Don't Even Consider Packing These For Hawaii Vacations

Don’t Even Consider Packing These For Hawaii Vacations

Whether you’re the most seasoned traveler or a newbie who doesn’t think about a packing checklist for Hawaii, today’s post will help keep your luggage under control. Your editors, Rob and Jeff, use Google Docs to keep a packing list up to date for mainland travel, and even then, something is always forgotten.

What to pack for a Hawaii vacation should seemingly be pretty easy given our general lack of dress codes, casual nature, and near-constant tropical temperatures. We say, “Keep it simple” and “Less is better.” But even then, it can get weird.

Here’s what not to pack for your Hawaii vacation.

First, there’s almost nothing you can’t buy here in Hawaii if you need it, including food and medications. Second, most of it won’t cost much more than on the mainland if you shop wisely. So don’t lose sleep if you should forget something. Leave these things off the list to begin with.

Jeans – instead, bring lighter weight, no-iron pants.

Shoes with white soles – they won’t be white after Hawaii.

Lined jacket – just a thin shell is needed. Except in winter at higher elevations.

Evening wear – casual is what’s appropriate.

Dress shoes – just not needed. Go comfortable and casual.

Snorkel gear – unless you have high-end or specialized (think prescription lens) equipment, there are many buy-and-rent options here to lighten your luggage.

Environmentally unfriendly sunscreen – it is no longer permitted in Hawaii.

Full-size beach towels – purchase a Hawaii design towel here for a souvenir and take it home. Besides, your hotel or vacation rental will provide those for you to use. On the other hand, we do like packable, lightweight beach towels.

A hard shell cooler – go with a lightweight yet tough collapsable one, like the kind Costco sells.

Expensive things that are not easy to replace. Those include designer items and jewelry. There’s a reason people walk along the beaches with magnetometers looking to find lost rings and earrings. Last night, editor Rob found an earring at the bottom of the YMCA pool. He was able to reunite it with the visitor.

Passport. You’re in the United States here.

Do pack with sensibility in mind.

Pack things that don’t need a lot of care. Consider durable products that wash in the sink, dry in a few hours, and always look good. Also, remember that if heading to higher elevations in the islands (like Haleakala on Maui), be prepared for cooler weather. A t-shirt won’t cut it.

Bring carry-on snacks for travel emergencies like this one.

We’ve had a range of food issues on airplanes and at airports. First, it simply isn’t good in most cases. Second, we had a recent problem where a flight was delayed and became a food safety issue. As a result, the airline threw out all of the food and, you guessed it, we had only what we brought with us! Check with your airline, too, and see what food is available. On Southwest, for example, they make a point of saying to bring your own.

Do pack other very useful items for the airplane.

Consider bringing your entertainment among your essentials to make the trip to Hawaii more pleasant. On our recent flight, the onboard entertainment/wi-fi system and the charger systems both failed, and there was nothing except what we brought as in downloaded books, TV shows, and movies. Bring headphones and a battery pack for your phone, as we’ve had multiple airline experiences with inoperative or underpowered USB/power ports—even last week. Bring lip balm and other things for long, often cold airline flights.

Help stay healthy and comfortable on board.

To avoid getting sick, for years, well before Covid, we have always cleaned everything in sight on the plane with Clorox disinfecting wipes. We aren’t alone in this and were doing this far before it became popular.

To stay comfortable, try versatile inflatable travel cushions. We swear they work – no joke, either to sit on or to use as back support or pillow. They can be packed and rolled up to save space. We’ve used them for years, and they are still holding up. If you haven’t noticed, the new thinner airline seats don’t have much cushioning for your seat or back.

What about a travel blanket and travel pillow? Some airlines don’t offer them. Find out if yours will. We also don’t know how cleaning them is managed with those that do.

Have you considered zip-off pants, or a pair of shorts in your travel backpack so you can change quickly upon landing in Hawaii?

We like reusable and collapsible food containers and reusable water bottles and utensils for travel. These can also be used again during vacations.

Pack an unlined waterproof jacket.

These standard-for-Hawaii jackets are very helpful for rain, wind, and even sun protection without making you steam. This is also warm enough for the plane ride and cooler nights with tradewinds. Also useful is a lightweight sweatshirt or sweater.

Other clothing do’s include swimsuits, t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, running/walking shoes, sandals, hiking boots, travel pants, and casual (yet dressing in Hawaii) Aloha wear which can obviously be purchased here.

Bring hiking boots if they can be worn to lighten your baggage.

When hiking here in Hawaii, we see many people with the wrong shoes. Like hiking in either flip flops/sandals or high heels. Seriously. We love dual-function Hoka One One running shoes that are both waterproof and let you hike comfortably.

The mandatory luggage scale we wouldn’t leave behind.

If you’re still planning to check bags, travel with an inexpensive, lightweight luggage scale to keep them under 50 lbs. This remains a “can’t travel without” item at Beat of Hawaii and about the best $10 you can spend.

A lightweight, quick-dry beach towel in your beach bag can also be used at a gym. This is key to still hitting the sand after you’ve checked out of your accommodations.

Consider a multi-purpose soft insulated bag for everything including the return trip.

Consider bringing or buying collapsable insulted bag for extra luggage on the return trip. After you go shopping, you may need it. And that will keep everything cool on the way home. Yes, you may pay for it to be an extra checked bag (if not flying Southwest), but it might be cheaper and more convenient than shipping all that stuff home, even by Priority Mail.

What’s on your packing list for Hawaii that we’ve missed?

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45 thoughts on “Don’t Even Consider Packing These For Hawaii Vacations”

  1. No jeans? I grew up in Kaneohe and wearing jeans was as normal as breathing. Most of these suggestions are odd at best. Bottom line is that you should pack and wear whatever makes you feel comfortable.


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