Here's what a woman should pack for a cruise - along with a check-off INTERACTIVE version.
A WOMAN'S PACKING LIST
If you have read through the men's packing list you will see the emphasis on electronics and not so much on comfort and clothes. It is a valuable list but the ladies need one with our priorities in mind.
When going on a trip, create a staging area where you can assemble everything you want to bring and add to it as you think of an item. Even with a list, this is good to do because you know ahead of time if the clothes you want to bring are clean, pressed and ready or if they need a trip to the washer or dry cleaners. You will be disappointed if you've waited until the day before your flight to pack that favorite outfit, and it needs cleaning. Or you will be under unnecessary stress the night before your flight, waiting on laundry.
Staging also allows you to look at the outfits you are bringing to see if they mix and match. By bringing one plain black or solid colored skirt or dress pant you can put together several different outfits just by changing your blouse. A little pre-planning will allow you to bring all you need in only two suitcases. Less luggage means less frustration as you travel through airports and maybe hotels on your way to the ship.
WHAT CLOTHES TO PACK and HOW TO PACK THEM
Plan for one formal night on a 4-day cruise, two on a 7-day cruise and three formal nights on a 10-day cruise. The best outfits are made out of material that does not wrinkle. The Guild of Professional Butlers recommends folding each item and placing large sheets of tissue paper between them. While this works, it takes a lot of time and tissue! I have found that many clothes when folded neatly, carefully rolled tightly and placed in your suitcase, come out virtually wrinkle free and ready to wear. The added bonus is you can pack more in your suitcase when you roll the clothes. This does not work well with jeans, but very well for dresses, dress pants and blouses.
Another idea is to get "compactable plastic bags" which allow you to roll the air out of them through a one way valve. This vacuum seal approach works very well for lingerie and hosiery.
Larger ships often have an inexpensive self-service launderette available, so there is no need to bring underwear and socks for every day of the cruise. As a rule, I bring a seven-day supply and then plan on hand washing or using the laundry if I need to. Most cabins have a retractable laundry line inside the shower for small items you can hand wash and dry. Be sure to pack some laundry detergent or Woolite. Most ships also have hotel-style, next day, laundry services available through your cabin steward. It's very convenient, but can be pricey.
I highly recommend a line of clothing called "Coolmax" available in most top-tier sporting goods stores. It moves moisture away from your body and dries quickly. This fabric is great for those hot and humid Caribbean shore excursions. Underwear made in this fabric can be washed, rolled to clammy dryness in a towel, and hung to become completely dry again in a matter of hours.
Make a habit of checking the weather for your travel destination and pack accordingly. Keep in mind however that the ship interior will be air-conditioned often to a point cooler than you prefer. Lightweight wraps or sweaters that match your wardrobe are a must. This is true for your bedclothes as well; sometimes staterooms can be unpredictably cool. You may need something long sleeved and warm as well as short sleeved and cool to insure you are comfortable while you sleep.
If you are bringing a large purse or bag for general travel, be sure to pack a small dressy clutch for evening. You won't want to bring a big bag to dinner when all you need is your cruise card, perhaps your glasses for reading the menu, and a lipstick.
One of the things often forgotten is a hat. Some of the new brands offer built in sunray protection and are light and cool on your head. There are several lines of hats that crush or fold and regain their shape when opened. This type of hat will pack easily and be available when you need it.
As for the rest of your wardrobe, along with the mix and match rule, don't forget comfort and pockets. Think about those long bus rides and lots of walking on shore excursions and shopping.
And speaking of clothes for tours and excursions: comfortable, arch supporting walking shoes are a must. Nothing will ruin your vacation faster than aching feet! Also take a secure, hands-free, over the shoulder bag or fanny pack for shore excursions. If you are a big shopper, you might want to pack a collapsible bag with wheels so you have something to carry all of your travel trophies home.
What you carry in your purse normally is up to you. The only thing I will say is be sure to go through your purse and leave things like checkbooks and most of your credit cards at home. Only bring what you need: identification and one credit card, etc. Most women know what to pack in a toiletries bag, but it really helps to have it packed ahead of time so buy duplicates and add to it as you think of things. Again, having the staging area to prepare ahead of time makes planning much easier.
WHAT TO BRING ON THE PLANE
- Sweater or wrap (in case its cold)
- Small light blanket (you can't always count on getting one on the plane)
- Booties (take off your shoes for comfort)
- Snacks (trail mix etc., you don't always get fed)
- Ear plugs - Eye Mask
- Candied ginger (for motion sickness)
- Sea bands (for motion sickness)
- Toothbrush small toothpaste (for International flights)
- Anti-bacterial wipes (bathroom as well as other things)
- Reading material
- Any electronics you might like
There is a growing concern about leg circulation issues from long plane flights. It is highly suggested that you get up and move around at least once an hour. Stretching your legs by flexing and extending your feet helps to keep the swelling down and improve your circulation. Also I have found that wearing a good quality support hose, either knee high or full pantyhose keeps your legs from getting as tired, helps to minimize swelling, and reduces your risk of circulation problems.
- Travel documents
- Hair gel or moose
- Curling Iron (all cabins have a hair dryer)
- Hair brush or comb
- Hair spray
- Body lotion
- Facial cleanser & moisturizer
- Headache remedies
- Antibiotic ointment
- Bug spray or wipes
- Antibacterial wipes
- Nail file & clipper
- Nail polish
- Dental floss
- Jewelry (most cabins have a safe but luggage can be opened. Leave your best at home)
- Mix and match outfits: tops and pants
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Formal wear for each formal night depending on cruise length
- Formal shoes
- Evening purse or clutch
- Sweaters or wraps
- Meclizine (sea-sickness)
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