The sandy beaches and fruity cocktails that you imagine when you think about a trip to Aruba may be calling your name, but before you can indulge you must first take care of a few details back home. Namely, packing for your trip.
You may be wondering exactly what you need to bring with you, or you may have a list going in your head and feel confident in your packing abilities. Whichever person you are, a little help in the packing area to ensure that you don't forget anything never hurts.
Before entering Aruba, you will need to provide customs officials with a few documents: a valid passport, embarkation and disembarkation documents, and return or onward ticket. You may also be asked to show confirmation of your accommodations for your trip.
It is important that you protect yourself and your identity. While you should carry the original copy of whichever document you choose on your person, keep copies on a separate location in case they get lost or stolen.
Of course, you will want to make sure you have enough money to get you through your trip; and customs officials even have the right to ask you to prove that you do. The official currency of Aruba is the Aruba Guilder/Florin, though credit cards are also widely accepted. You can exchange your money for the Florin at the airport, or local banks and ATMs, but be warned. When you leave Aruba, you will be required to pay a departure fee of $36.75(USD).
If you have prescription medications, make sure to bring your prescription slip or a note from your doctor along with you, in case you are questioned by customs. A list of emergency contacts, hotel and rental vehicle information, and any paperwork you need to confirm your pre-planned activities should also be carried with you.
Forgetting Important Documents and Money can ruin your vacation, so click on the link to read a checklist of what you should remember to bring.
What you need to know when planning what to wear in Aruba is that it gets hot. Smart vacationers pack only light-colored, light-weight fabrics to help keep them cool, and comfortable clothing so that they can enjoy every aspect of exploring the island without worrying about chaffing or having to adjust a shirt strap constantly. Cotton and linen t-shirts paired with shorts or khakis work best. Women should save the skirts and dresses for days when they are not doing too much exploring. Another important component of your outfit is your shoes. Comfortable athletic shoes will make your days traversing Aruba all the more bearable, flip flops or sandals meanwhile, will be fine for hanging out around your resort. Of course, you will also want to ensure that you have enough undergarments, socks, and pajamas. For even more advice on what clothing is appropriate for your Aruba vacation, you can check out our guide to Aruba Clothing. Also, click here for a checklist of clothing items to pack.
Casual is key in Aruba. In most cases, you can get away with wearing your everyday clothing into restaurants and other places of business without any problem. Some vacationers never even think about putting on anything more formal, and you need not pack anything of that nature if you decide not to. However, there are a few locations on the island where dressing up will be required – such as if you decide to go to an upscale restaurant for a fancy dinner one night. If this is the case, men should stick to collared shirts and slacks, and women should wear a sun dress or party dress, or a skirt or a pair of slacks and a nice blouse. If you're one who likes to prevent over packing, just give any restaurant you think may require formal wear a call and find out their dress code before you pack. More likely than not, typical resort wear will be fine.
Of course, if you bring nothing else to Aruba, you'll want to bring your swimsuit. If you can bring two or more swimsuits, all the better. This will give you variety, as well as allow you to leave one to dry in your hotel room while you wear the other. If you have plans to participate in some watersports, a rash guard is a helpful item to bring along, as well, to protect your upper body from sun burn or abrasion.
Some vacationers may feel that Aruba's annual average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit means that when it comes to style less is more. This is not always the case. While the people of Aruba are collectively not as conservative as some other Caribbean, it is still considered inappropriate to don swim wear out on the streets, in restaurants, and at the store. Bring a cover-up that you can slip on quickly when you venture off of beach and pool property. For women, a sarong or pareo is highly recommended. You can wrap them however you like to cover your body, plus they can be used as a beach blanket and take up very little space in your luggage.
Don't forget to include a sun hat, sandals or flip-flops, and sunglasses. You may also want to consider bringing along a parachute beach blanket. This is a lesser known beach-essential. The blanket is made of nylon parachute material, which allows it to stay cool even in the hot sun, dry quickly, and it is even mildew resistant. If your day at the beach involves watersports like kayaking, or you'll be doing some sailing and boating, a dry bag is another great extra. These bags are designed to keep water out and float, keeping your valuables safe should they somehow fall into the water.
