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The first time we went to Hawaii, my husband and I each took huge suitcases. Those ridiculous suitcases were so big that they wouldn’t fit in the trunk of our rental car, and we had to stand them up on end to fit them in the back seat!  We didn’t wear a third of the clothes we brought, and dragging those suitcases around in the heat and humidity was miserable! Now we just take carry-ons, even for long trips – it’s liberating!  

We recently spent three weeks in Hawaii, and this is what I packed in my carry-on:

1 pair hiking shorts

1 pair nice shorts

1 pair cropped pants

1 pair jeans (I wear jeans on the plane because I get cold, and in case we go to a higher/cooler elevation.)

1 hoody or sweater (I wear this when I board the plane because I often get cold on the plane.)

2 short sleeve tops

2 tank tops

Under garments

1 nightgown

1 muumuu (This Hawaii favorite is a long casual dress which can be used for a robe or coverup – great to slip on in the morning to sit out on your lanai with your coffee. This is an item that you may want to buy in Hawaii – great souvenir!)

1 casual sundress – this is what I wear to a “nicer” dinner

1 bathing suit and cover up – two suits if you are going to swim every day.

1 light weight, long sleeve SPF shirt for snorkeling/beach/hiking

1 pack-flat sun hat – you may want to buy it at your destination.

1 light weight, pack-flat tote/beach bag or backpack (I packed a tote bag and my husband took a backpack as his personal carry-on.)

1 pair walking/tennis shoes – wear them on the plane to save room in your bag.

1 pair all purpose comfortable sandals that go with everything

1 pair waterproof sandals

Snorkeling mask


(I rent my fins on location, because they take up too much room in the suitcase)

Pro Tips:

Most timeshares have laundry facilities, so plan to wash a load of laundry every three days or so at night or during down time.  The resort usually provides a starter set of laundry soap.

Make sure all your clothes are in coordinating colors, so all tops can be worn with all bottoms, and so they can be washed in the same load.

Take clothing that is machine washable and permanent press.

Take basic toiletries in the travel size (3.4 oz. max) so you can pack them in your carry-on.  You may not need to purchase additional toiletries during your trip, because at the top tier timeshare resorts the complimentary toiletries provided by the resort are usually high quality brands that are a pleasure to use on vacation, and you can get refills from housekeeping if you run out.  Usually provided by resorts: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bar soap and sometimes additional products as well.  You can buy larger size products, like sunscreen, at a local discount store once you arrive at your destination.

I don’t take any makeup on vacation. In the heat and humidity, that is the last thing I want on my face. Remember – you will never see the people that you meet on vacation again, so take a vacation from makeup!

Souvenirs and gifts – Before you leave, pack your souvenirs and gifts into a flat rate USPS box, and mail the box to your home address.  Another option is to put your souvenirs and gifts into the lightweight tote that you brought, along with your purse, and use it as your personal carry-on on your flight home.

If you get to your destination, and find that you need something that you didn’t bring, you can simply buy it there – so don’t stress over packing light.

tags:  packing, travel, packing list, packing for Hawaii