There’s something about going on a cruise that can’t be beat. In many ways, the entire experience is akin to attending a giant, agile hotel party. The hotel just happens to be on water and also happens to pull up to new, exciting destinations sporadically.
One of only things that can put a damper on such an experience (and that you yourself can control) is forgetting some cruise packing basics. With that in mind, here’s your ultimate guide to successfully packing for a cruise.
1 – Do your homework.
“Pack light” is the most evergreen travel tip of all time. With a cruise, just how light you can or should pack depends on a few factors. What toiletries will be provided in your room? How much and how fast is laundry and dry cleaning service? Talking to your travel agent or someone from the cruise company before you make a formal packing list is a great way to ensure you’re considering all the right things.
While it may seem like you can forget toiletries and just buy everything on-board, for example, those little shops are impressively overpriced. A little preparation will help you save your hard-earned cash for more worthy expenditures.
2 – Know The Dress Code.
Perhaps the most important detail to research when packing for a cruise is what the dress code for meals is. You may need formalwear — cocktail dress, suit and tie — for certain nights on certain cruise lines. As a general trend, cruise ships are getting more casual (especially during the day), but you don’t want to get turned away from dinner because you didn’t do your research.
3 – Bring Smart Layers.
If you’re taking a cruise to Alaska, it’s a no-brainer to pack layers. But many people heading to more tropical locations forget they, too, should bring some warmer clothes for well air-conditioned rooms on the boat and for evenings outside. If you’re getting to your trip via airplane, wear the heaviest layers as you travel. This will save room in your suitcase.
4 – Be Prepared For The Waves.
Don’t get cocky and think you’re too tough to get seasick. Every cruise ship is different and countless variables can affect how sensitive you are to the ship’s rocking. Instead, be prepared with some medicine specifically for seasickness and more generally with Advil for related headaches and small ailments.
5 – Save Room For Souvenirs.
Packing light is especially important on a cruise ship because you want to save room for the fun souvenirs and knick-knacks you collect on the way. Because you’ll be in the same room most of the time, it’s easy to forget that you’ll eventually have to transport everything you brought and everything you bought back home. But you will, so think ahead. You only have so much space to take in your carry on.
6 – Keep Key Documents On-Hand.
Last but not least, the most practical packing tip of all: Always keep your ID and cruise documents on-hand. Don’t ever put them in checked luggage, for example, because if such luggage gets lost, the cruise ship will take off without you. Again, doing your homework here is important. A travel agent can help confirm what ID you need for your cruise’s destinations, whether it be a passport or different photo ID.
Do your homework and packing properly, and your worries will sail away as you do.
I write about tech, travel, money, gender and more — but I’m most interested in how those things relate to the big questions (and vice versa). My work and commentary has appeared on Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC, 7×7, The Bold Italic, Thought Catalog, Technical.ly, Mental Floss, MSN Money and others.