Bathing suits, shorts and lightweight dresses, right — that’s all a girl needs on a beach vacation abroad, right? Sorta.
For months (and months and months) my friends and I had planned our The Yacht Week adventure (read the recap post!), but packing was low on the radar of things I was worried about. Last fall, I did a 4-city Euro trip in a backpack. This time around, I felt like it’d be WAY easier to pack summer clothes in a carry on. Boy was I wrong.
The Yacht Week is a week of spending the day on a boat sailing the Adriatic Sea and exploring/going to parties on shore nightly before returning to your cabin on the boat. Life is as simple as that — pretty idyllic sounding, huh? (It is, this isn’t a trick question).
But then you add in all the themed parties and the dilemma of to bring a float or not to bring a float? Bring a towel, or buy it there? All the decisions. Let me tell you what I settled on and how it worked out for me. Plus, I’ve even got tips from a packing expert for your next summer vacay — scroll down!
What you will wear on TYW
- Sandals and tennis shoes, exclusively. I am so glad I heeded the recommendations from the internet/friends: Do not pack heels. I backed three sandals and wore Vans tennis shoes on the plane. The flat sandals took 0% of my space on my backpack, and I lived in them. I actually wore my sandals that had an ankle strap the most — they were a little nicer, so they worked for the parties, and they stayed on the best when moving from boat to land.
- Lots of bathing suits. I brought 5 suits, and wore them all — some twice. Bathing suits are small and don’t take up much space, so don’t hold yourself back! Bring one for each day if you must.
- Cover ups. I had a cover up for every suit, which ended up being a little excessive. They aren’t has small as suits, obviously, so I wish I would have picked a few and reused some of them to save some space.
- Shorts, only. I brought two pairs: Denim and lighter weight olive green. I practically lived in the denim shorts when I was dry (avoided getting them wet because they’d take forever to dry). Two was good enough for me! I also had a pair of athletic shorts to sleep in. I brought pants and didn’t ever even take it out of my suitcase.
- Tanks and tees. I love a good statement top, so I really had to hold myself back on packing too many tops, which ended up being a good call. I didn’t wear too many on land, and was pretty exclusively wearing suits on the boat. Then, in the evenings on land, I would wear dresses. I packed a couple casual tanks that I wore for loungewear. 2-3 nicer tops were enough for me other than that.
- Sweater or jacket. Croatia got chilly at night and with the wind on the boat. I brought a medium-weight v-neck sweater and I LOVED it on the boat. It was easy to throw on and was a neutral gray that went with everything. I also brought a jean jacket, but I didn’t wear it. I actually didn’t wear either on land ever. It never got chilly enough.
- Dresses. Normal thought: OK, 7 days, 7 parties, I need 7 dresses, right? So, so, so wrong. I packed three dresses and that was plenty. One was a little black dress, that I wore multiple times (outfit repeater, guilty as charged) and one was a funky print, lightweight dress that took up almost no space. The third was white for the traditional TYW White Party. I only wore it once. At least two or three nights, I wore shorts on land and to the parties. They were super chill.
- Themed clothes. This was tough to pack and plan for. Basically, we were told a couple weeks in advance of our themed parties: There’s the traditional White Party, where you guessed it — you wear white. Ours had a new theme: Riviera, so white was less important. But everyone wore white anyways. Then, there was a “Tropical Retro” party. What. The. Heck. Is. Tropical. Retro. I made my best guess: A pineapple t-shirt tucked into denim short, vans, and pineapple sunglasses. Most of the other people were wearing floral print/palm leaf tops and dresses or the typical beachy button up. Finally, each boat chose their own costumes for Regatta Day. We DIYed our costume: Fruit. We bought oversized t-shirts and painted them as fruit. Very easy, cheap and easy to wear over a swimsuit.
- Loungewear. I brought three pairs of capri yoga pants, which was so excessive. I needed, like, one pair. I traveled in them, which was nice, but on the boat, I didn’t touch them. I wish instead I would have swapped one pair for another pair of athletic shorts. Those were much more necessary on our hot af, A/C-less boat.
- Minimal jewelry. I need jewelry, but I didn’t want to overpack or bring too fancy of pieces. I wore an initial “N” necklace from Hemline pretty much the entire week — thank God it didn’t tan. I also brought a pair of studs and a colorful pair of cotton string earrings from Genie Mack (one of our favorite Houston designers). Those earrings really made my outfits some days. I brought some cheap rings, because those were the things I was most likely to lose. I left my fitbit at home, but brought a watch I wore on land and tons of bracelets. I love bracelets.
- Under where? Just a friendly reminder to pack the appropriate underwear for under there. You know you and your needs, but just don’t forget socks (no one wants you to go without) or a strapless bra if you pack tons of tanks and sleeveless dresses.
- Skincare. I can be pretty lazy when it comes to my morning/nightly skincare routine, but I didn’t slack during TYW and I am so thankful for it. I had a face cream that had some SPF in it and I started and ended each day with it. I also had face wipes since washing your face on a boat is a little tough. Body lotion was also key.
- Minimal make up. I know me: I live in a full face of make up, so I made a good call to get eyelash extensions before I left so that I’d have that great eye look without doing a thing. But I still brought concealer and blush for evenings. Hello, you’ll be taking ALL the photos. If you’re not up for eyelash extensions, waterproof mascara all the way!
- First aid kit and medicine. Bandaids, Advil, Dramamine/Bonine, etc. I tried the seabands too, and they didn’t work for me.
