Packing for Warm Weather Travel? Read This.

As we start to dive deeper into Spring and my mind shifts to thoughts of warmer weather, I’m already thinking about my next trip. I haven’t nailed down where I’m going just yet, but I have a few places on my list: Machu Picchu, Okinawa, Hawaii, St. Lucia… lots of good options out there. In any case though, I wanted to share my packing list for warm weather travel.

No matter where I go or for how long, I try to travel carry-on only. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort to avoid the hassle of checked bags. Here’s my list of essentials for warm weather travel. I’ve provided links where to items where I have a specific recommendation to offer. I add other things to the list depending on where I’m going, but these things always make it into my bag!


  • T-shirts. Essential for warm weather travel. I like to pack around three or so. In more fashionable places (like Italy), I’ll also add in polo shirts.
  • Casual shorts. Shorts are just way more comfortable when it’s hot outside, bottom line.
  • Swim trunks. Self-explanatory!
  • Athletic socks. Two pairs minimum, you absolutely don’t want to be relying on just one.
  • Underwear. Multiple pairs.
  • Shoes. Flip flops, water shoes and a pair of runners. Again, depending on where I’m going, I’ll sometimes add to this list, throwing in a pair of boat shoes or something. Yep, you can fit them in your carry-on!


  • Laundry bar. How do you think you make carry-on work for a two-week or longer vacation? If you’re staying in a hotel that offers laundry service, you can skip this, but I find it easy and more trustworthy, personally. This laundry soap bar from Sunlight costs peanuts and does the job just fine!
  • Clothes line. Some places have them, others don’t. It’s nice to know you’ll always have somewhere to hang your clothes to dry, and it takes up almost no space in your bag. Here’s a great option!
  • Washcloth. Easy to transport and makes washing up way easier.
  • Travel-size face moisturizer.
  • Comb.
  • Deodorant.
  • Toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste.
  • Note: I leave body wash and shampoo off the list, because most places usually provide it and they just take up space in your bag.


  • Bandana. It helps keep the sweat off your face, and has a bunch of other uses too. I love my Buff, personally. It comes in lots of colours and can be worn like a million different ways!
  • Baseball cap. Same as above, minus the million different ways 🙂
  • Neck pillow. For long car rides or flights, a properly-fitting neck pillow does wonders for your comfort. It’s the only way I can even sleep on planes. You try being unable to sleep for a 15-hour flight, and you’ll understand the value of this! When I say properly-fitting, I mean memory foam, like this one. If you’re going to buy a neck pillow, this is not a place to cheap out.
  • Books. I like to read on flights and in the car, and they’re great for lounging on the beach if that’s your thing, too.
  • Stay-cool cloth. These things usually come in a screw-top container with a carabiner clip up top, and while there’s nothing special about how they keep you cool (you wet them, wrap around your neck, and there you go), the ability to store it in water for the day does mean it’ll always be there when you need it. Worth the effort in really warm climates or where you’ll be exerting yourself.
  • Travel journal. I’ve taken to documenting my experiences in detail while they’re still fresh in my mind. Going back and reading my notes later almost brings me back to where I was when I wrote them, and helps keep the memories fresher longer. Sounds like a cling-wrap commercial or something, but it’s true haha. Because I’m fancy like that, I like to use a vintage leather notebook like the one below, but any old notebook will work just fine.


  • Phone and charger. Let’s face it, it’s our lifeline these days. I use mine as an alarm clock, to take photos, look things up locally when connected to wi-fi and to make emergency phone calls.
  • Universal electronic adapter. Different parts of the world have different electrical outlets, and you never want to be caught unprepared. This one has a power converter built in, useful for not frying your electronics by accident (it happens, trust me).
  • Noise-cancelling headphones. Doesn’t matter whether they’re in-ear, on-ear or over-ear, these things are a godsend on airplanes. I swear by the Bose Quietcomfort 25 headphones. They’re not the latest model (the 35s are overpriced in my opinion), but there is no better brand out there for noise-cancelling, I’m telling you.
  • DSLR camera, lenses and flash. As a photographer, I take my camera with me everywhere I go. I combine my photos with my travel journal notes to preserve the memory of each trip.

Paperwork & Payments

  • Passport (and a photocopy stored somewhere other than the physical document)
  • Travel insurance documents. Optional, but I like to get travel insurance when visiting countries where there are certain diseases/parasites just in case.
  • One credit card. It’s all you need in case you need to stretch your cash further during the trip. Try to avoid using it though, because you’ll pay foreign exchange fees of up to 3% of the amount of your transaction each time!
  • Money in the local currency. Get this in advance, because you’ll often get killed on the exchange rate if you try to convert on arrival.
  • Flight details and itinerary. It’s helpful to have this on-hand to double-check the details of your trip. Make sure you leave a copy with your loved ones in case of emergency, too!

Things to Leave at Home

Some things are better left in the safety of your own home. Theft is all too common among tourists, and these items are prime targets that serve no real use to you while you’re travelling.

  • Your social security or SIN card. This is the key to your identity, and the golden ticket for identity thieves. Have the number memorized if possible, but leave your documentation at home.
  • More than one credit card. I talked about why you shouldn’t be using credit cards abroad, and having more than one just increases the damage if your wallet is stolen. Leave the extras behind.
  • Your driver’s license. Unless you’re planning on renting a car, you don’t need it – you have your passport as your main identification!
  • Expensive jewelry. Use some common sense, yeah? If you walk around with a big gold necklace or chain, you might as well carry a megaphone yelling “hey look at me, I have lots of stuff for you to steal!!”

Avoiding Pickpockets

It’s off on a tangent, but worth mentioning here I think. If you want to minimize your chances of having anything stolen from you, here are a few tips:

  • Keep your wallet in your front pocket. It’s way harder for someone to reach into a front pocket without you knowing than it is the back.
  • Watch yourself around pickpocketing signage. When people see a sign saying something like “Watch for pickpockets,” they have a habit of touching their wallet to make sure it’s still intact. It’s a great way to advertise to them exactly where your goods are. So don’t do it!!
  • Split up your money. Don’t store it all in one place. If you keep a little here and a little there, you cut down the impact of losing any one source.
  • Don’t carry hard copies of your identification with you. Leave them in the hotel vault or somewhere else that’s safe. That’s what photocopies are for!
  • Use a money belt if you’re really nervous. They go under your clothes and are basically impossible to steal from. They’re a hassle to use though, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!
  • Store your credit card and passport in RFID-blocking sleeves. Thieves have gotten sophisticated these days, and can use RFID readers to swipe your info. RFID-blocking sleeves do a great job of thwarting those efforts. This is the one my wife and I use.

Wrapping it Up

It may sound like a long list, but most of these things are small items that take up little to no space in your luggage. When travelling carry-on only, you want to leave unnecessary items at home, but you still need to keep the essentials with you. I hope you found this list helpful as you plan your own trip. Happy travels! 🙂


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