptop, camera, multiple lenses, smartphone, and more.
For pretty streaky waterfall photos, you should bring a tripod + ND filters!
Laptop, if necessary: I bring my 13″ MacBook Air everywhere but other people may prefer a tablet or an inexpensive netbook. I work on the road so a user-friendly, lightweight laptop is a must for me.
Kindle Paperwhite: I love having a Kindle for travel but if you don’t think you’ll be doing much reading on your Azores trip or your flight over, then you can give this a pass.
Travel camera: I use a Sony A6000 because it’s lightweight for a professional caliber camera, inexpensive, and a HUGE step up from a smartphone. I like having a zoom lens and a wide angle lens to maximize what I can capture, but if you have to pick just one, I’d pick a zoom lens and use your smartphone as a wide angle.
Extra camera batteries: Trust me, you’ll use plenty of battery taking photos in the Azores!
Portable hard drive: You’ll want to back up your photos to keep your memory cards uncluttered and protect your precious photos. After my previous hard drive failed even though I never damaged it (never rely on WD My Passport) I am extra paranoid with my hard drives. I recommend Transcend hard drives instead – they are drop resistant and super sturdy.
Travel tripod: If you are serious about your photography, you should invest in a sturdier tripod, as wind in the Azores is no joke. I actually didn’t use my tripod because it didn’t feel steady enough to handle the windy weather. I have a cheap tripod from Amazon but a sturdy tripod with a hook so that you can use that to hang your camera bag on and balance the camera would be your friend on windy days.
ND filters: The size of ND filter you will need depends on the size of the lens you’ll be using so check it before buying. I use these ND filters.
GoPro or similar camera for video: If you plan on doing anything adventurous or if you want to capture video of your trip, then I recommend bringing something like a GoPro which is rugged and designed for the challenge.
Portable charger: You’ll use your phone battery more than you thought in the Azores – whether it’s using it to take photos or videos, or to navigate as you drive around the country. Bring a portable charger to save yourself many headaches! Anker is a reliable brand and what I personally use – make sure you get one that can hold several charges at once so you don’t have to charge it every single night.
Adaptor, if necessary: The Azores uses the standard EU adaptor so purchase an adaptor beforehand if necessary.
While this sounds like a lot, I was able to fit it everything on this Azores packing list into my 44L Tortuga backpack and my daypack – mostly because of packing cubes, picking multi-purpose clothing, and wearing my heaviest layers on the plane! And all that despite this being at the tail end of a 6-week trip where I was also bringing approximately a dozen bags of chilis back from Mexico too because European grocery stores are sad.
So if I can do it, you can do it too! Or, you can just bring a bigger bag and make sure you have all you want for your Azores trip, since you’ll likely just toss your suitcase in your rental car, anyway.
Is there anything I’ve forgotten? Is there anything else you’re wondering if you should bring? Let me know in the comments!
Planning a trip to Morocco can present some challenges, and the most pressing question for many travelers, especially women, is the matter of what to pack for Morocco.
The country’s reputation for conservatism is well-deserved, and street harassment in Morocco is an ever-present issue that women must contend with. While men have less at stake when it comes to deciding how to dress in Morocco, the conservative culture means that even men aren’t immune to following a different dress code.
However, this guide is focusing on a woman’s packing list for Morocco, as it’s what I have personal experience in.
Morocco Packing List
What to Pack Everything In
For Morocco, I really don’t recommend bringing a suitcase. The medinas are full of tiny alleyways that are easy to lose yourself in, with plenty of obstacles in your footpath. You’ll often have to traverse not well-paved roads, and doing that all with a 40-something pound rolling luggage is the recipe for a nightmare.
Instead, I recommend traveling with a backpack (here’s the carry on size bag I bring everywhere, or another style that’s check-in sized). The carry-on size backpack I swear by is my Tortuga Backpack, which I love because it means that I can avoid checking in my luggage – saving time and money.
Why do I recommend Tortuga so much?Here’s why: this bag is 45L and has got three main compartments: one for a laptop and other flat objects, one giant rectangular compartment perfect for packing cubes stuffed with clothing, and one smaller compartment with pockets for passports, pens, odds and ends, etc. that I stash all my extras in – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to. It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.
However, if you’re doing a lot of shopping in Morocco, you may want to bring a larger suitcase and leave a lot of room in it. My friend who I traveled with for much of my Morocco trip always had a hassle with her luggage, but ultimately she bought so much that she was glad she had it.
Another idea is to bring a backpack for your trip and to purchase an inexpensive duffel bag or suitcase to bring back all your Moroccan souvenirs in!
