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Packing for Hawaii-How to Make the Most of What's in Your Suitcase

By Stephanie Coburn

Making vacation plans for Hawaii probably has you searching all your favorite stores for the best tropical inspired clothing of the season, however packing for a Hawaiian vacation requires more than simply picking out tropical themed clothing. In fact, to properly pack for Hawaii you need to consider not only the weather, but the activities you will be participating in while you are there. This is where pre-planning comes into the picture. If you pre-plan activities you will have a better idea of what your vacation will entail and what you should pack than if you wait and decide when you arrive in Hawaii. Deciding to plan activities when you arrive in the islands will mean that you will over-pack and have a difficult time managing your bags not to mention deciding what to wear because you have too many options. Plan ahead, and follow these tips for packing for Hawaii.

Make a List

You have heard time and time again that making a list is the most productive way to accomplish anything because you keep track of what you need done as well as what has been done. The same goes with packing for Hawaii. You may have saved past lists from other vacations, and this is great because you can review the list for items you will need to pack for Hawaii. For example, the toiletries, medicines, and personal care items you need will be the same for most all vacations, just make sure sunscreen makes it onto the list. Once you have those items taken care of, then you should consider what you will be doing in Hawaii. Since the majority of Hawaii's most amazing attractions from the beach to the gardens and canyons are outside, you will want to make sure you pack adequate comfortable clothing that will keep you cool in the warm climate, and that is also comfortable for walking, cycling and other physical activities.

Casual clothing like shorts, lightweight pants, skirts, tank tops, cotton polo shirts and the like are suitable for Hawaii because they are cool, comfortable and lightweight. Another tip for your clothing is to make sure it fits. If you pack ultra tight clothing or clothing that is simply too small you will be uncomfortable throughout the trip and if you sweat, which is very possible under the Hawaiian sun, you could end up with a bad rash. So, focus on comfortable, lightweight, fitting clothes for your daytime attire. If you plan on visiting the volcanoes or are cold natured you should include some light sweaters or jackets just in case it is cool.

You will also be visiting the beach, swimming pools, and waterfalls while you are in Hawaii, maybe even on a daily basis. Because of this, you also need to pack several bathing suits so that you can wash one a day and wear a different one. Nobody wants to wear wet bathing suits, or dirty bathing suits, so pack at least two. A cover up for women is essential as well, and men might choose to pack extra t-shirts if they need to cover up.

The sun is strong in Hawaii so be sure to pack several strengths of sunscreen even if you are planning on getting a great tan. The first few days apply a higher strength SPF and then after you have a base tan you can tone down the level of sunscreen you are using. The point of this is that if you avoid sunscreen you will more than likely get burned your first day out, which will ruin the rest of the week for tanning, be very painful, and negatively impact your vacation. By using sunscreen you will get a great tan, avoid the sunburn, and truly enjoy your Hawaiian vacation. Also, since the sun is bright you will want to make sure you pack sunglasses and a hat. Squinting is no way to enjoy your vacation, and a great pair of shades will help you relax and enjoy your beautiful Hawaiian vacation.

Consider the nightlife in Hawaii. Will you be attending a luau, an upscale restaurant, dances or parties? These are all considerations and will require different modes of dress. It is a lot easier to shop for your clothing before your vacation than spend precious vacation hours shopping in overpriced stores. If you need formal wear for several occasions, be sure to pack it properly to avoid wrinkles. You will be relieved to have just what you need to wear to every nightly function you attend. Remember, however, the islands are more laid back and the word "formal is not taken in the same way as "formal might be understood on the mainland. As a result, semi-formal will most likely work for the majority of Hawaiian events.

Shoes, what a difficult thing to pack! Everyone wants to pack a different pair of shoes for every outfit, and this simply will not work when trying to fill a small suitcase. As a result, choose one pair of shoes for water activities, one for athletic activities, and one or two for casual or dressed up activities. That way, you save space in your luggage and won't be overburdened with choices.

Jewelry is another topic that you should consider before traveling to Hawaii. Many activities on the islands will require you leave your jewelry in the hotel, and in fact the hot weather simply is not conducive to a lot of jewelry. In addition, when you wear fine jewelry you will make yourself a target for theft and will need to increase security options. As a result, decide on some basic pieces of jewelry that will flatter all of your clothing and travel with those. You will feel more secure knowing your jewelry is safe at home than locked in a hotel safe.

Remember, this is not a comprehensive list of things to pack, just some simple suggestions to keep in mind when you pull out your suitcases and start trying to fill them with your entire closet. Be conservative and keep in mind that most condos and hotels have laundry services in case you need to do a load of laundry on vacation. Also, you will want to make a comprehensive list before you begin packing and review it for things that are truly unnecessary. Then, begin packing and rest easy knowing you will pack everything you need, but not over pack for the first time in your life. You will really enjoy Hawaii when you have the right clothes for every occasion, but not so many that it is a burden traveling.

About The Author
Stephanie Coburn is the Marketing Director for Wailua Bay View, an oceanfront Kauai vacation rental. She has personally researched and experienced many of the activities and destinations graced with Hawaiian culture as described above. Learn more at

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