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What to Pack for Summer Vacation

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.


You've put together a basic packing list for your summer vacation with clothes, toiletries, and other essential items. What is left to pack for your trip? Most likely what you already have packed will be enough to suffice, but there are a handful of other items that will make your trip complete.


Tip: If you take great vacation photos, you may be able to include them in one or more articles about your trip.

Digital cameras allow you to capture numerous vacation memories for very little cost.

Digital cameras allow you to capture numerous vacation memories for very little cost.


One of the easiest and most popular ways to capture your vacation memories is with a digital camera. It is inexpensive to take digital photos, and there are so many possibilities for them from a simple digital album online to an elaborate, decorated scrapbook. If you're planning to create a scrapbook or detailed travel journal afterward, consider carrying a small notebook and/or audio recording device with you as well.



Nothing can ruin a trip quicker than a nasty sunburn. Many vacation spots sell sunblock, but there's no reason not to throw a bottle in your bag so you're prepared right from the start. Even if you don't burn easily and don't need to use sunscreen on a regular basis at home, you will need it on vacation if you'll be outside for extended periods of time. Be particularly careful when you are out on the water (i.e. on a boat or using water skis) or are spending time in the water. For longer outdoor excursions, bring the sunscreen with you so you can reapply later in the day.

If you will be doing extended driving and/or lots of outdoor activities during your trip, sunglasses are a must.

If you will be doing extended driving and/or lots of outdoor activities during your trip, sunglasses are a must.


Similar to sunscreen, you may be surprised how quickly you miss your sunglasses when you're outside much more than usual. Purchasing a sunglasses case will make it easy to throw sunglasses in a backpack or purse without them getting damaged. If you are traveling with kids who are too young to wear sunglasses or simply prefer not to wear them, consider hats or visors to shade their eyes and faces.

Packing Tips and Tricks

What To Pack For A Cruise

Waterproof flip flops are an easy option for any beach, pool, or water park outing.

Waterproof flip flops are an easy option for any beach, pool, or water park outing.

Waterproof Flip Flops

Even if you don't wear flip flops on a day to day basis, they are a great item to pack for most summer vacations. Many big box and clothing stores sell inexpensive waterproof flip flops throughout the spring and summer. A single pair that you only wear to the pool or beach will last you at least a couple years.

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Pick up a great t-shirt or two from a local shop.

A Few Extra T-Shirts and Warm Clothes Items

There is always a fine line with packing clothes. You don't need to prepare for every possible weather situation, but you don't want to be under prepared either. Make sure that you have at least one or two extra t-shirts and other essential clothing items. You never know when you'll get wet, sweaty, or dirty and will need a clothes change in the middle of the day.

When you're traveling in the summer, it's also important to be prepared for cooler weather. There may be a cooler evening or rainy, cold day at any point during a vacation. Pack at least one long sleeved shirt, a sweat shirt, and a few pairs of socks.

When we went on a cruise to Alaska, I layered my windbreaker with a sweatshirt or other warm layer for most of our excursions.

When we went on a cruise to Alaska, I layered my windbreaker with a sweatshirt or other warm layer for most of our excursions.


Windbreaks are a very versatile clothing item that you can use for a number of different of vacation settings. In addition to being waterproof, windbreakers can be layered with either cooler or warmer clothing. Bring it on a day trip when there is a chance of rain so you can throw it on over your t-shirt to stay warm and/or dry. Alternatively, when the weather is cooler, put a warmer layer under it and then take the windbreaker off later if you don't need it.


Extra Towel

This is not a practical item if you're flying, but if you're driving to your vacation destination, I would always include an extra towel or two in the trunk. You never know if you'll need an extra towel at the beach or pool when yesterday's towels didn't dry out as quickly as expected or when you'll have a major water or juice spill in the car or kitchen.


Swim Suit

Even if you aren't planning to go swimming or spend time at a beach or water park, a swim suit is an easy item to include because it doesn't take up much room. Look for swim suits at the end of the season to get a clearance deal.


These are just a few of my favorite books that would be great choices for any trip.

At Least One Fun Book

One of my favorite times to get caught up on my reading list is on vacations. Hit the library or the bookstore before your trip and pick up a book or two that you've been meaning to read for a while. If you'll be spending a lot of time in the car or on an airplane and enjoy audio books, consider picking up a couple of those as well.


Some Good Music

Another great way to pass the time in the car and on an airplane is with some good music. Listening to music is also a great option for solo time on hikes and at the pool. Load up your favorite digital device with music before you hit the road. Don't forget the charger!

You never know when you'll end up at a place that doesn't accept credit cards.

You never know when you'll end up at a place that doesn't accept credit cards.


While many places do accept credit cards, there are still a number that don't. Some places do accept checks and not credit cards, but this is becoming less and less frequent. Avoid paying a lot of ATM fees on the road by bringing some cash with you.


Travel Makeup and Packing Tips

More Packing Tips


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 08, 2012:

Thanks much, vespawoolf!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on November 07, 2012:

Great tips! I so agree about the extra towel. You can never be too well prepared. Thanks so much!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 07, 2012:

Thanks, Cyndi! That's great.

Rebecca, nice. I hope that you're able to take that vacation next year. :)

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on November 07, 2012:

Ouch! This makes me want to go on a summer vacation. It'll be awhile but this list will be on my mind when the time comes. Thanks!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on November 07, 2012:

Great hub! These tips are good for camping trips and day trips, too!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 06, 2012:

You can certainly dream! This is a great time of year to start thinking about a warm weather vacation. 100 spf, wow! Have fun selecting a destination. :)

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on November 06, 2012:

ok, so I know it is November but a girl can dream right? Sunscreen is a must for me. In fact, I use 100 spf on my face EVERY day. Great tips and fun read, now I just need to pick a destination. I've got my summer savings fund in place. :)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 15, 2012:

Thanks, Terrye! A list of pharmacies and hospitals is a great idea, particularly when you will be traveling in a more remote area. I always like to have a nail clipper with me, too. It never fails that you'll get an awful hangnail or broken nail right at the beginning of a 4 hour plane or car ride.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on August 15, 2012:

Random, this is a very useful hub. I also like to bring along a list of local pharmacies for the "just in case." Having an accident-prone monster, I also add the addresses of hospitals. Oh yeah, and a travel first aid kit with a pair of nail clippers thrown in. I always seem to break a nail on trips that last longer than 2 days. :) Loved this!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 26, 2012:

Thanks! We bought it in Hawaii a while back. It does smell pretty amazing!

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on July 26, 2012:

Excellent advice- and I'm pleased to discover another person who uses my favorite brand of sunscreen! Doesn't it smell AMAZING???

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 21, 2012:

You're welcome! That's great. :)

kygirl89 from West Virginia on July 21, 2012:

Thanks for all the helpful tips. I agree bringing a digital camera is a must! I love taking pictures and so does my husband.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 21, 2012:

Made, I wouldn't go on a trip without those two things either. You're right about staying comfortable on vacation. Thanks!

Thanks, Julie!

Edi, yes for sure about both the staples and the weather!

Thanks, Cheeky Girl!

Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on July 21, 2012:

Cool checklist for getting ready for holidays! Thanks for sharing this and voted too!

Edi on July 21, 2012:

Camera, sunscreen and sunglasses...these are staples everywhere I go :)

The warm clothes are a great just never know about the weather sometimes!

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on July 21, 2012:

Great packing list reminder! Voting up and sharing :)

Madeleine Salin from Finland on July 21, 2012:

I would not go on a trip without my camera and a good book. I always bring warm clothes. It is not nice to be freezing on the vacation. Very useful hub. Voted up!

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