How to Pack for a Beach Getaway — In the Middle of Winter

by Charlotte Smith

How to Pack for a Beach Getaway

Just because the air is nippy in the Northern Hemisphere doesn’t mean the same is true in the tropics. While many North Americans and Europeans don bulky coats and thick boots to escape layers upon layers of snow, countries around the equator remain warm and dry. Fortunately, there is no reason you can’t escape the dreary northern winter for tropical climes during a vacation down south.

However, when it is cold and dark, it can be difficult to imagine someplace hot and bright, which often makes packing confusing and time-consuming. Plus, there is the issue of getting to and from the airport in winter weather, which isn’t comfortably done in flip-flops and a skirt. This guide should help you stay warm while you travel — and cool off while you lay out on your well-deserved tropical beach.



You’re going to a beach, which means you need to invest in quality swim style. According to swimwear care experts, it’s smart to bring along at least two suits wherever you go, so you can rinse and rest one while wearing the other. Wearing one suit too many days in a row causes stretching, sagging, discoloration, and unfortunate odors that might not go away after washing. Thus, you must go swimwear shopping before you leave on your trip.

According to the designers at Miami Swim Week, coverage and support are in. Next summer, you should expect to see swimsuits with sleeves and suspenders, as well as mesh panels, lace, and velvet. To stay ahead of the trend this winter, you might consider picking up some tankini bathing suits or similar styles.


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Summer Basics

When most of us up north experience cold winter, those around the equator are typically enduring their dry season. The temperatures remain more or less the same, but you can expect clear skies and lower humidity — the perfect weather for a winter beach getaway.

Because it will be warm in your destination, your suitcase should primarily be packed with summer basics: tank tops, T-shirts, and breezy blouses as well as shorts and flowy skirts. For a 10-day trip, you really only need three to five shirts, two to three bottoms, and maybe a fancy outfit if you plan to go somewhere nice. Other vacation-goers aren’t going to scoff at your limited wardrobe; like you, they will be too deep in paradise to care.


Instead of lugging your bulky snow coat all the way to the tropics, you should do a few layers of clothing to keep you warm during your travels. A thermal shirt covered by a thin wool layer should be enough to preserve your internal temperature to and from the airport, but they won’t eat up all your suitcase space when you make it to the beach.

Plus, it’s smart to bring a few other light layers on your vacation. Just because it should be the dry season doesn’t mean you won’t see any rain or wind; a cardigan could be the difference between comfortable and chilly.


Winters up north are characterized by dreary grays, blacks, and dark browns — so when you travel, you should feel free to add some color to your wardrobe. At Miami Swim Week, it was hard to find a runway that wasn’t covered in rose quartz, serenity blue, or sage green, so adding these hues to your vacation palette is a fashion-conscious choice. Because it’s never past Labor Day in the tropics, you can definitely wear white. Any color or pattern that makes you feel light, fresh, and summery is fine — even if that means gray, black, or dark brown.


Shoes are often the hardest nut for winter beachgoers to crack. On one hand, you want something lightweight and breathable when you get to your destination; on the other hand, you don’t want to lose a toe to frostbite on the way there and when you return. Here’s the solution: boat shoes. Many boat shoes are lined with cushy, insulating fabric that keeps your feet warm, but they don’t look out of place anywhere near water. Plus, they are easy enough to slide on and off while you’re in transit, making airport security easier.

In your suitcase, you might supplement your ingenious boat shoes with a pair of cheap flip-flops or sandals to wear to the beach and back, but you shouldn’t overthink the footwear issue. Most likely, you’ll kick off your shoes as soon as you hit the sand, so it won’t matter much what you wear.

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