What Should You Pack for a Trip to the Turks and Caicos?

Pack your bags for your Turks and Caicos vacation with the precision of a travel veteran

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Packing for Turks and Caicos

A suitcase destined for Turks and Caicos should be packed full of clothing that can go from the beach to the trails, and even out to a nice dinner.

Many travelers stress about packing their luggage. Many questions arise, like “What should I bring?”, “What do I actually need?”, and “How do I make sure I have everything I need without over-packing?” These questions and more are answered for you here, where you will discover some important packing tips, as well as be able to determine what essentials you should bring with you to Turks and Caicos.

First and Foremost

Entering Turks and Caicos from a foreign country requires that you be prepared to submit your valid and up-to-date passport to customs officials. It is also wise to have your government issued identification card on you (such as your driver's license), though this is not a requirement. You should make copies of both items and keep them in a safe location, such as packed into your checked luggage. If you lose either, or they are stolen, you'll have a backup that you can take to the local embassy, who can direct you in how to handle the situation.

The official currency of the Turks and Caicos islands is the United States Dollar. This bodes well for American citizens traveling to the islands on vacation, because it is wise to keep a decent amount of cash on hand, in case a situation arises in which your credit or debit card cannot be used.

A few other important things to keep on you as you travel from your hometown to the islands is a note from your doctor or a prescription slip for any medications you are carrying with you, plus confirmation of your hotel,, rental cars, and pre-paid activities.

Click here for a list of the important documents you should bring.


The whole of the Caribbean tends to have a laid back attitude with regards to clothing. The relentless heat, and high activity level of tourists who come to explore the island means that there are a lot of people walking around in casual clothing – and that is perfectly okay.

As you are out traversing the islands on the hunt for tropical flora and fauna, or learning the history of the local landmarks, you will want to wear clothing that will keep you comfortable and cool. Stick to natural fabrics such as cotton, and go for the light-weight, light-colored items. Linen shorts of khakis and t-shirts or tank tops are often the top choice, and paired with athletic shoes, you can't go wrong.

As you are placing these items in your suitcase, don't forget a few other essentials: undergarments, socks, and pajamas. See a checklist of what kind of clothes to bring by clicking here.

Formal Wear

Casual is king as you explore outdoors, but when it is time to step inside, some locations in Turks and Caicos would prefer that you put a little extra effort into your appearance. While shorts and shirts are acceptable for many locales, others require collared shirts and slacks for men, and dresses or nice pant suits for women. It would be best to bring along at least one more formal outfit, and if you are unsure about the dress code of a particular locale, call ahead.

Swim Wear

Depending upon the length of your vacation, you would be smart to pack at least two swimsuits. This will not only give you options, but allow you to leave one to dry in your hotel room while wearing the other. If you'll be participating in watersports, a rash guard is highly recommended to protect you not only from abrasions but sun burn as well.

Also consider bringing along a cover-up like a sarong pareo or so you can quickly go from the sand into a local eatery or shop, a hat to protect your scalp, face, and neck from the sun, sunglasses, and a pair of sandals to protect your feet from the sometimes scalding hot sand. All of these items are essential, but small enough that they shouldn't take up too much space in your luggage.

A few extras that might make your beach-going experience even better are a dry bag, which floats on water and will keep your valuables air tight should they fall in while you're participating in watersports, your own snorkeling equipment if you plan to participate in the sport, and a parachute beach blanket. This is a blanket made out of nylon parachute material that remains cool in the hot sun, dries quickly, and is resistant to mildew.

Toiletries and Health Care

Many tourists depend upon their hotel to provide them with their basic toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, soup, and lotion, and only bring along a hair brush, a toothbrush, and some deodorant. This is certainly plausible, but many more visitors are opting to bring along their own collection of toiletries, which can be a giant waste of space in your luggage. If you feel more comfortable sticking with products you know, try purchasing them in travel sizes to save space, or buy travel sized containers that you can fill at home. Make sure to put them in a separate, smaller bag within your luggage so that if there is a spill, the rest of your belongings will not be harmed. See our Toiletries and Personal Items for more information.

Mosquitoes and sand fleas can really put a damper on your trip if you get bit. Make sure to bring along a potent insect repellent that you can apply to your skin before you leave your hotel room each morning, and if you can, carry it with you for reapplications throughout the day. If you are unlucky and receive a bite, hydrocortisone cream or Benadryl is good at offering relief. The same goes for sunblock. Bring three times the amount you might think you need plus lip balm with SPF in it and apply liberally throughout the day. If you do happen to get a burn, having a bottle of aloe vera on hand will be a life saver.

Packing a first aid kit is also a good idea. Include band aids, disinfectant, aspirin, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea, antiseptic, tweezers, and a thermometer, plus any emergency medications you or someone you're traveling with may need. Click here for a list of some common medical items you should consider packing.

What Else To Pack

Nights in Turks and Caicos can get a little chilly, especially during the winter months. Bring along a sweater or wrap if cool temperatures are hard for you to adapt to. Rain showers are an issue as well. A rain jacket, poncho, or umbrella will ensure you don't have to cancel your plans over a light rain storm.

A section of your carry-on bag reserved for entertainment items is a good idea. You don't need to bring everything listed below, but one or two will help to pass the time as you travel: a good book or your e-reader, an mp3 player, a portable DVD player, a personal journal, a laptop, and a hand held video game system. Don't forget to pack enough batteries or the necessary power cord to get you through your trip.

Other extras to consider include zip lock bags which are great for protecting your valuables and storing snacks, a bottle opener, laundry detergent for spot treating stains in your hotel sink, and a collapsible cooler.

Finally, don't forget to bring your camera and all equipment needed to keep it up and running, plus an extra memory card to store the hundreds of pictures you are likely to take as you try to capture all of your Turks and Caicos vacation memories on film. If you have a waterproof camera, all the better. Our Gadgets and Electronics checklist can help make sure you remember everything.

Packing Concerns

A great tip for travelers who are worried about over- or under-packing is to bring along a selection of clothing that is both similar in style, and complimentary in color. When you pack just a few interchangeable items, you'll be able to switch them around and create a wider variety of outfits. A pair of cloth shorts, for example, will go nicely with a variety of shirts, and a selection of colored shirts can be layered differently each day for a new look.

One major worry that many travelers have if that the airline will lose their luggage. This happens much less often than the movie industry would have you believe, but you can arrive prepared if it will ease your fears. Pack one full outfit and your swimsuit in your carry-on bag, plus anything else you might need to get through 24 hours on the island without your checked luggage. This will ensure that you have something to wear during your second day on the islands, which gives the airline time to find your belongings, or gets you through until you can go out and make some new purchases. Make sure to note that under current TSA guidelines, all liquid items that you carry on must be less than three ounces a piece and fit into a clear, gallon-sized sealable bag.

One final concern to consider is the cost of your luggage. Every airline is different with regards to how they price luggage. Some allow each passenger one checked bag and two carry-ons for free, some charge for all checked bags, and others charge for checked and carry-on luggage. Plus, there are usually fees with regards to the weight and size of the bag. Your best bet is to contact your airline directly to find out their policies.

The best way to pack for your trip to Turks and Caicos is to learn about the weather during the time you will be staying there, and determine which activities you will be participating in. Choose outfits that are most suited to those activities, and you'll ensure you are never uncomfortable during what should be the most comfortable (not to mention exciting) time of your life.


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