Yes, you can get all the toiletries you need when you arrive in Aruba, and most resorts even provide them for you. Still, if you are particular about what you use on your body, you'll want to play it safe and bring your own. Some suggestions include hair care products, soap, lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant. You can get all of these items in travel sizes before you leave for Aruba and it is advisable that you do so, because often these items are marked up in price in the areas surrounding the hotels. View our checklists of what items to bring by clicking here.
Mosquitoes and sand fleas are a problem in Aruba, especially when it has been raining. Because of this, you will want to bring along some bug spray to apply to your body every day before you leave the hotel, and at times throughout the day when you feel as though the original application has worn off. If you do happen to get bit, hydrocortisone cream and Benadryl can be a big help in providing relief. You can never have enough sunblock, and lip balm with SPF is recommended as well. In the event that you get a sun burn, it will also be nice to have some aloe vera on hand to cool and soothe the skin.
Finally, a first aid kit equipped with band aids, anti-bacterial lotion, anti-diahhreal medication, ibuprofen, and aspirin is never a bad idea. You'll find more specific information regarding health concerns on the island here, which may help to further advise you as you pack your toiletries and medications. Don't let an oversight ruin your vacation, view our Medication and Health Items checklist and make sure you are prepared.
When the sun goes down, and the trade winds kick in, it can be chilly at night. Packing a sweater or wrap to throw on is a great idea just in case. During the rainy season, which occurs between October and January, a rain jacket or poncho and an umbrella is also a good idea as well.
To fill the spaces between activities, and during your travel time, you would do well to bring a few entertainment items. A good book or e-reader, perhaps a hand-held video game or laptop, an mp3 player, DVD player, cards, or personal journal are all options to choose from. Don't forget to bring batteries or battery chargers for any electronic devices you bring along, and their converters if you find that Aruba uses different outlets than you are used to back home.
You absolutely don't want to forget your camera and all of the equipment needed to maintain it. An extra memory card is a good idea, as well, so you can capture every moment of your Aruban vacation on film. If you've got a waterproof camera, this is definitely the time to put it to use. Click here for our checklist on the electronic items you may want to bring.
Other helpful items to bring with you include zip-lock bags, which have many uses including keeping ants out of food and keeping personal items dry; a collapsible cooler that can be popped open for picnics and hikes; but folded to take very little space in your luggage; an extra duffel bag to store any items you pick up while shopping; your own snorkeling gear; a bottle opener; and a small amount of laundry detergent so you can do a quick hand washing of garments in the sink should a spill requiring immediate attention occur.
A checklist of other miscellaneous items to pack can be found here.
If you are worried about over or under-packing, here is a tip that many well-versed travelers use: make sure all of your clothes match and are interchangeable. You can wear several different shirts with a pair of linen shorts, and layering a few different colored t-shirts and tank tops is a good way to save room in your suitcase but give you a fresh look each day of your vacation. Recently, packing cubes have begun gaining popularity. These nifty inventions allow you to pack like items together tightly and maximize space in your suitcase. As you're considering the amount you want to pack, remember that these days airlines have strict regulations regarding the size of your luggage. Most airlines charge for checked luggage, and add on additional fees if your bag is over a certain weight. Some airlines also charge for your carry on, though the cost is usually much less than what you pay for a checked bag. Make sure to get in touch with your airline for their specific rules.
One more thing to keep in mind as you begin packing for your getaway is that luggage does go missing on occasion, especially when international travel is involved. It is highly advised that you bring a well-packed carry-on bag with everything you need to get you through your first 24 hours on the island while the airline tracks down your belongings. In doing this, make sure to keep in mind that all liquid toiletries must be under three ounces and fit into one clear, gallon-sized zip-lock bag per person. You may also want to make sure your checked luggage is secured with TSA approved safety locks to prevent your bags from being ransacked during a random search.
When you have a closet full of possibilities, it can be hard to narrow down exactly what you want to take to Aruba. Just consider each activity you will be doing while you are on the island, and what you will need to wear while you are doing so. See which of these activities will allow you to wear similar clothing to save space, then throw in your toiletries, important documents, and a few entertainment items, and you are good to go!
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