I don’t know about you guys, but I am sick to death of winter. I’m over all of it – the snow, the cold, the short, dark days, everything. I am pretty much counting down the days until the first day of spring. That being said, I really shouldn’t complain too much because at the beginning of February I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Montego Bay, Jamaica with my boyfriend. Before this trip, I had never been anywhere tropical or hot. I also had never been anywhere during the winter. Well, let me tell you, from now on I am going somewhere hot every winter that I can afford it. Every single aspect of the trip was amazing – hot white sand, turquoise ocean, balmy breeze and swaying palm trees. It was exactly what I needed and it was especially satisfying to know that I was in 30 + degree (celcius) weather sipping on a Caipirissima (my boyfriend is hooked on this cocktail now) while it was snowing buckets back home in Vancouver. We stayed at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall resort and it’s expensive as hell but breathtakingly stunning. The customer service is also out of this world. The only taxing part of this trip was packing for it. As I had never been anywhere hot before, I basically packed everything summery I owned and hoped for the best. Some of it I wore, some of it I never touched, and there were some items that I wished I had bought specifically for the trip. Since hindsight is 20/20, here are the 12 items that I think are essential when travelling to the Caribbean (or anywhere tropical).
When it comes to effortless vacation dressing, it’s hard to beat the jumpsuit. Just step in, zip up, and you’re good to go without having to worry about coordinating an outfit or how to sit decently (#dressproblems). This cute little number manages to combine three trends at once (stripes, culottes, and jumpsuits) while still looking timeless and elegant. The fact that is strapless is another plus as there is nothing that inspires irrational rage and misery more than the feel of a strap digging into a sunburnt shoulder.
I wore these sandals to death. They were especially perfect around dinner time when I wanted something that was a little more formal than my rubber flip flops but not as high maintenance as a pair of high heels. The nude/snake print goes with absolutely everything and is a refreshing change from basic black, brown or tan.
I have the type of pale, freckled skin that is absolutely scorched by the sun even when I have slathered myself head to toe in SPF 70 and so a hat is a must. A floppy straw sun hat not only instantly adds some style points to an outfit, but it will protect your head and face from the harsh rays of the Caribbean sun, preventing sunburn and heat stroke. My body may have been lobster red by the end of my trip, but my face was completely burn-free.
If you’re going somewhere hot on vacation a cute swimsuit is (obviously) an essential. Whether you are a one-piece or two-piece kind of gal is your choice, but I would pick something that makes you feel stunning as you are going to be in it for most of your trip. This bikini set from LUCLUC was my go-to. I find this bikini set to be ridiculously flattering. I am not a fan of high-waisted swimsuit bottoms but I love the way these provide just the right amount coverage for my curvier hips and tush. The black piping provides a gorgeous contrast against the sky blue fabric, a colour that, in my opinion, flatters all skin tone. I actually got quite a few compliments on this bad boy and I can’t wait to bring it out more in the summer.
A flowy printed skirt is a tropical vacation must. Why? At some point, you’ll want to wear something at night other than a dress, and there is nothing that feels worse against sunburnt legs than chafing denim cut-offs. This loud, floral print is so bright and cheerful and the high-waist is sexy and flattering. I would wear this skirt with a little crop top or a shoulder-baring blouse.
I mean, you could stuff all of your beach essentials in a boring canvas bag or backpack but why would you? A straw bag goes with everything, is classically stylish, and is easy to clean – no stained fabric, just dump out the sand that will inevitably find its way into your bag, shoes, swimsuit, and bed. This bag is roomy enough to fit all of your stuff, all of your travel buddy’s stuff, with room to spare. I also love the pop of tropical colour that the tassels add to this otherwise simple tote.
Real talk: a slip is not just a travel necessity, it’s a life necessity. They are effortlessly sexy and are so easy to just throw on, whether you’re wearing it over your swimsuit or with a boyfriend cardigan and pair of mules. Tuck one in your beach bag so that you can toss it over your swimsuit when you are ready to be civilized – say in a restaurant where your sarong or cut-offs just won’t cut it.
I have very, very curly hair. When I am in the city I tame it with a straightener, a palm full of mousse, and shine spray. In the humid tropical climate of the Caribbean, however, all bets are off and my hair goes totally wild. My curls are massive and all of my usual styling methods go out the window. I didn’t even bother trying to straighten it because the moment I stepped outside my hair would literally spiral out of control. My headband and hair clips kept my hair looking curly and cute instead of curly and crazy. Even if your hair errs more on the straight side, a cute clip or headband will keep your beachy, sea-sprayed hair looking somewhat polished with minimal effort.
It doesn’t matter where I am going, I always forget to pack a pair of sunglasses and have to buy a pair either at the hotel or the airport. This is a terrible idea because they are always ridiculously expensive. They were absolutely necessary, though. In Jamaica, the sun was blinding and so my sunglasses were on my face from dawn until dusk. Fun fact: sunglasses rarely suit my face (aviators honestly make me look like Jim Morrison) and the only consistent exception to this are cat-eye frames. I just love the old-Hollywood glamour vibe and air of mystery that they add to an outfit. Grab a pair for your next vacation and channel your inner Audrey Hepburn.
Comfy and casual should never equate to sloppy and boring. These distressed rolled shorts are given a quirky update with sweet little embroidered daisies all down the sides. I also love the longer rolled hem which adds to the effortless, ‘I picked these up off the floor and threw them on, but don’t I look adorable?” look. The perfect pair of shorts to wear while strolling down the beach or on an adventurous excursion.
Bodysuits are awesome. They can be worn with shorts, skirts, pants, everything, and that kind of versatility is exactly what you need from your clothes when you are on vacation. Squeeze a couple different coloured bodysuits in your suitcase so that you have different options depending on the day or your mood. One bodysuit can easily take you from day to night: toss a pair of worn-in cutoffs over them during the day, and a flirty floral skirt in the evening.
The punchy coral hue of this dress practically screams ‘I’m vacationing in the tropics’ and it looks amazing against a newly acquired tan. Maxi dresses are just so ideal when you are on vacation. They are comfortable and breezy, but can still transition from casual to formal with a simple shoe and accessory change (flip flops and beach bag to strappy sandals and pretty clutch). And the fact that this one is reversible? You’re just winning all around.
What are your must-pack tropical vacation essentials? Let me know in the comments!