With winter and the holidays coming up, you just may be thinking about planning a warm weather getaway. If a sailing vacation is part of those plans, there are certain items you shouldn’t leave home without. As you may be out at sea for days without immediate access to land, it’s important to bring on board what you’ll need for your safety, fun, hygiene, and comfort.
We spent an idyllic week sailing with friends in the British Virgin Islands earlier this year. It was one of those rare vacations that exceeds your expectations and NOTHING goes wrong! We’re talking flights on time; pure blue skies with temps in the 80’s and low humidity; water the most amazing shades of blue I’ve ever seen; warm winds that facilitated sailing; and no squabbles among the passengers.
While luck or fate seemed to be in our favor, it didn’t hurt that we came well-prepared for any situation. That was due to the decades of sailing experience of our friends and knowing what to bring, whether you have young kids or are going adults only. From clothes to food to medicine to games, we knew just what to bring so we could just relax and enjoy the adventure. And, I’m happy to share with you their carefully cultivated sailing packing list.
TOP TIPS PACKING FOR A SAILING TRIP
We were advised not to bring wheeled cases as you need flexibility in storage on the boat and hard cases and wheels are more difficult to store. This is essential if all of your berths are taken with people. We had two extra berths, so we could store everything without a problem, but this is rarely the case. For a seven day sail, we each took one duffle bag for our personal items and clothes and then one for our Pack for a Purpose items and everything else. The kids can share or each have their own.
How Much To Bring
How much clothing items you decide to bring will depend upon the length of your adventure. Just be aware that you probably won’t be washing any clothes, so take enough with that in mind. You will have access to washers and dryers at many ports, but you probably won’t be spending your precious time doing laundry. We hung wet clothes, including towels, out to dry on the safety lines along the side of the boat with clothes pins. The clothing list is the same for kids or adults.
My husband is a triathlete, so was concerned about getting workouts in. If you are, too, now is the time to think of cross-training, because you won’t have access to many, if any, gyms or even places to run. We traveled with two triathletes and they spoke with their coaches before we left to prepare alternative work out schedules and did bring some easy to transport equipment.
Fortunately or unfortunately, you will have wifi available. We had several wifi purchase options on board and went for the full package at $40 per day. It actually worked quite well, but be aware that you have limited ability to charge your electronics, so kids can’t go “overboard” with playing games. This is when the old fashioned board games and cards come in handy. Portable chargers are truly your best friend. I always made sure mine were charged first and ready to go.
What Not To Bring
The best advice we got was to NOT bring anything you would worry about losing or getting wet or damaged and to pack casual clothes only. Even at the nicer restaurants, people wore shorts. Seriously, this is one time to not overpack or to bring anything very nice.
In terms of money, most every place took credit cards, but we also brought $600 in cash as the BVI does take US dollars.
Make sure that if the kids are coming, you bring healthcare items for both kids and adults.
The boat comes with many supplies, such as life vests, snorkeling fins, towels, and kitchen appliances/utensils, but check with the company when you book. Also, there should be a grocery store close to the harbor where you pick up the boat where you can buy fresh food and plenty of water. But, if you are hiring a crew, this should all be taken care of for you.
Packing List For Sailing Adventures
- Long sleeve shirts, preferably with sunscreen built in
- Bathing suits
- Rash guards, short and long-sleeved
- Tee shirts
- Hats, 1 with ties
- Casual dress up outfit for dinners
- Flip flops
- Deck shoes/sneakers (non-slip soles)
- Packable rain coat
- Sunglasses, several pairs with head guard
- Sports watch or one that can get wet
- Costume jewelry – leave the good stuff at home
Personal Care Items
- After sun lotion
- Lip balm
- Skin care products
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo/conditioner/styling products
- Shower cap
- Hair ties/clips
- Nail clipper and file
- Make up
- Hair dryer (if you must)
- Whatever other items you need, such as contact solution and extra contacts
- Allergy Medicine
- Calamine Lotion/Anti-itch spray
- Eye flush solution
- Liquid bandaid
- Cold Medicine
- First Aid Kit
- Bug repellant
- Garbage bags
- Zip lock bags
- Aluminun foil
- Clothes pins
- Small laundry detergent
- Duct tape
- Coffee and filters
- Cereal bars
- Rental documents
- Sailing Guides and Maps
- Swiss Army Knife
- Swim goggles
- Snorkeling mask
- Mesh bag for snorkeling gear
- Sailing gloves
- Flashlight on a rope
- Coral and fish book for identification
- Underwater throw away camera
- Plastic laundry bags – 1 per person
- Take ashore bag/backpack
- Nylon travel wallet
- Copy of your passport; don’t keep with passportDriver’s License (you may rent a car)
- Health Insurance Card
- List of emergency contacts
- Cheap reading glasses – if you need
- Cell phones/chargers
- Games of your own choosing – board games/cards
A few days before you leave, check the weather forecast so you know whether to bring more long sleeve shirts or tank tops. All that’s left is to have an amazing sailing adventure!