Make the Most of Your Suitcase: Packing Strategies for Island Girls

Make the Most of Your Suitcase: Packing Strategies for Island Girls

Your vacation is booked, it’s marked on the calendar and you’re counting down the days until you take off. Your dreams are now filled with images of a beautiful beach, blue skies, and fluffy white clouds that don’t even whisper about rain. There are palm trees swaying up above and the sand between your toes is cool and exfoliating. It is utter perfection and you feel more rejuvenated when you wake up.
Umbrella Palm Tunic
Your mind is already poolside with an iced cold coconut in your hands, but what about your empty suitcase laying open on your bedroom floor? If you’ve been staring at it for a week now trying to figure out HOW you are going to fit all your pretty West Indies Wear in there, you’ve come to the right place!! Mastering the art of packing light and using your suitcase's space to its fullest can be as tough as solving a Rubik's cube, but don't stress - I am here to help! Fitting everything you need for your trip into one piece of luggage is a challenge, but if you implement these simple strategies, you’ll be packing like a pro in no time!
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Choose the right suitcase.
Deciding on the perfect suitcase to take on vacay can be a challenging task. We have to consider the following three factors when sifting through your collection of luggage in the garage (or browsing the travel isle at TJMaxx 😉).
Choose the right suitcase
  1. Size: Picking the ideal size suitcase is not only about the length of your stay but also the facilities available while you are there. Is there are laundry service? If so, you may be able to pack lighter and mix and match your top and bottoms to create new outfits throughout your stay.
  2. Weight: Remember to check the luggage weight requirements for the airline or cruise you are journeying with. Today’s suitcases are made much lighter than the ones we used to travel with back in “my day”. I highly recommend choosing the lightest luggage piece possible, so you can afford more weight in cotton clothes, of course!
  3. Compartments: Give us all the pockets, right?! It might be unpopular opinion, but I love a suitcase with multiple compartments so I can keep everything organized and visible. Bonus points for a wet pocket, for last-minute dips in the ocean!!
Making Use of a Packing List
Adopting a packing checklist can be extremely beneficial for anyone who is planning a trip. If you are creating your list for the first time, I recommend sitting down and visualizing your trip from start to finish. What are you wearing? What are you using? What are you forgetting? This simple list-building tool will help to ensure that you do not forget anything important or overlook any necessary details. By having a plan in place and making sure all the necessary items are accounted for, you can save yourself a great deal of hassle and distress… And what’s even better is if you save the checklist somewhere handy, so you can modify and use it again for future vacations!
Don’t forget to break down your packing list into various sections such as clothing, electronic items, toiletries, tickets, and other essentials. What's the most commonly forgotten items?? Phone charger, toothpaste, razors, and batteries… Although these can be bought in airports and other countries, it is always wise to pack them so you avoid any last-minute stress and expense.
write list at the beach
Plan out your outfits
To make the most of the space you are working with, it’s helpful to have a visual of what you are taking. I highly recommend laying out your outfits on your bed before packing it all away. This way you can check things off your list and make sure you are happy that you have a vibrant, cool and comfortable outfit for every occasion during your vacay!
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Folding and Rolling
Techniques such as bundle wrapping, and envelope folding can create SO much extra space in your luggage. Never heard of these? Here’s the low-down:
Bundle packing is a system of wrapping your clothes around each other in layers to create a single “bundle”. Kind’ve like a kids game of pass the parcel! You basically decide what you would like to be at the center of your bundle, then wrap all your other clothes around it until it’s the size of your suitcase compartment. Whilst this works well if you are going on a cruise or a single resort style vacation, where you can unpack in your room, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this style if you are moving around a bunch! *Pro tip: Put your socks, underwear and smaller items in a small cube bag or ziplock and use this as the center of your bundle.
Bundle Packing
Envelope folding is a Marie Kondo creation, which is designed to keep your clothing neat, wrinkle-free and easy to find. I love this method (in theory) but it’s time-consuming and perhaps a little unrealistic for busy island girls, who just want to get their packing done and dusted!
Leaving my fave method to last… I love the rolling technique for packing a lot of clothes into your luggage! By rolling clothing tightly, you eliminate trapped air that could be taking up space in your bag. On the flip side, rolling can create more creases if not done carefully and it can also cause you to overpack and result in a heavy bag, so be sure to check your luggage on the home scale before you head to the airport.
Folding Packing Technique
Lastly, many experienced travelers swear by “packing cubes”. I haven’t personally used these before but I must admit it looks incredibly well organized! Not only can you sort your stuff into categories, but you can also assign them a purpose. For instance, if you're going to a warm place, you can separate out your beachwear, or if you're headed somewhere cold, you can set aside your winter gear. I can see why packing cubes and ziplock bags can be beneficial for keeping your items separated, organized, and classified for ease of use and finding when you get to your destination. Additionally, packing cubes can also act as drawers if your room or cabin doesn’t have a dresser! #winning
Footwear and Accessories
I highly recommend keeping heavy, bulky items like footwear, handbags and jewelry to a minimum. Pack just a couple of pairs of shoes that will be versatile for many occasions during your trip: perhaps wear a cute pair of sneakers during the journey and just pack a pair of casual sandals and a more glammed up version for the evenings. Always put shoes in a shoe bag or large ziplock to keep your clothes clean. If you do need to pack an extra pair of shoes, consider storing smaller items like toiletries, socks and jewelry inside the shoes to save on space.
Strategies for Journey Day
It’s finally vacay day and it’s time to get up and go! On your journey day, it is a great idea to wear the bulkier things you intend to take with you, including sneakers and larger jackets. Planes are usually chilly and windy so wearing a coat or a few layers will help you stay comfortable.
Make sure your carry-on luggage is the appropriate size and weight for the airline and check your list to make sure you have everything packed. I also highly recommend packing a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage just in case you arrive in your destination before your suitcase does! Think: hmmmm if I’m in the Bahamas with no luggage, what would I need straight away? Swimsuit, sarong, and a clean pair of undies seems like a great combo! Haha
My last tip for journey day is to make sure you put something bright and noticeable on your checked luggage. There is nothing worse than standing at the carousel watching 1000 black suitcases that all look the same go around and around and around. Get a bright ribbon or headband and wrap it securely around the handle of your bag, so you’ll be able to pick yours out of a crowd.
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For those of you lucky island girls who are prepping for a fun trip in the near future, I hope these tips and tricks will help you next time you are struggling to get the zip to close on your suitcase!  Here is a quick list to give you a rough starting point.....

