End-of-Summer Vacation Essentials

Happy Hump Day, all!

We just got back from our trip to Jamaica and I’m feeling so refreshed and reenergized.

I know that a lot of people like to squeeze in travel time before the end of the summer months, and Labor Day weekend is also a great time to take a trip, so I wanted to share my Jamaica packing list as inspiration.

If you’ve got a trip planned, especially if it’s a tropical or beachy one, then keep reading to see everything I brought on our vacation.

As always, click on any of the pictures or underlined text to shop the item (affiliate links).

Swim and Coverups
First things first, our trip was to Jamaica so of course I needed swim options.

I brought a nice variety of bikinis and one piece bathing suits; I like to have both because I always end up eating worse than usual on vacation and I prefer a one piece when I’m feeling bloated.

I also wanted a one piece for our catamaran and snorkeling trip—if you have specific activities planned for your vacation, definitely keep that in mind when choosing swimwear (and outfits) to pack.

The leopard and black bikini is from Amazon fashion and under $50. I like that it’s high-waisted and has that extra criss-cross detail on the top.

The one piece with mesh cutouts and a plunging neckline is my favorite swimsuit I’ve ever owned. It’s a little on the pricier side but so worth it in my opinion; I love the way it looks on me, the overall design, and the fact that it’s still a little sexy while providing more coverage. I’ve seen some of the other color options go on sale before, so I’d recommend adding them to your wishlist and keeping an eye on the price!

The olive green one piece with side cutouts is another one from this year that I’m loving. I got it on sale and really like the design of it. This color is sold out but it’s still available in black and white; both colors are on sale.

The purple and white bikini is from Shein and I got it because of the pretty lilac floral pattern. As you may remember from some of my other posts, lilac is my favorite color and I’ve been loving how available it is this year.

The button down shirt coverup is another style that’s pretty trendy this year. I really like the casual look of it and it was perfect for walking around the resort during our trip. I wore it open and hanging most of the time, but when we headed to the beach (or indoors for anything) I tied it up over my stomach.

The last two coverups (black and white embroidered dresses) are from Shein and under $20. I love that the white one gives you some coverage on the bottom, and I wore the black one on the catamaran over my one piece suit during our vacation. I knew most of our trip would be spent in swimwear, so I wanted variety in my coverups as well.

Dresses
The reason we went to Jamaica was for a friend’s wedding, so of course I needed a dress (…or six).

I also like to bring a couple of date-like dress options for dinner and some casual ones that I can throw on during the day when on a trip.

The pink one with white polka dots is a more casual dress, as is the light green one with white designs. They’re both Amazon finds from this summer, and since I haven’t had a lot of chances to wear them, I wanted to bring them along on our trip. Dresses like this are great to bring when you travel because they’re effortless and comfortable, but still cute enough for vacation photos.

The teal maxi dress with leg slit, ruffles, and pink flowers is the one I wore to the beach wedding we attended. I normally wouldn’t bring a dress this formal on a vacation, but as I mentioned this was the main event for us!

The other two floral dresses (black mini with red flowers and black maxi with lace) were my dinner options. It worked out well that I had these with me because there was a more upscale restaurant at the resort that we went to on our last night.

The white dress was one that I brought along because the welcome party/rehearsal dinner was a white party! It was so much fun seeing everyone dressed up in white and the bride sparkling extra. I don’t have a lot of opportunities to wear white dresses, so I’d been wanting an occasion for this one. You can use my code LAURAC20 for 20% off this dress.

Tops
It’s also, of course, a good idea to have some more casual clothing options that aren’t swim-related. If you’re a bit more decisive than I am, you probably won’t need this many options. I like to have a variety with me, though.

The white racerback tank is slightly cropped and a great length to wear with high-waisted leggings. This was the top I wore on the plane and I chose it because I knew we’d be landing in a hot, humid place and even short sleeves would feel too warm. It’s casual and comfy but still flattering.

The blue and white floral tank is a little dressier, but also more cropped. I wanted to have at least one true crop top with me for our beachy trip.

