You’re at a subpar hostel, and they’ve no deck of cards. You’re in the middle of the mountains, and rivers are your only water sources. You’re strolling the streets of a sprawling city, but your camera lens crops out the tops of skyscrapers.
The chances of you forgetting to pack at least some travel necessities are decent. And you may not know what kind of gear is the best for withstanding the elements. So I've taken the guesswork out of your vacation packing list for you.
No matter where you’re going on your summer adventures, as someone who has been to a place or, I've learned the what to pack (usually the hard way), over and over again. This summer vacation packing checklist is ideal for warm, tropical destinations all over the world.
Let’s make sure you know what to pack for your upcoming summer adventures!
Summer Adventure Vacation Packing List
The Cotopaxi Batac 16L is lightweight and packable, which makes it the perfect partner for any day hikes, beachside strolls or trips to open air markets. It’s small enough to serve as your main carry-on bag, but it’s thin and lightweight enough that, if you want to pack it in your primary bag (like I do), it will hardly take up any space at all.
Each bag is made from reclaimed vinyl, and the tough construction handles more stress without wear and tear than cheaper fabrics. And though it's not guaranteed as waterproof, it's incredibly weather resistant.
The Batac 16L has a delightfully 80s aesthetic (read: bright block colors) and is by far one of the most unique daypacks you'll find on the market. After all, who wants to look like everybody else?
If you’re an experienced traveler, you know better than to leave home without a drybag—especially if you’re traveling to a wetter climate. Whether that’s the subtropics or the Pacific Northwest, this Osprey dry bag is exactly what you need.
It scrunches down and straps around your wrist, and it can be instantly deployed to scoop up your electronics, clothes and other valuables in a waterproof embrace. The next time you find yourself whitewater rafting down the Ganges or, you know, something like that, you’ll pat yourself on the back for thinking ahead when everyone else is sending their phones in for repair.
This little speaker is a regular travel companion for me and one of my most-used pieces of travel gear on the road. That’s largely because, for the price, the sound quality is better than anything else I’ve found.
The tiny frame puts out enough noise to get a party started in a hotel or hostel room or on a beach or boat, plus, due to its cylindrical shape, it can just pop into your water bottle holster on your backpack. Oh! And, the key selling point: This mini sound giant is totally waterproof so you can take the party anywhere.
Just don’t walk around blasting Nickelback and you shouldn’t offend too many bystanders.
The Clearly Filtered stainless steel water bottle comes equipped with a built-in water filter, purifying water from any freshwater source. It filters out over 220 toxic chemicals and metals, so you don’t have to worry so much about nasty situations like traveler’s diarrhea.
The bottle will remove up to 99.99% of contaminants including lead, mercury, herbicides, pesticides and up to 99% of fluoride. Filters typically last about 25 gallons (or for a four-to-six months use) on average.
Take this puppy anywhere in the world and you never have to worry about drinking tap water again. You also won’t have to buy bottled water, so it’s a positive step toward improving your eco footprint.
If you’re planning an outdoor adventure—maybe a long hike or a multi-day float trip—the Kammok Roo Double Camping Hammock is one of the most packable luxuries you can fit into standard carry-on luggage.
With this hammock, you can nap, read or just lounge anywhere, whether you’re in the middle of the mountains, on some remote beach or taking a pit stop along some road trip.
The stretch and comfort levels of this hammock are unparalleled, and the water-repellant LunarWave fabric holds two people (up to 500 pounds). It also has six reinforced gear loops along the sides to attach carabiners to hang water bottles and other gear.
Certain ingredients used in many sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, contribute to the bleaching and disappearance of the barrier reefs. The abnormal environmental conditions cause coral to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, and the loss of colorful algae causes coral to turn white. “Bleached” coral rarely recover and often die.
And lest you thought humans were left unscathed, these chemicals are also proven hormone disruptors that can seep into other bodily tissue. Oxybenzone, for one, can affect men’s sperm count and can contribute to the development of endometriosis in women.
Bet you didn't see that one coming.
Raw Elements make an organic, non-GMO, reef-safe, broad-spectrum, UVA/UVB zinc-oxide based sunscreen. And though you can find sunscreen just about anywhere, try to pack either the classic Face + Body or the Daily Lifestyle pump before you leave, because you likely won’t find the eco-friendly variety when you’re traveling abroad.
Especially if you’re visiting one of the last few unspoiled places in the world, like the Great Barrier Reef or the Amazon Jungle, you can do your part in keeping the world—and yourself—in good health.
You can always make use of a solid pair of flip flops (or two), and they should be considered an essential item on any summer vacation packing list. They are light, effortlessly packable and suitable for all kinds of outdoor activities (except maybe motorsports or mountaineering). Even in colder climates, they’re handy as footwear for camp showers or fireside lounging.
Flip flops aren’t known for taking much abuse before they give out, but over the course of my travels, I’ve had some good luck with a select few brands:
- Rainbow Sandals: These have that classic leather look and the warm comfort that comes with it. They’re insanely comfortable and durable, but beware: it takes some time to wear them in (and a few blisters, too) before they’re comfortable. Click here to check styles, sizing and pricing.
- Chaco Sandals: Best known as hiking sandals (who knew there was such a thing?), these are known for the quality and support of both their straps and the sole. Though not the most stylish option for men (the women’s options are really nice!), these might be the longest-lasting pair of sandals you’ll ever own. Click here to check styles, sizing and pricing.
- Havaianas: Perhaps the most famous brand of flip-flops, Havaianas are stylish and lightweight, though they’re prone to fall apart easily. That said, you can buy a new pair almost anywhere in the world. They make a solid choice as a pair of fashionable shit-kickers to bring to the beach or wear in the hostel shower. I always have a pair of these with me, no matter where I go. Click here to check styles, sizing and pricing.
To protect your phone against drops, spillages and your rugged, adventurous lifestyle, every vacation packing list should include a case that’s strong enough to withstand the elements. With the LifeProof FRĒ cases, you never have to worry about your phone, whether you’re shredding the gnar or hugging das boot.
The FRĒ line of cases are waterproof, drop-proof, dirt-proof and snow-proof. They offer 360° protection with a built-in screen cover and they’re submersible to six-and-a-half feet. They’re totally sealed to protect against dirt, dust and snow, and they’ll even survive drops from six feet above ground.
They call themselves LifeProof for a reason!
The unrivaled advantage of this attachable wide-angle lens is that it wipes the size and weight of an entire camera bag off of your vacation packing list. Though some people may prefer a more professional mirrorless camera for travel, you can capture two times more picture with this lens. That means you can fit in the full breadth of the mountain scenes and capture the entire height of those skyscrapers.
Only a few extra ounces of weight means incredible new possibilities for mobile travel photography.
This is one of my favorite things to pack for vacation adventures. A Shemagh scarf is as essential a piece of travel gear as a Swiss Army knife.
Wear it as a headscarf or shawl and it can protect your skin against dust, insects and the sun, and it’ll soak up your sweat. Tie up the four corners and it instantly becomes a hobo sack. It can even be used as a pillow, a towel or even a pre-boil water filter system (please wash it first). And, in a real emergency, it can bandage a wound or sling an arm.
With your summer travel essentials packed, no adventure will seem too big. In fact, you’ll be so well-prepared, the only downside is that everyone else might start asking to borrow your stuff!
And if that’s the case, you might need to carry two of everything…