What Should You Pack for a Trip to the Bahamas?

Packing for your trip to the Bahamas just got easier

Photo credit: © lil 1/2 pint

Packing for the Bahamas
 

Whether you're going to the Bahamas for a weekend trip or an extended say, you've probably spent some time debating what you should put in your suitcase.

Some people over-pack, fearing they will forget something important, while others under-pack, forgetting to take many situations they will encounter on the islands into consideration. Now, by following the tips below, you can be sure to pack exactly what you need; nothing more, and nothing less.

First and Foremost

When traveling to the Bahamas, there are a few pieces of paperwork that you will want to pack in an easy to reach place that you keep with you on the plane. The requirements for entering the Bahamas varies by country, but because the United States requires that U.S. citizens show a valid passport in order to return home, having your passport on hand is a necessity. At customs, you may also show your official birth certificate or naturalization slip along with your government-issued identification card. All visitors must present a return or onward plane ticket as proof of your plan to leave the island after your visit. Make copies of any documents you bring to the Bahamas, in keep them in a location separate from the originals. This will be a life safer in the event they become lost or stolen.

Another important item to carry with you is your money. Whether in credit cards, traveler's checks, or cash, making sure you have enough to get you through your vacation and back home is essential. The official currency in the Bahamas is the Bahamian Dollar, but the United States Dollar is so widely accepted that you don't necessarily have to exchange your money. Whichever currency you choose, make sure you have some cash on hand in the event that the credit card machines are down at any particular facility. Also be aware that upon your exit from the Bahamas, you will be required to pay a departure fee of between $20 and $22(USD).

A few other documents to keep on hand include your prescription slip for your medications, a list of emergency contacts, your airline tickets, confirmation or your hotel and rental car, and any paperwork you need regarding your pre-arranged activities.

Maps

Read our Important Documents and Money checklist to make sure you have everything you need.

Clothing

If you're packing for the Bahamas and all you can imagine is you by the pool, sunning yourself in your new bathing suit, take a moment to separate yourself from that image. Will you need a bathing suit in the Bahamas? Yes. Will it be the only thing you'll wear during your whole trip? No, though technically it could be.

Still, you will be more comfortable when you participate in your non-beach activities if you have the appropriate clothing. As you tour the island, you will want to wear comfortable, light-weight clothing in light colors to curb heat that comes from direct sunlight. Cotton t-shirts and tanks paired with shorts or khakis are typically the top choices among tourists. Ladies, save your skirts and sundresses for less strenuous activities. Athletic shoes will feel the best as your explore. A few other items of clothes you won't want to forget include undergarments and socks.

As you pack, you may find yourself wondering what is acceptable with regards to local standards and sensibilities. Our guide to Clothing in the Bahamas covers that, helping you to avoid any uncomfortable clothing situations during your stay.

Make sure you have everything you need by clicking here.

Formal Wear

While casual clothing can certainly get you through your entire trip, sometimes dressing up is fun. There are even some locations in the Bahamas where it is recommended that you forgo shorts and opt for something a little dressier; upscale restaurants or the theater for example. If you plan to dine in a formal setting during your trip, make sure you pack for the occasion. Collared shirts and slacks for men, and sun dresses, skirts or slacks paired with embellished blouses, or party dresses for women will suffice for dining or nightlife entertainment. Loafers or boat shoes for men and dress sandals or heels for women will complete your ensembles.

Swim Wear

As if you could forget to bring your swimsuit to the Bahamas! True, that little piece of clothing is usually at the top of the packing list for people headed to the islands but believe it or not, many people do forget to bring theirs along. On top of double checking that you've packed your suit, you may also want to consider packing more than one plus a rash guard. Having multiple swimsuits gives you options, as well as allows you to put on a dry suit each day, while you leave your other suit drying in your hotel room and the rash guard will protect you from sun burn when participating in watersports.

To allow for a quick transition from beach to city, pack a cover-up such as a t-shirt, pareo, or sarong. Don't forget to bring protective gear, such as sunscreen, hats, sun glasses, and sandals. Some other beach essentials include your own snorkeling equipment, a dry bag (an air tight bag that keeps valuable dry and floats when dropped in water), and a parachute beach blanket (which is made of nylon, dries easy, and stays cool in the hot sun).

Toiletries and Health Care

If you use it every day, you'll want to bring it with you to the Bahamas. While your hotel will most likely provide you with the typical shampoo, conditioner, and soap, you will still need such items as toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant, shaving cream, and razors. You can get all of these in travel-sizes before you leave for the Bahamas, or often buy them in your hotel gift shop. It is advisable that you purchase them before you leave for the islands, because the cost of toiletries is often marked up in the areas around popular hotels.

Our checklist on Toiletries and Personal Items can help make sure you do not forget any of these items.

Medications should also be packed along with your toiletries, next to a prescription slip or note from your doctor, and it can't hurt to bring along a small first aid kit. Mosquitoes and a few other bugs that bite are common in the Bahamas, so every day should begin with an application of bug repellant around the same time you're applying your first coat of sun block. Consider bringing hydrocortisone cream or Benadryl for relief from the itchiness that comes if a bug does end up biting you, and aloe vera for if you get sun burned. Find a checklist to help you pack these items by clicking here.

What Else To Pack

The Bahamas differs from many other Caribbean islands, in that the temperature can change drastically throughout the day, depending upon your location and season. Not only should you carry an umbrella and rain jacket with you in case of sudden rain showers, but a sweater or wrap for cold nights is essential.

Most people like to bring a few entertainment items along to keep then occupied on downtimes. A mp3 player, a book or e-reader, a portable DVD player, hand-held game system, laptop, and deck of cards are all options. You will also want to make sure you have the necessary amount of batteries to keep your electronics up and running, as well as the appropriate adapters for your chargers.

While it is unlikely that you will forget your camera, you will want to ensure that you also bring an extra memory card to store all of the pictures you are sure to take. If you can pick up a waterproof camera, you'll be rewarded with some great shots here.

Keep yourslef entertained by seeing our Gadgets and Electronics checklist.

A few miscellaneous items you'll want to pack include a collapsible cooler, a bottle opener, zip lock bags, and a small package of laundry detergent. If you'll be doing some shopping, an extra bag may be necessary, and bringing a duffle bag that you can pack in the original set of luggage you bring will be the easiest option. View other miscellaneous items by clicking here.

Packing Concerns

Saving space when you pack for a vacation is always a concern. Here's a simple trick to ensure you have enough clothing to get you through your trip to the Bahamas, but not overload your suitcase so you go over the weight limit when you check your bag (which could end up costing you a fee). Only pack items that are interchangeable. For example, several t-shirts that compliment a few pair of shorts provide a new look for each day of the week; women can also bring different tops to wear with a skirt or two.

One of the most often heard concerns for vacationers who fly is what to do if the airline loses their luggage. You can avoid a major meltdown by packing your swimsuit and one complete change of clothes in your carry-on luggage, plus anything you need to get through 24 hours without your checked bag. This way you will have at least one clean outfit to change into while you wait for the airline to sort out the mistake, or until you can go shopping for something new. If you plan to pack liquid toiletries in your carry on, remember that you may only bring what will fit in a clear gallon-sized zip lock bag, and each individual item within the bag must be less than three ounces.

With these items on hand, you'll have everything you need to get you through your vacation in the Bahamas.

 

Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.