This one shoulder tank is also slightly cropped, but pairs well with high-waisted bottoms and barely shows any skin. It’s a slightly dressier top, so I brought it along as an alternate dinner option in case a dress felt like too much.

The blue tee is the top I wore on the way home, but I also brought it because it could double as a workout top if needed. I didn’t end up running or anything on our trip, but sometimes I do get the urge to go for a jog, and so I wanted to be prepared. Bringing versatile clothing items like this (that can work for more than one occasion) is a great way to save space in your suitcase when traveling.

The red floral top is a new one and I’ve been excited to wear it; same with the lilac halter top that has pretty knit details. While I do purchase vacation outfits or items ahead of time, I also usually end up throwing in whatever other recent purchases I’m loving by the time our trip comes.

The light pink top is another more dressy one; I wore it to lunch on one of our trips when I wanted to slightly dress up my outfit. The floral cropped top is also great for that because the ruffles add some extra girly flair.

Bottoms
This is the area where I feel like it’s most important to have some variety in your suitcase. It’s also the only area where I think I wore every single option I brought.

The denim shorts (white denim and distressed mom shorts) were my go-tos on the trip, and I knew that in a tropical place they would be. That’s why I brought two different pairs with me.

The jeans were a last-minute add, but I don’t think I’ll ever travel without emergency jeans again. After the first night, it became clear that there were a LOT of mosquitoes on the grounds of the resort, and I’m one of those people who gets eaten alive by them. The long pants were perfect because they were still dressy enough to go with my tops but kept me covered. They’re also great to have in case of unexpected rain or cool weather on a trip.

The two pairs of leggings (black Spanx leggings and heathered navy Zella ones) were for both plane rides, but they also could have doubled as workout bottoms, PJs, or something to lounge in if needed.

The active shorts I brought at the recommendation of my friend, who organized the whole trip with her destination wedding. I didn’t end up wearing these but they were a pajama backup and also would’ve been great if we’d done any more active/sporty things during the trip.

Shoes
For this trip, I definitely packed more shoes than I normally would. Maybe I was feeling inspired by my husband’s stories about how his mom used to bring a separate suitcase just for shoes on their family vacations. 😋

The heeled mules are a new pair that I’ve been so excited about; they were perfect to wear at the beach wedding we attended.

The rock stud sandals have been my most-worn pair all summer, so I knew I had to bring them. I also wanted a sandal that was more practical, and these ones close around the ankle so they’re easy to walk in.

Then I brought two pairs of slide sandals: the white Tory Burch ones were for the white party we attended, and the Sam Edelman ones I wore around the pool and on the beach. The Tory Burch sandals are on the pricy side, so I wanted a cheaper alternative that I could wear more often.

Lastly, I brought my leopard print Adidas sneakers, and a more neutral black and silver pair. I probably could have gotten away with just bringing one pair of sneakers, because I only ended up wearing the leopard print ones on both flights.

Toiletries and Skincare
When it comes to toiletries and other skincare, these are the essentials for me. I typically use the body wash provided by hotels, but everything else I bring.

First, I need a good cleanser for my face. Cetaphil daily cleanser has been what I use every morning for a long time. I don’t like to use hotel soaps or hand soaps on my face because I get discoloration and acne easily, so bringing my own face wash is a must.

My shampoo and conditioner are a similar situation; I don’t like to use the hotel ones in case they contain ingredients that will damage my hair. I recently started using Jessi Curl brand for my natural waves/curls and it’s amazing. It also helps make my hair less frizzy which I need in a tropical climate.

Hotels usually do have lotion available that works well enough, but when I’m using self-tanner I need to keep my skin as hydrated as possible. Cerave was recommended by my dermatologist when I got a small spot of eczema last year, and now I don’t want to use anything else on my skin.

Speaking of self-tanner, I didn’t end up using these two droppers much but I wanted to have them just in case. I knew I’d be wearing a bathing suit for most of the trip and didn’t want to look super pale. So it was helpful to have both my body tanning drops and face drops in the hotel and apply them as I normally would until I got some real sun exposure.

