Most travelers fall into one of two categories: the overpacker or the underpacker. When taking a Jamaican vacation, there's no reason to be either; instead, aim for the perfect middle ground of casual looks for daytime tours, dressier looks for dinner and nightclubs and lots of beachwear options. Read on for some foolproof packing tips.
For the Beach
Beach lounging is one of the main reasons to take a Jamaican vacation, so be prepared by packing one or two swimsuits, depending on the length of your stay and what you plan to do. Women should be sure to pack at least one cover-up or sarong, and if you're pale-skinned, a big straw hat is useful to have, as the sun is probably stronger than what you're used to. Rubber shoes, such as flip-flops or slides, are great to wear by the pools at the resort. Bring a beach tote, preferably made of lightweight cotton or straw, and fill it with a good book, a few magazines, sunglasses and sunblock for the whole family.
For the Tours
Tour buses and guided adventures are one of the most common pursuits for tourists on a Jamaican vacation. A pair of sturdy sandals, water shoes or light tennis shoes are a must-have, as tours sometimes take visitors on wet wooden docks and decks of boats, and even up the slopes of rocky waterfalls. These same shoe choices would be smart for independent travelers looking for adventures. A pair of shorts and a T-shirt or tank are the standard for casual day wear on these outdoor trips. For a shopping tour, rum tour or other urban tour, a light sundress and a pair of sandals are a good choice for women. Men can wear a casual shirt and shorts. On a scuba trip or a rafting adventure, swimwear will do just fine. Plan to bring a hat and sunglasses in any case; the Jamaican sun is strong.
Nice restaurants are the name of the game after dark at most Jamaican resorts and elsewhere on the island. Women are usually expected to wear a nice sundress--opt for strapless if you wish--or a nice skirt and top. Dressier flats or even heeled sandals can be a good option. At some resorts, such as Sandals, men are required to wear a collared shirt to dinner, so come prepared. Nightclubs, too, are popular. Many tourists go from dinner straight to dancing, but the islands are a casual place, so sequins, silk and satin aren't ever required.
Don't forget your passport and proper identification. Tourists from the United States staying in Jamaica for fewer than 180 days do not need a visa, but if you're visiting the country on business or for another official reason, you will need to apply for a visa before you go.
Use a standard packing list for things such as toiletries, makeup, shaving kits and other necessities. If you're planning to take carry-on luggage, remember that the Transportation Security Administration requires all liquids to be in bottles 3.4 oz. or smaller, and all carry-on liquids must fit in one clear, quart-size, zip-top bag.
Advice for Independent Travelers
Independent travelers will want to bring a small backpack for carrying a guidebook and other daily necessities, such as a camera, binoculars and drinking water. Shorts, slacks, T-shirts, blouses and button-down shirts are probably the best attire for those traveling independently through the city.
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