Whether you’re headed to Aruba, the Bahamas, Belize, or some other fantastic Caribbean destination, make sure you’ve packed your bags accordingly. Below, we’ll tell you exactly what to pack for a trip to the Caribbean.
Getting ready for your trip to the Caribbean
You’ll need to ensure that you have a passport, and the proper visa to visit the country of your choice, if necessary. You can consult a full list of travel requirements for citizens of every country in the world here.
After you’ve obtained a tourist visa, if necessary, it’s time to purchase your ticket. Once you have done that, you’ll need to consult your airline’s website to find out their baggage requirements.
Did you know that many airlines let you bring one bag free to some countries, but charge for the first bag when flying to others? Check your airline’s website to find out exactly how many you’re allowed to bring to your chosen destination (some countries have a limit). In most cases, you’ll also need to be prepared to pay any extra baggage fees if you plan on bringing more than one bag.
Once you’ve decided how many bags you want to bring with you, it’s time to start packing! Packing your bags for a vacation can be exciting as you anticipate the fun you’ll have on your trip, or it can be a pain, when you’re unsure what to pack. Read on to save yourself the hassle and find out exactly what you’ll need for a trip to the Caribbean.
What to pack for a trip to the Caribbean
Obviously each traveler is different– we all have different needs when it comes to packing. However, there are certain essential things that EVERYONE must bring for traveling to the Caribbean. For example:
Unless you plan on buying it at your destination (where prices may be exorbitant), pack sunscreen for your trip to the Caribbean. Keep in mind that you may not find the brand you like in the country you will visit–yet another reason to bring some with you.
Lip protectant with SPF
You wouldn’t believe how many people pack their sunscreen, but completely forget to bring lip protection. Unless you want burnt, chapped lips from the unforgiving Caribbean sun, grab a stick (make sure it contains sunscreen) and take it with you.
This is an ABSOLUTE MUST. The Caribbean is chock full of mosquitos and other biting critters, and they are chock full of viral diseases like dengue, chikungunya, and zika. These diseases are no joke– serious cases can land you in the hospital for the rest of your trip. So bring your favorite brand of bug repellent from home and make sure you spray it on every day, especially when traipsing through the jungle.
If you want to buy it at your destination, keep in mind that foreign countries may not have the brand you like. It’s best to get one that repels ticks as well, to prevent lyme disease.
Note: Make sure any creams/liquids/sprays you bring in your carry-on are compliant with TSA rules. Otherwise, stash them in your checked baggage.
First of all, you must pack any medications you’re currently taking. Make sure you bring them in their original bottles. They should be clearly marked. This will avoid any hassle with the TSA. Secondly, there are a few types of over-the counter medications that are helpful to bring just in case. It’s always better to bring them with you, rather than have to scramble to find them once you feel sick on vacation. Here are some must-haves:
- Diarrhea/Heartburn/Stomach upset medications. The probability of getting “the runs” is fairly high when visiting Caribbean countries, especially if you have a sensitive stomach, or want to try exotic foods. This does not mean that Caribbean food is “bad” or “harmful”. Many visitors end up with diarrhea simply because they are not used to the types of foods or bacteria that are common in Caribbean countries. In addition, the tap water is different than in the United States and European countries. Do not drink tap water in Caribbean countries. In addition, if you believe you especially prone to stomach upset, do not eat street food.
Remember: Do not drink tap water in Caribbean countries!
- Cold/allergy medications. If you live in a country with a colder, drier climate, be prepared for your system to go through a bit of “adaptation” when you arrive in the sunny, hot, humid Caribbean. Caribbean countries have a tropical climate. If you are sensitive to weather changes, your body may react with cold/allergy symptoms.
- Pain medication. It’s not a bad idea to bring along some Tylenol, or another medicine for combating headaches. Bring along what you usually take, so that you don’t have to scramble to find a pharmacy when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.
- Hangover meds. The nightlife in the Caribbean is fantastic, but hangovers are not. If you’re planning on partying all night long, bring a little something along for the morning after.
Swimsuit and gear
A swimsuit for the Caribbean is an absolute MUST. All Caribbean countries have incredible beaches that you’ll want to enjoy. Bring along your own suit and snorkeling gear in order to avoid “tourist-trap” high prices that you’ll see in many local Caribbean shops. Better yet, bring 2 suits, so that you can wear one while the other is wet. Also, pack a plastic bag or two for storing wet towels, swimsuits, and clothing.
A mosquito net (if you’ll be camping)
This is an absolute essential if you’ll be staying in an “outdoorsy” location. Protect yourself from mosquitoes at night by purchasing a net and rolling it up in your suitcase. These nets can be placed around your bed or sleeping area.
What to wear for a trip to the Caribbean
Packing clothing for a trip to the Caribbean can be complicated if you’ve never traveled there. You may think that a swimsuit and some shorts and t-shirts are all you’ll need, but you may need a larger variety of items depending on your planned activities. Read an in-depth article about what to wear in the Caribbean here.