SECURELY FASHIONED: Packing tips for your tropical getaway

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First Posted: 5/27/2014

I recently had the pleasure of taking a five-day jaunt down to Mexico with my husband. We used to frequent Baja and Tijuana, but this time it was the outskirts of tropical Cancun and some surrounding islands. For once in my life, I packed exactly the right amount of outfits and shoes. I will share my story of victory.

I wanted to be comfortable but a bit retro Rio glam on the flight to Mexico, so I paired up a navy blue halter jumpsuit (Forever 21) with yellow cork wedges (Burlington Coat Factory) and a Calvin Klein brown monogram carryall (Macy’s). To fit in at the Newark Airport and in case the flight got chilly, I slipped on a light and airy cream-colored lightweight and loosely woven off the shoulder Jennifer Lopez sweater (Kohl’s) and a pair of oversized tortoise shell sunglasses (T.J. Maxx). These pieces brought me through the four-hour flight and into the heavy heat of Mexico without having to trade in fashion for comfort. Even the wedges held up nicely, until I got salt water in them – because I left them in the rain at a tiki bar for two hours because I forgot I had shoes – and they stained my feet a weird shade of burnt umber.

I suggest packing three bathing suits if you are staying anywhere tropical for five or more days. While one was drying on the patio, I had a free one. I also was able to switch out different styles to avoid tan lines, and some bathing suits can be worn better under your clothes, like a one-piece with drawstring linen pants: casual, cool, and practical. I packed four pairs of shoes: one sport flip-flop for excursions or long walks, one casual flip-flop for pool and beach days, my yellow cork wedges, and a pair of strappy black heels for fancy dinners and dancing, although I did way more dancing in my flip-flops. You will also want to bring along slippers. Most resorts have a hard cold marble floor. The sport flip-flops were perfect for the return flight because I had some serious swelling from bug bites (don’t worry, it’s unusual – I was the only one bit), sunburned ankles, and being on the airplane. The shoes allowed my feet to go unrestricted, which took some pressure off the situation.

In my suitcase, I included one casual outfit for every day and one mix and match-able outfit for each night. Usually, you will want to go to your hotel room shower and get ready for the second part of your day if you have spent the first part of your day sweating. In salt water. And sand. Sand everywhere. So two sets of clothes per day will do, and two or more sunglasses so you don’t look the same in every picture.

I overdid it on the sleepwear. If this is a family or friend trip, take something for each night. If it’s a romantic trip… don’t over pack the PJs. I also overdid it on the cosmetics. I didn’t use much hair care. Again, it’s humid and hot. Depending on your hair type, a setting spray or styling cream and dry shampoo will be just enough. It’s fun to buy new stuff on vacay, so don’t pack your expensive jewels – just a few fun pieces and buy the rest!

What you do need that you may not think you need: aloe, water-resistant sunblock with at least 30 SPF, bug spray, cortisone cream, Pepto tablets, and a lighter because these items cost at least three times as much at the hotel than they do here in the States. Oh, and those papers that they make you fill out on the flight. If you don’t have these, it’s a real issue. No one told us that and we were almost stuck in Mexico for a long time. Felices vacaciones!