Before I plan a trip, I always look on Pinterest for packing guides. I’m very concerned about being prepared, particularly in scenarios when stores may not be readily available (such as a cruise, or on a road trip). While helpful, I’ve noticed that a lot of the cruise-packing guides are outdated. Some of the recommendations are irrelevant due to technological advances, and some are unnecessary if you purchase a drink package. In this post, I will address many of the traditional recommendations, as well as adding in some new ideas.
Things You Should Bring
*Waterproof Phone Pocket. If you’re concerned about getting your phone wet or covered in sand, this is a lifesaver. I picked this one up before a trip to Niagara Falls and lamented the fact that I didn’t have one for my cruise. Strongly recommend. Even if you have a water-resistant phone, if you choose to take your phone into the water with you, please remember: water-resistance won’t help if your phone is lost at the bottom of the ocean. (Or, in a friend’s case, the Lehigh River. Just trust me.)
*Scissors, address labels, thank you notes, stamps. You WILL need scissors and you WILL be happy you brought them. It’s a guarantee. Stamps are nice if you want to pop a postcard out. You know those free address labels charities mail out? Bring some of those. If you enter a raffle or contest, you won’t even have to fill out the form – just stick on a label. I have some in my purse all the time for this reason. It’s the ultimate in laziness. I also always bring Thank You cards on trips. Let your steward (or Airbnb host, or relative) know you are grateful.
*You can bring a lanyard if you want, but since we’re all carrying our phones anyway, getting one of these snazzy stick-on card-holders is less cumbersome to carry around your room key. You can also get a badge reel or belt clip to stick it on – but don’t forget a hole punch!
*Water Bottle with Filter. I’m obsessed with my Brita water bottle. It’s portable, squeezable, and has a strong filter. If you get a drink package, this might not be necessary because you can just pick up bottled water. But even so, it’s convenient to bring water off the boat on excursions. Make sure you get one with a filter, because the water on the ship can taste really weird.
*Travel Coffee Mug. I love my Contigo mugs and use them on a daily basis while commuting to work, but they’re perfect on a cruise. Again, if you have the drink package, this may not matter. But it’s great if you want to get coffee from the self-serve areas and carry it around the ship with you. If you bring this, make sure to bring a couple mini-bottles of dish soap, as well.
*Bottle opener and/or corkscrew. Self-explanatory. If you want your alcohol, you gotta open it.
*Sunscreen. This is SO. EXPENSIVE. on the ship. Bring more than you think you will need. Bring a higher SPF than you think you need. Everyone thinks I am being ridiculous when I promote my SPF 100+, but guess who didn’t get sunburned on the cruise?! This girl.
*Seabands. I got so seasick the first night. You can also pack dramamine or meclazine. I don’t even care if the seabands are based on a placebo effect – that shit worked for me.
*Sewing kit with safety pins. Another item you think you won’t need, but YOU WILL. My friends kept coming over to borrow safety pins, and at one point I had to sew on a button. Toss a tiny kit into your suitcase.
*Clothespins. There is usually a clothesline across the shower where you can hang up your wet swimsuits, so bring some clothespins to fasten them up there.
*Tide Pen. In the picture above, I had a H U G E orange stain from a mango amuse bouche at dinner. I sustained this damage almost immediately upon exiting my room on Formal Night. I hit that shit with some Tide Pen, and the stain eventually went away.
*Portable battery pack. Stick one in your purse or beach bag so you can recharge your phone on the beach.
*Power strip and/or USB port. Mine was a couple dollars at IKEA, but you can bring smaller ones that just accept USBs, or whatever. This is great if you are charging a lot of devices, because there are only a few outlets in your room.
*Beach bag. This is my NFL Stadium-approved clear bag, which I repurposed as a beach bag. (Side note: GO EAGLES.) You might need a bigger bag, but definitely stick with something that you can hose off if it’s covered in sand.
*Fanny Pack. This picture isn’t from my cruise, but it does feature my fanny pack. I LOVE MY FANNY PACK. It isn’t pretty or fashionable, but it’s pretty sweet on a vacation because you don’t have to carry anything. Added plus: If you’re going to an amusement park or somewhere with rides, you don’t have to put it in a locker. I am also highly paranoid of pickpockets and muggers, and a fanny pack poses more of a challenge to someone trying to rob you. Maybe.
*Cruise app. If your cruise ship offers an app, download it ASAP. They post the itinerary, schedule for events, menus, etc. Ours also had a chat option so the members of our party could text one another (even if they didn’t purchase the WiFi package).
*Cash. Prepaying tips is great and convenient, but sometimes your ship staff go above and beyond. And you’ll definitely need cash for waiters and helpful staff members on excursions.
*Paper books. Here’s my pile of books for this cruise. You know what doesn’t get ruined by sand? Paper books. You know what I can use even when the airplane says to turn off electronic devices? Paper books.
*Packing cubes. I always pack my clothes in cubes. It keeps them organized and helps to efficiently pack a suitcase. Your cruise cabin has a ton of drawers and shelves, but the packing cubes help to keep everything organized rather than just piling it everywhere.
*Air freshener. Friends, you’re going to poop in your cabin bathroom. Prepare accordingly.
Things You Don’t Need Anymore
*Lanyard. You can, but as I mentioned above, it can be a little bit cumbersome.
*Highlighters. If your cruise doesn’t have an app, obviously these are helpful to mark up a daily itinerary. If you have an app, there are ways to electronically mark the events you’re interested in (and even set reminders)!
*Room decorations. This might be dependent on the specific cruise culture, but when I was reading about cruises before my first one in 2014, I was under the impression that everyone elaborately decorates their door. In fact, not many people do. It’s helpful if you want to stick something up to designate your room since all the doors look the same, but I didn’t end up doing anything. I did take a picture of my door and room number so I’d have it on my phone in case I got lost and/or drunk.
*Beach towel. They give you towels. Don’t bring your own. Waste of space.
*Over the door storage hanger. Like, I guess it’s an okay option. I brought one on my first cruise to keep everything organized, but it wasn’t particularly necessary given all the shelves and drawers available. If you have a whole family sharing one cabin, maybe. But it took up a lot of room in my suitcase for little benefit. I didn’t bring one on my second cruise, and I survived. I did bring these little organizers for jewelry and for medications. I probably could have done without them, too.
*Walkie Talkies. If you have an app, you don’t need these. And if you get the WiFi package, just download WhatsApp and text each other. This is 2018, and Walkie Talkies are bulky to carry around.
*Wrinkle Release Spray. Everyone has this on their list! You know what else works? Hanging things up in the bathroom when you’re taking a shower.
I understand some of these recommendations are controversial. Of course, these are my opinions and aren’t applicable to everyone. But hopefully it will help you while you plan for your cruise! What items would you suggest packing?