Essential Packing List for Florida

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Florida is a great vacation destination but figuring out a Florida packing list can be a challenge sometimes.

Whether you are a theme park goer, a beach lounger, a space enthusiast (NASA at Cape Canaveral), or an outdoorsman, there is something in Florida to delight every type of traveler.

Located at the southeast corner of the United States of America, the peninsula of Florida has the Gulf of Mexico on its West Coast and the Atlantic ocean on its East Coast, providing water activities for every age.

Florida is a destination that experiences warm, humid weather year-round and with large cities like Orlando and Miami, it’s no surprise that they have around 116 million tourist visitors per year.

Whether you are staying in the city for some theme park excitement or headed down to the keys for an island-feel vacation this Florida packing list will help you fill that suitcase fast and be on your way to vacation in no time.


Ultimate Florida Packing List


How to Decide What to Add to Your Florida Packing List:

Lina and David Stock in Florida
  • What will the weather be like: You can count on mostly sunny and humid days ranging from 60°F-80°F during your vacation in Florida.
  • What type of activities will you be doing: Florida, specifically Orlando, is home to some of the greatest theme parks in the world. On the other hand, maybe you are headed to the beach and will spend your time covered in sand and the salty sea breeze. Perhaps, your trip is a mix of both. Decide beforehand to make sure you pack accordingly.
  • How long am I staying: Will I need to make sure I can do laundry to repeat items or will I need to pack enough for my entire stay? Most hotels offer laundry services and as with most American cities, your destination in Florida is sure to have several laundromats.

Swimsuit

SUP in Florida - Packing List for Florida

This is a Florida packing list essential. Whether you will be spending time at the beach or at a theme park you will have the opportunity to spend time in the water. Pack your suit according to the activities you may be participating in.

For the ladies we recommend bringing your favorite bikini and maybe a one-piece if you will be participating in some more active water adventures, nobody wants an accidental exposure.

Either way, bring your two favorite suits with so you will always have a dry one to change into.

For men, we recommend two swimsuits as well. Choose a lightweight pair that falls just above the knee that is flexible and will allow for movement.

Another good swimwear item for both men and women is the rashguard. These are great for providing extra protection from the sun and the water environment.

If you plan on snorkeling, diving, boogie boarding, surfing, etc. it may be a good idea to wear a rashguard over your top. Opt for one that has a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 40-55+ as this provides 99% protection from the sun for the areas covered by the rashguard.

Yay for one less area to lather in sunscreen repeatedly throughout the day.

Our Top Recommended Women’s Swimsuits:

Our Top Recommended Men’s Swimsuits:

Lightweight Casual Clothes

Lina Stock in Florida

Whether you are spending days running around the city, theme parks, NASA, the Everglades or the beach you will want to have comfortable lightweight clothing on.

This typically means no cotton, as the fabric can feel heavy, does not wick away moisture and provides no protection from the sun.

The best thing you can do is opt for clothing that has UPF in the fabric.

UPF clothing used to be limited to those collared, button-up “fishing” shirts but thanks to the wave in skin cancer and skin aging awareness and to great brands like Coolibar and Mott50, you can now find a wide range of stylish clothing with UPF factor.

Pack a good variety of tops and bottoms you can mix and match to minimize bringing too many items. If UPF clothing isn’t your thing, try to pack lightweight items made of linen and look for quick-dry sweat-wicking items.

If your vacation to Florida finds you heading down to the Everglades, be sure to pack some long sleeve shirts and some full-length pants to protect you from the mosquitoes.

Our Top Recommended Women’s Lightweight Clothing:

Our Top Recommended Men’s Lightweight Clothing:


Nice Outfits

Florida is known for having a vast wonderful nightlife in its larger cities. You can find restaurants, bars, and clubs to suit everyone’s needs.

It is always a good idea to pack some nicer clothing if you decide to go out while on vacation. It doesn’t need to be super fancy but just a little nicer than your daily beach or sightseeing apparel.

I always like to choose a simple dress that can be dressed up with some jewelry. Bringing a simple dress also allows you to dress it up fancier with heels or more comfortable and casual with flats and a shawl or cardigan.

For men, we suggest a pair of simple nice solid colored pants with a button-up shirt for fancy and if keeping it casual pair those pants with a simple shirt.

