Suggestions for Packing for a Vacation in the USVI

Vacationers heading to the Virgin Islands need not fret over packing their luggage

Photo credit: © doc_otto

Packing for the Virgin Islands

Seasoned travelers have a number of tricks up their sleeves when it comes to packing their luggage. As you head to the Virgin Islands, don't let packing be the thing that overwhelms you. Instead, learn from the best.

The best way to begin to think about packing for your trip is to take two things into consideration: the typical weather patterns during the time you will be staying in the Virgin Islands, and the activities you hope to participate in. These will help you to quickly determine immediately which articles of clothing you will not need to pack, no matter how much you want to find reason to bring them along.

First and Foremost

Having the appropriate paperwork on you as you head to the Virgin Islands is imperative, or your vacation could never take flight. Entry requirements for the U.S. Virgin Islands dictate the American citizens need not have a passport, and that proof of your identification, such as your driver's license or original birth certificate. If you travel to the British Virgin Islands, however you will need a passport. Also keep in mind that if you travel to the British Virgin Islands or any other Caribbean island during your trip, you will need a passport to reenter the United States. On top of carrying these original documents with you, make copies and keep them in your checked bag. This will come in handy if your originals are lost or stolen.

The official currency of both the British and U.S. Virgin Islands is the United States Dollar. This makes it easy on 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 car, and pre-paid activities and excursions.

View our checklist on Important Documents and Money for some more information.


The Virgin Islands are some of the few islands in the Caribbean where conservative clothing reigns supreme. This does not, however, mean you should choose overly dressy clothing to wear as you spend your days outside exploring. It just means you will have to take a little extra care not to bring along items that may be considered too revealing, such as very short shorts or midriff baring shirts.

What you really want to focus on is comfort. 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 or hiking boots, you can't go wrong.

A few other items you definitely will not want to overlook include undergarments, socks, and pajamas. Click here for a checklist on what clothing items to bring.

Formal Wear

As the old saying goes, it is better to be overdressed than under dressed. While this may not be true as you are out exploring the natural side of the Virgin Islands, indoors it may be wise to take heed. Men should pack one or two collared shirts and a pair of slacks along with close-toed shoes for nights out, and perhaps even a sports jacket and a tie for the more elegant establishments. Women will want a few nice sun dresses or pant suits, and perhaps even a cocktail dress, and of course the appropriate shoes and accessories.

Swim Wear

It isn't a vacation in the Virgin Islands without hours spent lounging on the beach – or at least by the pool. That is why a bathing suit is of utmost importance. It is even suggested that you bring more than one. This will prevent you from having to wear a wet suit each day. Instead, you can leave one to dry in your hotel room, and head out in a clean suit.

It is absolutely essential that you bring along a cover-up. Ladies, if you have a one piece suit, a sarong will work find, but those wearing a two piece will want, perhaps, to bring a dress or t-shirt to cover themselves; and men should bring an extra t-shirt as well. Walking around in your swimsuit away from the pool or beach is absolutely frowned upon.

Other beach necessities include a sun hat, sun glasses, and flip flops or sandals...and of course, sunscreen!

Toiletries and Health Care

While your hotel will provide you with the basics (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and soap), there are a few toiletries you will need to bring yourself. Dental hygiene, other hair care products outside of what you use in the shower, and body care products are up to you. You can now purchase most brands in travel sized bottles, or you can buy empty containers and fill them with your own products from home to save space. Make sure to pack all of your toiletries in a small bag that will go in your checked luggage so that you don't have issues if a bottle breaks or leaks. Make sure you bring everything you need and view our checklist by clicking here.

There are a number of small bugs in the Virgin Islands that you will need to protect yourself against, such as mosquitoes and sand fleas. 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. Our Medication and Health Items checklist can make sure you do not forget anything.

What Else To Pack

What many people don't tell you about the Virgin Islands is that nights can become chilly. Bring along a sweater or wrap to provide you with extra warmth after the sun goes down. On top of that, a rain jacket, poncho, or umbrella is important if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors. Rainfall is not a huge ordeal on the islands, the showers usually begin out of nowhere and end rather quickly, but having an umbrella to pull out in the midst of an afternoon springtime shower would mean that you wouldn't have to cancel any plans.

Also, reserve a portion of your carry-on bag for entertainment purposes. One or two of the following items will keep you from giving in to boredom as you travel from your home to the Virgin Islands: 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.

And of course, you will want to make sure you remember your camera. Your cell phone will likely be the next best thing, but the quality of your digital camera will likely trump a cell phone snap any day. Don't forget to pack an extra memory card. Our Gadgets and Electronics checklists can help you out here.

Finally, take a moment to check out our Other Miscellaneous Items checklist and make sure that you have everything you will need on your vacation.

Packing Concerns

Interchangeable clothing is the key to making sure you have enough, but not too much, clothing in your suitcase. Bring along with you a selection of clothing that is both similar in style, and complimentary in color. You will then 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 you might think, but you can arrive prepared if it will put you at ease. Pack on full outfit and your swimsuit in your carry on bag. 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.

Check List

Important DocumentsMoneyToiletries and Personal ItemsMedication
Passport, identification, and copies Credit Cards Soap Motion sickness remedies
Medical and vaccination records Travelers checks Shampoo and conditioner Allergy pills
Hotel reservation confirmation pages Cash Toothbrush and tooth paste Cold Medicines
Insurance information Mouth wash First aid kit
E-tickets Body lotion Nausea and diarrhea remedies
Car rental confirmation Sun block Contraceptives
Contact information for credit cards Contact lenses and solution Pain relievers
Birth Certificates for young children Cosmetics Vitamins
Glasses (both prescription and sun) Prescription medications
Razors and shaving cream Insect repellent
Lip balm with SPF
Hand sanitizer
Toiletries bag
GadgetsClothingFamily ItemsMiscellaneous
Camera Bathing suits Diapers and wipes Guide books
Camera charger Cover up Baby foot and utensils Calling cards
Flim/memory card Dresses Bottles Umbrella
Batteries Shirts Bibs Flashlight
Cell phone and charger Pants Activities for children Book light
Lap top and accessories Shorts Portable playpen Address book
Portable DVD player and DVDs Formal dress Stroller Corkscrew
MP3 player or CD player and CDs Dress shoes Sun hat Pen and paper
Radio Walking shoes Waterproof sheets Sewing kit
PDA Beach/pool shoes Changing pads Tote bag
Adapters Hiking boots Snacks
Socks Infant carrier
Undergarments Car seat
Belt Pacifier
Watch Clothing
Rain jacket/poncho

Heeding the advice provided to you here will allow you to pack a few luggage items filled with the essentials and nothing more – which will leave room for all of the souvenirs you'll want to buy as you tour the Virgin Islands.


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