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What do I pack for a sailing vacation?

Lifestyle Onboard
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What to pack for a sailing vacation

If you’re planning a sailing vacation, congratulations! You’re in for an unforgettable experience exploring some of the most beautiful waters in the world. Perhaps you’re an experienced salty sailor with your duffle bag perpetually on standby. But for some of us, packing for that much-anticipated vacation will take a bit more thoughtful consideration – especially if it’s a new type of adventure! Afterall, packing for a boat cruise is not quite the same as for a standard land-based trip. 

The right packing list for your sailing destination

Firstly, while many choose to sail in the balmy Caribbean, sunny Mediterranean or exotic South Pacific, not all charter destinations boast toasty warm temperatures year-round. Check your destination’s weather forecasts so you can properly prepare for chilly, windy or rainy conditions. 

And, remember that nighttime temperatures are often much cooler – especially on or near the water! 

packing for a sailing vaction

Many experienced sailing charterers will tell you – nearly everyone over-packs (by a lot!) on their first boating vacation. Remember that your chosen vacation platform is a boat – it’s uber casual and designed for water-based fun!  If you’re in a warm destination you’ll likely spend most of your time in a bathing suit, shorts, tees, sun shirt or casual coverup.  In most destinations, even the nicer restaurants expect that vacationers will arrive in breezy, unfussy attire. Also keep in mind that space on board can be pretty limited and you probably don’t want to spend your vacation tripping over your belongings.

Your sailing vacation packing list

Let’s dive right in and discover the key items to pack for your sailing vacation – to ensure you have all the essentials for a fun, safe, comfortable trip .

Luggage

  • Travel bags: choose flexible sports bags or backpacks that fold easily. Do not bring rigid suitcases, as they are difficult to store in the lockers on board. You will likely not be able to leave them at the base for the duration of your cruise.
  • Day bag: preferably waterproof, to protect your camera, phone, sunglasses and wallet. Otherwise, a plastic zippered bag will give you the minimum protection you need.
  • Beach bag: for your towels, sunscreen, snorkeling gear for going ashore.
  • Security pouch: bring an under-the-shirt security pouch for documents.
Woman reading in a yacht charter
Happy couple on board of a yacht charter

Clothes to pack for a yacht charter

A good rule of thumb when packing for a sailing vacation? Put everything you think you need in a pile and then cut it by a third!

  • Swimwear: pack a few swimsuits, bikinis or swim shorts so you always have a dry one.
  • Beach clothing: lightweight, quick-drying clothing such as t-shirts, tank tops, beach shorts, coverups and sun dresses.
  • Shirts: long sleeve shirts or rash guards with built in SPF sun protection – ideal for snorkeling
  • Waterproof clothing: light and waterproof jacket, which will not take up much space, but will protect you when needed.
  • Outer layers: a warm sweatshirt, sweater or jacket for the evening, especially if you are sailing in Europe in low season.
  • Casual dinner outfit: for dinners out
  • Flip flops/sandals: with soft non-marking soles and good grip. Although most of the time you will be barefoot on the boat to keep it clean.
  • Water shoes: to protect your feet.
  • Other shoes as needed:  many destinations have very nice hiking options.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat/cap
Children enjoying vacation in a catamaran with sunglasses and lifejackets

Toiletries

  • Sunscreen and sunblock: take plenty and make it oil-free and reef-safe – look for products that are free from oxybenzone and octinoxate.
  • Insect repellant: avoid the bug bites.
  • Lip balm: prevent wind-chapped lips and choose one with SPF for sun protection.
  • Travel size toiletries: shampoo/conditioner, soap/shower gel, toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Make up: only minimal as desired.
  • Seasickness pills or patches: perfect for those who get seasick.
  • Earplugs and eyeshades: good for light sleepers.
  • Medications: prescription and non-prescription. Be sure to bring a copy of your prescription for any prescribed medications, and make sure prescription medication has all details on the bottle including your name.
  • Other: such as extra eyeglasses, contact solution and contacts.
Belize landscape two canoes at sunset
Bridge of wood in rainforest

Documents

  • Passport and visas
    • Bareboat certification: If you are sailing yourself, don’t forget to bring your original certificates and copies with you.
  • Insurance contact details
  • Yacht charter rental documents

Miscellaneous

  • Herbs and spices: pack them in zip-lock bags to add flavor to simple dishes.
  • Insulated cup:  to keep your drinks cold & avoid plastic cups.
  • Zip lock bags
  • Small flashlight
  • Notebook and pen
  • Flag: represent your country, state, sports team or university, just for fun!
  • Inflatable floats
  • Underwater camera or “GoPro”
  • Driver’s license/Identification
  • Games: playing cards is always a good idea.
  • Cell phones/chargers
  • Electronics Adapters:  a USB adapter to charge your phone when USB outlets are not available. 
  • AUX cable:  handy if your yacht does not have Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Ultimate sailing playlist
  • Books/magazines
Woman with hay at yacht charter
Two guests enjoying vacations at yacht charter
Woman floating on blue waters with fishes

Leave at home checklist

  • Tanning oil as it stains the yacht fittings
  • Cooking and eating equipment and utensils
  • Navigation tools and charts
  • First aid kit, as all boats have them on board
  • Valuable jewelry
  • Hair dryer and straighteners – you will be in the water a lot!

Welcome on board! Now it’s time to choose your destination – if you need some inspiration, head on over to our blog. Alternatively, if you have any questions, get in touch with us – we’re happy to help!

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