Our Top Recommended Women’s Clothing:

Our Top Recommended Men’s Clothing:


Raincoat

Florida is notoriously known for having rainy weather for short periods of time almost every day. To beat these brief downpours it is best to pack a raincoat for your trip.

Preferably one that is small or can be folded to be compact as you will not need it for most of the day. We have some recommendations below, but if you need more advice, have a read here: Best Travel Rain Jacket to Stay Dry on the Go.

Our Top Recommended Women’s Raincoats:

Our Top Recommended Men’s Raincoats:

Sun Hat

David Stock in Key West, Florida - Packing List

A great option for sun protection that is often overlooked is sun hats. Sun hats are great for protecting areas we commonly forget to apply sunscreen to such as the back of our necks and our ears. Thus making them a must on your packing list for Florida. 

An easy way to protect these areas without constantly reapplying sunscreen is to purchase a good UPF sun hat. You can buy them in all different sizes and brands, but we recommend a hat with at least a 3-inch brim.

The best sun hats will have UPF built into them. UPF provides you with sun protection as if you were wearing sunscreen. Always buy the highest UPF if possible such as 40-50+, which blocks 97-99% of UV radiation

In addition to providing sun protection, UPF hats are also very lightweight and breathable so your head is not getting hot and sweaty as with normal baseball caps. They also usually pack down really well for storage when not being used.

Our Top Recommended Women’s Sun Hats:

Our Top Recommended Men’s Sun Hats:


Sunscreen

One of the great joys of being outside on vacation is basking in the warm glow of the sun. However, like so many of life’s pleasures, it’s best done in moderation.

Sunlight includes rays of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and exposure to those rays can lead to a much-unwanted sunburn while on vacation. To help protect against the sun make sure to pack a good waterproof SPF 50+ sunscreen.

The best is to get one with zinc oxide as the main ingredient because zinc oxide provides a physical barrier from the sun in addition to the many chemical barriers all sunscreens contain.

Always bring a sunscreen you are familiar with. The worst thing is to start applying your sunscreen and you don’t like how it goes on or how it smells.

This leads to you being less likely to want to re-apply as needed throughout your day in the sun. We have some great recommendations, but remember, the best sunscreen for you is the one you like and will enjoy using.

Our Top Recommended Sunscreen:

Travel Towel

Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida

It is a good idea to pack your own quick-drying towel for your adventures in Florida. They are super handy and usually pack down into a small hand size bag.

If you see yourself at theme parks or beaches where there are no towels provided it may be a good idea to pack one. We like the microfiber towels instead of packing a regular towel from home as home towels are thick, heavy and slow to dry.

Most microfiber towels come in multiple sizes and pack down very small. The material is designed to be anti-odor and anti-mildew which will be great for all-day outdoor activities as they also dry up to 10 times faster than cloth or cotton towels.

We have offered some recommendations below. If you need more information on how to choose a good travel towel, have a read here: Best Travel Towels for your Next Trip.

Our Top Recommended Microfiber towels:

Dry Bag

David Stock kayaking in Big Pine Key, Florida

It is always a good idea to bring along a dry bag if you will be spending time by the water throughout your vacation. Even if your time will be spent hanging out on the beach, a nice dry bag can prevent your stuff from getting water and sand on it.

You can find them in a couple of different designs like a shoulder bag or a backpack. Selecting a dry bag instead of a regular bag will ensure that items like your towel, camera, phone, etc. remain dry throughout your day.

We’ve made a few recommendations below but we’d advise reading more about what to look for. You can do that here: Best Dry Bag for Your Next Adventure.

Our Top Recommended Dry Bags:


Waterproof Camera Gear

During your trip to Florida, you will have several fantastic photo opportunities. Whether you are headed down to the Everglades and the Florida Keys or maybe you’re making a stop at Cape Canaveral to take in the great NASA history, you will want to have a great camera on hand.

Be sure to bring your favorite camera and accessories along to get the perfect shot. Whichever camera you choose to bring along always pack extra batteries so you are always ready to get the best shot.

We also like to carry our GoPro with, especially in areas where we have the opportunity to get in the water. GoPro now has a vast amount of accessories available on the market to allow you diverse opportunities for unique photos.

One of our favorites is the Dome Port attachment. This allows you to get those awesome above and below water photos you’ve been seeing everywhere. Make sure to also get a waterproof housing for your GoPro for added protection.

If you’re new to GoPro’s and not sure which one to buy, have a read here: How to Decide Which GoPro to Buy.