Whatever you bring, I also recommend packing cubes to organize your clothing and make opening your luggage more easily. I personally use these packing cubes and love them.
I also like having a separate laundry bag which I can give to my riad or a local laundromat if I need to on my travels. Like packing cubes, you don’t need anything fancy at all – it is just a receptacle for your dirty clothes, after all. I do like having a cute one like this one from Kikkerland though, because I’m impractical.
What to Wear in Morocco for Women (Summer)
The standard for how to dress in Morocco for women is to cover your shoulders and knees. This is more of a sign of respect for the culture and not because it will protect you from harassment.
Non-Muslims are not allowed in mosques in Morocco, so you don’t have to be concerned with dress code regarding religious sights. The closest thing to a mosque a non-Muslim can enter is a madrassa, a religious school, and I’d recommend to dress on the conservative side when entering these.
My general outfit was a thin linen-blend T-shirt that covered my shoulders paired with a midi-length skirt and sandals. Other options include a maxi dress with sleeves or a shawl to cover the shoulders or a T-shirt or blouse tucked into a pair of loose pants. Don’t overthink it and pick loose, breathable materials preferably made out of natural fibers.
3-5 long dresses, preferably with sleeves: Or as many as you can fit without overpacking, really.
5+ tees that cover your shoulders: The more neutral, the better. You will sweat a lot, so minimize your white. I suggest black, gray, and a few bright colors. Resist the urge to wear tank tops.
2-3 below-the-knee skirts: I like a midi length that hits below the knee but above the ankle, because it is A) cuter and B) less likely to get dirty from dragging on the ground. However, some maxi skirts thrown into the mix wouldn’t hurt either! If you’re wary to wear a long skirt in the heat, don’t be! The extra fabric around your legs traps some cool air, making you feel less hot.
2-3 pairs loose, airy pants: Think loose materials, especially natural fibers like linens. Thin, cotton pants will do to keep you covered without adding too much heat, but they’ll trap sweat and moisture and are not ideal. Don’t even think about jeans.
2-3 thin scarves/shawls in different colors: Think thin, light materials that you can easily gather to cover your shoulders if you need to chasten up a sleeveless top. There’s no need to wear hijab or cover your hair in Morocco unless your faith requires it. Also, it prevents your guides from bullying you into buying an overpriced scarf to wear on your face if you ride camels in the Sahara Desert. I was petty and just wore a shirt on my face. It wasn’t cute.
Sunglasses: Good for the sun, but also for avoiding eye contact with would-be suitors and street vendors
1 pair sneakers: The streets of Moroccan cities are usually quite dusty and are not the cleanest. I like having a pair of closed-toe sneakers that are breathable. I usually wear a pair of black Nikes as I find they look cute even with my dresses and I’m all about options.
1-2 pairs sandals: Sometimes, though, it’s simply too hot to deal with anything but sandals.
1 bathing suit: If your riad or hotel has a pool, you’ll definitely want this! Inside your riad/hotel, normal rules regarding dress code and conservatism don’t really apply, so feel free to wear whatever bathing suit you are most comfortable in.
1 cardigan or sweater: It gets super cold at night in the Sahara, so if you are planning to go there, even if it’s the summer, be sure to bring some layers.
Backpack with locking zippers : While Morocco is safe enough for tourists, it’s not completely free from petty crime – especially in the souks, which can get crowded. While wearing a shoulder bag with security features is probably the most secure option, it’s just not comfortable if you carry a lot of stuff with you during the day like I do. I swear by PacSafe and love their PacSafe Citysafe backpack. It’s actually super cute, PLUS it has locking zippers, slash-proof construction thanks to a wire mesh interior, and RFID blockers. It helped me not be so on edge in souks and busy medina streets.
Wide-brimmed hat: If not for Instagram, then to protect your face from harmful and punishing UV rays
A Note for Women Regarding Dress & Sexual Harassment
Let me get on my feminist soapbox for a moment here: street harassment is fundamentally about power, not desire. No matter how you dress in Morocco, if you’re a woman and you’re not in the presence of a man, you will almost undoubtedly experience sexual harassment, verbal comments, proposals, and potentially even unwanted physical contact or assault.
I visited in July, the hottest month of the year, and dressed according to basically all the norms, and I was still harassed at least 20 times a day and possibly much more. Dressing properly in Morocco will not render you immune to harassment, but it is a sign of respect. Even if a large percentage of the men will not show you respect, choosing instead to harass you based on your gender, I still think it’s imperative for us as travelers to show good faith and try to adhere to their customs.