- Cellphone protectors. We brought those underwater pouches for our phones. I had a life proof case, so I felt a little braver going without it, but the pouches were great because you can wear it as a necklace.
- Crossbody purse. Forget your crossbody and you will either lose things from your pocket or become the group pack mule. I brought a small, woven bag that matched with everything and it was essential.
- Hand sanitizer, chapstick and baby powder. All three useful, for different reasons, obviously.
- Car chargers, battery packs, converter and an aux cord. Our boat had a handful of cigarette lighter ports, and I brought my car charger that had two USB ports, so we could charge two at once. I also had a battery pack; I charged it basically whenever I wasn’t charging my phone. Then I took it on land for when my phone was dying. (Note: there are such things as solar charging battery packs, but I didn’t ever find one that had good reviews, so I didn’t buy. So glad I didn’t, since I never needed it.) I tried to charge my phone when I could, but it was usually too busy taking photos/snapchats. We didn’t need a converter on the boat, but when on land, you need an European plug. If you want to blast some jams (obviously), bring an aux cord.
- FLAGS! A. to show your patriotism, B. to identify your boat from other boats. You think finding your car in a garage/parking lot was hard? Try finding a boat, that you JUST got, that looks the same as all the other boats. We had two TX flags, an Notre Dame and an A&M/TX flag.
- Shades for days. Somehow, someway, I managed to hold onto the three sunglasses I brought, but I know not everyone was so lucky. Bring at least a pair and a spare of cheap shades.
If you have room
- Float off your boat. I have 0 regrets about stuffing my pineapple float from Shop the Manor into my backpack. Did it take up a lot of space? Heck yes. Was it worth it to have a float? Definitely. I floated on the pineapple at least 4-5 times. Pro tip: Split, the city I flew into, has cute little markets that sell floats. They are probably overpriced or cheaply made, but good if you don’t want to spare the space in your suitcase.
- A pump. I didn’t pack a pump, and my crew took turns blowing up our three floats. It. Took. Forever. However, we did it.
- A beach towel. I was going to buy one there, but instead I brought my roundie from Pretty Little Things. It was extra big, which nice except for packing it! Still, it ended up being worth it for me. Split’s markets have plenty of towels.
- Hats. I brought a fedora, which I ended up not really wearing. I did wear my Pretty Little Things HOU hat. Houston represent.
- Fun props or games. I brought Mouthing Off, but we only played it once. We borrowed playing cards one night, and that’s what we really should have had. You also NEED to bring patriotic wear. We had a TX tank from Pretty Little Things, plus ‘merica accessories. Ooh, and a captain’s hat.
- Sunblock, shampoo, body wash. We bought these in Croatia (big sizes to split). They were communal and frequently used (especially for boat showers, where you soap up in your suit at the end of the boat. The boat’s bathrooms were super cramped and not ideal for showering).
Protips for TYW/any other summer trip
- Straw fedora or a wide brim floppy hat. The perfect accessory for beachy waves (or when you simply want to roll out of bed and head out the door!). This will instantly make your outfit appear more chic – I promise!
- Pile on the white! Whether it’s white jeans, a white dress, shirt, skirt or shorts be sure to bring one white essential in each category to maximize versatility. Nothing says summer like white!
- Maxi dress: this style can easily take you from day to night and is so elegant. Opt for a cotton style, as they won’t wrinkle as easily.
- Sandal with a small wedge (preferably in nude or metallic) – It’s easy to overpack shoes when you travel so focus on versatility. This style will take you from day to night and nude or metallic will allow you to pair them with any color!
- Small cross-body bag (preferably with a detachable chain or strap) Keep your belongings minimal when you’re out and about. Go for a light neutral shade that will work with all your looks. Use the strap and go hands-free for daytime, then convert into a clutch for evening.
- Cotton shift dress – this style is not only flattering, but is easy and keeps you cool even in the warmest of weather. Don’t forget to bring a skinny belt to cinch your waist!
- Bold printed cover-up – small, lightweight and easy to pack, this is the one items you can feel free to stock up on. If you’re planning on spending a good portion of your getaway in swimwear then be sure to keep your look polished and elegant with a bright colored, bold printed coverup.
- Denim jacket – this is the perfect layer for the ultimate cool-girl look, that’ll take you from day to night and pairs perfectly with everything from a maxi dress to shorts and a tee. Be sure to look for a style that is cropped and fitted to the body (even when open) and opt for a light to medium blue wash or white to keep it neutral.
- Tinted moisturizer with SPF – you’ll want to keep your make up routine minimal especially when outdoors or by the water. If you only use one product I would recommend Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20. It not only hydrates your skin and evens out your complexion, but also acts as a sunscreen and gives your face some color. Try the “illuminating” for an extra summer glow!
- Swimsuits, swimsuits, swimsuits! – If you’re afraid of overpacking, the one thing you won’t regret is having a number of swimsuit options with you, place they take up such little space. Be sure to bring a variety of colors, styles and cuts to help even out any funny tan lines, and if you’ve got two pieces, mix and match solids and prints to create multiple looks!
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What type of luggage did you use to transport your yacht week goodies? I know they said no wheeled luggage is recommended but did you carry a duffel and tote or backpack and tote?
My family and I are going on vacation next week, and as a mother, I ensure that I don’t miss anything we need on our vacation despite my busy schedule. So I am glad I found your article. This is helpful for me. Thank you!