The Ultimate Summer Vacation Packing List (PHOTOS)

summer vacation packing list suitcase

Ah the stages of packing for a vacation: From excitement to procrastination to the good start to the panicked tossing of everything in your suitcase, and off you go -- only to find out you packed all the wrong stuff. How do you make the whole process simpler and still end up with the right clothes?

For me, packing for a summer vacation is all about reading the weather report, picking out separates in the same color family (so you can mix and match), planning to repeat a few things, and preparing for a few surprises. Here is my essential summer vacation packing list.

summer vacation packing list suitcase


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  • Check the Weather Report

    1

    First things first, check the forecast for the week you'll be on vacation -- take nothing for granted. I know too many people who planned a trip to Disney World and froze the entire time. The weather gods are cruel that way, but you don't have to let them beat you.

  • 4-5 Shorts and Skirts in Neutral Solids

    2

    Assuming the weather will be warm and sunny, I'll start with bottoms -- shorts and skirts in neutral colors. For my last vacation, I stuck with four colors: navy blue, black, gray, and white. (Yes, white is risky for vacation, but it's so versatile.) And I mostly avoided anything that needed to be ironed. ($27.99, Gap)

  • 7-8 Tops in Coordinating Colors

    3

    Pack a week's worth of tops, mostly in the same colors as the bottoms. It's easier to go with stripes and prints with t-shirts, tanks, and blouses. You could pack whole outfits, but I think it's easier to pack so that you can mix and match just about anything, depending on your mood. I did sneak in one white linen blouse I had to iron, but otherwise it was all easy jersey tops. ($34.99, H&M)

  • 1 Simple But Elegant Dress

    4

    If you're planning on going out at night, you may want to pack a nice dress. I have a jersey LBD that looks elegant but won't wrinkle on me. ($19.90, Uniqlo)

  • 1 Pair of Jeans

    5

    You just never know -- it could get cold on you, and won't you be glad you packed a pair of jeans? ($89.99, JCrew)

  • 1 Cardigan or Pullover

    6

    If it gets chilly at night where you're going, be sure to pack a sweater or two in a neutral color that goes with most everything you're bringing. ($20, Old Navy)

  • 1 Windbreaker

    7

    I have this brilliant waterproof windbreaker in navy blue. It rolls up into its own little pouch, so it's easy to carry around. It also doubles as a rain coat should there be sprinkles while you're traveling. ($29.90, Uniqlo)

  • 1 Big Scarf

    8

    It's nice to have one big scarf that (you guessed it) goes with everything. Bonus -- you can use extra-large scarves or pareos to keep warm on the plane, in case they're out of blankets. ($48, Serena & Lily)

  • 1 Sun Hat

    9

    I love a big, floppy hat on vacation. But everyone else is wearing a fedora this summer, it seems. ($29, Urban Outfitters)

  • Walkable Sandals

    10

    You'll need some sandals you can walk around in all day without killing your feet -- even better if they go with that little black dress, too! ($49.99, Zara)

  • Sneakers

    11

    Your feet will appreciate a change of casual shoes, like these sneakers or maybe some espadrilles. ($50, Zappos)

  • Bathing Suit

    12

    Don't forget your bathing suit! ($148, Anthropologie)

  • OMG Everything Matching

    13

    This is how I like my suitcase to look when I travel. It is perfection. Everything goes with everything else, and it's all summery and vacationy. LOVE!

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