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The Ultimate Packing List

Updated: Mar 18

Hello, CKE Readers!  Rosalyn Cooper here, Founder and Lead Travel Consultant at

packed suitcase

Social Butterfly Express. As we face the new Travel Norms, packing for your vacation might include some extra items. This ultimate packing list will help you plan and pack ahead to avoid any unwelcome snags in your big trip, whether you’re sipping cocktails while enjoying an ocean breeze, adventuring in the tropics, or hitting a different city for your vacation!

Plan to Pack Like a Pro!

Making a list is an underrated, yet super helpful, step when starting your packing process.  Start by listing each day of your trip, and then fill in the days with the individual items you’ll need.  You already know you’ll need essentials for each day such as undergarments and basic clothing, but by listing the days out first, you can also consider any pre-planned activities or excursions on certain days which will help you remember any special considerations for packing appropriate clothing or accessories.

If you’re going for a low-key trip without any extracurriculars, or are going to

checklist on phone and computer

figure it out spontaneously while you’re there, keep that in mind when packing as well.  For example, if you’re headed to Cancun and you know you have an ATV adventure day planned, you’ll need appropriate footwear and comfortable yet sensible clothing for that excursion.  

After initially filling in the list with what you know you’ll need, you can then go back through and add supplemental items in consideration of additional planned spontaneous activities.  Once you have your list ready, you can go through and check items off as they are packed.  This makes for a much easier packing experience and prevents that frazzled state of mind when you have 10 outfits laid out on your bed but no real direction!

Pro Tip: Call your bank before you leave and let them know you’ll be traveling.  This is especially common for international destinations, but oftentimes, fraud departments will view non-local charges as potentially fraudulent, and you don’t want to get caught in an unfamiliar destination without access to your money while you deal with the bank.  Bring at least some cash with you, just in case you do run into any fraud issues, but be mindful of your cash’s location making sure it’s both easily accessible to you, yet safe as well.

Prevent Airport Hassle!

Pre-planning your packing will also help avoid running into any issues at the airport.  If you’re flying to your destination, you’ll want to be considerate of what items are and aren’t allowed in your carry-on luggage. Additionally, use Ziploc bags or plastic containers for transporting liquids or toiletries.  There is nothing worse than unpacking at your destination but finding that all your clothes are soaked with foundation or shampoo!

You can check with your airline or reference TSA’s website for current airport regulations.  TSA currently allows fluids under 3.3 oz in your carry-on bag.  Anything over can go in your checked luggage, but you should consider packing travel or sample sizes anyway as they will take up less space and weight than full-size bottles.  You can also toss sample sizes at the end of your trip which leaves more room in your suitcase for souvenirs or memorabilia from your trip!

Each airline has different regulations for bag size and weight, so do your research beforehand learning what your chosen airline allows and avoid being that couple frantically rearranging their luggage in the baggage line.  Dress appropriately for airport security lines by wearing shoes you can easily slip out of, and keeping your ID and other travel documents easily accessible.

Every step you take to ensure a pain-free experience at the airport just gets you to your destination faster - and in a better mood!

Carry-On Bags

In addition to any carry-on baggage you’ll put in the overhead plane compartments, many airlines allow passengers to bring a personal item for free, such as a purse or backpack.  

Pro Tip:  If you carry a smaller purse, pack it in your luggage and use a backpack as your personal item instead.  Just check with your airline ahead of time to make sure you’re following their requirements, but this is an easy way to extend your space and might prevent you from having to pay for that extra checked bag!

Cash, ID, travel documents, and passports should be kept in your carry-on or personal item so you have easy access to them as you move through the airport.  Try to include any clothing or items such as prescription meds or other valuables that you may need on the first day in your carry-on.  This way, if you have to wait for your luggage to be delivered to your room, you’ll still have what you need to start your vacation as soon as you arrive!

Where Are You Headed?

Your destination is one of the most influential factors of what you’ll ultimately need to bring.  Double-check our destination packing suggestions after making your initial list to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Beaching With Your Boo!

If you’re headed to the beach for your vacation, swimwear is the most obvious - but you’d be surprised at how many couples forget and get stuck making last-minute and pricey purchases and resort stores.  Bring at least 3 swimsuits for a week-long trip, and 1 cover-up.

Pro tip:  Find a sundress that can be worn to a casual dinner, but doubles as a cover-up!

Other beach essentials include sunscreen, lip balm, aloe vera, tanning lotion or oil (if you’re into that sort of thing!), flip flops, comfortable walking shoes, and sun hats.  It can be tricky to pack for a beach vacation where you plan to chill seaside the majority of the time.  Consider what your plans are first, and try to avoid overpacking by choosing items that can be easily mixed and matched.  Neutral or denim shorts or pants can pair nicely with a variety of colorful tops reducing the number of items you need to bring. Sundresses are a fantastic option for beach vacations because they can be thrown over your bathing suit easily but still look fashionable.

Road Tripping!

Road trips can be a great way to bond with your new spouse while making

group in car

memories, but these trips require careful planning and preparation, especially when packing.  In addition to clothing and toiletries, put together an emergency kit to bring along with you.  An old-fashioned map may sound laughable in our digital age, but long stretches of rural road can mean no signal on your devices, and a paper map can really save you in a low-signal jam. 

Before you leave, get an oil change and have your vehicle inspected, make sure you have a spare tire, and double-check that your insurance is up to date and that you have appropriate insurance documentation. You may also consider joining AAA or another emergency roadside service if you don’t already subscribe.

Consider any planned activities or desired stops beforehand, both for packing and general trip planning purposes.  Since road trips aren’t often pre-paid like a resort-style vacation would be, try budgeting beforehand and setting aside designated dollar amounts for different categories (EX: hotel, food, souvenirs, etc). 

City Slickers!

A city vacation can be a really great way to learn about other cultures, eat great food, and have semi-spontaneous adventures with your new spouse.  Before you plan to take on visiting a different city, check to see if they have any COVID-19 restrictions as many cities aren’t fully open or they might have limited hours. It can be tempting to dress for the city you’re visiting (Carrie Bradshaw high heeled dreams, anyone?), but pack sensibly and in consideration of transportation modes such as excessive walking or ride sharing. 

If you’re traveling to an unfamiliar location, check the weather a week before you leave to make sure you’re packing for the expected climate, and if you have time to rearrange your luggage 1-2 days before you leave, you may consider re-checking the weather then, too.  Either way, weather can still be unpredictable, so try to bring items that can be mixed and matched into a variety of outfits.  Throw a jacket over leggings and a tank top to switch up your look, or pack smaller accessories that will allow you to change up your outfit without taking up too much room in your suitcase.

Don’t Forget!

Talk to your travel consultant about any special considerations for the destination you’re traveling to.  Not only will this help ensure you don’t miss anything, they may also be able to provide valuable insight into the cultures of different destinations that may influence the items you pack, or to make sure you’re prepared for dress codes on resorts or cruises.

As we settle into the new normal when it comes to traveling, never leave home without your MASK,extra hand sanitizer, and travel size disinfectant wipes. No matter how you decide to travel, all hotels and resorts aren’t being occupied at full capacity and must be COVID-19 Certified to operate.

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Social Butterfly Express specializes in 100% custom travel experiences including destination weddings, honeymoons, bachelor/bachelorette parties, anniversary trips, and more!  Get your custom quote here, and let us help make your travel dreams a reality!



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