Spending a week at an all-inclusive resort during the winter is undoubtedly a good idea. There’s lots of daylight, beautiful white sand to sink your toes in, and tons of delicious, healthy foods available. Whether you want to explore Mexican cenotes, go snorkelling in the Dominican Republic, or drink mojitos in Cuba, there’s something for everyone to chase away the winter blues.
Packing for an all-inclusive vacation can either seem like the simplest task or a daunting one, depending on which type of traveller you are. I’m going to help you figure out a capsule wardrobe and other travel essentials for a trip that is super popular with Canadians this time of year: the all-inclusive beach vacation down south.
You may think, “I just need a few swimsuits, a cover-up, some flip flops and I’m good to go!” but even though you’re doing a one-week all-inclusive resort you’ll still need a few more outfits to round it all out. I can help.
Using my 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 packing list method, I’ve put together a capsule wardrobe that will take you from the beaches of Veradero to the restaurants of Riviera Maya to the discos of Ochos Rios and back again.
All-Inclusive Packing Essentials
Mix ‘n Match Neutrals
The easiest way to get the most out of a small vacation wardrobe is to pick a single colour palette so that you can mix ‘n match all week. For this capsule wardrobe I stuck with neutrals with a pop of lilac and orange as accents. If you find yourself reaching for a top that only goes with a single pair of bottoms, stop and put it back. You only have so much room in your suitcase. The other side of sticking with neutrals and playing with texture instead, is that it can often come across as a more luxe look. Bonus.
Gold jewellery is having a moment right now. Pick out one set of gold accessories and you can wear it with just about any outfit. Whether you want to layer a paperclip chain with a pendant necklace, go for big hoop earrings or more understated huggies, you can’t go wrong with gold right now. And you don’t need to splash out big bucks on 10k or 18k either. Gold vermeil is a more affordable option that won’t turn your skin green like cheap costume jewelry can.
Mesh Beach Bag
What’s more annoying after a trip to the beach than emptying out your beach bag and dumping a pile of sand on your hotel room floor? With a bag like above, the mesh material makes sure that whatever sand comes in, also finds its way out. It just might be the perfect beach bag.
Beyond the Clothes
While I love talking about clothes and travel fashion, we all know there’s more that needs to be packed for any successful trip.
Reef-safe Sunscreen and Aloe Vera Gel
We all know that sunscreen is a must-have when travelling to a sunny tropical destination. It’s a no-brainer. You might think, “I don’t want to travel with another liquid, I’ll just buy it when I get there,” but why chance resort prices or spend your precious time taking a bus to Walmart? Another important thing to remember when you’re sunscreen shopping is to look for one that’s safe for coral reefs. Two main ingredients in many big name sunscreens have been shown to contribute to coral bleaching. While you’re small and the ocean is big, sunscreen washes off and all those tourists add up.
No matter how careful you are, getting a bit too much sun is always a possibility so pack a small tube of aloe vera gel to give you some comfort and relief. After accumulating a small collection of gels around the world I now save myself the trouble and just bring it with me. When your back starts turning pink after that awesome snorkel session you’ll be glad you packed the aloe vera.
Waterproof Phone Case
Whether you’re snorkelling, diving, or exploring by speedboat, having a waterproof case for your phone makes good sense. You can go advanced with something like a Lifeproof case or you can go basic with a waterproof pouch, but you don’t want to leave your phone completely unprotected. Bonus: a waterproof case will also keep out dust and beach sand. No one wants their vacation ruined by a busted phone.
I wouldn’t recommend drinking tap water off resort but continuously buying bottled water can add up and also create a lot of plastic waste. So what’s a girl to do? Bring along a reusable water bottle that will filter the water at the same time! I really like the LifeStraw Flex for this. The filter is so good you could even drink directly from streams or waterfalls without fear of getting sick. Since staying hydrated is so important in hot climates, I would put this high up on your all-inclusive resort packing list.
In the case that your wet clothes don’t dry before you have to pack up, having a dedicated wet bag will keep them from making anything else in your bag damp. A repurposed plastic shopping bag is a breeding ground for mold and mildew so I’d recommend a bag designed to hold wet items. Tip: check the baby aisle for pouches designed to hold wet cloth diapers. Works just as well for your wet bikini.
Whether you need to dry offer after a dip in a cenote or just want something to sit on on the beach, a travel towel is key. While hotels will provide you with towels for your shower, they really don’t want you taking them off the property and getting them full of beach sand. Plus, a regular towel is bulky to pack in your day bag. If you don’t like the traditional microfibre travel towel, try a lightweight Turkish towel instead.
In addition to all these physical items definitely make sure to bring: an open heart & mind, patience, a balanced sense of humour, and an adventurous spirit!
Bonuses to Beat the Heat
It’s no secret it gets hot down south. To beat the heat, whether you’re in Cuba, Mexico, or the Dominican Republic, pack a few of these extras in your day bag:
- Mega Babe Thigh Rescue
- Blotting Sheets
- Water bottle (freeze it overnight if you can and it will stay colder longer into the day as it melts)
- A folding fan
- Cooling face mist
- Small cooling towel
- Claw clip for getting hair off your neck