That said, women in Morocco will have a far easier time if they are with a man. My friend who traveled to Morocco with her husband experienced almost no overt sexual harassment.
What to Bring to Morocco: General Odds & Ends
For random things I think you might want to bring, here’s my odds & ends packing list for Morocco. Use your judgment as to whether or not it’s essential given your travel style and personal needs.
Hanging Toiletry Bag: Trust me – nothing will piss you off faster than searching for your toiletries in a never-ending pile of junk. Using a simple hanging toiletry bag is life-changing. It has the perfect number of separators, organizers, and pockets without taking up any excess space. It’s kind of like those tents at the Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter — you’d be amazed how much fits in one little pack.
1 pair flip flops: Whether you visit a hammam, are walking around your hotel, or taking a shower at a hostel, bring these. PEOPLE. Athlete’s foot is no joke. I’ve dealt with ringworm before (which is basically athlete’s foot on any part of your body that’s not your foot) and it is miserable to get rid of. Save yourself the trouble. Buy a pair of cheap rubber flipflops and be happy.
1 travel towel: In case you visit a hammam or place which does not provide towels, a small microfiber towel can be really handy to have. I was also happy I had it in the Sahara desert, so I could give my face a quick wash and dry.
1 eye mask: I swear by this contoured eye mask as it doesn’t put uncomfortable pressure on your eyes but completely blacks out any light. Great for if your hotel room doesn’t block out a lot of light, if you’re trying to sleep on a bus ride, or for the plane ride over.
Some earplugs or good noise-canceling headphones: If you’ve never visited a Muslim country before, you’re in for a treat the first time you hear your pre-dawn call to prayer! I love Hearos — they’re the best ear plugs I’ve used. I’ve also been eyeing these noise-canceling headphones, which could be handy if you have a lot of bus or plane travel planned.
Hand sanitizer: Many public restrooms don’t have soap, so having some hand sanitizer is always good.
Kleenex packets: Like above — public restrooms may be lacking in the toilet paper department, so having some Kleenex in a portable sleeve is a nice choice.
Sunscreen: Morocco is sunny as hell. For people with sensitive skin who want to be a bit extra, I recommend this fancy Japanese facial sunscreen to prevent acne, and then I use a general sunscreen on the rest of my body.
Travel medications: I carry Pepto-Bismol for standard stomach troubles, Imodium as a nuclear option for diarrhea (i.e. you have to ride a bus for several hours), some sort of painkiller like ibuprofen for headaches and minor pains, and some sort of motion sickness tablets (ESSENTIAL if visiting the Sahara Desert due to the windy roads). That usually covers the bases for me — anything else I may need, I grab on the road.
Electrolyte packs: I love these in case I get sick on the road or just do a bad job at hydrating for some reason. I use Pedialyte.
Any prescription medication you may need
Mosquito repellent: Despite the fact that Morocco is a very dry country, mosquitos are prevalent and they are vicious. However, there’s not really any risk of malaria, and the CDC doesn’t recommend any sort of prophylaxis measures, so leave the anti-malarials at home.
Adaptor: Morocco uses C and E plugs, the same as most of Europe (save the UK and Malta). Pack an adaptor if you need it!
Toiletries For Women
There aren’t a lot of big box shops in Morocco outside of the malls on the outskirts of the cities, as commerce in the medinas is generally more about smaller stores. If you’re particular about the kind of toiletries and brands that you’re partial to, I recommend bringing plenty from home.
LUSH solid shampoo: Life-changing. Just trust me. Pro tip, buy online or in store from LUSH and you’ll save serious money over Amazon, but it’s also available on Amazon if you’re doing a big Amazon shop.
Toothbrush, toothpaste & floss
Brush or comb
Hair ties if you have long hair
ALL THE DEODORANT
Moisturizer with SPF for day and SPF-free cream at night: Morocco is super drying, and you’ll want to replenish all that moisture that’s being lost.
Make-up remover wipes — trust.
OIL BLOTTING SHEETS!
Lip balm with SPF
Any make-up that you want
Feminine hygiene products. Definitely bring tampons if you use those as these would be hard to find in Morocco. I use a Diva Cup personally and love it.
Glasses, contacts & solution: whatever you need to see
More Morocco Travel Resources
I’ve written quite a bit to help you plan the perfect trip to Morocco! First, start with my Morocco travel planning checklist – it walks you through every step of the planning process.
If you are starting your trip in Marrakech, like most people do, I have a guide to the best riads in Marrakech on any budget, as well as a guide to spending 3 days in Marrakech with recommended tours and outings.