Packing for Beach Getaways

Playa, Punta Santiago Puerto Rico

Even a non-beach-lover like myself has trouble resisting a scene like this…–Chris Ciolli

I’m not a beachy kind of girl. Or at least that’s what I thought until my recent trip to Puerto Rico convinced me otherwise. Which seems especially strange coming from a long-time resident of Barcelona…..a coastal city with truly beautiful beaches less than an hour away, I know.

I can’t explain it, really. Because while I am one of those olive-complected peoples that tan and don’t tend to burn, and I love to swim, I don’t really love the sun, sand or surf. Or I thought I didn’t. It must be about surroundings and circumstance. It’s one thing to walk to a crowded beach from the train station with all your gear and quite another to be within walking distance of a private beach with your own private pool surrounded by lush vegetation in a private courtyard. For that, thanks and props have to go to my sister-in-law, who scored the family this amazing beach-house in Punta Santiago, near Humacao and only about an hour from SJU international airport in San Juan.

Anyway. Come to find, post-trip, that I don’t know how to pack for the beach since I didn’t wear/use even 10% of the clothing, accessories, toiletries that I brought, and had to buy others I ended up wanting/needing.

Packing suggestions for beach getaways

  1. Pack multiple bathing suits, if possible pieces that can be mixed and matched and worn comfortably under clothes so you can go from the beach to a restaurant or shopping with a minimum of fuss.
  2. Don’t bother bringing close-toed shoes unless you plan to go hiking, you won’t wear them. Even better, why not skip the sneakers and buy some good athletic sandals for walking, etc? Have socks for the plane, though, brrr!
  3. Extra undergarments will be necessary with all the changing in and out of swimsuits. ‘Nuff said.
  4. Pack loose garments in breathable fabrics. After one sticky day in skinny jeans, and a polyester top you’ll swear off synthetics and stretch.
  5. Pack lots of sunscreen, no matter your complexion, especially for destinations near the equator. I had never experienced Caribbean sun, so arrogantly I thought since I don’t burn in other destinations, I was immune and got third-degree sunburns in strange patterns around my clothes, sunglasses and jewelry after a day spent out and about exploring San Juan (not even lying out on the beach). Eeh.
  6. Skip bringing makeup or perfume or cologne. You’ll sweat off the former, and attract bugs with the latter. Ditto on heavily scented bath products like lotion and shampoo.
  7. Limit your jewelry. Chances are you won’t wear much of it in or even near the water. Bring a few things for dinners and events out, but less than you would for other types of destinations. Also, water ruins a lot of watches. So go cheap, or waterproof.
  8. Bring a couple of microfiber beach towels. They dry fast, and take up very little space in your luggage.
  9. Grab a water bottle with it’s own filter in beach destinations where drinking water is safe. I like the Brita bottle.
  10. Chapstick isn’t only good for cold weather. Sun and heat dry out your mouth, too.
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