Our Top Recommended Camera Essentials:

Sunglasses

Florida Packing List

No matter where adventure brings you, it will most likely involve copious amounts of time outside in the sun. Surprisingly, you can get skin cancer on your eyelids and on your actual eye from sun exposure.

In order to protect your eyes, you should always wear a good pair of sunglasses. You can find many options available for sunglasses but always make sure your pair have UV protection. If you can opt for a pair that are polarized.

Polarized sunglasses reduce the glare from the sun making your view through the lenses more clear. However, polarization does not increase UV protection, which is very important. Pick a pair that fit you well, don’t pinch your nose and won’t easily fall off if you look down.

Our Top Recommended Sunglasses:


Water bottle

Bringing your own water bottle is a good way to save money and stay hydrated during your vacation. Florida has drinkable tap water so make sure to fill up before you head out the door for the day.

There are several great travel water bottles on the market right now but our favorite is the Camelbak Chute water bottle. These water bottles are durable and leak proof.

The Camelbak Chute is 100% BPA and BPS free and has a great spout cap that snaps into the handle so it’s not in your way while drinking.

Our Top Recommended Water Bottle:


Monkey mats

Monkey mats are a portable “floor” for in/outdoor use. Monkey mats provide a large, clean surface you can take everywhere in an attached ultra-compact pouch.

They are available in multiple sizes, colors, and fabrics. They are a great item to have with you on vacation especially for beach days as they are waterproof and have weighted corners so it won’t blow around on those breezy beach days.

Our Top Recommended Monkey Mat:

Multi-Outlet Surge Protector

Sunset in Florida with catamaran

It is always nice to travel with a multi-outlet surge protector. This way you won’t have to start unplugging the lamps and the alarm clock in order to find a spot for all your devices to charge.

We like to choose the ones that have both USB charging ports and regular USA outlet sockets so you can plug in several items with different chargers at the same time.

Our Top Recommended Multi-outlet Surge Protector:


Hanging Toiletry bag

This may seem like a silly item to include but it really is a great space-saving travel item. In addition to space-saving, you also leave everything in the bag you brought it in and won’t have to worry about packing it at the last minute and forgetting something.

This will come in hand if your Florida trip has you seeing more than one city or staying in more than one hotel.

Most hanging toiletry bags come with a hanger similar to a clothing hanger hook which will allow you to hang it from almost anywhere and avoid all that clutter of items around the bathroom sink.

Our Top Recommended Hanging Toiletry Bag:


Electronics organizer

Odds are you will be bringing several different electronic items and chargers with you on your trip to Florida and an organizer will be very helpful in keeping everything together.

Most organizers contain many elastic bands and small pockets to help you store and find items easily. They are also small enough that you can keep them in your day bag if needed.

Our Top Recommended Electronics Organizers:

Battery Power Bank

Lina Stock Snorkeling in Florida

Power banks are perhaps one of the best inventions for travelers ever. They are compact and have the ability to charge and even re-charge your electronic devices on the go multiple times.

The larger the mAh (milliamp hours) the better the ability it has to store power for charging devices. Opt for one with at least 10,000mAh. A favorite of ours is the Anker PowerCore 10,000mAh since it provides great charging capability and is very small and lightweight.

Our Top Recommended Power Banks:


Headphones

One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to tune in to my favorite playlist and let it take me away. Whether I am sitting on the airplane or laying on the beach, I find music to be a great way to relax and block out the noise.

Music has always had such a big place in my life and it can truly heighten any experience. There are several different options for headphones including wireless earbuds and headphones, regular earbuds, or regular headphones.

We personally like headphones as they don’t cause your ear to get sore after wearing them for extended periods of time.

Our Top Recommended Headphones:


Bug Protection

If you will be headed on an adventure into the everglades you will want to bring a good bug spray with you to protect you from the mosquitoes.

Bringing one with DEET will provide you some extra protection. However, even the parks guides within the Everglades really recommend these tips: wear a head net, avoid the shade and areas of dense vegetation, and stay on the cleared paths.

Our Top Recommended Bug Protection:

Florida is a remarkable state with so many different opportunities for travelers. No matter where your journey takes you, please take the time to truly unwind. Spend an evening, maybe a day disconnected from electronics and truly live in the moment and make memories.

We hope this packing list has helped relieve some of your packing stress as you prepare for your upcoming adventure.

David Stock in a Florida hammock

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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