My Billie razor also goes everywhere with me. It’s cute and compact, and the disposable razors last longer than many other brands I’ve used. This is a subscription razor, so I have a bunch of extras saved up from before. I paused my deliveries. I brought one with me and had a clean shave throughout the vacation.

As far as skincare, in addition to a good cleanser I also moisturize day and night. I brought my daytime face lotion, which includes essential SPF in it, and another nighttime one that I use before bed. I didn’t want to skip the latter because. I knew my skin would be more exposed to sunlight than usual on the trip.

When just staying home or working I don’t normally wear any makeup, but when I’m going to be in public a lot or with friends and acquaintances I usually like to have a little something to make my skin look more even. I brought both my BB cream and tinted moisturizer for those reasons. The moisturizer is great and looks so perfect on my face when I have a tan. The BB cream looks super natural and comes with the added bonus of sun protection.

Note that I also bring a disposable toothbrush, as well as travel-size toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss on all trips.

Makeup and Hair Tools
I needed my full glam arsenal for this trip since we were going to a wedding, but I usually increase or decrease my packing of these items depending on what is planned for the trip. If I’ll need to get dressed up for something, either very or slightly, I’ll bring the amount of makeup and hair stuff that makes sense for the situation.

Since this was for a full wedding guest look, I used my SmashBox primer, Tarte Face Tape foundation, and IT Cosmetics concealer as the base. I love this Tarte bronzer and discovered this trip that it looks especially nice when complimenting a natural tan.

My favorite mascara by far is this Idole one that I originally got as a free sample, and the IT Cosmetics eyeshadow palette was a sale find. I also used my ELF eyebrow pencil and brought along a brow gel just in case.

For hair I brought my go-to Revlon styling brush that works as a blow dryer, plus my Chi straightener (whose efforts were wasted the second I stepped out into the humidity, but it probably would’ve been even worse without it). Since I planned to use heat on my hair, I brought a heat protectant spray and some hairspray to lock things in.

I also brought my Frizz Ease spray that I use when wearing my hair naturally; since my hair can get crazy in the humidity I wanted to be prepared in. a few different ways when packing hair tools.

Accessories
It’s always good to have some different accessory options when traveling; just like you want to be prepared for different scenarios and levels of dressing up with your clothes, your accessories can help with that, too.

My LV Neverfull was the perfect carryon for this trip; it has the look of a purse but can carry so much and fits nicely under an airplane seat. It’s also really well-made and can handle being knocked around a bit. I brought the bag and matching clutch and ended up using the clutch for the white party we attended.

I also brought my Chloe C shoulder bag and a more compact Tory Burch pink bag. These were great to wear for meals, to the wedding, and a dinner date we went on.

The last bag I brought was this circular straw one from Amazon. It’s perfect for the beach and I was able to fit two bottles of sunscreen plus my phone inside. I didn’t mind this one getting a little sandy because the price was cheap.

I also brought two pairs of designer sunglasses (Gucci and Chloe), but one would’ve been enough. In terms of jewelry, I brought three designer inspired bracelets and two rings, plus some earrings not pictured.

Extras
There are always some additional things that are needed for a trip, and this tends to be the group where I forget things. If you’re traveling abroad, you will definitely need a passport. I keep mine in this cute pink holder from Amazon, which also has slots and pockets for your cards, ID, and other documentation.

I also brought some essentials for covid times, such as hand sanitizer and a mask. There were plenty of bugs out in Jamaica, as I mentioned, so bug spray was a lifesaver for me.

I also brought Tide to go, just in case of an emergency, and a pack of tissues because my nose always seems to be running when I don’t have any handy.

I’m someone who very often gets cold, so I also brought a sweater along with me that I could throw on if I got cold. I didn’t use it much, but this will always be an extra that I travel with.

Lastly, these nippies nipple covers have pretty much replaced strapless bras for me. They are so effective under any type of smooth, sheer, or light colored garment and it feels comfortable as if you aren’t wearing anything at all. They’re reusable, easy to clean, and under $30, which is less than strapless bras normally cost.

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