WHAT TO PACK for your island vacation.

  • Passport
  • 2 Swimsuits
  • At least 2 cotton sarongs (they have a million uses)
  • 3 lightweight dresses (preferably cotton or linen)
  • 3 lightweight tunic tops (again cotton or linen are best)
  • Two pairs of capri pants to wear to dinner (cotton or linen) colors that work back with your tunics & tops
  • Two pairs of shorts
  • Two t-shirts or fine cotton tops
  • One pair of plain flip flops
  • One pair of sparkly sandals
  • One pair of shoes to hike in or water shoes
  • Sunscreen, bug spray & lip balm
  • Toiletries
  • Credit card or debit card to access your money back home
  • Light cardigan for the evenings & airplane
  • Wind breaker (if planning a boat trip)
  • Hat - preferably with adjustable strap, so it can't blow off your head on a boat trip.
  • Scrunchies & Headbands to keep your hair from blowing in your face
  • Sunglasses
  • Day bag or beach bag
  • Phone & chargers (take lots of photos)
  • Audiobooks or Kindle
  • Pack some essentials in your carry-on just incase of late arriving luggage
Things NOT TO PACK for your island vacation
  • Towels - your hotel or cruiseship supply them in your room and around the beach or pool.... when you go out hiking to that waterfall, use your sarong as a towel.
  • Jeans (its too hot)
  • Synthetic fabrics - like rayon, polyester or nylon.... too hot.
  • Heavy moisturiser (humidity)
  • High heels (islands are very casual)
  • Hair dryer (hotel / cruise lines supply)
  • Expensive jewelry (security)
  • Take minimal make-up only.... the heat makes it melt of your face.
  • Heavy books
  • Wads of cash (security)

Other tips....

  • Take out travel insurance
  • Take photocopies of all documents
  • Leave a set of copies at home with family member also
  • Take emergency phone numbers
  • Ziplock bags come in handy
  • Seasickness tabets if planning a boat trip
  • Aftersun aloe vera get (sunburn ouch)
  • Leave-in conditioner is handy for the frizz


Click here to download our free packing checklist.... and have a great time!  Be sure to send us photos 


Effectively packing your stuff is a great way to have a stress-free start to your journey, without issues at security, missing toiletries, and digging everything out to located items you are “sure you packed!!” 🧐 Put these strategies in place and let me know how it turns out… Oh, and do you have some extra tips that I left out of this blog? Please do share them in the comments below 🤗🛫🏖
One Love,
Kim van Loo
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