Southwest Didn't Reimburse Canceled Hawaii Vacation Costs

What To Pack For Vacation In Hawaii Has Changed

Whether you’re the most seasoned traveler or a newbie, who doesn’t think about a packing checklist for Hawaii. And what to pack for vacation in Hawaii should be pretty easy given our general lack of dress codes, casual nature, and near-constant tropical temperatures. The following are our updated 2022 suggestions, plus many others shared by visitors. Please let us know if you have anything else for the list. We think the main rules to go by are “keep it simple” and “less is better.”

Masks and hand sanitizer became travel essentials. How the world has changed.

Before getting to the regular packing, no trip to Hawaii or anywhere nowadays is done without masks. We have many as you all do too. For air travel, we prefer wearing the N95 vs. the KN95, but it’s all a matter of personal preference and comfort. The KN95 is what we suggest wearing once you are on the ground in Hawaii. You can purchase additional bottles of hand sanitizer here including some that are spray-on instead of liquid. We always leave one in the car.

What To Pack For Vacation In Hawaii | Packing Checklist

1. What’s in the suitcase; leave the extras at home.

Remember there’s nothing much you can’t buy here at your Hawaii destination if you need it, including food and medications. And 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 from your vacation packing list. But thinking of trip planning – be sure to include Hawaii’s most acclaimed travel guide series (in Kindle or print), Hawaii Revealed. Available for all the major islands, don’t leave home without it.

2. Travel outfits that make sense.

Pack things that don’t need a lot of care. One durable product line we still love through the years and have found works well is t-shirts and travel clothes from Ex Officio. They wash in the sink, dry in a few hours, and always look good. Also remember that if you’re heading up to higher elevations in the islands, be prepared for cooler weather.

3. Pack carry-on snacks.

We’ve had a range of food issues on airplanes. First, it simply isn’t good in most cases. Second, we had a recent issue where a flight was delayed, and there became a food safety issue. As a result, the airline threw out all of the food and, you guessed it. We had only whatever we brought with us!

4. Bring other helpful items for the airplane.

To make the trip to Hawaii more pleasant, consider bringing your own entertainment among your essentials. On a recent flight of ours, the onboard entertainment system and the charger systems failed entirely and there was nothing except what we brought as in downloaded books, TV shows, and movies. For that matter, bring headphones, and a battery pack for your phone, as we’ve had multiple airline experiences with inoperative or underpowered USB/power ports. We like the ones from Anker, since they are small, light for their capacity, and hold up. Do you like things including toothbrush/toothpaste, lip balm, and socks onboard long cold airline flights? We do.

5. Travel documents including Vaccination Card or Test Result.

Keep any printed travel documents organized and dry in a reusable plastic packing wallet. What happens if your phone goes dead or is lost and all your info is contained therein. At least there is no passport required for Hawaii travel. But you do need to bring your vaccination card or test results.

6. 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 with those and were doing this far before it was popular.

In order to stay comfortable, we don’t leave home without these versatile travel cushions. We swear they work – no joke; either to sit on or to use as back support or pillow. They can be packed 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 in them.

What about a travel blanket and travel pillow? Some airlines just don’t offer them. With those that do, we just don’t know how cleaning them is managed.

Have you considered zip-off pants/shorts in your travel backpack so you can change quickly upon landing?

For packing food, we use reusable and collapsible silicone food containers and reusable water bottles and utensils. These can also be used again during your vacation.

7. Clothes to pack including an unlined waterproof jacket.

These jackets are very helpful for rain and wind protection without making you steam. This also serves as something warm for the plane and cooler nights with tradewinds. Also useful is a lightweight sweatshirt or sweater.

Other clothes include swimsuits, t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, running/walking shoes, sandals, hiking boots, jeans/travel pants, and casual Aloha wear (which can be purchased here).

8. Hiking boots are great and can be worn to lighten your baggage.

When we’re hiking here in Hawaii, we see a lot of people with totally the wrong shoes. Like hiking in either flip flops/sandals or high heels. Seriously. If you have old shoes/boots, consider wearing those and leaving them behind to have even more luggage space on the return.

9. Toiletries you bring. More important now than you think.

Don’t forget in your must-have travel checklist the toiletry bag items you’ll need. Everything from a razor and prescriptions, to nail clippers and face wash. If you keep liquids under 3 ounces, you can also bring them onboard in your TSA-approved carry-on.

