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  • Writer's pictureA Wild Lass

How to Pack for A Cruise

When you’re headed on vacation, packing is a big deal. You have to be prepared for some activities you don’t normally engage in, as well as having to bring everything you could need in what seems like a tiny bag that gets smaller each time you use it. Fortunately, many people have done it before you, so you know it has to be possible. Here are some tips for prepping ahead when you’re packing for a cruise (although they’ll work for any vacation).


Photo Credit: A Wild Lass

*Disclaimer: Some of the links you see may be affiliate links. All that means is if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll earn a commission.

Plan Ahead

You already know that we like lists here at A Wild Lass. So it should come as no surprise when the first (and best) tip we have is to plan ahead and make a list of every day of your vacation and the clothes you’ll wear. It’s the only way to be sure you have the styles you need to look fabulous on vacation. It also makes getting dressed less of a hassle while you’re living out of a suitcase, if you already have every outfit chosen.

For your travel days, think about how you’re traveling: if you have a lot of transitions, say a train to a subway to an airplane, to a taxi, you want comfortable clothes to travel in. Write down specifics (“camouflage leggings” or “favorite Sperries”) so you don’t get confused later when you’re trying to hunt down the items to actually pack them.

Check to see which days are excursion days on your cruise and which days are at sea days. The activities will determine what you wear. If you’re doing something active, you probably don’t want your favorite mini skirt. If you’re swimming each day, you may want a new swimsuit or two, just to be sure you have enough for each day. While some cruise ships have laundry services, that’s not something you really want to worry about while you’re vacationing. Plus, who doesn’t want to shop a new bikini like this one when you’re headed somewhere warm and tropical?

Cruises have specific dress code requirements for dining. Most will have at least one formal night where you’ll dress up (you may even get to have a meet-and-greet with the captain and crew!), but even on regular dining days, you won’t be allowed in wearing swim wear. Plan ahead and pack accordingly, so you’ll meet the dress code.

Start Early

If you have the space, it’s best to lay out your suitcase ahead of time and begin putting things in it as early as you feel comfortable. Some items you won’t wear until the cruise, so you’ll be able to put them aside. Others you’ll still be wearing each week, so packing them ahead is an inconvenience. Set as many things aside early as you can, like printouts of your tickets and paperwork, a stylish straw beach hat, those fancy heels you only wear clubbing, a couple bottles of wine you bought to bring on board (check limits on how much alcohol you’re allowed), and other things you won’t need until your trip.

Do A Test Pack

If you’re flying, check airline restrictions for baggage. Budget flights mean no checked bags allowed without paying extra fees. Even if you’re trying to save money, it may be smart to plan to pay for one or two checked bags to share between travelers so that you can bring extra liquids and toiletries, as well as that wine you wanted to bring. And depending on the formal attire you chose for the fancy evening, it may not fit in a carry-on.

When you’ve assembled most of your things, do a test pack to make sure it will fit. The Lad keeps thinking that he will have to forego bringing extra clothes or items he wants because we will run out of space. But when we do our practice pack, I’m going to show him how much will really fit in a carry-on.

  • Here are some pro packing tips:

  • Put heavy things in carry-on luggage

  • Pack socks inside shoes

  • Make sure you have at least one change of clothes in carry-on luggage in case checked bags get lost

  • Use a roll-up bag with a hanger hook for toiletries to save space on board (cruise bathrooms are SMALL)

Don’t Forget: Use Lists to Pack for A Cruise

Make a master packing list to go along with the plan you had above for each day’s clothing. You’ll want to bring more than clothes on this trip, and you won’t want to forget any of it (phone chargers, snacks, books, sunscreen, etc.) so use a list to keep you sane.

Happy Cruising!

Wherever your ship takes you, we hope it’s the time of your life! The Lad and I are headed on a much-needed cruise vacation in a few short weeks. You can look forward to some travel guides and cruising tips in the coming posts, things like “How to Enjoy A Port Stop Without Booking An Excursion” and “How to Shop for A New Swimsuit.”

For more smart mom guides, check out other posts from A Wild Lass.

*Disclaimer: Some of the links you see may be affiliate links. All that means is if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll earn a commission.

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