I’ve never been a “must-have” kind of girl when it comes to my blog and the way I approach a client’s closet, but after two tropical trips within the last year, I’ve discovered 5 clothing items I truly believe every person should have with them when traveling to a tropical destination. I first visited Mexico on a cruise during my honeymoon but didn’t travel anywhere tropical until last May when Nick and I celebrated our 5-year anniversary in Jamaica (check out the blog I wrote titled “My Visit to the Dermatologist and Why I Left Fuming" for a story from our trip!).
Then just 9 months later, we had the pleasure of traveling to Puerto Vallarta with Nick’s family to celebrate his mother’s 60th birthday and his brother’s 30 birthday! I was so excited to have an excuse to wear the same outfits from our trip last May, and after packing the same items twice, I came to realize which pieces were truly essential.
Here are the 5 clothing items I recommend for any female traveling to a tropical destination:
1. A breezy polyester pant or short. I kept wanting to pull out this pair of patterned ankle pants and had to remind myself to wear other things I brought! Think capri meets ankle pant meets culotte (a loose cropped trouser). The fit is flattering for the majority of women as it accentuates the waistline, and the material will feel cool and comfortable as it hangs loosely from the skin.
2. A big floppy hat, baseball cap, or straw fedora. Trust me, you’ll need to protect your face from the sun! Plus, a hat will cover a multitude of hair tangles and face-framing frizz when you don’t want to worry about how your hair looks during the day. I’ve always struggled with finding hats I love but was so glad I took the time to try on a variety of styles before leaving on our first trip!
3. A cardigan or shawl. I was so glad I brought a lightweight cardigan on both trips! Though it never got cold, it was so nice to have a layer on hand when a light breeze picked up by the ocean at night. I also loved having my white shawl with me in Jamaica for formal dinners!
4. A sundress. What could be easier to throw on over a swimsuit? It’s especially nice to have a cute sundress on hand when transitioning from the pool to dinner. If you’re vacationing at a nice resort and need to wear something more formal for dinner, simply throw on your sundress with a pair of scrappy sandals or wedges!
5. More than 1 swimsuit. In tropical places, humidity is a real thing! You’ll be surprised at how long your swimsuit will take to dry. I was so glad I had 3 different swimsuits to switch out from day to day while my other suit was drying. You should be ok with just two options - a 3rd can be nice but not necessary!
Here’s a few other notes I jotted down on what to pack when traveling to a tropical destination:
- I love the idea of a button-up shirt you can button up and down over a swimsuit or tie at the waist with a skirt or high-waisted pant!
- I would have loved a silky waist-high skirt to wear with a crop top over my bikini.
- I purposefully bought a swimsuit with bra-like structure to wear under clothing! It really came in handy during meal time and helped me avoid changing in and out of clothes all day.
- I took several pairs of jean shorts but found them to be my least favorite choice as the fabric felt heavy in the humidity and the styles would cling to my skin. Opt for a silky polyester short instead!
- I took quite a bit of makeup and hair styling tools and didn’t end up using much of any of it on either trip! Let the tropical air do its thing and avoid blow-drying and straightening your hair, if possible. Take a small container of mousse or gel and scrunch your hair up so it has a little wave! You might find yourself frustrated after spending so much time getting ready only to have your hair curl up and frizz out. As far as makeup is concerned, I felt like my mascara was dripping down my face in Jamaica. It was fun to put on a little color one evening, but it wasn’t very comfortable. I’d recommend a bright pop of lipstick instead of heavy eye makeup! Plus, you may end up feeling like you’re on more of a vacation when you don’t spend half the day fixing your hair and makeup (at least I did!).
I hope you found this article helpful! Do you have any go-to clothing items you've worn again and again when traveling to a tropical destination? Share below!