A bill now in the legislature seeks to eliminate the small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, insect repellent, and other toiletries we all became accustomed to. It “prohibits lodging establishments from providing personal care products in small plastic bottles within sleeping room accommodations, any space within sleeping room accommodations, or bathrooms used by the public or guests.”

10. What about luggage?

We still prefer wheeled luggage. What about you? The days of a big backpack or duffle bag are behind us. There are interesting hybrids like wheeled duffles too. Duffel bags have a place too as you’ll read in tip 14.

Wheeled daypacks are great too for carry-ons. They add significant size and weight, however, so we have an assortment depending on the trip.

Lightweight travel daypacks make hiking easier. We both have Osprey brand ones, and they are simply the highest quality and lightest that we’ve found.

11. Sunburn prevention.

We suggest sticking with an environmentally friendly sunscreen that is legal in Hawaii, and safe for your health and that of our coral reefs.

12. Miscellaneous items to consider.

A Luggage scale. If you’re still planning to check bags, travel with an inexpensive and lightweight luggage scale and know your carrier’s limitations. 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. That way you can still hit the sand after you’ve checked out of your accommodations.

13. USPS Flat Rate Boxes.

With an abundance of post offices throughout Hawaii, take advantage of fast and relatively inexpensive shipping in both directions to supplement what you can take with you. Including liquids that won’t make it in a carry-on bag environment. Easy-to-find bubble wrap keeps fragile things safe.

14. Duffel bag or tote for the return trip.

Consider either bringing a collapsible nylon duffle bag or buying a Rubbermaid container to use for the return trip. After you go shopping, you may need it. Yes, you may pay for the checked bag, but it might be cheaper than shipping all that stuff home, even by Priority Mail.

Updated 1/3/22.

102 thoughts on “What To Pack For Vacation In Hawaii Has Changed”

  1. Travelling this weekend to Honolulu and from there flying to Big Island. Heard that US citizen may need a passport to enter a few locations/parks in either island or to even fly to Big Island. is this true? is there any need at all for a passport for US citizens while visiting Hawaii, or does a state Driver’s License do?

    Really appreciate your feedback, as to we do not want to miss on anything if we don’t bring our passports along.

    1. Hi Ana.

      Passports will never be required for you in Hawaii under any circumstances. That’s incorrect information you received.


  2. My best items were a great pair pf hiking sandals and UVA/UVB ray blocking shirts for my husband and beach cover ups for me. We stayed in a time share style setting. So we had a full kitchen and were able to stop at Costco for a lot of our food. We also purchased a beach umbrella for $29.99 Totally worth it and passed it alone to a family arriving as we left.The hawaiin coffee at coscto is great to bring home so stock up while there. The Large yet tiny when folded quick dry towels were a must ha

  3. I pack my clothes (rolled up) inside cotton musette bags that I bought many years ago in Europe. They were sold at the supermarkets there and we can use them in Hawaii when we go grocery shopping.

    I’ve always used refillable bottles for shampoo, laundry and dish soap; although my wife has recently bought the laundry soap sheets from Each sheet is good for a full load. My dentist gives small kits of toothpaste, mouthwash and floss. We take those; it’s more than enough for a week.

  4. A self-inflating roll up seat cushion is a must for me they work great, and don’t take up very much space in your carry-on. Google will give you a lots of choices

    1. Nail clippers are OK AFAIK. I’ve carried them with me on all my trips for the past 30+ years, and they have never been confiscated.

    2. I’ve had nail files confiscated, but not nail clippers. But that was when I was leaving Mexico. Never have I had a nail file confiscated anywhere else.

  5. A small pair of binoculars is a great item to have. Watching surfing to watching whales, or just surveying the scenery it’s nice to bring the sights up just a little bit closer, and a small pair takes minimal space.

  6. I always bring my Sandcloud towel/blanket. It keeps me warm on the plane, and it is a fantastic beach towel – very absorbent, and the sand doesn’t stick to it. It rolls up pretty small, and tucks easily into small spaces. You can also use it on the flight home to cushion souvenirs packed into your luggage.

  7. Here are some things that I always pack for our trips to Hawaii:
    RipSkirts – they dry quickly, and take up no space in the suitcase.

    Ugowear- like a life jacket for your phone. You can use all the functions of your phone while it is in the Ugo, and it floats! I put my keys, cash, credit cards, and chapstick in mine when we go to the beach. I can take it in the water with me. It is seriously the coolest thing!


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