Packing for a Tropical Holiday – the Yes, the Maybe & the Not at All.

Typo Tavel

I don’t know one person who doesn’t want to go, or has not been, to Thailand. And, even though you can read up about it as much as you’d like, I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared as a first-time visitor – at least that was my experience. As South Africans, we know all about dressing for warm weather but travelling to a tropical island is somewhat of a different challenge, and one I only experienced on our recent trip to beautiful Thailand. I tend to pack far more than what I need (I’m sure I’m not alone!) but after our recent honeymoon adventure, I am basically the queen of packing (although my husband disagrees). So, I thought I would share my list of key items to pack for a tropical holiday. Here’s my list of the yes, the maybe, and the not at all!

On the plane:

You will be travelling for hours and you need to be comfortable. I found that travelling in long-length gym leggings, a cute tank, hoodie and flip-flops are the best option by far. I made sure I also packed a pair of shorts in my carry-on with me in case I got too hot during the flight. The best thing to remember is that you’re going to be travelling for 24 hours and, while you’re not walking in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, you still want to look good. Thanks to the Sports-Luxe trend you can be super stylish while still feeling like you’re an adult travelling in PJs. If that’s not winning at life, then I don’t know!


The yes:

Dresses, dresses and more dresses. The thinner the material and the shorter the dress, the more comfortable you’ll be. You never thought you’d hear that from another woman, but I promise you. Tropical holidays are humid, sticky and extremely hot; however, I welcomed it with open arms.

Flip-flops are your best friend. The ONLY other shoe to even consider are sneakers but I found them very hot. Packing tip: use your sneakers as little storage units and pack smaller non-breakable items in them to make more space in your luggage for other must-haves.

beach bag travel

Weirdly enough (as you would think hot weather equals quick drying time), wet clothes take forever to dry in Thailand! So, unless you want to parade around in semi-wet swimwear, I strongly suggest taking 3 bikinis or one-pieces swimsuits with you. Yes, you can buy bikinis in Thailand and believe me there are MANY to choose from however you’d never be able to try them on and personally, I quite like knowing how something as tiny as a bikini, fits before spending money on it.

A wide-brimmed hat will also become your number one must-have while in Thailand. I never imagined what a difference it makes to an overall outfit keeping the sun away from your face and lessening the glare. If you don’t have one and are on your way to Thailand, then rather buy one there – travelling with a hat is no joke!

Moon bag me! Moon bags are making a comeback. Ok, maybe not but all I’m saying is that it’s easily accessible, light to carry and allows for quite a bit of space. Internationally people are digging the moon bag trend but you make the call.

Pack good quality sunglasses. Be like Nike, and Just Do It. Sunglass Hut has a huge variety to choose from and often has really cool promotions during peak season. Have a look and pack a pair you don’t mind wearing all day every day.

The maybe:

Personally, I found jean shorts far too hot, however, I did see quite a few people parading around in them, so maybe it’s just me. They’re great for evening shopping and bar hopping but other than that see point 2.

The no:

You really don’t need 3 night-gowns. #Facepalm.

See Also

Don’t try to be cool like me, and opt for a small cute backpack; rather invest in a good quality backpack which you can use on the plane as luggage (7kg allowance). It’s super easy to carry around while shopping / eating / bar hopping and when you’re back in SA, you can use it while hiking one of the many beautiful trails.


Leave all towels at home. It takes up unnecessary space and all hotels will offer you bath and beach towels at no extra cost.

Less is more and you really don’t need your entire make-up kit; at most you’ll add some blusher, highlighter, mascara and some gloss. The rest will melt off your face.

If you’re en-route to Thailand within the next few months, keep an eye out for my next article featuring a few top tips while travelling in Thailand. You can thank me later!

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